Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is an illness then affects more than a million Americans and tens of millions more worldwide. Given modafinil’s propensity for solving narcolepsy, it stands to reason that it could also be useful as a treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If it makes regular people feel more awake, shouldn’t it help those who feel chronically tired?
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue can leave someone completely drained of energy and make a normal day feel like a marathon. What most people would consider an easy task, say going out to do just a few errands, can have CFS patients recovering for days or even weeks. Needless to say this can severely impact a person’s job prospects and overall quality of life. The root cause is undetermined, but CFS is often associated with poor biorhythms which make it difficult for people to sleep normally. Researchers have been searching for a solution, and there are some promising results.
The Curious Case of Mr C.
One notable study conducted in Newcastle upon Tyne with scientists Douglas Turkington, Daniel Hedwat, Iain Rider, and Allan H. Young worked with a patient known as “Mr. C” who was suffering from chronic fatigue and was often bed-bound for 2-3 weeks at a time. Mr. C had moments where he was able to have a normal life, until relapsing to a point that he could no longer work or leave the house due to his illness. Mr. C attempted courses of fluoxetine and cognitive behavioral therapy back in 1990 without any improvements. After over a decade the only things that improved was Mr. C’s sleep by using temazepam and zopiclone. By 1998 his condition had deteriorated so much that he became confined to a wheelchair and for the next 18 months he could barely even sit up or feed himself.
Modafinil for Mr C’s CFS
In 2000, Mr. C was finally able to see significant improvement that allowed him to at least enjoy a good quality of life. The improvements came when he was switched to clonazepam and modafinil at a dose of 200mcg. Mr. C’s fatigue levels dropped 300% in just a few months. After 13 years of suffering, Mr. C was finally able to return to a part-time job. Though his condition was not fully cured, this therapy with modafinil and clonazepam helped him to be able to finally have the energy to live a fairly normal life. He was no longer confined to a wheelchair or stuck in bed for weeks at a time.
Further trials over the years found modafinil to be well tolerated with patients and there were very few problems with any adverse drug reactions reported. These studies have been a boon for improving CFS-like symptoms caused by other conditions too, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis. More trials are underway as we speak to determine if modafinil will be approved for CFS. As of right now it’s an off-label treatment so if you are suffering from a similar condition please consult a professional before using modafinil to treat your symptoms.