Lysine for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Potential Benefits

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Lysine, also called L-lysine, is an essential amino acid. "Essential" means that your body doesn't produce it, so you get it through diet and supplementation.

While more research needs to be done to confirm these findings, some studies have linked lysine to:

  • Suppression of herpes viruses;
  • Increasing calcium absorption, which may be helpful in osteoporosis;
  • Lowering glucose levels;
  • Alleviating migraines;
  • Lessening anxiety;
  • Aiding in wound and fracture healing.

Lysine has not been researched specifically in connection with fibromyalgia (FMS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). However, it is somewhat popular in people with these conditions.

A look at the above list of possible effects illustrates why. Research shows that some cases of ME/CFS may be linked to human herpesvirus-6, which causes roseola in babies. Some researchers have hypothesized about a possible link between herpes simplex 1 (the cold sore virus) and FMS.

Additionally, studies show that FMS may be a risk factor for osteoporosis, making fracture healing important. Also, some people with these conditions report slow healing.

Some doctors believe people with FMS and ME/CFS are especially prone to diabetes, making glucose control beneficial for us.

Many of us have frequent migraines, and a change in headache type or severity is part of the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.

Anxiety is a common symptom of FMS and ME/CFS.

A single supplement that could help with all of these problems is bound to tempt us to try it. Anecdotally, some people say lysine helps alleviate symptoms while others say it's had no effect on them.

Until controlled studies are performed and replicated, we won't be able to say for sure whether it is effective in FMS and ME/CFS.


When taken as a supplement, a typical dosage of lysine is 1 g per day, possibly increasing to 3g daily during a herpes outbreak. This dosage level is believed to be safe in healthy adults.

Lysine supplementation may not be appropriate for those on diabetes medications (because of its effect on glucose) or who take calcium supplements.

Dietary Sources

Many foods contain lysine, including:

  • Red meat, pork and poultry,
  • Dairy products,
  • Some fish, including cod and sardines,
  • Nuts,
  • Eggs,
  • Soybeans,
  • Legumes.

Side Effects

High doses of lysine may cause gallstones, kidney dysfunction or kidney failure.

Typical doses are linked to some digestive side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Lysine counteracts the essential amino acid arginine, so if you're taking arginine supplements adding lysine may be counterproductive.

To avoid negative interactions, be sure to talk to your doctor and pharmacist when you're considering new supplements.

More Supplements for Immune Function

Also see:


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