fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

People who have fibromyalgia are all too familiar with the common symptoms of fatigue, pain in the bones and muscles, and problems sleeping. Other symptoms they may commonly experience include numbness and tingling in the extremities, difficulty concentrating (“fibro fog”), extreme sensitivity to stimuli such as noise and bright light, pain in the chest, anxiety, headaches, depression, and shortness of breath.

Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of this chronic condition is not known, but it is believed to be caused by multiple stressors, both emotional and physical. Far more women than men have fibromyalgia. Other risk factors include trauma to the spinal cord or brain after an accident, injury, or illness; surgery; menopause; and chronic lack of exercise.

Conventional Treatment

Conventional treatment for fibromyalgia includes the use of pain killers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and stress management. However, in general, these treatments are not found to be very effective.

Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia

Several natural treatments can be used to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

1)      Eat a healthy diet with an emphasis on whole foods. Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine, and food additives. A healthy diet makes a big difference in the quality of life of anyone suffering from chronic illness, with improved mood, more energy, and less pain.

2)      Identify food allergies. Although food allergies do not cause fibromyalgia, identifying and eliminating foods that cause allergic reactions can make a big difference in lessening symptoms. How do you know if you have food allergies? If you have asthma, migraine headaches, or experience chronic sinusitis or a persistently runny nose, there is a good chance that you are eating  foods to which you may be allergic. Allergy tests or an elimination diet can help you identify the foods to which you may be hypersensitive so that you can avoid them, which can make a big difference in your quality of life with fibromyalgia.

3)      Change the way you cook your food. The way you cook your food can make a big difference in the severity of your fibromyalgia symptoms. Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in their muscles and blood. AGEs are formed when a simple carbohydrate, such as fructose, is attached to a protein or fat molecule without the aid of an enzyme. The resulting compounds are harmful to many different types of cells in the body and accelerate the aging process, cause inflammation, and create free radicals  that damage tissues. To reduce exposure to AGEs, cook your food in water and at lower temperatures; that is, poach, stew, or boil food instead of frying, roasting, or broiling. In addition, foods that are high in fat and protein, such as meat and cheese, contain more AGEs than vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

4)      Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame. A few case studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia who eliminated MSG and/or aspartame from their diets found that their symptoms resolved either completely or almost completely within several months.

5)      Supplements. Many people with fibromyalgia are deficient in magnesium. Supplementing with magnesium may improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Other supplements that studies have shown to be effective are 5-HTP, SAMe, and acetyl-L-carnitine.

Additional Naturopathic Treatments

If the natural treatments listed here do not help to reduce symptoms, intravenous nutrient therapy is a very effective treatment for fibromyalgia. It consists of injecting magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C straight into the vein. Some people experience complete relief after only one treatment. Most people require three or four treatments before they feel a significant improvement. Some people need additional treatments every two to four weeks. Eventually, treatments are discontinued due to resolution of symptoms.

Acupuncture is another naturopathic modality that can be very effective in relieving fibromyalgia. Treatments are tailored to each patient based on individual symptoms.

If switching to a healthy diet has not brought you the relief you expected and you are feeling frustrated with the lack of improvement in your condition, consider making an appointment to see if acupuncture and/or intravenous nutrients may be the solution you are looking for.   

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