The importance of amino acids in chronic fatigue syndrome

The first account of supplementation of CFS patients with amino acids was published in 1994. The results were very encouraging with reports of improved levels of fatigue following supplementation. The nature of CFS is that there is a huge diversity of what people suffer as symptoms and there seem to be many possible causes. It thus becomes difficult to generalise the outcomes of such studies across the broad spectrum of this illness.

Our subsequent research found evidence of disrupted amino acid metabolism in a large number of CFS patients, which suggested the presence of an ongoing catabolic state – this is a state where the body is continually breaking down its own muscle proteins (sometimes with muscle “wasting”) to provide the necessary resources required for survival. In a healthy body, this would occur during and after exercise until recovery was achieved. Or if you are exposed to an infection, then this catabolic process occurs to help supply the immune system with resources. In the healthy state, the catabolism ceases once recovery is achieved – but with CFS, it would appear to keep going – perhaps in some cases, because of a persistent infection.

Critical amino acids such as serine, glycine and glutamine, are required to support a very broad diversity of metabolic processes. Although each of these amino acids can be made by the body, their high demand sometimes outweighs the capacity for supply – ie production by the body cannot keep up with demand. When this happens there is a bottle-neck result and protein production can be limited by the availability of the components in short supply.

We carried out an amino acid supplementation study with a group of 37 people with sub-health, with the result that all the females and 77% of the men reported reductions in fatigue following the amino acid supplementation.

We have looked at sweat and urine output in healthy people and compared this with a very small group of CFS patients. This revealed that CFS patients generally lost more amino acids per volume of sweat and urine than healthy people. Again, this is not representative of the huge diversity of CFS, but provides some very interesting insight. The data also highlighted the differences between excretion characteristics in males and females. Furthermore, the results suggested that maintenance of collagen turnover was very important in maintaining good health, particularly in females.

We have identified 6 key amino acids from all of this work which are in highest demand for everyday exertion. These form the basis of our Next Generation Amino Biotechnologies: OptimAAte and ElectrAAte.

Amino acids won’t cure CFS, but the OptimAAte® and ElectrAAte® may help improve well-being.

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