Solving the life-altering condition of chronic fatigue syndrome is a huge challenge for anyone facing the illness. Recent Swedish research suggests probiotics or “good” bacteria found in the live active cultures of yogurt can reduce chronic fatigue symptoms for a significant percentage of individuals.
Here’s an important caveat: Eating yogurt or taking probiotic supplements, while it can help some people feel better, can make others feel worse. In sum, the researchers at the Karolinska Instituetet in Stockholm ventured that probiotics were “worth trying.” (Image courtesy of Foter)
If a person feels better or no worse in the first three weeks, keep taking the supplement. If the chronic fatigue seems worse, then stop taking the supplement.
The works-for-some and not-for-others division of outcomes is common in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, say alternative health practitioners. Research is clearly pointing to a need for customized or individualized treatment plans. A primary reason is that the root cause of the ongoing fatigue is undetermined. There are some researchers who contend it is hormonal and neurochemical imbalance while others suspect the immune system is central to the symptoms.
The neurosystem and immune system connections prompted the Swedish researchers to investigate the effect of probiotics. The intestinal tract or gut is closely associated with the immune system and is often called the “second brain” because of neurochemicals located there that are prevalent in the brain too. A grant from a probiotics supplement provided additional motivation and, of course, funding.
The idea was to see if restore the balance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut can reduce chronic fatigue. This study followed 15 people with chronic fatigue, ten women and five men. Six of the participants reported improvements in physical symptoms, while said things were worse. The other eight reported no significant physical improvement but, interestingly, three said their mental health had improved.
More research is necessary to make any conclusions about probitoics and, perhaps even more importantly, determine just which chronic fatigue patients would benefit most from upgrading the bacteria balance in the gut.
Yet, honestly, it hard to argue against anyone with chronic fatigue syndrome adding yogurt and kefir (drinkable yogurt) to their daily menus. When possible, look for brands that offer a number of live active cultures, such as Stonyfield Farm. And always look for yogurt with natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners. Plus, a lowfat yogurt is often more satisfying in both taste and curbing hunger.