Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), can leave sufferers feeling tired, even after sleep, and may lead to problems with memory and concentration.
CFS cases have exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and some doctors are using novel methods to treat the condition—including ivermectin, which was called a “wonder drug” for human health before the pandemic.
Nearly 80 Percent Report Post-COVID CFS
A recent questionnaire-based study found nearly 80 percent of patients with COVID-19 had one or more persistent symptoms post-infection, and 58 percent met the case definition for ME/CFS.
Another analysis showed CFS is most common in those with severe COVID, but even among asymptomatic infections, one in five reported the condition (pdf).
CFS had been described as early as 1934 and was associated with the Epstein-Barr virus in the ’80s.
Before developing symptoms, patients most frequently reported experiencing severe illness, surgery, accident, physical, psychological, or emotional trauma.
“Post-COVID fatigue and myalgic encephalomyelitis are two disorders that have a tremendous amount of overlap,” Dr. Thomas Gut, medical director of the Post-COVID Recovery Center at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York, told The Epoch Times.
Post-COVID CFS, a condition that can be a symptom of long COVID, is characterized by prolonged, generalized, and abnormal fatigue after exercise that doesn’t resolve after rest, recurrent headaches, and problems with concentration and memory, which have lasted for at least six months.
It may be accompanied by other symptoms, like tender lymph nodes, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disruption, and psychiatric problems.
The condition has also been identified as a potential adverse reaction to being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and its painful cousin fibromyalgia represent the “tripping of a circuit breaker” in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist and nationally known expert in the fields of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep, and pain, told The Epoch Times.
“It is not enough to simply turn the circuit breaker back on,” Teitelbaum continued. “You also need to address what caused the circuit breaker to overload, and this varies dramatically from cause to cause.”
He pointed out that CFS can occur from numerous stressors and many infections besides COVID. These include:
- A stressful job or relationship
- Hormonal issues
- Other chronic infections
- Autoimmune disease
Gut added that currently, the causes of long COVID and most post-COVID neurocognitive changes are poorly understood and don’t have a clear mechanism to explain the symptoms.
“There are many centers for treatment in the U.S. that have had some promising results in helping patients cope or alleviate some symptoms, but the approaches vary widely,” said Gut. “Unfortunately, we are in the infancy of long-COVID research and very few established treatment options exist outside of dedicated COVID recovery programs.”
Ivermectin May Help Post-COVID and Post-Vaccine CFS
Ivermectin could help those living with post-COVID CFS, said Teitelbaum.
A recently completed clinical trial by drugmaker MedinCell evaluated the safety and efficacy of ivermectin tablets taken orally for 28 days, under the oversight of a U.S.-based independent data monitoring committee.
Participants in the ivermectin group showed a highly statistically significant reduction of 72 percent in laboratory-confirmed infections between day one and day 28, versus a placebo.
No adverse effects were associated with a daily intake of ivermectin of 200 microgram/kg on day one, then 100 microgram/kg daily from day two to day 28 during the study.
However, people should be careful when taking ivermectin, since some are allergic to it, and potential side effects can include nausea, dizziness, and chest discomfort.
“It was unexpected,” Teitelbaum said, “but we have found that ivermectin is often very helpful in both long COVID and in post-COVID-vaccine CFS and fibromyalgia.
“I don’t know why,” he admitted. “I simply know from treating people that it does.” He said he can offer speculations, but they would simply be theories.
One study offers a hint. It finds ivermectin exhibited antiviral activity against a wide range of RNA and DNA viruses, like Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and others. The drug also showed specific action against SARS-CoV-2 in lab tests with its potential mechanism of action being that it blocks viral proteins that suppress normal immune responses.
Teitelbaum said that what differentiates post-COVID patients from other causes of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia is that “many improve considerably with the medication ivermectin.”
Besides ivermectin, there are many other approaches against post-COVID CFS.
Natural Ways to Fight CFS
Research published in the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis finds an effective CFS treatment is total rest—which means relaxing with no mental stimulation.
Study authors say those who have experienced post-COVID CFS described lying in a darkened room for long periods to promote mental and physical rest.
Besides relaxation, they recommend using breathing and meditation apps and reducing any sensory input that makes you feel tense, like noise and bright lights. Instead, expose yourself to things that are restful and relaxing, like your favorite music or fragrance.
Another study finds 1,000 mg of the supplement oxaloacetate reduced physical and mental fatigue for CFS and long-COVID patients after six weeks of treatment.
Teitelbaum pointed out common supplements to treat CFS, which include:
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)
- A multivitamin with zinc
- Anti-inflammatories like highly absorbed curcumin and the herb Boswellia that “shut down” inflammation and oxidative stress caused by the virus
Addressing these, along with the SHINE Protocol, has resulted in many people improving their fatigue symptoms and an increase in quality of life, said Teitelbaum.
SHINE is an acronym for the five main areas of health that must be tended to. It stands for adequate Sleep, optimal Hormone levels, Immunity and underlying Infections, good Nutrition, and Exercise as able.
“Whether the CFS/fibromyalgia comes from COVID or other causes,” said Teitelbaum, “these conditions are very treatable.”
He emphasized that the problem is not a lack of effective treatments, but the lack of effective physician education because the conditions are complex and because these treatments are low cost.