A Natural Approach to Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia has the distinction of being one of the most misunderstood medical syndromes even though it is also the most common type of chronic pain disorder. Roughly 5 million Americans live with the pain and suffering caused by fibromyalgia, but there are very few answers as to what causes the disorder. There is also no cure for it. Because of this, there are a number of fibromyalgia supplements and medications on the market.
Many sufferers of the condition find it difficult to deal with the pain because there is so much misinformation that surrounds the condition. It has only been in the late 2000s that doctors have begun prescribing and treating the condition on a mass scale.
While research and science plays catch up, Fibromyalgia continues on. This condition has been known to infiltrate lives, causing some to quit work or do the most basic of tasks. If you have been diagnosed with the condition or think that you may have fibromyalgia, it is important to understand the condition as well as know natural ways to deal with the symptoms.
So, to get started, let’s take a look deeper and try to demystify fibromyalgia.
Getting to Know Fibro
Fibromyalgia, often referred to as Fibro, is a syndrome in which pain and tenderness of the muscles and soft tissues is widespread throughout the body. There is a heightened sensitivity to pressure and touching of these tender areas. It is also often accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression and general malaise. The onset can be sudden or slowly develop over time.
It is a chronic disorder, meaning it does not just go away after a few days or a few weeks. Because of its chronic nature it can impact all aspects of your life. It can interfere with normal functions, work and relationships. You may feel isolated, misunderstood or suffer from feelings of guilt erroneously blaming yourself for being lazy when in fact you have a serious medical condition.Therefore it is important not to ignore the symptoms of fibromyalgia in the hopes that it will just go away. It won’t.
The good news is there are many natural treatments that can help combat the pain and suffering caused by fibromyalgia. With the right combination of supplements, pain management and healthy life choices, you can minimize the symptoms of fibromyalgia and live a normal, healthy life.
Adults over the age of 40 are the most common demographic diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is slightly more common in women than in men.
Although fibromyalgia affects a higher rate of adults, it does occur in children and teenagers as well. It can be easy to mistake fibromyalgia for ‘growing pains’ or dismiss an overly tired teenager but pay attention. If your child or teen complains of pain, exhaustion, irritability, depression or fatigue, it could be fibromyalgia and they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible to get the help they may need.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- Loss of energy
- Pressure sensitivity
- Widespread muscle and soft tissue pain
What to Expect With Fibromyalgia
Diagnosing Fibromyalgia can be difficult. There are currently no tests that can pinpoint it directly. When determining if you have fibromyalgia you doctor will run several diagnostic tests to rule out other pain disorders such as arthritis or blood disorders such as anemia. After running full diagnostics to eliminate other illnesses he will chart your pain points and see if the pain you are suffering is consistent with the pain and locations generally associated with fibromyalgia. He will consider how long you have had pain to determine if it is chronic in nature. If your diagnostic tests come back negative for other medical conditions and your pain type and duration is consistent with fibromyalgia than a diagnosis will be made and treatment options will be discussed.
Because of its somewhat cryptic nature fibromyalgia is commonly mistaken for other ailments. If you feel that you may have fibromyalgia and have been incorrectly diagnosed, share your concerns with your physician. Often times physicians will make a clinical diagnosis without using diagnostic tests. This may be seen as a way to save money and time but it often leads to the wrong diagnosis which in fact wastes both money and time treating something you do not have and taking medications you may not need. If you disagree with your doctor's diagnosis ask for diagnostic testing or seek out a second opinion. Doctors are often overloaded and overworked. Unfortunately this makes it easy for them to make a quick diagnosis to get you out and move onto the next patient. If you feel you doctor is not able to provide you with the time and attention you deserve then consider changing doctors.
Fibromyalgia is commonly mistaken for
- Chronic myofascial pain
- Systemic exertion intolerance disease
Common Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Doctors are quick to recommend prescription medications once a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has been made. Most of the medications prescribed for the condition are for nerve pain, depression and anxiety, which are commonly is associated with Fibromyalgia.
