Fibromyalgia is the name given to chronic, widespread muscular pain that has no obvious cause. The pain-usually described as aching, stiff, burning, or throbbing-may appear in any location of the body, but for a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia to be made, you must have pain in at least eleven of eighteen specific "tender points." The pain from tender points and elsewhere in the body usually feels most severe upon waking and gradually lessons as the day goes on.
Although the pain of Fibromyalgia alone can be so severe as to render its victims disabled, the disease can be complicated by any of several other problems. Fibromyalgia is closely linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, and many of its sufferers experience symptoms similar to those of CFS. Irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, palpitations, and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) may also be present.
As with CFS, there is currently no one agreed-upon cause for this disease. In most cases, many factors combine to produce varied components of Fibromyalgia. Disordered sleep is a very common problem with this condition. The length and the quality of sleep must be improved for long-term success in most cases of fibromyalgia. Also, hormone imbalance is quite common. Particularly, low thyroid function and imbalances in estrogen/progesterone, as well as in the stress hormone DHEA and cortisol. Digestive function and detoxification usually need improvement to help people with Fibromyalgia. Along with this digestive weakness comes leaky gut syndrome and candida overgrowth, as well as general dysbiosis. Chronic infections that include viruses can be a factor. Food allergies are a significant contributor for some people, especially allergies to wheat, sugar, and cow's milk. As well, nutritional deficiencies, of magnesium, B vitamins, coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, and several others, are very common. We have also found that many people with Fibromyalgia have a brain chemistry imbalance. Using natural therapies to balance serotonin and other neurotransmitters results not only in a better mood but in less muscular pain. Toxic elements, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and others, can also be one of the root contributors to Fibromyalgia. These toxic elements interfere with the normal enzyme and cell function in the body. In addition, blood-sugar imbalances worsen pain and inflammation. Many people develop symptoms of Fibromyalgia after a car accident, and thus structural abnormalities must be addressed through physical therapies. Chiropractic, osteopathic, and craniosacral therapy; physiotherapy; and sometimes massage are very helpful in reducing pain.
In essence, all of these potential imbalances lead to a defect in how the cells produce energy. Normally, the "energy-producing" plant of the cells, known as the mitochondria metabolism, produces efficient energy for the cells of the body. When a defect occurs in mitochondrial metabolism, it can lead to a shortage of energy for the muscle cells and other tissues of the body, resulting in fatigue and pain. Mitochondria require organic acids that are intermediaries in metabolic pathways in the body that create energy. Researchers found that people with fibromyalgia often have imbalances in these organic acids. To correct this problem, one must address the root causes, as have been described. Fortunately, a comprehensive natural approach to Fibromyalgia is very effective in eliminating the pain or greatly improving it.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
For a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia to be made, two factors must be present:
- Unexplained, widespread pain that lasts at least three months
- Pain in at least eleven of eighteen tender points when gentle pressure is applied
Many other symptoms may exist alongside the pain, including the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Tingling of the skin or other odd sensations
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
- Heart palpitations
- Heightened sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, and changes in the weather
- Sleep disorder (including apnea)
- Allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals, food, or the environment
- Chemical imbalance in the brain, especially or serotonin
- Virus (especially Epstein-Barr, HHV-6, cytomegalovirus)
- Hormone imbalance
- Damage to cells by free radicals
- Poor digestion and detoxification
- Toxic metals
- Blood-sugar imbalance
- Candidiasis and parasites
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially of minerals
- A build-up of phosphate or uric acid
- Structural abnormalities (spine and soft tissue)
- Emotional stress
Follow a sound diet that is based on whole, unprocessed foods. Emphasize raw or lightly cooked vegetables, especially greens, and other foods that are high in nutrients and fiber.
To keep up a steady supply of energy to your muscles, eat lots of lean protein-beans, raw nuts, soy products, fish, chicken, and turkey are all good sources-and plan on several meals throughout the day, instead of three large ones.
Eat some live unsweetened yogurt or other cultured foods daily to combat Candidiasis.
Omega-3 fatty acids help the body create prostaglandin, a hormone that reduces inflammation. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, as well as fatty fish, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fibromyalgia has been linked to a magnesium deficiency, so make sure to consume foods that are high in this mineral, including green leafy vegetables, kelp, soybeans, cashews, and almonds. Vitamin A, C, and E together help fight free radicals, whose presence may inhibit cells' ability to produce energy. For vitamin A, eat plenty of colored vegetables (especially the green, leafy ones) and skim milk. Good sources of vitamin E are soybeans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, whole grains, and, again, green leafy vegetables.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. You'll flush out toxins and reduce pain.
