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Trial By Error: More On The CDC; Reader's Digest; And BBC's Newsbeat

Friday 25 May 2018


From Virology Blog:


David Tuller
David Tuller

Trial By Error: More on the CDC; Reader’s Digest; and BBC’s Newsbeat

By David Tuller, DrPH
23 May 2018
Content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

It’s been almost a year since the CDC removed its recommendations for GET and CBT as treatments for ME/CFS (or CFS, or ME, or CFS/ME, or even SEID or whatever else one calls this illness or cluster of illnesses). When questioned about the decision, the agency explained that people had misunderstood what was meant by CBT and GET—not that the science behind the recommendations was indefensible, as was clearly the case. Despite the CDC’s unwillingness to provide a credible explanation for its actions, the change marked a significant victory over the CBT/GET ideological brigades.

And yet the treatments continue to be recommended by major medical organizations and websites in the U.S. Here, for example, is a section about ME/CFS treatment from the Mayo Clinic’s site:

Graded exercise. A physical therapist can help determine what exercises are best for you. Inactive people often begin with range-of-motion and stretching exercises for just a few minutes a day. Gradually increasing the intensity of your exercise over time may help reduce your hypersensitivity to exercise, just like allergy shots gradually reduce a person’s hypersensitivity to a particular allergen.

The passage presumes that the illness involves a “hypersensitivity to exercise” comparable to an allergy, and that gradual exposure is the solution. What is this hypersensitivity? Is it attitudinal or psychological in nature? Is it biological? Is there any evidence that such a hypersensitivity is an actual phenomenon, and that exercise can reduce it? The Mayo site does not provide answers to these questions.

Kaiser Permanente’s site also continues to recommend both GET and CBT. Here’s what it says about CBT, for example:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a way to help you stay well and cope with chronic fatigue by changing how you think. And how you think affects how you feel. Negative thoughts can make you feel worse. Healthy thinking can help…Healthy thinking can take away barriers to being physically active, such as discouraging thoughts. This helps because light aerobic exercise, such as walking, helps some people who have ME/CFS feel more energetic and less tired.

No one can be against “healthy thinking,” of course. But this description has little to do with the illness we’re talking about.


Full article…



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