Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) has finally been given disease status in government report this month.

It is a great vindication for sufferers of ME (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) who have been consistently ridiculed and labelled hypochondriacs.

It can't be much fun lying in a room all day watching paint dry then having to endure the ignorance of people who won't accept that ME is a genuine organic illness.

Apart from debilitating exhaustion, ME encompasses different combinations of symptoms lasting for six months or more.

These include recurrent sore throats, depression, lowgrade fever, lymph node swelling, headaches, muscle and joint pain, intestinal discomfort and loss of concentration.

There are no exclusive lab tests so other diseases need to be ruled out.

A few weeks ago, I met Doris Jones, an independent researcher who has long been campaigning on behalf of ME patients for fair and effective treatment within the NHS.

Mrs Jones has a personal interest in ME her son suffers from the condition.

In 1989, she embarked on a postgraduate research project looking at many of the factors associated with ME.

The results have been presented at several international conferences and her articles on the subject have appeared in numerous publications.

A commonly cited trigger for the development of ME is excessive physical or mental stress.

Other triggers may be viral illnesses, such as Epstein-Barr, prolonged antibiotic treatment or vaccinations particularly in those with allergic predispositions or suppressed immunity.

Patients with the syndrome also seem to have altered hormonal patterns with low adrenal or thyroid reserves, making them more sensitive to stress.

Doris Jones has acquired a mass of scientific papers pointing to a combination of biological and environmental factors in the development of ME.

Chronic low-dose exposure to a range of environmental substances pesticides, toxic chemicals, metals, electromagnetic fields may be undermining the immunity of certain people, making them more prone to bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections.

This can result in a wide range of symptoms depending on genetics, lifestyle and the environment of the individual.

Nutritional therapy plays a vital part in the recovery process of chronic fatigue patients.

Apart from correcting deficiencies and improving the digestion or absorption of food, essential nutrients and natural antiviral agents boost immunity and enhance resistance.

Vitamins, minerals and essential fats are needed for the production of hormones, to regulate mood and reduce muscle pain.

Specific nutrients and herbs help to detox and support liver function. Doris Jones has helped to set up The Environmental Medicine Foundation to provide more information on how environmental matters are related to ill-health and to pursue effective treatment for sufferers.

Find out more by visiting environmentalmedicine or order a newsletter from EMF, P O Box 4523, Bridport, Dorset DT6 6YG.