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Release: June 22, 1999

UI invites people to take part in studies on chronic fatigue

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care researchers invite people with unexplained chronic fatigue to participate in studies of possible treatments for the condition. One study will evaluate the effectiveness of treatment with citalopram, a prescription drug; the other study will evaluate the use of Siberian ginseng, an herbal product. People can participate in one of the two studies.

Participants must be 21 to 65 years old and experiencing fatigue that substantially interferes with their quality of life. The fatigue cannot be due to overwork, inadequate sleep, well-established medical illnesses such as heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis, depression or any other known cause. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia do qualify for the study. Women must not be pregnant or planning to get pregnant while enrolled in the study. People who wish to participate in the citalopram study must not be taking antidepressants. People who wish to participate in the Siberian ginseng study must not have high blood pressure.

The citalopram study will last nine weeks. Participants must be willing to take medication daily and make a total of four visits to the UI Hospitals and Clinics. Participants will take citalopram or a placebo (sugar pill) at different times during the study. Citalopram is a drug recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration to treat depression.

The Siberian ginseng study will last 16 weeks. Participants must be willing to take medication daily and make a total of five visits to the UI Hospitals and Clinics or their local physician. For the first eight weeks, half of the participants will take Siberian ginseng, while the other half will take a placebo. For the second eight weeks, all participants will take the Siberian ginseng.

"The only generally accepted therapy for chronic fatigue of unknown cause currently is cognitive behavior therapy," said Arthur J. Hartz, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of family medicine and lead investigator for both studies. "Our studies will look at both conventional and alternative treatment methods. We hope to identify people with chronic fatigue who are most likely to benefit from citalopram, and we want to evaluate claims that Siberian ginseng helps reduce fatigue."

For more information about either study, call (319) 384-7804.