These are extraordinarily complex conditions and difficult to treat. I think it would be fair to say that western medicine has often struggled to understand or to offer effective treatments for these problems. From an acupuncture standpoint I like to keep things very simple. Illness in Chinese medicine is understood as an imbalance in the flow of energy in the body. Energetically things get stuck. In such circumstances people do not flourish physically or mentally. We can see an analogy in the natural world. A healthy environment is full of balanced movement, expressed through nutrient cycles and the interrelationship of thousands of species. Life is always flowing. When human activity has degraded any particular habitat this flow is interrupted and a decline in its biodiversity and robustness becomes apparent. However, if it is left alone it will slowly begin to regenerate. It is as if nature knows how things should be and given the chance will work to that goal. The human body, mind and spirit are the same. In M.E or C.F.S the body is no longer working as it naturally would. For some reason the body cannot find its own way to homeostasis – to balance. Acupuncture is a tool to give our energetic systems a gentle nudge to get things moving. If we can get things moving very often the body then knows what it needs to do and a powerful healing response can result.
Acupuncture is no miracle cure but may be able to help with some of the symptoms of these difficult conditions by getting things moving. If, for example, acupuncture treatment could increase circulation, it might help pain symptoms to some degree and this in turn might reduce depression. After a while a symptom like dizziness or ‘brain fog’ might begin to change. Such a course of acupuncture would be planned in terms of months not weeks. The plan would remain conditional on its effectiveness, periodically building in appropriate goals to clearly monitor any progress. Very often it would be complimentary to other forms of treatment. Each patient is different and each treatment plan would be tailored to that individual. If we can begin to change some of the symptoms it may be possible to improve quality of life.
Many people find it useful to look at the British Acupuncture Council website. They have a factsheet on CFS and reference a lot of the recent research into how acupuncture can help.