Common prescription treatments include:
- Muscle relaxants
As you can see, there are some very strong medications used for treating fibromyalgia. One serious but common problem with the use of many of these medications is that they can be addictive. Especially if you are taking them for a chronic illness. Using opioids for an extended time can be very harmful. It creates a dependency that can be just as debilitating as your original diagnosis. Prescription Opioid abuse is on the rise mainly because doctors so readily prescribe them as an oral band aid for pain.
Depression is a common symptom of fibromyalgia and that is understandable. Being in pain all the time in itself can lead to depression. However antidepressants should not always be your first line of defense if you are experiencing depression. Antidepressants are chemically altering drugs. There is no real way to know which one you will respond to so generally a doctor will pick one for you and see how you respond to it. If it doesn’t seem to be working, your medication will continue to be changed until the right one is found or until it is determined that they aren’t working for you. Meanwhile you may experience more depression because some antidepressants actually cause more depression or even suicidal thoughts when you first start taking them. Therefore it is in your best interest to educate yourself about depression caused by fibromyalgia and the many natural ways you can combat it.
Natural Cures for Common Fibro Ailments
Finding out you have fibromyalgia can be a difficult thing to face. Dealing with chronic pain, anxiety and depression isn’t easy. Making the right choices about treatment can be even more confusing. Your best weapon in the fight against fibro symptoms is to arm yourself with information so that you are well versed on your options. Natural treatments are often overlooked but they are an extremely beneficial option. After all, why would you strain your system with heavy pharmaceuticals when you can derive the same benefits naturally, with less side effects and potential harm? There are many supplements and natural treatments that can help you fight against the pain and anguish of fibromyalgia. With some knowledge and effort on your part you can gain control of your painful disorder and improve the quality of your life.
5-HTP is a chemical produced from the seeds of the griffonia simplicifolia plant. It is found in western and central africa where it grows wild and is cultivated commercially. It is commonly used for anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, binge-eating and fibromyalgia symptoms.
How Can 5-HTP Help?
5-HTP works by increasing the production of serotonin. Serotonin is one of your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. Many people with depression related disorders suffer from a deficit in serotonin. By helping your body produce more of this chemical naturally you can fight off depression and anxiety caused by your fibromyalgia.
There are some instances of 5-HTP causing seizures in people with Down Syndrome. If you or a loved one has Down Syndrome and are considering taking 5-HTP consult your physician prior to taking 5-HTP.
5-HTP alters serotonin levels in the brain and should be discontinued 2 weeks prior to any surgery you may be having as serotonin can interact with certain drugs often administered during surgery. .
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a group of naturally occurring acids that can be found in food. Citric Acid, lactic acid, glycolic and malic acids are all forms of Alpha Hydroxy acids. They can be found in many different foods such as lemons, oranges and apples and can be taken in the form of a tablet supplement.
How Can Alpha Hydroxy Acids Help?
Alpha Hydroxy is a natural analgesic. It helps ease the pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia. Increasing your intake of malic acid and taking supplements can go a long way in helping you stave off the pain of fibromyalgia.
Capsicum is a chemical that can be found in bell peppers and chili peppers. Capsicum is not only a well known and beloved source of spicy flavor, it is also an effective treatment against the pain caused by fibromyalgia.
How Can Capsicum Help?
Capsicum can be applied topically, directly to the skin, at the source of your pain. It can be found as a lotion or rub and creates a warm, soothing sensation on applying. It radiates into your muscle tissue and eases the pain of fibromyalgia. Both the process of application and the active ingredient will help you relax and relieve your pain.
Chlorella is a highly adaptive single celled algae that grows naturally in fresh water. Currently in Japan it is being cultivated as a potential alternative food source as it is rich in protein, healthy fats and minerals yet has little requirments to grow. It is also used as a natural treatment for fibromyalgia.
How Can Chlorella Help?
Chlorella is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia pain and is especially helpful if used in conjunction with malic acid supplements that can be found in apples. Combining these two natural remedies can bolster their pain fighting mechanisms and can provide those suffering from fibromyalgia with pain relief.
GHB is a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain and the body. It can be created artificially and used to treat the pain, sleep disturbances and chronic fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. It was once readily available over the counter but is now only available with a prescription from a physician.
How Can Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) Help?
