Treating chronic fatigue syndrome: A study into the scientific evidence for pharmacological treatments

Sanne Kreijkamp-Kaspers*, Ekua Weba Brenu, Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, Don R Staines, Mieke L. Van Driel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS), is a severe disabling condition. Patients with CFS usually trial many different medicines, both conventional and complementary. An overview of the pharmacological treatments used by CFS patients and the available evidence underpinning the use of these treatments would be of great value to both patients and their healthcare providers. Methods: Ninety-four CFS patients recruited into an Australian study investigating immunological biomarkers filled out a questionnaire assessing the medicines they were taking. Evidence from randomised clinical trials was sought in biomedical databases. Results: The 94 CFS patients used 474 different medicines and supplements. The most commonly used medicines were antidepressants, analgesics, sedatives, and B vitamins. We identified 20 randomised controlled trials studying these medicines in CFS patients. Conclusion: While conventional and complementary medicines are widely used by CFS patients, the evidence for effectiveness in CFS is very limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-912
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


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