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Home » Amino Acids and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Updated 2024)

Amino Acids and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Updated 2024)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition characterized by long-term pain and disability, making it challenging to diagnose and treat effectively.

Facts about Chronic Fatique Syndrome :

  1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a serious long-term illness that affects many body systems, often leaving those affected unable to carry out ordinary daily activities. (source)
  2. CFS is most common among women aged 20 to 50 and is rare overall. (source)
  3. The causes of CFS are still unknown and there is no known cure, emphasizing the need for further research in this field. (source)
  4. Studies suggest that 1-4 million people in the U.S. suffer from CFS. (source)
  5. For most people, ME/CFS is a lifelong disease. Surprisingly, full recovery is rare and estimated at less than 10%. (source)
  • Could the secret weapon against chronic fatigue syndrome lie in the proteins we consume?
  • How are amino acids emerging as a promising solution?

Recent studies have shed light on the potential role of amino acids in the development and management of CFS.

In this blog post, we will explore the mechanisms and implications of amino acids in CFS, examine the findings of relevant studies, and discuss the potential of amino acid supplementation as a promising approach for fatigue reduction. So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome.

amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome

Mechanisms and Implications

Amino acids, as the building blocks of proteins, play a crucial role in various physiological processes, including energy metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis. Amino acid supplementation holds the potential to restore amino acid balance, enhance energy production, and alleviate fatigue symptoms in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

In CFS, there may be imbalances or deficiencies in certain amino acids that can disrupt energy metabolism and neurotransmitter function. By providing the body with targeted amino acid supplementation, it is hypothesized that these imbalances can be corrected, leading to improvements in energy levels and reduction in fatigue.

Amino acids are involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells. By supplying the necessary amino acids, the body can optimize ATP synthesis and enhance overall energy production, potentially addressing the fatigue experienced by individuals with CFS.

Furthermore, amino acids are precursors for neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are essential for regulating mood, cognition, and energy levels. By ensuring an adequate supply of amino acids, neurotransmitter synthesis and function may be supported, potentially contributing to improved symptoms of fatigue in individuals with CFS.

Urinary Amino Acid Excretion Patterns and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A compelling laboratory study1 investigated urinary amino acid excretion patterns in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) compared to a control group, shedding light on the potential connection between amino acids and CFS. The study’s findings revealed intriguing abnormalities in amino acid excretion patterns among CFS patients.

In this study, researchers analyzed urine samples from CFS patients and compared them to samples from a control group. The goal was to identify any significant differences in urinary amino acid excretion patterns between the two groups. The study’s results demonstrated distinct deviations from normal patterns in CFS patients, indicating potential disruptions in amino acid metabolism.

The findings revealed both reduced and increased excretion of specific amino acids in individuals with CFS when compared to the control group. These abnormal patterns suggest imbalances or dysregulation in amino acid metabolism, which may contribute to the development or progression of chronic fatigue syndrome.

By exploring the link between amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome through laboratory investigations, researchers hope to uncover underlying mechanisms, potential biomarkers, and ultimately develop more effective interventions to alleviate the burden of CFS.

Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome

Several studies have contributed to our understanding of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a metabolic perspective.

Armstrong, CW et al Study

Armstrong, C.W et al study titled “Metabolism in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”4 addresses the irregularities discovered in energy and amino acid metabolism in CFS patients. The study adds credence to the notion that metabolic disturbances play a critical role in the manifestation of CFS. It provides comprehensive insights into the metabolic processes in CFS patients, thereby presenting possible pathways for therapeutic intervention.

These findings emphasize the interplay between energy production, amino acid metabolism, and CFS. CFS patients often demonstrate a disturbed balance in their metabolic processes, underscoring potential target areas for future treatment protocols. However, as this metabolic landscape tends to be complex, careful consideration is necessary to identify beneficial pathways and avoid potential treatment pitfalls.

Robert K. Naviaux et al Study

Another fascinating study2 also sheds light on the connection between amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). CFS is a complex disease characterized by long-term pain and disability, making it challenging to diagnose. This study utilized targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics to gain insights into the biology of CFS.

The researchers analyzed plasma samples from a total of 84 subjects, including 45 individuals who met diagnostic criteria for CFS and 39 age- and sex-matched controls. They targeted 612 metabolites in plasma, representing various biochemical pathways.

