I am often asked about the benefits of using supplements for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. People usually want to know which supplements I use for chronic pain or fatigue so they can have a better idea about where to start with their own supplement regime. Unfortunately, like everything else about this illness, we all respond differently, so what helps me might not help you the same way.
Herein lies the beauty of sharing our experiences though - some of the things that are helping me the most are the things I was most sceptical about despite being recommended by others who had claimed success using them. This has taught me that even if I am sceptical, it is always worth trying something for a while if it might improve my quality of life. I hope this post will do that for you too.
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Firstly, Where Do I Buy My Supplements?
PLUS Some Discount Codes For You!
I am in the UK and am housebound, so I buy all of my supplements from Amazon and Bulk Powders. Amazon has great deals on a huge variety of brands and Bulk Powders has special offers almost every week, so I can get great quality at an excellent price. Between the two I can get everything I need delivered directly to my home.
Offer for you: First time shoppers at Bulk Powders can get a 35% discount by visiting their website through this link (UK store). And as I've mentioned, they also have regular sales which offer great savings.
If you have sensitivities to fillers etc, then Life Extension are a great alternative as they are a cleaner option, they are slightly more expensive, but worth it if you can't tolerate the added ingredients. As you will see below, I use some of their products regularly.
Offer for you: Use this code at checkout for a 5% discount: 60211361 (European store).
NOTE: The exact products I use are pictured below. Click the pictures to see item details in the UK Amazon store. Click the orange buttons to view similar items in an Amazon store near you. The dose I take is in brackets () and might not necessarily match the recommended dose on the packaging. Please speak to your doctor about any supplements you might want to try before changing your treatment regime.
My Favourite Supplements For ME/CFS
Since there is no widely applicable treatment for M.E. the only thing we can do is manage symptoms and activity levels as best we can. My supplements reflect that.
My supplement regime has changed quite a bit over the years. When I first fell ill in 2015, I was eating a very varied Paleo diet and wasn't using any supplements, but I was on a lot of prescription medication for widespread pain and to help me sleep. I was taking about 15 tablets a day.
I was then introduced to MSM - a sulphur supplement marketed for joint pain, I was quite sceptical and waited many months before taking the plunge and starting on it, but I am so glad I did because I have found that it really helps reduce my pain levels and gives me some energy too. I was even able to come off my pain meds in 2016.
In 2017 I started on the Ketogenic diet and supplement protocols recommended in Dr. Myhill's book. I started with the change in diet and then slowly added the supplements mentioned below. My pain reduced even more and I had various other improvements too.
I later developed Histamine Intolerance, so my diet became even more restricted and the need for supplementation increased, so I have been using the following supplements for about 2 years now:
My Breakfast Time Supplements For ME/CFS
These supplements are best taken in the morning for a good boost to the system, and ideally should be taken with food to aid absorption. I don't always eat breakfast since I often fast, but I might have a keto muffin with lots of grass-fed butter on or a cup of coffee with coconut oil in it or maybe an egg and some cheese.
Vitamin D3 (8000iu) - for anyone who cannot go out into the sunshine. A 10 000iu dose provides roughly the same amount as spending an hour in direct sunlight. It helps fight against infection and helps prevent osteoporosis. Lack of D3 can cause fatigue and pain. Take with vitamin K for bone and cardiovascular health, together they aid calcium absorption.
My Lunch Time Supplements For ME/CFS
I don't always eat solids for lunch as digestion at this time of day can be very draining. So depending on how I'm feeling I will either have a protein shake, which is easier to digest, or a snack platter with a couple of slices of cheese, 3 nuts, a few slices of meat or an egg with mayo, some crackling, a pickle, etc or maybe a lettuce boat or keto sandwich with chicken or tuna and mayo. The focus is on fat and protein as I find vegetables harder to digest.
My Dinner Time Supplements For ME/CFS
This is my main meal, on fasting days it is my only meal. Usually contains cooked meat and vegetables and always includes some added fat like mozzarella, avocado, olive oil or butter.
My Bedtime Supplements For ME/CFS
These are usually taken on an empty stomach or away from food for best results. I don't take this often because it upsets my gut, so I usually only take Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid if I feel like I might be struggling with an infection.
Vitamin C (1000mg) - Protects against infection and fermentation in the gut. Helps maintain healthy bones and skin.
