NADH: A New Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

NADH: A New Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

After a stressful day, a restless night, or strenuous physical activity, you feel exhausted. That's what people who have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) feel like all of the time. In addition to severe fatigue, sufferers also may have low-grade fever and chills, sore throats and swollen glands, muscle and joint aches, headaches, and the feeling of being in a fog and unable to concentrate or remember. So far, no one knows what causes CFS. It affects more women than men and may last for a month or for many years. Unfortunately, because it is so little understood, there are very few effective treatments for CFS. Recently, however, a naturally existing component of human cells was found to hold promise for treating CFS symptoms.

NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) helps the body to produce energy. Researchers speculate that in CFS, metabolism dysfunction may deplete energy supplies. Therefore, NADH supplementation could help those who with CFS generate more energy. Unfortunately, very little research has been done so far. In one small study, many participants with CFS reported improvements in their energy levels after taking NADH. Mild side effects included overstimulation, loss of appetite, heartburn, gas, and dry mouth. No serious adverse effects were reported.

Talk with your doctor about all therapies available for CFS. Antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs may be helpful. NADH is seen as a potential complementary therapy to other treatments. Other complementary therapies include herbal medicines, acupuncture, massage, and changes in diet. You might consider eating more meat, fish, or poultry—NADH occurs naturally in those foods. Twenty to 30 minutes of exercise a day at least five days a week has also been shown to help relieve CFS.


Forsyth LM, Preuss HG, MacDowell AL, et al. Therapeutic effects of oral NADH on the symptoms of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1999;82:185-191.

Review Date: February 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

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