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Chlorella for Chronic Fatigue?

I've read that chlorella helps with chronic fatigue. Do you know of any studies that might back up this claim? If not, are there other herbs or foods that might help with being tired all the time?

Answer (Published 6/25/2002)

Chlorella is a microscopic, green freshwater plant (an alga) that is aggressively promoted on the Internet as an energy booster, but I'm not aware of any studies showing that it helps people overcome the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. If you're tired all the time, the most important thing you can do is find out why. Are you getting adequate, restful sleep? Have you had a medical checkup to rule out any health problem that might be to blame for the fatigue? For a true diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome you must have suffered for six months or longer from debilitating fatigue plus four or more of the following symptoms:

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  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Multi-joint pain
  • Tender lymph nodes in the armpit and neck
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Malaise that follows exertion and continues for more than 24 hours
  • Problems sleeping or unrefreshing sleep

If you have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, the best thing you can do for yourself is 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week. A few years ago, a British study found that 55 percent of the chronic fatigue patients who took part in a 12-week exercise program rated themselves "much" or "very much" better as a result, and even a year later 74 percent still considered themselves improved.

Rather than chlorella for chronic fatigue syndrome, I would recommend the following combination: Eleuthero Ginseng, and ginseng, and a CoQ10 supplement in addition to my antioxidant formula, and two cloves of raw garlic a day for its antiviral and antibiotic effects (if eating raw garlic doesn't appeal to you, chop it fine and add to foods or cut up the cloves and swallow as you would take pills). You can also try astragalus for its antiviral properties. As far as nutrition is concerned, I suggest a low-protein diet. The other tonics I would recommend instead of chlorella for increasing energy are ashwagandha (an Ayurvedic herbal remedy and tonic) and cordyceps (a Chinese mushroom used to increase physical stamina).

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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