Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder – more complex than to be covered in one article. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., recognized this as he wrote his 444-page book on the subject, From Fatigued to Fantastic (2001).
This doesn’t mean that fibromyalgia is well understood or well recognized by doctors. In fact, many doctors believe that fibromyalgia is either an undiagnosable disorder or it is a mental disorder.
Dr. Teitelbaum and many others will beg to differ. Fibromyalgia, and its sometimes-accompanying disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction (CFIDS) has been estimated to affect about six million Americans. In fact, according to Dr. Teitlebaum, CFS/CFIDS and fibromyalgia are the same illness for most sufferers.
Here are some of the symptoms of this condition:
In exclusive fibromyalgia, sufferers primarily complain of aching muscles and joints. There is often a feeling that the muscles are knotting up. Sometimes the soreness in the muscles is described as “pins and needles” and sometimes it is described as “cramping,” “burning” or “stabbing” pain. Joints often ache as well. Symptoms of tendonitis, carpal-tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow will often arise. Tingling or numbing sensations and joint swelling are also described, along with headaches and general fatigue.
Then there are the symptoms related to chronic fatigue/CFIDS. These are often accompanying the muscle/joint aching characteristic of fibromyalgia. These include severe fatigue, impaired memory and concentration, sore throat, headaches, unsatisfying sleep, malaise, general weakness and dysbiosis, Many CFS/CFIDS sufferers also complain of hypersensitivities, frequent urination, insulin sensitivity, dysbiosis, and a history of hepatitis or mononucleosis.
Epstein-Barr/mononucleosis is increasingly seen as a possible trigger for the disease (Komaroff and Goldenberg 1989). However, antibody testing and other tests for EBV have been inclusive. Herpes virus 6 has also been investigated as a causative agent. Other viruses that have been suspected include cytomegalovirus (usually strikes older people) and toxoplasmosis.
Another curious association is dysbiosis and yeast infections. These are often rampant among sufferers (Teitelbaum 2001). Many have also noted that many fibromyalgia/CFS/CFIDS cases have followed antibiotic courses. It begs the question of whether a deficiency in the body’s probiotics is involved.
Adrenal and Thyroid Gland Dysfunction
Many cases accompany or are related to a lack in adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones. These endocrine glands are of course triggered by the pituitary gland, which is stimulated by the hypothalamus. There is some suspicion that fibromyalgia/CFS/CFIDS is related to a malfunction of the hypothalamus.
Herbs that have been shown to support adrenal function, stimulate the immune system and provide endocrine support in general include:
— Panex quinquefolius (American ginseng)
— Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng)
— Rhodiola rosea
Fruits and vegetables that provide important minerals and phytonutrients that stimulate the immune system include apricots, apples, almonds, artichokes, avocado, banana, lima beans, beets, beet greens, berries, Brussels sprouts, carrots, casaba, cauliflower, celery, coconuts, corn, cranberries, cucumbers, dandelion greens, eggplant, grapes, raw honey, kale, citrus, lettuce, mango, mushrooms, oats, okra, onions, papaya, parsnips, parsley, peas, pineapple, radishes, raisins, spinach, chard, tomatoes, turnips, walnuts, watermelon, watercress, and zucchini.
Increasing fiber to 35-45 grams per day can support digestion and assimilation. 6-10 servings of raw fruits and vegetables per day should accomplish this.
Sugar, white flour and processed baked goods, caffeine, alcohol are not recommended (Teitelbaum 2001). These can aggravate symptoms in many sufferers. These also can have toxicity issues and can discourage our probiotics.
A daily food-based multivitamin has been suggested to be sure we are getting enough nutrients. Vitamin B12 is also critical to methyl group availability. Sublingual vitamin B has been found to provide a significantly successful method of absorbing vitamin B12 (Lederle 1991).
Natural minerals, including whole salt, vegetable and green food extracts, and coral calcium supplements can be considered. Muscle contraction and nerve conduction require trace and macro minerals for proper functioning.
Sunshine stimulates the production of critically important vitamin D, and also supplies infrared radiation, which can increase circulation.
One of the most consistent issues with fibromyalgia sufferers is poor sleep quality. A lack of REM-stage sleep has been specifically linked (Anch et al. 1991). Improving sleep quality has been one of the most successful approaches. When we are deprived of sleep, the endocrine system and hypothalamus can become overworked and insufficient. Herbs such as kava kava, scullcap, hops and valerian have been shown to relax the body and encourage good-quality sleep.
A good-quality probiotic with several strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have been shown to support immune function and decrease yeast infections.
Again, fibromyalgia is a huge topic. We’ve barely scratched the surface here.
This information is for research purposes only not intended to treat or cure any disease. Be sure to consult your health professional if you suspect you or your family members have any disease, and before making any significant changes to your diet, lifestyle or supplements. In no case should a person take any herbs without the consent of a qualified health professional.
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