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The Role of Fatty Acids in CFS/ME

by Professor Basant K Puri(more info)

listed in cfs me long covid, originally published in issue 114 - August 2005

Several converging strands of evidence point to a deficiency of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis). The evidence comes from: blood biochemical studies of patients; the natural history of the illness; the known effects of viruses; clinical trial work; and direct studies of brain biochemistry in patients. In essence, the living cells of our bodies have the chemical machinery to convert short-chain essential fatty acids into these important long-chain ones. Unfortunately, in chronic fatigue syndrome these conversions are heavily impaired.

The approach I use clinically is to by-pass this blockage altogether. I do this by giving my patients the necessary long-chain fatty acids, namely EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which becomes converted into two more important omega-6 fatty acids. The best way of doing this is for adult patients to take eight VegEPA capsules daily. Each capsule contains 280 mg ultra-pure EPA, 100 mg virgin evening primrose oil (rich in GLA), and, crucially, no DHA (another omega-3 fatty acid which should be avoided in supplement form). Not only do the fatty acids in VegEPA reverse the deficiencies in chronic fatigue syndrome, but the pure EPA actually attacks any virus that may have caused and may be maintaining the illness. I also advise my patients to make changes to their diet which will help the fatty acids to function better. These include:

  • Reducing the intake of alcohol;
  • Stopping smoking;
  • Cutting out ALL refined sugar, including products that have sugar added to them;
  • Eating large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Drinking freshly-squeezed fruit juices (not concentrates);
  • Replacing products made using refined white flour (bread, rolls, cakes, etc.) with those made with wholegrain/wholemeal flour;
  • Replacing white rice with unpolished whole brown rice;
  • Eating lean meat (beef and lamb), preferably of organic origin;
  • Increasing the intake of whole milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products, preferably from organic sources or from companies that feed their cows on grass all the year round (e.g. Anchor butter and Anchor cheese).

There are several clinical effects of taking these fatty acids. Within three to six months patients notice that their sleep becomes much deeper and more refreshing. This is partly because EPA becomes converted into natural sleep mediators that promote refreshing sleep without carrying the adverse side-effects of sleeping pills. At the same time, energy levels begin to rise. Other effects of taking VegEPA include: better, glossier hair, better nails, better joint functioning, and younger, healthier skin.

My research has shown that the above regime leads to clear improvements across a whole range of symptoms in patients. State-of-the-art brain scanning has shown a particularly remarkable change in the brain itself: the amount of brain tissue actually increases. I have found that this occurs in adults, in as little as three months.

Further Reading

Puri BK. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Natural Way to Treat ME. Hammersmith Press, London. ISBN 1-905140-00-2. 2005. Reviewed in Positive Health Issue 113 (July '05).

Further Information

VegEPA is available from www.vegepa.com or Tel: 0845 1300424.

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About Professor Basant K Puri

Professor Basant K Puri MA (Cantab) PhD MB BChir MRCPsych BSc (Hons) MathSci DipStat MMath is a Medical Professor at Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London, where he is also head of the Lipid Neuroscience Group in the Imaging Sciences Department of the Faculty of Medicine. He is also a Consultant in Psychiatry and imaging at Hammersmith Hospital. He divides his time between medical research, clinical practice and work in advanced mathematics and physics. He may be contacted on basant.puri@csc.mrc.ac.uk

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