syndrome (CFS) is a defined syndrome that describes a varying combination
of symptoms, one of which is recurrent fatigue.
Chronic fatigue syndrome was formally defined in 1988
by a consensus panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The major criterion is the presence of a new onset of fatigue causing
50% reduction in activity for at least six months, and exclusion of other
illnesses that can cause fatigue. The minor criteria required are eight
of the eleven symptoms listed below, or six of the eleven symptoms plus
two of the three signs listed.
Many research studies have focused on identifying an infectious
agent as the cause of CFS. The Epstein-Barr virus (EPV), a member of the
herpes group of viruses and the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis,
emerged as the leading candidate. In addition to EBV, a number of other
viruses have been investigated as possible causes of CFS. But rather than
being the result of an infectious organism per se, CFS is more likely
due to a disturbed immune system. While no specific immunological dysfunction
has been recognized, the most consistent abnormality is a decreased number
of natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells received their name because of
their ability to destroy cells that have become cancerous or infected
The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines, Michael Murray
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