MEDICAL MATTERS

  • Medical Matters features questions asked by Members of the ME Association on health-related topics.
  • Dr Charles Shepherd and the ME Association's other advisers answer these questions by sharing their expert knowledge.
  • Medical Matters is based on the popular ‘Ask the Doctor’ series in ME Essential magazine.
  • It is a free resource that supplements the detailed information contained in the full range of literature that can be found in the website shop.

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Questions in the Category: Energy

Treatment: Coenzyme Q10

ME Essential Winter 2021

My nutritionist has advised me to start taking a supplement called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which, she says, will boost my energy levels and improve my memory problems. What is CoQ10 and is this claim justified? Are there any side-effects? Can I take it with prescription-only medicines?

Management: Swimming

ME Essential Autumn 2020

Like some people with ME/CFS I’ve made a significant degree of improvement over a number of years. I’m fairly stable, mobile, able go for longish walks, and manage to do some part-time work. A well-intentioned friend who goes wild water swimming has suggested that I ‘give it a try’. She claims it can have all kinds of health benefits, including “resetting body clocks that have gone wrong”. She even pointed me to some research about the benefits of cold water swimming for conditions such as arthritis. I’m very open-minded about trying anything that might work. But I’m concerned that this could actually make ME/CFS worse.

Functional Limitations: Energy

ME Essential Summer 2020

I have a diagnosis of both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. For the last couple of months I get a weird thing happening. I can be fine one minute but the next I struggle to keep my eyes open. It’s as though someone has drained all the energy out of my body and I usually end up falling asleep for a few hours. I don’t even have to have done anything but just sitting in my chair. Is this normal for ME/CFS? Or is it something else?

Diet and Nutrition: Malnutrition

ME Essential Summer 2019

I ask because there is a great deal of positive discussion on internet forums about the benefits of unproven special diets, restrictive and exclusion diets, and dietary supplements. At the same time, very little attention is paid to the dangers of cutting out or reducing the intake of specific food groups such as dairy or wheat. And people with more severe ME may have significant problems in obtaining groceries, preparing meals and even eating a full meal. All of which could be having an adverse effect on their overall health. So, do we need to start looking at diet and nutritional status in ME from both a clinical and research point of view?

Diet and Nutrition: The Ketogenic Diet

ME Essential Winter 2019

I have read some internet discussions involving people with ME who claim to be finding benefits from using what is called the ketogenic diet. This is based on the idea that it is beneficial to switch to fats as the primary source of energy. However, I understood that glucose was the best source of ‘food fuel’ that we have. Has any research has been done in this area? And is this safe if you have ME?

Anaemia

ME Essential Summer 2018

A friend of mine with ME/CFS takes a daily iron supplement to help with her fatigue. She says I ought to do the same - even though I know I’m not anaemic. This has been confirmed by a recent GP blood test. So is there any evidence that taking iron tablets could help to boost energy levels in ME/CFS? And is it safe to do so if you are not anaemic?

Diabetes

ME Essential Summer 2018

Knowing that lack of exercise and weight gain are two things that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, is this type of diabetes more common in people with ME? I ask because I noticed I was getting thirsty, drinking more water than usual, and was also passing urine more frequently. I went to see my GP for some blood and urine tests and she confirmed that I had developed type 2 (non insulin requiring) diabetes. The good news is that a change in diet and weight loss are definitely bringing things under control and it doesn’t look as though I am going to need treating with drugs.

Metabolomics

ME Essential Summer 2018

What is metabolomics? And why is the MEA funding research into metabolomics?

Blood Flow: Oxygenation

ME Essential Summer 2018

I know there has been some interesting research involving neuroimaging studies and that this has demonstrated defects in blood flow to certain key parts of the brain. But does this research mean that people with ME/CFS have low levels of oxygen entering the brain? If so, does it also explain some of the key brain symptoms – cognitive dysfunction in particular? And could it lead to new forms of drug treatment?

Dr Charles Shepherd

Dr Shepherd has been Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association for more than 40 years. He is integral to the charity's activities and provides information and support based on his professional knowledge, personal experience as a doctor with ME/CFS, and the understanding gained from helping many thousands of people with the condition. He was a member of the comittee responsible for the 2021 NICE Clinical Guideline and is a recognised expert on ME/CFS in the UK. His knowledge extends to Post-Viral Fatigue Syndromes (PVFS), Myalgic Encephalopathy/Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) or Long Covid.

If you have questions about ME/CFS or Long Covid, you can: 

  • Review the free information in the What is ME/CFS? section of the website, and the free Covid-19 and Long Covid information in the website shop.
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Medical Matters is based on the popular ‘Ask the Doctor‘ series featured in the highly-regarded member’s magazine, ME Essential, and in the healthcare professional magazine, ME Medical. Both are produced by the ME Association and published as hard-copy magazines every 3 months and sent to members and healthcare professionals by post to home or business addresses. 

If you are an HCP you can sign-up here to receive ME Medical magazine (people with ME/CFS can also nominate their HCP by completing the sign-up form). 

Please note: The answers comprising Medical Matters were accurate at the time of printing. A publication date accompanies all listed entries. We will endeavour to keep Medical Matters updated as information changes, but if you would like to comment, please email: contact@meassociation.org.uk

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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