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Oxytocin and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

July 5, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a rare but highly debilitating disease which is characterized by high and persistent levels of fatigue. It is not yet known exactly what causes CFS, but genetic, biological, and infectious processes may all contribute, as well as psychological factors such as stress. There is no test to indicate whether or not someone has the disease, and so requires a thorough examination of all symptoms by a physician before a conclusive answer can be given.

A review made by Dr. Afari and Dr. Buchwald in the American Journal of Psychiatry states that a single cause is highly doubtful, and that roughly a million people in the US suffer from the disease (1).

Before we discuss oxytocin’s potential for relieving symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, let’s examine CFS:

Symptoms of CFS

Most sufferers report that CFS comes on very quickly, and that flu-like symptoms are experienced in the first few weeks. Others report CFS to occur within months of high amounts of stress. There are also reports that fatigue after infections could link to CFS, though much more research is needed on the issue.

The major symptoms of CFS include:

• Fatigue – Persistent fatigue, completely unrelated to physical exertion, and not relieved by sleep leading to reduction in ability to perform physic ally and mentally
• Headaches – Sufferers often report severe headaches of a kind they have never had before
• Thought impairment – Concentration and memory levels are common effects, which can lead to patients not being able to perform more complex tasks
• Pain – Chronic muscle pain and joint pain similar to flu pains have been reported

There are many other symptoms including coughing and cough symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), shortness of breath and chest pains, and psychological problems including anxiety and depression. Because there are so many symptoms that vary from patient to patient, diagnosis is a slow process of ruling out other more common syndromes and diseases.

Major Effects of CFS

The effects on the normal everyday life of a healthy person can be dramatic. Most people who suffer from CFS report major reductions in the ability to perform moderately complex tasks and to engage in physical activity. For cognitive tasks a recent report was conducted which shows decreased levels memory and attention (2). The extent of the effects ranges, with some patients able to lead practically normal lives, while at the other end of the spectrum certain people are unable to do anything, requiring around the clock care. Half of all sufferers are unable to work.

Treatment

The real dread of this disease comes with the fact that current treatments for CFS do not help cure the disease but only to alleviate the symptoms, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy. For disease management, there are very few prescription medications available and the ones that do have limited success. All in all, there has been no management scheme or drug that has restored the ability to work in the patient, and most people never recover from CFS once they have been diagnosed.

How can Oxytocin help?

Because there is little that can be done to alleviate the symptoms of CFS, many people experiment with over-the-counter medications or supplements to help themselves deal with it.

Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter released in the brain and utilized for many different important things in the body, including childbirth and breast feeding. Oxytocin acts to reduce stress and promote calmness and well-being, and is a social hormone, which is important in forming healthy and satisfying relationships.

What makes oxytocin a potential remedy for CFS is that the many things it alleviates are the many things that people suffer from when they have CFS. The crucial parts are as follows:

• Oxytocin increases energy levels, and improves cognitive impairment
• Oxytocin helps to regulate blood flow in small blood vessels, and reduces blood pressure
• Oxytocin is proven to alleviate anxiety and depression, and improves social comfort and interaction

These points tie closely with the symptoms of CFS, so it comes as no surprise that positive effects have been experienced with oxytocin usage. CFS specialists have found that around 20% of patients have responded well to treatment with oxytocin, and for a few people the results have been profoundly positive. Research needs to continue, though it is already known that oxytocin works wonders for certain patients, and the minimal side effects make it an easy and risk-free option for any sufferers of CFS.

(1) - http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?Volume=160&page=221&journalID=13
(2) - http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7826372

For more information contact Bryan Post, Managing Editor of Oxytocin Central info@oxytocincentral.com or call (405) 476-1983

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