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Neurochemistry in chronic fatigue syndrome points to importance of diet

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a life-altering chronic illness that affects up to 2.5% of the UK population. It is also one of the most mysterious to understand, with no simple underlying cause easily determined. Diagnosis is made from a mix of symptoms rather than specific biological markers in the body. Therefore, identifying the condition is not quite so clear cut as many other commonly diagnosed diseases and can be a great challenge. Neuroscience research offers new ways of understanding the disease, which can allow better treatments to be made available.

Recent studies have indicated that the brain has some involvement, as suggested by the disorder’s common symptoms of pain sensitivity, sleep problems, and cognitive impairment which can manifest as dizzy “brain fog”. Even so, the condition is not “all in the head” or imaginary, as there are real physiological changes to the body and brain chemistry that can be identified in patients suffering from the illness.

Identifying CFS in the brain

It is important to identify how CFS is linked to the neurochemistry of the brain, so that the condition can be better understood and diagnosed. Last year, a research team led by clinical researcher Beata Godlewska used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to investigate brain neurochemistry in those with CFS. It had been thought in recent research that CFS is associated with abnormal levels of oxidative stress and energy metabolism, which can be identified by biomarkers glutathione and creatine.