Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM) or yuppie flu (FU2)?

“Your blood tests show signs of infection, here take this antibiotic”

“Your tests are now clear! It must be all in your head… you simply choose to have the yuppie flu”

“Sick of being tired is a symptom of depression; here try this antidepressant”

“What? you starting to feel worse? here add this antidepressant and a pain killer and see what happens”

This is a typical chain of events for someone seeking help for fatigue and pain syndromes. Then they shop around to “alternative or complementary” medicine.

“I have been everywhere, tried everything, spent all my money, nothing works, you are my last resort”

“I have a massive long list of mega dosed supplements I am not brave enough to change; $10,000 worth of genetic, saliva, heavy metal, hair, poo and urine testing results, 5 different restrictive diets and I am getting worse”

I could go on but it is annoying and frustrating and I am not the one with constant pain, fatigue, sleep problems and moody.

The challenge is finding and eliminating the cause

These bizarre fatigue and pain syndromes can be the hardest things to diagnose and find the cause for. The symptoms can be managed but to resolve the problem can be a challenge as there are so many different causes and it requires a lot of detective work to find the appropriate treatment and if the cause is still in your life you may need to get it out.

In this article, I will explain;

  • some of the differences between CFS and FM and how you can hover between the two
  • some of the classical causes and then some of the new ideas coming out of some research
  • some vicious cycles that form with certain treatments making things worse
  • mitochondrial damage from drugs (antidepressants, antibiotics, statins, vaccinations), toxins, infections, genetic polymorphisms, nutritional deficiencies and inability to create cellular energy

Some causes of CFS and FM to look for

  • infection
  • drugs
    • antibiotics
    • antidepressants
    • analgesics
    • vaccinations – especially HPV and Hep B
    • statins (cholesterol lowering medicines)
    • toxic exposure
    • trauma and whiplash
    • mitochondrial defects / damage – may be cause or consequence of treatment 
    • adrenal dysfunction may be cause or consequence

The difference between FM and CFS

Both FM and CFS have fatigue and pain in many muscles, inflammation, immune dysfunction, nervous system and hormonal imbalances.

The main difference is the stage of adrenal dysfunction. Adrenal gland overactivity usually precedes both FM and CFS. In both FM and CFS the cortisol release during awake hours and in response to stress, inflammation, immune activation and pain is blunted. In both cases, they do not have enough cortisol during the day to switch off the stress, pain and inflammation. This is why in both cases they suffer from fatigue and pain all day.

FM, you have insomnia (can’t sleep)

CFS you have hypersomnia (all I can do is sleep)

Adrenal dysfunction

In FM, the adrenal gland is struggling to make enough cortisol all day and night so it holds out all day just so you have enough to trickle out all night. The stress of pain, inflammation and immune dysfunction is 24 hours a day 7 days a week so your body tries to give you a small amount of cortisol to make it last. This means not enough all day to wake you up and block the pain but an annoying trickle through the evening that can stop you from sleeping.

In CFS you have been through FM phase and pushed through to adrenal exhaustion / conservation whereby your cortisol is low all day and all night. All you can do is sleep. As CFS as next level FM as you improve you will move back into FM symptom picture (insomnia) and through that toward wellness or if not treating properly will roll back into CFS.

Not treated properly?

This means if you move from CFS to FM and you do not treat the insomnia correctly you can suppress the healing and push them back into CFS.

Let me explain better.

Cortisol blocks serotonin activity. So, when in CFS mode cortisol is so low that your brain is flooded with serotonin and you have depression borne from apathy and sleepiness. As you restore adrenal function, cortisol picks up and then blocks serotonin causing a depression borne from anxiety and insomnia.

If you are given antidepressants to preserve serotonin during FM phase you will go back into CFS. and in CFS you have too much serotonin and the medicine starts making you feel worse and keeps you in CFS symptom picture.

Now what if I was to tell you that psychotropic medication including antidepressants and analgesics can contribute to mitochondrial defects that may be a causative factor for FM and CFS. I will share some studies on drugs and mitochondrial damage.

Which comes first?

Sometimes we need to do detective work to see which came first. The drugs or the FM / CFS?

So, what if you said it all started after an infection or if they do blood tests and find elevated immune cells and signs of infection. They may have prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics have direct links to mitochondrial damage as mitochondria resemble bacteria so closely.

I am sure there are people with these pain syndromes reading this thinking they have been through this. The antibiotics and antidepressants and analgesics and wondering if this has “snowballed” the syndrome.

Are you up to date with vaccinations?

I am not going to get involved in political policies and debate vaccinations. You can do that in amongst yourselves. I need to share some information though that your doctor may not discuss.

There is a very strong association with HPV vaccines and FM / CFS. If you suffer from FM/CFS or are treating people with it; be sure to ask about HPV vaccines history in particular. Hepatitis B vaccines have also been associated with FM and CFS syndromes. Unfortunately, as we rely on people describing the symptoms they experience after vaccines to their doctor and these symptoms need to be reported. There is a massive lack of scientific data due to the lack of reporting of side effects as they dismissed at the front line by doctors not wanting to acknowledge the link to vaccines. The scientific community is frustrated and getting angry over the lack of scientific diligence.

Read these articles to get an idea of what we are referring to.

Antibiotic use and abuse: a threat to mitochondria and chloroplasts with impact on research, health and environment. Wang X et al. bioessays 37:1045-1053

Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease. Neustadt J et al. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jul; 52 (&):780-8

Fluoxetine and the mitochiondria: a review of the toxicological aspects. De Olivieira MR. Toxicol Lett. 2016 Sep 6; 258:185-91

Mitochondria: key players in the neurotoxic effects of amphetamines. Arch Toxicol. 2015 Oct; 89(10):1695-725

Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue:the underlying biology and related theoretical issues. Romano GF et al. Adv Psychosom Med. 2015

Cohort description: The Danish study of Functional disorders. Clin Epidemiol. 2017; 9:127-139

Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia following immunization with the hepatitis B vaccine: another angle of the autoimmune (auto-inflammatory) syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). Agmon-Levin N, et al. Immunol Res. 2014 Dec; 60(2-3):376-83

Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children. Demicheli V, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Oct 19; (4)

A role for the body burden of aluminium in vaccine-associated macrophagic myofasciitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Exley C et al. Med Hypothesis. 2009 Feb; 72(2):135-9

Hypothesis: Human Papillomavirus vaccination syndrome – small fibre neuropathy and dysautonomia could be it’s underlying pathogenesis. Martinez-Lavin M. Clin Rheumatol. 2015 Jul; 34(7):1165-9

This is not a blame game. This is detective work and data collection.

Mitochondrial damage from drugs, vaccines, virus, toxins, inflammation, oxidative stress, acidic waste etc. all need different approaches to treatment and if we can’t isolate and remove causes than you can’t expect great or long term results.

Treatment / management ideas


Multifood – plant powders standardised to contain vitamins and cofactors in all of the natural forms to help with cellular energy production.

Shilajit (alpha mars 4 caps per day gives you 1 gram) – helps to make new mitochondria. One study using 1 gram of shilajit per day increased cellular levels of CoQ10 equivalent to taking 1200 mg CoQ10 per day. Most people use 200 mg CoQ10 per day for CFS and FM and to compensate for statin medications depleting CoQ10.

NRF2 activators
– anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Turmeric, schisandra, withania, rosemary, gingko, broccoli sprouts and other brassicas.

Magnesium aspartate, oratate or diglycinate (Infrared)

3 grams Beta alanine for muscle carnosine (infrared has 3 grams per serve)

3 gram citrulline malate – oxygenation and performance (infrared has 3 grams per serve)