The findings revealed significant abnormalities in 20 metabolic pathways among patients with CFS. Notably, 80% of the diagnostic metabolites showed decreased levels, indicating a hypometabolic syndrome. The affected pathways included sphingolipid, phospholipid, purine, cholesterol, microbiome, pyrroline-5-carboxylate, riboflavin, branch chain amino acid, peroxisomal, and mitochondrial metabolism.

The researchers further conducted receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, which demonstrated high diagnostic accuracies of 94% in males and 96% in females. This analysis utilized a selected set of metabolites to distinguish CFS patients from the control group.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that the cellular metabolic response in CFS patients resembled the evolutionarily conserved persistence response to environmental stress known as dauer. This suggests that CFS is a conserved, hypometabolic response to environmental stress.

The identification of a chemical signature specific to CFS through targeted plasma metabolomics is significant. It provides a potential tool for diagnosing the condition, monitoring treatment responses, and facilitating clinical trials. Furthermore, the study highlights the potential for personalized treatment approaches based on individual metabolite abnormalities.

Naviaux, R.K et al Study

Naviaux, R.K et al published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences5, delivers an intricate analysis of the metabolic features of CFS. Naviaux and co-authors’ work contributes significantly to our understanding of CFS, presenting its intricacies within the metabolic paradigm.

The study found that CFS is associated with a metabolic state similar to that which occurs during the body’s response to pathogens. This not only sheds light on the potential roots of CFS but also suggests a link between immunity, inflammation, and energy metabolism.

Fundamentally, this study implies that future treatment approaches to CFS could target metabolic reprogramming, with the aim of restoring metabolic balance and improving patient quality of life.

Amino Acid Supplementation: A Promising Approach for Fatigue Reduction

The findings of the amino acid supplementation study3 support the idea that amino acid therapy may correct metabolic disturbances and improve cellular energy production in CFS patients.. The difficulty in defining and diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) suggests a potential multifactorial etiology, and one possible common factor in this illness could be metabolic blocks that hinder optimal ATP production in cells.

CFS patients often exhibit elevated blood lactate levels, which may reflect a deficit in ATP production. Abnormalities in the citric acid cycle intermediates, which are critical for ATP production, have also been observed in CFS patients. Deficiencies in red blood cell magnesium, an essential element for ATP utilization, have been found in CFS patients, and magnesium administration has shown symptom improvement.

Amino acids play a direct role in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and can enhance ATP production. Phenylalanine and tryptophan, two amino acids commonly deficient in CFS patients, are precursors to neurotransmitters involved in depressive disorders. Improvement in fibromyalgia patients, a disease similar to CFS, has been observed with the administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan. However, electrophysiological evidence suggests additional metabolic impairments in CFS patients, distinguishing them from patients with clinical depression.

The study suggests that identifying deficient metabolic factors, such as amino acids, and reintroducing them to correct potential metabolic blocks could be a new and effective approach to treating CFS patients who have an inability to generate optimal cellular energy.


The studies examining the connection between amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome provide valuable insights into the underlying metabolic abnormalities in individuals with CFS. The identification of specific amino acid imbalances and dysregulations opens up new possibilities for targeted interventions and personalized treatment approaches.

Amino acid supplementation holds promise in restoring amino acid balance, enhancing energy production, and alleviating fatigue symptoms in individuals with CFS. However, further research is needed to validate and expand upon these findings, including larger cohort studies and comparisons with related medical disorders.

Nevertheless, the potential of amino acids as therapeutic agents for CFS represents a significant step forward in understanding and addressing this debilitating condition.

As the scientific community continues to unravel the mysteries of amino acids and their role in CFS, we hope that these discoveries will lead to improved diagnosis, management, and quality of life for individuals affected by chronic fatigue syndrome.


[1] K.K. Eaton et al. (2009). Abnormalities in Essential Amino Acids in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine

[2] Robert K. Naviaux et al. (2016). Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

[3] J. Alexander Bralley et al. (1994). Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with specific amino acid supplementation, Journal of Applied Nutrition

[4] Armstrong, CW et al. (2014). Metabolism in chronic fatigue syndrome, Advances in Clinical. Elsevier. 50, 85-129.

[5] Naviaux, R.K et al. (2016). Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome, Proceedings of the National Acad Sciences.

amino acids and chronic fatigue syndrome

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