I've been thinking for a long time about a simple theory (Occam's Razor) that would explain all the various symptoms of CFS. Finally I came up with the following analogy. Imagine that the human body is a fortress that is always under potential attack by foreign enemies. Fortunately, most human bodies are populated by soldiers with heavy machine guns. If the enemy gets close or penetrates the fortress, it is killed off quickly with minimal damage. There are some soldiers on watch for enemies outside the gate at all times, but not too many since the fortress is well-prepared to kill enemies if they get inside. Now, imagine that those of us with CFS have a similar number of soldiers, but that they are equipped with Civil War era guns with limited ammunition. What is the best strategy for the fort to survive? I would guess that it would be to have all the soldiers on lookout for as much of the time as physically possible. That way, the likelihood that they can use one of the faulty weapons to shoot down the potential invaders before it gets too close will be much higher. The problem with this strategy is that having everybody on lookout means that all the soldiers are exhausted and don't have the energy to do much else. Only the minimal efforts needed to keep the fort going (e.g. preparing basic food) are allowable. The soldiers themselves get a minimum amount of rest and are tired all the time. Another problem is that objects that are far away are hard to recognize. Some of them may be invaders, but others may be innocuous or even helpful (e.g. kindly souls bringing food). Considering the negative repercussions of letting in an invader, though, allowing them to come too close is not worth the risk. Now, apply this theory to the CFS sufferer. Assume that the main problem is that the immune system is dysfunctional and thus is always on red alert with regard to intruders. This seems to have the potential of explaining the following problems: 1) Exhaustion. Running immune system at full alert is exhausting (which is why having the flu for normal people is such a big deal). It also causes a mild temperature in some cases. 2) Slipping in of major invaders causes real havoc. How many of you agree with the statement that "I hardly ever get sick, but when I do I get _really_ sick?" I think I've gotten a cold about twice in the past 11 years, but it took me weeks to get over it. 3) Slipping in of minor invaders. With guns not working correctly, some little problems (like snakes or mice) do get through. Once they're in, it's hard to kill them (since weapons are scarce and everyone is on the lookout for bigger threats). Therefore, you have little attackers like candida, Epstein-Barr and other viruses, etc. constantly hanging around. (This may include viruses that attack the brain, although the brain fog/inflamed brain could be caused by something else.) They're not major enough to take down the fort, but they do cause additional stress on it. 4) Because the body is being hypervigilant at killing off anything that seems even remotely threatening, lots of benign or even helpful substances are killed by the immune system. This includes attacks on the glandular system (e.g. thyroid, adrenal, etc.). Food and other benign substances are also identified as threats and attacked, leading to exhaustion on the part of the soldiers (since attacking things is tiring) and leaving fewer resources to kill off true invaders. This seems to a) be consistent with recent evidence that CFS sufferers have faulty immune systems (based on the presence of several weak immune system genes) and b) account for pretty much all of the CFS symptoms. The only one I've left out is the fibromyalgia part, because I don't know a lot about the lymphatic system. I'm also not sure why people with this predisposition would be fine until a triggering incident (often some kind of physical injury followed by a "flu" that never really goes away). Most doctors seem to think that this trigger doesn't stick around causing the disease to continue (since CFS isn't very contagious beyond the first few weeks), and so it must cause some sort of permanent structural damage to the defense system. How this would work is uncertain based on my knowledge, though. BTW, I'm not a medical researcher, but I am a psych Ph.D. (academic rather than clinical) and thus am inclined to think in terms of theories like this. I'm not sure that this theory (even if accurate) would help in finding a cure, but at least it seems like it could be a starting point. Comments?