Is this blog I am going to discuss how irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are connected. Do imbalances in gut health cause chronic fatigue? Or, are the gut imbalances, so frequently detected in those with chronic fatigue, a consequence of the condition?
Before we start, other blogs that you might be interested in, include:
- The Ultimate Guide To IBS
- SIBO: What Causes It
- SIBO: Natural Treatment Considerations
- Can the gut microbiome cause depression and changes in mood?
Can IBS Cause Chronic Fatigue?
Patients with CFS are more likely to report a previous diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, and experience IBS-related symptoms
Let’s start by considering the research that may indicate that changes in the microbiome cause chronic fatigue syndrome:
- SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) has been found in up to 81% of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Leaky gut is also a frequent finding.
- Imbalances in the large intestine microbiome are also frequently found.
- Gut inflammation has been found in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is very clear, both from the research and my clinical experience, that imbalances in the gut may cause chronic fatigue.
Can Having Chronic Fatigue Cause IBS?
Having said that, is it possible that imbalances else where in the body, such as a high viral load or mycotoxins, contribute to the imbalances in the microbiome? Could this explain why some people with chronic fatigue syndrome experience limited improvement in their symptoms when they just focus on gut health?
I believe so.
There are other considerations as to why someone may develop chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Infection (viral)
- Toxin (mycotoxins)
- Chronic stress
- Nutrient deficiencies caused by something other than gut imbalances
To strengthen this argument, that something else might be causing the chronic fatigue and gut imbalances, it is important to point out that many of the above factors significantly influence the microbiome.
A key regulator of the microbiome is the immune system. All of the above factors may influence the immune system, and thus impact on the stability and diversity of the microbiome.
So there is no easy answer, as there often isn’t when we are talking about chronic health conditions such as IBS and CFS. We must take a holistic approach to improving our health that aims to understand both the root causes(s) of disease, as well as the interconnectedness of the bodily systems (such as the digestive and immune systems).
- Does the Microbiome and Virome Contribute to Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
- Chronic fatigue syndrome patients have alterations in their oral microbiome composition and function
- Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
- A retrospective outcome study of 42 patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 30 of whom had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Half were treated with oral approaches, and half were treated with Faecal Microbiome Transplantation
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the Era of the Human Microbiome: Persistent Pathogens Drive Chronic Symptoms by Interfering With Host Metabolism, Gene Expression, and Immunity
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Lactic Acid Bacteria May Be of Therapeutic Value
- Eradication of SIBO decreases symptoms of CFS
- Gut inflammation in chronic fatigue syndrome
- Review Article: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth–Prevalence, Clinical Features, Current and Developing Diagnostic Tests, and Treatment
- Fatigue in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Pooled Frequency and Severity of Fatigue