Electrolytes And Other Minerals
Supplementing electrolytes is extremely important for anybody with ME, CFS, POTS or Orthostatic Intolerance. Minerals help us focus, prevent headaches, regulate blood pressure, and a deficiency could even affect our mood and sleep quality as well as all sorts of processes in the body.
Replenishing minerals is also very important for anybody on a Ketogenic diet since the diet is diuretic - minerals are lost along with the excretion of excess water.
I use various methods to add these vital minerals back into my body. They really make a difference and I can feel when I am running low and need another dose. The following are used in my food and drinks throughout the day:
Sunshine Salt (1 tsp a day on food) - Replenishes all the essential minerals to support healthy body function.
This mineral-packed mixture created by Dr Myhill can be used just like salt for cooking or sprinkled on salads. It works out cheaper than buying all the additional minerals separately. (UK shipping only)
I have been using Adrenal Cocktails daily for years now. I find it helps me recover from a crash quicker and I'm able to stay upright longer when supplementing regularly. I can actually feel when I need the next one, I almost feel like I'm falling and my brain starts fogging up. Within minutes of drinking it, I feel much better.
I take at least 3 cocktails each day, on very bad or very hot days I might take a fourth. They are generally taken between meals. Since I also use a few supplements in powdered or liquid formulas, 2 of my cocktails contain extra ingredients. You can find various Adrenal Cocktail recipes online, but here is the recipe I use:
Basic Adrenal Cocktail Recipe
Add the following to a glass of water and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon, not metal as I have read it may affect the minerals. I take this cocktail at least three times a day.
- 1ml Celtic Salt (for Sodium and about 80 other minerals)
- 3ml Cream of Tartar (for Potassium)
- 1 tsp lemon or lime juice (for Vitamin C)
Magnesium is taken in pill form, as mentioned above, so is not added to the cocktail.
Add On Supplements
I add these to the Adrenal Cocktail twice a day and have the third cocktail without because these supplements will keep me awake if taken too late in the day.
- 1ml Acetyl-l-carnitine (mitochondrial support, providing energy - has strong citrus flavour)
- 1ml Taurine (neurological and cardiovascular support - reduces brain fog, I don't taste it)
- 1ml MSM (pain relief, joint health and energy - has a bitter taste, can use pill form instead of adding the powder to the cocktail, if it's unbearable)
Which Supplements Make The Most Difference?
People often want to know which supplements are the most effective or most important to start on, but I have noticed that this is something very personal. When the members of my support group were asked this question, they all come up with different answers. It seems each of us will respond differently to different things, so it is important to try whatever you can for a while and see how your own body responds.
That said, the most effective supplements I have found for myself have been:
- MSM and Magnesium for pain relief.
- Vitamin B complex and Acetyl-l-carnitine for energy.
- Taurine for brain fog.
- Adrenal Cocktails for orthostatic intolerance and crash recovery.
I say these are the most effective only because I can definitely feel the difference when I run out of them. I can feel it within a day or two, while other supplements don't make such an impact when I skip a dose. Perhaps they take longer to work out of my system and maybe this delays the effects of starting or stopping the supplement.
I have recently forgotten to take my supplements for just over 24 hours while my sister (who usually takes care of my supplements for me) was unable to help me - the increase in pain and stiffness in my joints was horrible and I was very foggy too, so they are definitely helping!
Starting New Supplements
The way I decide which supplements to try is to think about my most debilitating symptom and find a supplement that might have an effect on that. Start one new supplement at a time, perhaps for a couple of weeks before starting the next one. That way you can tell if it's making a difference.
Sometimes you don't notice the gradual improvements until you stop a supplement for a while and the symptoms return in full force. So it is sometimes helpful to use a supplement for a few weeks then stop using it and see how your body responds.
Be patient, supplements don't all work instantly, your body might have a deficiency and will slowly absorb it and repair damage before you start to feel the effects.
For example, my MSM took 3 weeks to kick in, but made such a difference that I was able to stop all my daytime pain killers!
I definitely feel it when I stop taking it too, so although it isn't causing any more improvement after years of use, going without it will absolutely cause deterioration.
The goal is always to maintain an improved quality of life.
Share Your Experience In The Comments
- Which supplements have you found most beneficial?
- What improvement have you experienced from them?
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