Gulf War Syndrome

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GWS is the archetypal environmental illness caused by a combination of factors including:

  • Immune insult caused by many different vaccinations (up to 14 in some soldiers) given on the same day;
  • Chemical warfare - organophosphate chemical weapons were used in the Gulf notably sarin;
  • Biological warfare - infectious agents were sprayed onto the troops - the organism was mycoplasma incognito;
  • Pyridostigmine - this is the "antidote" to OP poisoning but is toxic in its own right;
  • Organophosphate pesticides s used for control of sand flies and other insects were weekly sprayed onto tents
  • Fumes from oil well fires;
  • Uniforms were dipped with organophosphates;
  • Depleted uranium resulting in radioactive exposures.
  • Water from drinking and showering was often stored in tanks usually for oil and diesel

This was the most environmentally polluting war in history. Veterans tell me that the chemical alarms were constantly going off but the usual response was to switch the alarm off!

There are many possible causes - three are discussed below.

Two possible causes

1---Many of the soldiers who came back from the Gulf War with Gulf War Syndrome are suffering, amongst other things, from a chronic infection caused by mycoplasma fermentans. This was developed as part of germ warfare and it may be that many thousands of the veterans are infected. Treatment is with high dose doxycycline 200mgs daily for 6 weeks with further cycles given subsequently. See The antibiotic treatment trial of Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses: issues, design, screening, and baseline characteristics To find out more about mycoplasmal infections, visit the website of the Institute of Molecular Medicine. Testing for mycoplasmal infections is possible, but difficult logistically. Again, more information on the above website.

2---The symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome are identical to those of CFS/ME. In 1996, the Ministry of Defence has admitted that Gulf War Syndrome can be caused by organophosphate poisoning - see Pesticide link with Gulf war syndrome - BMJ. This is not at all surprising to me because the clinical features of GWS are identical to those in my "sheep dip flu" farmers. By taking a careful history I often find evidence of pesticide exposure in CFS/ME patients - often they had not connected the chemical exposure to their symptoms. Examples are woodworm timber treatments, house fumigation, excessive use of fly sprays/Vaponas, pet flea treatments etc. For treatment, see Organophosphate Poisoning

Another possibe cause - Depleted uranium

Depleted uranium is used in missiles because it is extremely heavy and when placed in the tips of missiles allows them to penetrate tanks. The problems is that depleted uranium is radioactive. When the missile explodes, the uranium is converted into a fine dust, which is then carried in the air. It can be inhaled by soldiers and civilians, sticks to the lining of the lungs, is taken up by cells of the immune systems and get into lymph glands, bone, brain, hormone producing glands, ovaries and testes. It stays in these organs for many decades and is only very slowly excreted in urine. Uranium produces alpha particles. An alpha particle is heavy, has a very short range and is extremely damaging to cells causing cancer, degenerative conditions and chromosomal defect, resulting in birth defects in the offspring of exposed people. It is estimated that 800 tonnes of depleted uranium were fired in Iraq during the Gulf War - see EFFECTS OF WARS AND THE USE OF DEPLETED URANIUM ON IRAQ By Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, Director of the Oncology Center, Basrah, Iraq

The Ministry of Defence, of course, have done their best to cover up. But even they have concluded, eventually, that:

A debate has continued over several years about the possibility of a link between MND and Gulf War service. Two epidemiological studies that sought to explore this issue were published in 2003. One report concluded that military personnel who were deployed to the Gulf region during the Gulf War period (1990-91) experienced a greater postwar risk of MND than did servicemen who were not deployed to the region. The other report concluded that the observed incidence of MND in young Gulf War veterans (i.e. those aged < 45 years) exceeded the expected incidence, as estimated by US national mortality statistics.Both studies suggested an approximately twofold increased risk of MND in Gulf War veterans. 

Ministry of Defence, Motor Neurone Disease, Synopsis of Causation, 2008

The Ministry of Defence monitored exposure to depleted uranium by looking at urine samples, but only a tiny fraction of inhaled depleted uranium is found in urine – most of it is retained within the body. Furthermore, they chose to ignore or play down the following facts:

  • The Petkau effect (low dose/slow dose phenomenon) – small doses of radiation over a long term are very much more toxic than high doses of radiation over a short term. This was first identified in 1972. See Wikipedia Article on Petkau Effect
  • Internal radiation is far more damaging than external radiation. It is impossible to estimate internal body stores from urine samples – the ratio of bone to urine depleted uranium concentration is more than 15,000.
  • Health effects on people living in Southern Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo have been ignored.

The above facts serve to explain the following observations:

  • Increased rates of motor neurone disease in British Gulf War veterans - see MOD link above
...GWV postwar conceptions were at increased risk for ectopic pregnancies and spontaneous abortions.
  • A U.K. study estimates that half a million extra cancers will be produced over 10 years for every 50 tonnes of depleted uranium released. This report was by the UK Atomic Energy Authority and is referenced here - Earth Island - "Depleted Uranium’s Legacy"
"A recent study in Iraq, following the Gulf war, has identified 20 anophthalmos cases out of a birth cohort of 4,000. [This is a rate of one in 200 whereas the background natural occurrence is one in 25,000.]"

I am grateful to Professor Malcom Hooper, Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, for much of this information. He is President and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK National Gulf Veterans and Families Association

See also these links:


Some papers sometimes 'drop off' the internet, and so here are 4 of the above papers available as direct downloads from this site:

Treatment of Gulf War Syndrome

Treatment is as above and also please see -

Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans - 465 page report


This is also available as a download from this website:

Related Articles

External links


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