Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treated with Herbs & Music
According to the Centers of Disease Control, at least one million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). But since this disorder is often not diagnosed, we know the actual number is significantly higher.
The typical diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome is six months or more of chronic fatigue. But many CFS patients also report a number of other symptoms, which include muscle pain, fevers, sore throats, headaches, sleep problems and others.
Most physicians are stymied for treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. Some consider the condition to be purely psychological so they end up prescribing psychotropic medications or narcotic drugs.
When the person is seen as simply a biological machine, then treating something like chronic fatigue syndrome with pharmaceuticals will often have limited success.
Traditional medicine sees chronic fatigue quite differently. An understanding of the deeper elements of the person – notably the mind-body-spirit connection – is something that traditional medicines have utilized for centuries to treat billions of people.
Traditional Chinese Medicine sees chronic fatigue syndrome from a deeper level. The translation of the definition of the condition most closely resembles the word “melancholia” – alluding to the connection with the deeper person within.
TCM herbs with music treat CFS
Researchers from China’s Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine studied 75 patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The researchers divided the patients into six groups of 15 each:
• Group one was treated with an herbal blend called Lixujieyu together with a type of five-element music therapy called Gong Tune.
• The second group of 15 was treated with the Lixujieyu formula along with another music therapy called Jiao Tune.
• The third treatment group was given the Lixujieyu herbs together with a music therapy called Yu Tune.
• The fourth group was treated with Lixujieyu and Shang Tune.
• The fifth group was given the Lixujieyu herbs with Zhi Tune.
• The last group was the control group. These 15 patients were treated with the Lixujieyu herbs without the music therapy.
What is Five Element Music Therapy?
Five-element music therapy means musical tones that harmonize with particular meridians, organs and emotions. These five types of music therapy, together with their respective organ and emotion:
• Jiao – liver – anger – do
• Zhi – heart – joy – re
• Gong – spleen – anxiety – mi
• Shang – worry – lungs – so
• Yu – kidneys – fear – la
These last phrases apply to the five elements music scale, which corresponds with the musical scales (do, re, mi, so, la).
Five element music will also be soothing and melodious. Other research has found these are helpful for various types of disorders, especially when combined with herbal therapy and/or acupuncture.
The music used in this study was composed by ShiFeng, and came from a compact disc called – you guessed it – Five Element Music. The music was performed by the Philharmonic of the Central Conservatory of Music.
Lixujieyu herbal formula
The formula used for the chronic fatigue patients contains specific plant parts of several herbs. Here is the Lixujieyu formula plant list with species, common names and the plant part used:
• Astragalus root – Huangqi (Radix Astragali Mongolici – root of Astragalus membranaceus)
• Kudzu root – Ge-gen (Radix Puerariae Lobatae – root of Pueraria Lobata)
• Ginseng root – Sanqi (Radix Noto ginseng – Panex ginseng)
• Epimedium /Barrenwort leaves – Yinyanghuo (Herba Epimedii Brevicornus)
• Curcuma wenyujin root – Yujin (Radix Curcumae Wenyujin)
• Acorus gramineus bud – Acori Tatarinowii – Shichangpu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii)
Each patient was given a dose of 300 milliliters of the Lixujieyu decoction twice a day. The decoction was prepared by the university pharmacy.
Testing for pain and fatigue
Each patient was tested and then treated for four weeks. They were then tested again after the four weeks of treatment.
The music therapy patients listened to the music each week for five days with two days off. They started at either noon or 7 pm each day. They listened to the music for 45 minutes each session at a volume of between 55 and 65 decibels.
The researchers used three ways to judge the success of the treatments. These included the Fatigue Scale, a standard criteria as approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to assess chronic fatigue syndrome. The researchers also utilized the Hamilton Depression Scale or HAMD, along with the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) to assess the deeper elements of the condition.
Two music-herb therapy combinations have success
All the treatment groups had reduced symptoms after the treatment period. But the researchers found that two of the treatment groups had a more significant reduction in their symptoms, compared to the other groups.
The two successful treatments were achieved in groups one and two. These were given the Lixujieyu formula with the Gong Tune, and the Lixujieyu with the Jiao Tune.
The control group’s fatigue scale went from 22.6 to 20.2. This was just from the herb formula alone – which is a respectable drop of nearly 11 percent from the beginning of the study.
But group one’s fatigue scale dropped from 19.8 to 12.5 – a drop of nearly 37 percent.
And group two’s fatigue scale dropped from 22.1 to 14.2 – a drop of 36 percent.
These two groups used the Gong Tune and Jiao Tune respectively. These correspond to the organs of the liver and spleen and anxiety and anger, respectively.
Lixujieyu formula treats CFS in other studies
This is not the first time that the Lixujieyu – or Lixu jieyu – formula has been proven successful in the treatment of chronic fatigue.
Another study from Shanghai University studied 120 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This 2012 study treated the patients with either the Lixujieyu formula or vitamin B plus oryzanol tablets (another TCM formula) twice a day. This study found that symptoms of fatigue, depression, anxiety and other scores were improved in the group treated with the Lixujieyu formula.
A study of 75 chronic fatigue syndrome patients treated the patients with either the Lixujieyu formula or vitamin B plus oryzanol tablets twice a day. Both groups were treated for three months.
In this study, the researchers tested fatigue scores along with various immune cells. They found that not only were fatigue scores lower after the Lixujieyu treatment, but Th-cells, T-cells and CD4/CD8 cell ratios were significantly lower in the Lixujieyu group.
But as seen with the most recent study, a combination of the herbal formula with the music therapy resulted in an even greater response.
Zhang Z, Cai Z, Yu Y, Wu L, Zhang Y. Effect of Lixujieyu recipe in combination with Five Elements music therapy on chronic fatigue syndrome. J Tradit Chin Med. 2015 Dec;35(6):637-41.
WU Li-li, ZHANG Zhen-xian, ZHANG Ye. Investigation of Lixu Jieyu Prescription In Treating 120 Cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (Department of TCM in Yue Yang Hospital,Affiliated to Shanghai University of TCM 200437,Shanghai,China). CNKI Jrnl. 2012: 02.
Zhang ZX, Wu LL, Chen M. Effect of lixu jieyu recipe in treating 75 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Jun;29(6):501-5.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Accessed March 7, 2016.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”