Fribromyalgia is most common in the age group between 20 and 40 years - literally in the prime of life. Although perhaps a less well known condition, several million people in the USA suffer from this debilitating illness, up to 80% are women. While fibromyalgia is considered as functionally disabling as rheumatoid arthritis
, it is much less widely accepted or even recognized by the medical world and other interested bodies such as social security.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can be so diverse
- The condition can cause severe pain and tenderness in muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- Shoulder and neck pain is common but some people with fibromyalgia also have problems with digestion, sleeping (insomnia) and not surprisingly, suffer anxiety and depression.
- Others have cognitive problems, making it difficult to remember or pay attention.
- Additional symptoms can include irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), restless leg syndrome and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
- Sufferers may be extra sensitive to odors, noises, bright lights and touch.
- Fibromyalgia is often linked with the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and chronic fatigue syndrome.
While there is no known single root cause, fibromyalgia can result from a number of very different causes or catalysts. These include injury (for example from whiplash), food allergies, hormone imbalances, digestive problems, metal toxicity, neurotransmitter imbalances and more. Fribomyalgia has also been linked to an immune system disorder.
Cells are unable to produce sufficient energy so that pain signals are released in a haphazard fashion
In effort to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, doctors will usually prescribe exercise and relaxation techniques, painkillers or sometimes a low-dose antidepressant drug.
Natural ways to improve the situation
- Swimming or exercising in warm water for an hour or so three times a week can be very beneficial, helping to ease the pain and improve the quality of life. Any other low impact exercises will help keep muscles strong and flexible while also controlling weight and helping the person to remain active. Suggestions include walking, yoga, tai chi or pilates.
- Colloidal silver has been found to be very effective in treating fribromyalgia. An initial daily dose of 2 to 4 oz can be reduced to 1 oz once the condition improves. Be wary of your source for this product – ensure it is reputable.
- Including anti-inflammatory spices in the diet such as turmeric, garlic, onions and ginger.
- Supplements of calcium and magnesium can help to relax tight muscles and calm nerves. Magnesium is a naturally occurring substance that calms nerve cells.
- Organic apples and apple juice contain malic acid which will help relieve pain and generate cell energy.
- Garlic, astralagus and echinacea are three important ways to strengthen the immune system while improving circulation.
- Plenty of good sun exposure to increase vitamin D levels, or vitamin D3 supplements, can help reduce inflammation. Vitamin D deficiency is an important consideration in the management of fibromyalgia syndrome according to a recent study.
- A deficiency in vitamin B12 is another possible contributing factor for this condition.
- Increasing serotonin can lead to a reduction in pain signals. SAMe is a natural compound found in the body and is needed for optimum immune function while helping to maintain cell membranes. SAMe is also instrumental in the production and breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotinin but also norepinephrine and dopamine. 5-HTP increases serotonin levels in the brain while reducing the number of tender areas in the body. Either of these compounds can be taken as supplements but not together or with anti-depressants.
- Taking Sugar D-ribose to improve energy production within cells.
Mark A. Stengler, ND, is a naturopathic physician and director of the La Jolla Whole Health Clinic in California. He says that once he has determined that a patient has fibromyalgia, he gives them specific homeopathic substances to reduce muscle pain, including Rhus Tox (for stiffness and muscle ache that gets worse in cold weather), Cimicifuga racemosa (for muscle pain that feels like bruising, especially helpful when fibromyalgia affects the neck to mid-back) and Bryonia alba (for muscle and joint pain that is worse with motion).
He adds that his patients are also tested for food sensitivities and instructed to avoid foods that can aggravate symptoms. He suggests an anti-inflammatory diet with plenty of cold water fish (avoiding any that might contain high levels of mercury) plus lots of fresh vegetables together with moderate amounts of fruit, nuts and lean red meat.
For patients with poor digestion, Dr Stengler advises taking digestive enzymes while he also recommends chiropractic and/or acupuncture treatments to manage pain and stress along with good stress control habits such as deep breathing, exercise and meditation. He firmly believes that natural treatment is the best "first line" approach for this condition.
There are many different natural ways to combat this condition. It may well be a question of trial and error to find the best combination.