Veteran and Military Healthcare

Gulf War Syndrome

Roughly 700,000 members of the U.S. armed forces served during the Persian Gulf War from 1990-1991. It is estimated that 25% of these Gulf War veterans have developed a wide range of symptoms that involve many different organs and systems1. These symptoms include fatigue, generalized neuropathic pain, memory and concentration deficits, balance disturbances, and depression. Although the origin of this disease is debated, there is evidence that exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, such as organophosphate pesticides, pyridostigmine bromide, and low-level sarin nerve gas, during deployment has altered the autonomic function of subsets of soldiers6 deployed in the Gulf from 1990-1991.

Gulf War Syndrome is commonly characterized by an irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, sleep disorder, cognitive disorders, joint pain and headache2-5. Gulf War Syndrome is associated with autonomic nervous system suppression, alteration of circadian autonomic nervous system function, abnormal PET scans, abnormal SPECT scans and abnormal spectral MRI6. In 2004, the Veterans Administration recognized that Gulf War Syndrome is related to a central neurotoxicity abnormality rather then a pure psychiatric illness2. An example of failure to activate parasympathetic activity during sleeping hours, abnormalities of heart rate and abnormal QTc interval in the Haley, Shell, Charuvastra study of Gulf War Veterans with a Fibromyalgia Syndrome is also common among patients suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.

There is currently no approved treatment for Gulf War Syndrome. In October of 2010, Targeted Medical Pharma Inc. received a $244,476.33 grant from the IRS as part of the Qualifying New Therapeutic Discovery Grant Program. The grant was for the continued research into the safe and effective treatment of symptoms related to Gulf War Syndrome using the medical foods Sentra PM and Sentra AM. In January of 2012, Targeted Medical Pharma Inc. concluded a pilot study for the dietary management of PTSD and Gulf War Fibromyalgia (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/...). This pilot study yielded statistically relevant improvements of mental and physical health scores, indicating that more investigation into the nutritional management of PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome are warranted.

  1. Trial. JAMA. 20. Donta ST, Clauw DJ, Engel CCJ, et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy and aerobic exercise for Gulf War veterans' illnesses: a randomized controlled t03;289:1396–1404.
  2. Binns J, Cherry N, Golomb B, Haley RW, Steele L. Scientific Progress in Understanding Gulf War Veterans Illnesses: Report and Recommendations. 2004. Veterans Administration. Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses
  3. Carnall D. Britain investigates Gulf war syndrome. BMJ. 1996;312:332-333.
  4. Currie E. The Gulf War syndrome. BMJ. 1995;310:1334-1335.
  5. Haley RW, Fleckenstein JL, Marshall WW et al. Effect of basal ganglia injury on central dopamine activity in Gulf War syndrome: correlation of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and plasma homovanillic acid levels. Arch Neurol. 2000;57:1280-1285.
  6. Haley RW, Vongpatanasin W, Wolfe GI et al. Blunted circadian variation in autonomic regulation of sinus node function in veterans with Gulf War syndrome. Am J Med. 2004;117:469-478.