Fibromyalgia Treatment Naturally
Fibromyalgia is an inflammatory condition that is related to chronic fatigue syndrome. People with fibromyalgia experience fatigue, sleep disorders, and muscle pain which tends to be located at specific points in the neck, shoulders, back, and buttocks. The underlying cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but at least three important abnormalities have been found in people with fibromyalgia. One of these is that there appears to be an underlying disorder in the metabolism of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood. The second is that many people with fibromyalgia have an underlying thyroid problem. The third is that abnormal sleep patterns, specifically something known as alpha wave intrusion, occurs in many people with fibromyalgia. Fortunately, there are natural methods to correct these abnormalities.
Tryptophan is an amino acid (a type of nutrient that is a building block for protein) that has been used for years to treat depression. It is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has potent effects on mood. Many prescription anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft act by modifying the metabolism of serotonin, resulting in increased levels of serotonin in the brain. Vitamin B6 can also increase serotonin levels, and certain forms of vitamin B6 can be very helpful with sleep.
Several studies have found low serum levels and decreased intestinal absorption of tryptophan in people with fibromyalgia. Inadequate levels of tryptophan in the body can lead to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain, whereas supplementation with tryptophan can increase brain levels of serotonin. This is the same thing that many of the antidepressants used in fibromyalgia do. Because tryptophan isnít absorbed well by people with fibromyalgia, an alternate form known as 5-hydroxy tryptophan is recommended.
Several studies have demonstrated that many people with fibromyalgia have a sleep disorder known as alpha wave intrusion. This type of sleep disorder prevents the body from getting adequate rest during sleep. Experimental subjects who have had this type of sleep disorder artificially induced experience symptoms similar to that of fibromyalgia. Correcting this disorder has also been shown to help people with fibromyalgia.
Natural therapies that help to normalize sleep include tryptophan, certain forms of vitamin B6, melatonin, and herbs such as valerian and scuttelaria.
S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) is an amino acid derivative that has analgesic (pain relieving), anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant effects. It is relatively free of side effects and has been found to improve depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and to reduce the number and severity of tender points in people with fibromyalgia.
Magnesium is deficient in the red blood cells of many people with fibromyalgia. Oral supplementation of highly absorbable form such as citrates, malates, aspartates, or Krebís cycle chelates can help correct this deficiency. Intravenous administration of magnesium is especially helpful. Epsom salt baths (1/2 - 2 cups of Epsom salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda in a hot bath) taken before bed time can also be useful. Epsom salt is high in magnesium.
Other nutrients which may be of benefit include Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and vitamins B1 and E. CoQ10 is a vitamin like substance which may be deficient in people with fibromyalgia. It is a cofactor in the energy producing pathways in the body, and hence fatigue is a common symptom of deficiency. Some research has also shown abnormalities in the metabolism of vitamins B1, B6, and E in people with fibromyalgia.
Capsaicin is a compound found in the cayenne pepper. Topical creams are now available that have been standardized to contain .025% capsaicin. This cream has been found to decrease tenderness when applied directly to tender points.
There is some belief that the accumulation of acidic and nitrogen containing wastes in the body promote fibromyalgia. Acid wastes tend to aggravate muscle inflammations and spasms, and may eventually lead to arthritic changes in the joints. Acid wastes are produced by the digestion of animal proteins (especially pork, milk, and cheese). Other acid forming foods are wheat, sugar, tea, coffee, alcohol, vinegar, pickles, processed and tinned foods, tomatoes, rhubarb, gooseberries, red and black currants, cooked spinach, margarine and all processed fats, eggs, chocolate, cod liver oil, and peanuts.
A maintenance diet would avoid all of the above foods and concentrate on fresh fruits and vegetables with limited amounts of cereals/grains, occasional fish and chicken, and no processed or artificial foods.
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition which is best managed using a comprehensive approach which includes dietary modifications, the appropriate use of herbal and nutritional supplements, and the treatment of any underlying conditions which may be exacerbating the condition. For more information on managing fibromyalgia naturally, see a naturopathic physician.
Medical Conditions Treated
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We now accept most health insurance including:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
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(About the only plans we can't accept are Medicare and out-of-state plans.)