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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 1, Pages 3-10
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nen017
Review

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

1Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Union Hospital Affiliated to Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
2Department of General Medicine, Kanazawa Medical University, 1-1 Daigaku, Uchinada-machi, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa 920-0293, Japan

Received 8 March 2007; Accepted 8 February 2008

Copyright © 2010 Rui Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

More and more patients have been diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in recent years. Western drug use for this syndrome is often associated with many side-effects and little clinical benefit. As an alternative medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has provided some evidences based upon ancient texts and recent studies, not only to offer clinical benefit but also offer insights into their mechanisms of action. It has perceived advantages such as being natural, effective and safe to ameliorate symptoms of CFS such as fatigue, disordered sleep, cognitive handicaps and other complex complaints, although there are some limitations regarding the diagnostic standards and methodology in related clinical or experimental studies. Modern mechanisms of TCM on CFS mainly focus on adjusting immune dysfunction, regulating abnormal activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and serving as an antioxidant. It is vitally important for the further development to establish standards for ‘zheng’ of CFS, i.e. the different types of CFS pathogenesis in TCM, to perform randomized and controlled trials of TCM on CFS and to make full use of the latest biological, biochemical, molecular and immunological approaches in the experimental design.