Researchers have been exploring to the depths of science possible for the last 25 years trying to find out what causes and how to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). While many discoveries have led to identification of body-wide effects of CFS beyond fatigue, there is still no known cause or method of treatment for CFS as a whole.
Treatment of CFS Symptoms
Continuing research has revealed an increase in immune system activity, particularly with abnormally functioning white blood cells. MRI scans have found small (fraction of an inch) abnormalities just below the cerebral cortex, while clinical tests reveal abnormalities in the neuroendocrine systems in the brain (McCleary/Vernon).
As these results are corroborated, perhaps more effective treatments to deal with the heart of the matter will be developed.
For the moment, treatment continues to focus on alleviating the symptoms of CFS, and enabling patients to lead productive and normal lives. Since the severity and onset of symptoms varies from patient to patient, what dosage or medication works for one patient may not for another. Such medications may include: anti-inflammatories for arthritic and myalgic symptoms; sleeping pills to aid with getting good sleep; anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
One medication, a powerful anti-viral drug called Valcyte, has had unexpected success against patients with CFS treated at Stanford Medical School. Valcyte is normally prescribed for patients with Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6), Epstein Barr virus (cause of mononucleosis), and other viruses. The successful response of patients to this medication has prompted many to assume that CFS is caused by a virus, but this has yet to be confirmed through medical research. While there are no immediate dangerous side effects, “Valcyte is a drug with potential toxicity. The body converts Valcyte into Ganciclovir, a well established but potentially toxic anti-viral medicine…It does not have an FDA indication for HHV-6 or as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Potential side effects of Valcyte/Ganciclovir include suppression of white blood cells, red blood cells and/or platelets.