GHB does a couple of key things that relate to your fibromyalgia symptoms. Firstly, it helps relax the brain and bring it into a conductive state for sleep. Therefore if you suffer from sleep disturbances or insomnia due to your fibromyalgia, GHB can help. GHB also stimulates the production of the our body's natural opioid-like pain relievers that are produced by the brain. If you are finding the pain of fibromyalgia difficult to treat than GHB may be the right treatment for you. To learn more about GHB discuss it with your physician.
Gingko Biloba has been a beloved medicinal treatment in China for thousands of years. Today we are still learning about the many health benefits of Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo is used for many purposes from sharpening focus and memory to treating pain and tenderness.
How Can Gingko Biloba Help?
Gingko increases the flow of blood to the brain and can be a useful treatment to reduce depression and anxiety. It also has pain relieving properties and may help ellivate the pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia.
There are several different types of Ginseng. Panax Ginseng, not to be mistaken with american or any other form of ginseng, is a useful treatment for depression, stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances related to fibromyalgia.
How Can Ginseng Help?
Ginseng has several active ingredients that work with the body to fight off many of the symptoms caused by fibromyalgia. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety fatigue or stress, Ginseng may be the right supplement for you.
Many Americans have a magnesium deficiency. Often we do not take in enough magnesium to make up for the daily loss of magnesium in our secretions and urine. Sleep disturbances, insomnia and sleep interruptions are a common issue for people suffering from fibromyalgia. This further lowers our natural production of Magnesium so if you suffer from sleep issues related to fibromyalgia odds are you have a magnesium deficiency as well.
How Can Magnesium Help?
Being deficient in magnesium has negative effects on your metabolic system and can increase the symptoms of painful fibromyalgia. By making sure that you are getting enough magnesium you will likely also see some of the discomfort associated with fibromyalgia lessen as well.
Melatonin is a chemical naturally produced by the brain to help bring one into a conductive state for the onset of sleep. Normally your body's internal clock knows when it is time for sleep. However in people with fibromyalgia or people who suffer sleep disturbances, the body’s internal clock is out of whack and melatonin production either isn’t producing enough or it is producing it at the wrong time. This can make falling asleep difficult. Lack of sleep with further exacerbate your fibro symptoms.
How Can Melatonin Help?
Melatonin can help alert your body that it is time to sleep. Melatonin takes effect quickly and you should be prepared for sleep before you take it. There are several ways to prepare yourself for sleep. Often taking a bath before sleep can help relax you. Soaking your body in the warm water of a tub relaxes your cardiovascular system and increases your blood flow. Turn off or silence external sources of stimulation such as your t.v. or your smartphone. Once the lights go out do not look at your phone! The light from your smartphone can give your body the wrong message, that it’s time to wake back up and will interfere with your sleep process. Once you are relaxed and ready to go to bed, take a melatonin supplement and then sleep well.
Sam E is a chemical produced naturally in the body that helps to naturally fight off pain and depression. Being deficient in Sam E can exacerbate your fibromyalgia symptoms. If you suspect you may have a Sam E deficiency you should speak to your doctor and see about adding SamE to your list of supplements to help defend against the effects of fibromyalgia.
How Can Sam E Help?
Sam E helps by augmenting the natural production of Sam E in your body. It can help your body produced the chemicals that your body would normally produce on its own to combat pain and depression.
Food and Fibro
With the advancement of science we are learning that the foods we choose have a large impact on our health and how we feel. Twenty years ago the diet recommendations for the average adult were drastically different than the recommendations of today’s average adult.
We now know that a diet heavy in carbohydrates and processed foods can be harmful for us. We have learned about the dangers of gluten, msg and other food additives and we are still learning more everyday. People suffering from fibromyalgia often can see a change or elimination of symptoms by adding or omitting certain foods from their diets. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all list of foods that can help or exacerbate fibro as everyone reacts differently to different foods.
Doctors recommend that you pay attention to how you feel after eating. One great way to do this is to keep a food diary and mark down what you ate and how you felt afterward. You may notice a pattern. If something seems to make you feel more tired or feel more pain, eliminate it and see if your symptoms improve. Likewise if you feel more alert after eating certain foods, then continue to include them in your diet.
