Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Approval Status

No Clearance by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

No Approval by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS)

! Read the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position paper on off-label hyperbaric treatment:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don't Be Misled, published 22 August 2013.

About Clearance and Approval


Definition and Causes

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder marked by profound and persistent fatigue that is unrelated to physical exertion and cannot be relieved with bed rest. The long list of accompanying symptoms includes weakness, muscle and joint pain, headache, insomnia, anxiety, depression, indigestion, and impaired memory and cognition. Sometimes called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), postviral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), or X-associated neuroimmune disease, CFS afflicts 1 to 4 million Americans.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has no known cause and is difficult to diagnose. Researchers recently discovered significantly high rates of viral infection among people diagnosed with CFS. Confirmed association with the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), previously associated with prostrate cancer, may open a new era of CFS research, diagnosis, and treatment.

Evidence Index

FDA cleared, widely reimbursed
Strong body of evidence
Repeatedly favorable results
Early or mixed results
Unfavorable or no evidence
Strong evidence against HBOT

Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Some physicians and patients have reported temporary relief from primary symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) immediately after hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). In one study HBOT has also been shown to relieve general fatigue and to reduce the pain associated with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders whose symptoms sometimes resemble CFS.

Physicians may prescribe hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunct or alternative to drug treatments and other therapies, but treatment of CFS with HBOT is not approved by the UHMS and not reimbursed by most insurance plans.

HyperbaricLink Commentary

Although a single study of a small number of patients produced positive results [ UHM, 2013 ], there has yet to be a controlled study of treatment of CFS with HBOT and as of July 2015 none are planned. [ ] Because the placebo effect cannot be excluded when uncontrolled studies produce positive results, we rate the amount of clinical evidence supporting the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome with hyperbaric oxygen therapy at none.

Those seeking treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome should beware of practitioners making bold claims for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Advertising a specific medical benefit from a treatment that has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for that purpose is a violation of US federal law. Never pay to participate in a clinical trial.

Patient Resources

HyperbaricLink recommends the following websites for anyone seeking authoritative information, patient advocacy, and community support for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC website provides an extensive section on chronic fatigue syndrome, including possible causes and helpful recomendations for living with CFS.

Clinical Resources

Start with the following resources to explore current research activities and the peer-reviewed medical literature on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome.

 Use the search buttons below to go directly to research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness (2015)
Institute of Medicine, US National Academy of Medicine

The Institute of Medicine has proposed new diagnostic criteria and a new term for ME/CFS: systemic exertion intolerance disease. The report can be read online, downloaded [PDF], or ordered in paperback paperback form by following the link above.
US National Institutes of Health keeps the official list of human clinical trials currently enrolling, in progress, and recently completed. One may reasonably question the size and legitimacy of any study not listed here.

US National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health

PubMed keeps the official list of scientific papers published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. One may reasonably question the importance and legitimacy of any study not listed here.



News About Autism and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

More news from O2.0 – the HyperbaricLink blog

Complete chronic fatigue syndrome news archive from O2.0 — the HyperbaricLink blog.

Related Terms

  • Akureyri disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Disorder
  • Chronic Fatigue Fibromyalgia Syndrome
  • Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
  • Epidemic neuromyasthenia
  • encephalomyelitis myalgic
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Postviral
  • Fatigue-Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Chronic
  • Iceland disease
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  • postviral fatigue
  • Royal Free Disease
  • systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID)
  • yuppie flu


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
Page Data
Updated: 03 Aug 2015 03:09 PM
Created: 06 Nov 2009 12:00 AM
By: About the authors »