Debugging the problem of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This week’s edition of The Economist, had a very relevant article entitled “Malnutrition and the microbiome – Debugging the problem – Having the wrong gut bacteria can cause malnutrition“.  We could substitute Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for Malnutrition and would likely end up with a substantially correct article. The article talks about things such as Krebs cycle going wrong, a topic that is very familiar to some CFS patients.

“And if a child has the wrong bacteria in his gut, that seems to be what happens.”

The key item they demonstrated was

“Having established that bacteria can be at least part of the cause of {some illness}, the team studied a few cases in greater detail. They worked out which bacterial enzymes are more, or less, active in the guts of children with {this illness} (or, rather, in the guts of mice into which the appropriate faecal samples have been transplanted), and which metabolic products are more, or less, abundant.

CFS is viewed as a metabolic dysfunction by many researchers. Lastly, the treatment approach being suggested is similar to that which has been discussed on this blog

 This might be a different form of therapeutic diet or it might be some way of “rebooting” the gut microbiome directly, by adding missing species or subtracting unwanted ones. This is an approach that is also being tested to treat people with a potentially lethal gut infection called Clostridium difficile.

The article closes with:

This study adds to the growing science of microbiomic medicine, in which the lives of the bacterial passengers that people carry around are given due weight and consideration lest they turn on their hosts and hurt them.

The unfortunate aspect is that this is still preliminary research on the causes and not even looking at treatment yet.