Foods to Avoid
Determine whether a food allergy is causing or contributing to your pain. Mineral deficiencies have been linked to Fibromyalgia, so avoid caffeine, which interferes with their proper absorption. Caffeine also contributes to sleep disturbances.
Reduce or cut out meat, fried and junk foods, high-fat dairy products, and other foods that are high in saturated fats. They contribute to inflammation and pain, as well as to insomnia; in addition, they slow you circulation and deplete your stores of energy.
Avoid sugar. It increases pain, weakens the immune system, disturbs sleep, saps your energy, and encourages the growth of Candida albicans, a fungus that some believe is the cause of Fibromyalgia. The most common sources of sugar are soda and processed food, but you also need to severely restrict your intake of natural sugars like honey and even fruits.
Dramatically reduce your intake of processed food and carbonated drinks. These items are full of food additives that will only aggravate your condition.
- A high-potency multivitamin provides a base of nutrients required for cellular energy production
- Coenzyme Q10 supports cellular energy production. Take 200 to 300 mg daily.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine supports cellular energy production. Take 500 to 1,000 mg daily.
- Calcium relaxes the nerves and the muscles. Take 500 mg twice daily, along with 400 IU of vitamin D.
- Milk thistle supports liver detoxification. Take 250 mg of a 80 to 85 percent silymarin extract three times daily.
- Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory benefits. Take 800 IU daily.
- Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing benefits. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.
Grape seed extract or maritime pine bark improves circulation and has anti-inflammatory effects. Take 100 mg two to three times daily.
- Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that supports detoxification. Take 100 to 200 mg daily.
- N-acetylcysteine supports detoxification and helps produce glutathione. Take 500 mg daily.
- NADH supports cellular energy production. Take 10 to 20 mg on an empty stomach.
- Passionflower relaxes the nerves. Take 300 to 500 mg in capsule form or 1ml of tincture three times daily. It can also be taken before bedtime to help sleep.
- Valerian relaxes the nerves. Take 300 to 500 mg in capsule form or 1ml of tincture three times daily. IT can also be used before bedtime to help with sleep.
- Olive leaf extract is good if you have a chronic viral infection. Take 500 mg three times daily.
- A probiotic is important for digestive function and immunity. Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms daily.
- Thyroid controls cellular energy and mood. If you levels are low, work with a knowledgeable doctor to use natural thyroid hormone.
- DHEA reduces stress and inflammation. If your levels are low, work with a doctor to normalize your levels. The normal starting dosage is 5 to 15 mg daily.
- Natural progesterone can be helpful for woman with Fibromyalgia. Premenopausal women should apply 1/4 teaspoon (20mg equivalent) to the inside of their forearms twice daily for three to four weeks of the month. Postmenopausal women should apply 1/8 teaspoon (10 mg equivalent) to the inside of their forearms once daily for 3 weeks of the month.
- Estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone need to be prescribed, based on your levels, by a doctor who is knowledgeable in natural hormone replacement.
- <font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Ginkgo biloba improves circulation and memory. Take 60 to 120 mg of a 24 percent flavone glycoside extract three times daily.
- Fish oil supplies pain-relieving omega-3 fatty acids. Take a fish oil product containing at least 480 mg of EPA and 360 mg of DHA twice daily.
- A green drink containing super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, barley grass, and others, supports detoxification and energy production.
- Melatonin promotes sleep. Take 0.3 to 0.5 mg a half hour before bedtime.
- Black cohosh is a good hormone balancer and relaxes spasms of the muscles. Take 40 mg of a 2.5 percent triterpene glycoside extract twice daily.
- Cordyceps sinensis supports adrenal gland function. Take 800 mg twice daily of a standardized product.
- Arnica oil relieves muscle pain and tenderness. Apply the oil to painful areas twice daily.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Consider positive mental imagery, meditation, and prayer a first line of defense against the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Regular meditation is both refreshing and calming. It improves you concentration and memory and, when used just before bedtime, can help you sleep. Biofeedback helps you learn to improve the way your body responds to stress.
It's not a bad idea to supplement your daily meditation with a yoga class once or twice a week. Yoga relaxes your body and mind, improves digestion, and can ease both joint and muscle pain.
- Magnet therapy can be helpful to reduce pain. Work with a practitioner who is knowledgeable in this area.
- Moderate, nonjarring exercise is one of the best treatments for Fibromyalgia. Daily exercise for half an hour (a brisk walk or swim are excellent choices) is far preferable to less frequent but more vigorous workouts. Studies show that people Fibromyalgia who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms than those who are inactive. Get adequate rest. Most of us need at least eight hours a day; if you need more, however, by all means take it. Overexertion will only aggravate your symptoms.