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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Reducing Chemical Sensitivities

Read more about Reducing Chemical Sensitivities.


Chemicals can be extremely useful substances in our daily lives, but are also extremely toxic. Continual exposure, even in very small doses, to chemicals might well contribute, if not wholly cause the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

There are innumerable ways in which you may be over-exposed to chemicals in the environment, but some common examples include:

  • living near or working in a power or other industrial plant
  • drinking, washing or bathing in water that contains toxins/chemicals
  • old appliances that leak
  • living near or working in a factory
  • consuming pesticides or herbicides that often are used to produce foods (Agent Orange is a famously toxic herbicide used in Vietnam War, that is known to cause birth defects, and myriad chronic conditions in adults.)

Effect of Reducing Chemical Sensitivities on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

People with chronic fatigue syndrome may at times attribute their symptoms to chemical exposures, thereby relating chronic fatigue syndrome to another loosely defined condition known as multiple chemical sensitivities, or MCS.

Research Evidence on Reducing Chemical Sensitivities

One study evaluated people with chronic fatigue syndrome who believed that certain chemical triggers affected their mental function, causing mental sluggishness and confusion.30 The results showed decreased mental function on testing following exposure to supposed chemical triggers; however, the decrease was the same with the placebo group. This may note that the belief of the presence of that chemical is what produced the symptoms. Regardless, reducing or eliminating exposure to chemicals, would still eliminate the problem.


  1. Smith S, Sullivan K. Examining the influence of biological and psychological factors on cognitive performance in chronic fatigue syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Int J Behav Med. 2003;10:162-173.