Many fibro sufferers report that food with a high level of gluten seems to exacerbate their symptoms while others report no effects. Because we are all unique and have unique dietary requirements, we need to listen to our bodies and pay attention to our natural clues about what makes us feel better or worse.
Fibromyalgia and Juicing
Juicing can be a terrific way to help your body detoxify and relieve your fibromyalgia symptoms. Many people juice to cleanse their system and enjoy the healthy benefits that can be derived from Juicing. If you have fibro you can really make juicing work for you by utilizing those foods that are known to help combat fibro symptoms. The malic acid found in apples for example, can help stave off fibro pain so add a few apples to your favorite green juice blend!
Commonly used fruits and veggies for Fibro nutrition juicing
- Apples (green apples are best for tartness and high in malic acid)
- Wheat grass
These ingredients can be used in any combination. You can also include any other fruits or veggies that you enjoy. If you are going to drink it, it might as well taste good right? The sky's the limit!
What Else Can You Do About Your Fibro?
We have talked about all the drug related, supplemental and dietary options that can help in the fight against fibromyalgia symptoms. Is there anything left? There is! There are many other therapies and activities that can help relieve your fibro symptoms and make you feel happier and healthy. As with all things in life, there is no magical pill to fix it all. The reality is dealing with something like fibromyalgia requires a multifaceted therapeutic approach in order to maximise the benefits of treatment. So now that we know we have supplemental and dietary options, let's find out what else we can do to help our bodies combat fibromyalgia.
On top of fibromyalgia supplements, changing lifestyle habits and working with your doctor, there are a number of massage and body mechanic options that many people find helpful for the condition. Massage and body mechanics both incorporate the muscles and the nerves and can directly aid in the relief of pain. Review the options available and see which sound like they could best help your symptoms and lifestyle.
Massage and Body Mechanic Options:
Aerobic exercise is any exercise that increases and maintains your heart rate while engaging in that activity. Examples of Aerobic exercise include: dancing, water aerobics, cardio machines, running, walking, swimming etc.
Acupuncture is an ancient asian practice that uses long slender needles to activate vital points in the body. It is used for many different conditions including pain relief, depression and sleep disorders. Many people report immediate improvement after being treated with acupuncture but results can vary.
Similar to acupuncture this treatment focuses on pressure points in the head, neck and spine using gentle touch and massage techniques to help combat stress and pain caused by fibromyalgia.
EEG Neurotherapy is a form of brain conditioning. While undergoing EEG Neurotherapy your brain activity will be monitored. Overtime you can be conditioned to produce at will certain mental states such as the alpha state which can be a beneficial tool for relaxation and pain control.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM)
FSM is a relatively new treatment for the pain and tenderness suffered by fibromyalgia sufferers. It works by using very small electrical pulses to stimulate healing. It works especially well on soft tissue and shows a great deal of promise in treating pain.
HRV Biofeedback employs similar conditioning responses used by EEG neurotherapy. The purpose of which is to acquire thru conditioning the ability to adjust your heart rate and psychological reactions to stressful events in order to achieve relaxation. This can help minimize your stress responses which exacerbate your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Hypnotherapy or hypnosis has been practiced for decades. It utilizes the plasticity of the brain, especially when in a relaxed, receptive state. Hypnotherapy can be a great tool in coping with and minimizing fibromyalgia symptoms.
Myofascial release is a form of massage therapy focused on the muscles that relate to the face and head. Often tension builds up in these areas and the muscles become stiff and unyielding which decreases blood flow and can cause painful muscle tension. With Myofascial release those muscles are relaxed and blood flow is improved.
Osteopathy is a treatment which focuses on manipulating the body's muscles and bones in order to strengthen them and increase overall musculoskeletal health. By strengthening your body and muscles you can help combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia and feel overall better health.
Similar to Osteopathy, postural training focuses on establishing and maintaining healthy body posture in order to promote full body health and well being. Bad posture can negatively impact your bones and muscles which become strained or forced into unnatural positions and cause chronic and debilitating problems over time. This can exacerbate your fibromyalgia symptoms. Developing good posture by utilizing postural training techniques and exercises can help in the fight against fibro pain.
