A new study suggests a link between a retrovirus and chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, has been controversial for years. There is no definitive test for chronic fatigue syndrome, so doctors diagnose it based on the patient’s symptoms. The condition is characterized by a complete lack of energy, as well as insomnia, weakness, mental fog and muscle pain. There have been suspicions that chronic fatigue might be psychosomatic in nature. Many health professionals still doubt the existence of this syndrome.

The identification of a mouse-derived retrovirus in blood from CFS patients could change this perception completely. The scientists were looking for a mouse virus called XMRV that was previously found in association with chronic fatigue syndrome. They did not find it, but they did find related viruses in 86 percent of the patients’ blood samples. These retroviruses are known to cause leukemia in mice but had never been seen in human blood before this study. If future research confirms that a mouse virus is linked to chronic fatigue, it might offer insight into a treatment for this mysterious disorder.

[Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online Aug 23, 2010]

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  1. TDD

    In my battle with CFS about a year ago I decided that all the meds the doctors had me on for depression and pain weren’t doing me any good and had caused a state of maximum toxicity, so I quit them all. In three days my pain reduced by 80% and my memory returned.
    For the first time in many years I could remember, even back to my early childhood. I had to start taking my blood pressure med. again because my readings were so high, and my memory went out the window again, even though I had lost enough weight that I was able to cut the dose in half. The only things that have helped without negative side effects have been Chinese herbs, electro-accupuncture, and prayer and gratitude. Chinese medicine has been around for 2,000 years compared to western medicine’s 200 years. God has been around forever!

  2. Debbie B.

    I too suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After 32 years of being in
    a job I absolutely loved (middle school science teacher) I too was blindsided by this terrible illness. I was in denial at first and thought that with plenty of rest, exercise, etc. it would go away. Well it did not–it only got worse.
    After struggling to get through the last 2 years I worked I finally came to the realization that it was not going away so I decided to retire early. I still thought that maybe after a year off with lots of rest (ha ha) I could go back. Well after 4.5 years numerous doctors, medications, treatments and trying to have a positive outlook it is no better. I can’t even enjoy my retirement.
    My husband and I are not able to do the things we had hoped to do upon our retirement (he retired Feb. ’11). It is very frustrating, esp. when my rheumatologist said “I just don’t buy into this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome thing.” I told her I probably would not either if I had not experienced it myself. My primary care doctor has been very supportive. She has sent me to a couple other doctors in the area who are more familiar with CFS. None of which healed me but I do appreciate her acknowledgement of CFS and not just saying “it is all in my head.” She always listens and seems to understand what I am going through. But I was always healthy, active, enjoyed life… never would I have imagined this would happen along with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. At 59 years old…I feel much older :-(
    People’s Pharmacy response: you may wish to listen to the show we did on CFS:

  3. T Allyn

    Get my life back? You bet! I would love to get my life back and I try to do what I can in every aspect of my life to get better every day. I would give anything(!!!!) to be able to do just half of what I use to do! All of us have had to change our whole lives! We want to do so much and cannot do anything. Dare to visualize yourselves in that position and then add others – even doctors- who treat you like you are making up how you feel and see what your reaction would be.
    You are wanting and trying to feel better…even wasting money on anything that may work (and there are some cruel people taking advantage of some of us!). I usually consider things over when they are over, but when science proves that we who have CFS/Fibromyalgia have reason to feel as we do, I will be all ears waiting for apologies which will probably never come!
    To even infer that this is a psychosomatic illness is nothing short of cruel! I hope every doctor, nurse, family member, and friend who looked down on anyone they know with CFS/fibromyalgia will remember how they treated us when science proves how their judgments have been wrong and how they have actually been hurtful and harmful! Shame on anyone who kicks someone when they are down – especially doctors and nurses!!!!
    (Question: IF this is a psychosomatic illness, then why have treatments not included psychosomatic treatment protocols at all? Seems that it is easier for doctors to blame patients rather than utter the words: “I do not know.”)

  4. abigail

    I have heard that Fibromyalgia – in many ways similar to CFS – has been linked to enterovirus. do you know anything about this? I believe the connection was first published in a French medical journal a few years ago and has since been published in English. I do not have access to the medical publications to check on this.

  5. Faye

    Thank God the scientists have more insight on this disabilitating condition. I don’t care if it may be psychosomatic related. That does not make it any better or less disabling, or any less painful! The person suffering still needs help in what ever form. Not told by a doctor “it’s all in your head and when you realize that, it will go away”, then turn and walk out of the room.
    That was one of the biggest shocks and hurts in my life. Visiting, hoping for empathy and relief, then be treated so coldly. Go home trying to convince myself it will go away because it’s just my imagination.
    Of course then, it got worse because of the stress of not being able to will it away. I am so glad they are discovering more about this condition and it’s related condition, fibromyalgia, although that wasn’t mentioned, from other reports I’ve read they usually go together. I may not see better treatments before my demise, being it sometimes takes years to confirm some of these studies, but hopefully others will. BTW, I have a wonderful doctor now!

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