If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, or know of somebody suffering, you’re fully aware of the struggles and physical pain associated. Managing symptoms of fibromyalgia such as chronic and debilitating aches and pains lead to mental and physical exhaustion. If you’re nodding along and have been advised on everyday practical tips, keep on reading as we’ll discuss nutritional tips, the research and specific tests that you could do.
Fibromalygia is a chronic condition involving multisystems therefore, looking at the body as a whole and at how these multisystems interact helps in identifying the causative factor responsible for a myriad of symptoms, therefore allowing us to provide a more personalised treatment approach targetted towards one person.
Fibromyalgia: Causes and symptoms
Fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term chronic condition involving multi-systems. And according to research, it interestingly impacts mostly women, in fact women are 7 times more likely to have the disorder than men. Presenting as musculoskeletal pain all over the body which may be triggered by a series of one or more of the following events including post-surgery, traumatic accidents, severe long periods of psychological stress and/or infections.
With no one cause to be evident, researchers have also linked certain genetic mutations in playing a role in the developmental of fibromyalgia, as well as an abnormal interaction amongst neurobiological and autonomic nervous systems. (1)
The symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
• Physical pain all over the body
• Extreme sensitivity to pain
• Complete exhaustion and tiredness
• Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
• Brain fog (or ‘fibro-fog’) and lack of ability to concentrate
• Low self-esteem and confidence
• Lack of being able to get on with daily chores/work
Also, there is ongoing research in the field of nutraceuticals, botanical medicine, the circadian rhythm (3), nutritional deficiencies, gluten intolerances, certain heavy metal toxicity; for example mercury and mycotoxin exposure (coming from mould spores in the house or bathroom). (2) Thyroid examination is critical as the initial stages may similarly present itself as fibromyalgia, due to the thyroid being the key holder to energy metabolism and mood.
Other differentials include Vitamin D deficiency, Rehumatological conditions and or myofasical pain syndrome. It is important to seek medical attention if pain persists.
Natural supplements, home remedies and products for fibromyalgia
The mitochondria, a funny wiggly shaped worm present in our cells, is known to be the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell. Research unravels the greatest potential of this wiggly worm in disease treatment and/or progression. (4)
Below are some everyday life hacks, holistic treatments, nutrition tips and supplements you can try that may help ease symptoms and provide tools in managing fibromyalgia. However, this is dependable upon the causative factor, (which must be investigated by a medical professional). And seeking the advice of a medical professional before starting any new treatment method is highly advised.
1. Testing: I encourage you to get a thorough blood test check on liver enzymes, kidney function, full blood counts and key important vitamins and minerals. This can be done at your GP and checked by your GP or another health care professional.
2. Supplementing with Co q 10 has proven beneficial in mitochondrial health and muscular fatigue, by improving circulation and assisting in cellular respiration. (5)
3. Supplementing with malic acid in combination with magnesium has been seen to improve pain reduction in some studies.
4. Getting your Vitamin D levels checked is extremely important as a deficiency may mask itself as non-specific body pain as well as contributing to low mood. It’s a scientific fact that healthy Vitamin D levels improve and support cognitive performance and mood.
5. An anti-inflammatory diet can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the body, improving joints and circulation. Being mindful of processed foods and focus more on omega 3 anti-inflammatory rich foods to achieve a balance, including potent anti-inflammtory herbs such as turmeric. Bromelain enzymes, like pineapple, is one of the most popular foods included in a fibro-diet.
6. Acupuncture treatments can help increase blood flow and oxygenation, aiding in the increase of serotonin and endorphins helping to overcome insomnia and poor sleep if done consistently.
7. Therapy and coaching sessions are important when dealing with any chronic condition and is a key fundamental in healing. With a recommended therapist, you can learn to manage stress levels and support your mental health.
8. LED red light therapy is a non-toxic, non-invasive, very effective way to reduce pain. It can also help regulate sleep patterns and improve mood.
9. Practicing active relaxation with mindful acts such as journaling, without the use of mobile phones or any digital devices, can give our nervous system a break and aid in better quality sleep.
A little note on taking it slow:
"Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion." - Buddha
Taking certain action or even the slightest initiation of one's health is truly an amazing accomplishment in itself. Health journeys are never linear and when we are constantly managing a chronic condition, we ought to allow ourselves space to feel and see the progress we are making and honour each phase of healing. Slips and set backs may occur but finding comfort and leaving behind limiting beliefs is essential, there is never an easy road. Slowing down, setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” when appropriate takes practice but helps in identifying specific triggers and allows us to pace activities and pressures we put on ourselves. Tuning in and reminding ourselves that this is part of the healing journey and being kind to ourselves is an important practice in recovery. Create a support group and surround yourself with loved ones and speak about your condition to people who understand – it's a remedy amongst the rest.
NOTE: Supplements and or herbs should be discussed with your general practitioner or healthcare provider.