Relaxation is vital to good sleep, fighting depression and combatting anxiety. In fact relaxation is the opposite of anxiety. You cannot be relaxed and anxious and you cannot be anxious but relaxed. You are either in one state or another. Learning to relax therefore can go a long way in eliminating anxiety and alleviating depression. There are many techniques,exercises and therapies that can be employed to help you learn to achieve and master the art of relaxation.
Stretching increases the blood flow to your extremities. This is why when you first wake up or go to bed at night you have the urge to stretch. It is the body's way of sending oxygen rich blood through the body and prepares it to either relax and sleep or wake up and become active. Stretching can increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles all of which can help lessen the muscle pain experienced by fibro sufferers.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese low impact exercise that focuses on slow maintained movements that stretch and strengthen the body and its muscles. Because of its gentle pace and focus it is not only a great physical activity, it is also a wonderful tool to combat and control stress.
Trigger points are areas of the muscles that have become strained torn or otherwise damaged. They interfere with the natural function of the muscle and can create a great deal of pain and decreased mobility. Trigger Point therapy works by employing a massage technique that utilizes pressure and release directly on the points of pain. This helps to relax the muscle and stimulates healing while providing you with immediate relaxation and relief.
Set Limits For Yourself With Fibro
It is important to understand that Fibromyalgia is still being researched. There is a great deal that the medical community does not yet understand about it and treatments options may change over time as new research and treatments are discovered.
Be patient with yourself – you’ll have days where you are in a significant amount of pain, especially while your doctor is trying to determine which medication and routine is going to be the most beneficial to your ailment. Because this illness is chronic it is easy to let the pain and uncertainty weigh you down. Lack of sleep and depression can also take a heavy toll on your feelings of wellbeing.
Because fibro is an ailment that can be felt but not seen, you may have family or friends who dismiss your very real pain and suffering because they simply do not understand what fibromyalgia is. Help to educate them as you are learning about it yourself to insure you receive the support and understanding that you need and deserve.
Seek Out The Help You Need
If you have fibromyalgia symptoms do not ignore them! Fibromyalgia is a chronic, long lasting illness and the symptoms will not just go away on their own. The treatments and holistic options for combatting fibromyalgia are numerous. Don’t forget to take the helpful fibro supplements listed and work on incorporating body mechanic options that will be of the most benefit.Many of those treatments are natural and non invasive.
More Tips for Living With Fibromyalgia
Try to keep a positive outlook and encourage yourself to stay strong and not give up.
By its very nature fibromyalgia will wear you down mentally and physically but if you are aware of this you can overcome it. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine if you have fibromyalgia. If you do, work with your physician to formulate the best course of treatment for you. If you suffer from depression and anxiety in relation to fibromyalgia it may be beneficial to talk to your counselor or psychiatrist as they can help recommend treatments as well.
Make sure to talk to all of your doctors about your chosen fibromyalgia supplements as well as learning about pharmaceutical options for treating fibromyalgia.The list of treatments and options can seem daunting but don’t let the options weigh you down. Take your time to consider different treatments, supplements and activities and formulate a plan specifically designed for you and your personal needs.
Make sure to learn everything you can about your disorder and keep the lines of communication open with your physician and your family members.
Recognize your body is an interconnected system and so to should be your treatment of fibromyalgia. Make sure you are taking the supplements that you need. Cut out unhealthy foods and consider physical therapies and activities to help deal with your pain and symptoms.
Lastly, never stop learning. As our information about fibromyalgia grows so too grows the list of treatment options. As we learn more about the underlying mechanisms that cause fibromyalgia we can find ways to treat or even prevent it. Therefore it is important to keep up on the latest information.
Don’t let Fibromyalgia Control Your Life
Fibromyalgia can be a confusing and difficult condition to live with. However, don’t forget to use the resources that you have and you’ll likely find at least some relief. Many people learn to avoid flare ups and pain through trial and error incorporating new routines, medication, activities and supplements for fibromyalgia – and you can too.
By formulating a well rounded plan of action you equip yourself with the tools needed to deal with your fibromyalgia symptoms and put control of your life where it belongs. Back in your hands.
Insert Bullets here or common Fibro medications