Until recently, it was very hard to find a medical doctor who would even consider a diagnosis of "fibromyalgia". That has changed, however, and more and more medical professionals are realizing that it is a legitimate disorder. One had to research diligently to find information and studies pertaining to it. There are many suggestions and modes of thought concerning alternative treatments for the symptoms of fibromyalgia.... some work; some don't. The same holds true, though, of medical treatments for the same.
First, I would like to give you information and suggestions that I have found through extensive research. Not having fibromyalgia personally, I am not able to say without a doubt that something works. I have, however, worked with many people, men and women, who have the syndrome and have reported back to me that various therapies have made their life more bearable. It is a very personal disorder, and what may make one person feel better may definitely make another person feel worse. At the end of the information I am about to give you, I will list the website of the Fibromyalgia Treatment Center. What this website and the center offers is definitely "alternative", but, not totally holistic. I want to mention it because I have read Dr. Amand's book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia", and have poured over his website thoroughly. For people who have not been able to find relief through holistic measures, this is a very, very good option. I would not hesitate to use it at all if I were in that situation.
SYMPTOMS AND BASIC CRITERIA
--Feeling of pain, burning, aching, and soreness in the body
--Headaches, tenderness of the scalp, pain in the back of the skull
--Pain in the neck, shoulder, shoulder blades and elbows
--Pain in hips, top of buttocks, outside the lower hip, below buttocks, and the pelvis
--Pain in the knees and kneecap area
--Pain for at least 3 months
--Fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, waking up tired, morning stiffness
--Insomnia, frequent waking, difficulty falling asleep, or falling asleep immediately
--Raynaud's phenomenon (where your hands feel cold, numb, or turn blue, when exposed to temperature changes)
--Irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and constipation, bloating, cramping
--Neurally mediated hypotension -- when you stand up, your blood pressure drops, which can make you feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, your heart rate drops, and you can even pass out
--Restless leg syndrome
--Sense of tissues feeling swollen
--Numbness, tingling and feeling of cold in the hands and feet
--Chest pain, palpitations
--Shortness of breath
--Anxiety, depression and "fibrofog" -- the term used to describe the confusion and forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and difficulty recalling simple words and numbers, and transposing words and numbers
--Neurological and psychological complaints
--Symptom variation to stress, activity, weather change
A formal diagnosis is confirmed using the official American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia:
Widespread pain for at least 3 months. Pain should be on both the left side of the body and the right side, and pain both above and below the waist. Cervical spine, anterior chest, thoracic spine or low back pain must also be present.
Plus, pain in at least 11 of 18 specific tender point sites, which include:
____ The area where the neck muscles attach to the base of the skull, left and right sides (Occiput)
____ Midway between neck and shoulder, left and right sides (Trapezius)
____ Muscles over left and right upper inner shoulder blade, left and right sides (Supraspinatus)
____ 2 centimeters below side bone at elbow of left and right arms (Lateral epicondyle)
____ Left and right upper outer buttocks (Gluteal)
____ Left and right hip bones (Greater trochanter)
____ Just above left and right knees on inside
____ Lower neck in front, left and right sides (Low cervical)
____ Edge of upper breast bone, left and right sides (Second rib)
The following is a list of symptoms traditionally associated with hypothyroidism. The underlined are generally considered to be associated with fibromyalgia. The others in the list are not generally recognized as associated, but fibromyalgia patients commonly complain of them. Practitioners have found that as hypometabolic states are corrected, most fibromyalgia patients may be relieved of the symptoms.
--cold hands and feet
--inability to concentrate
--poor memory/mental slowness
--eyelid swelling and/or puffy eyes
--weight gain w/ little food intake
--intolerance to heat
--loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrows
--elevated chol,trig, and phospholipids
--immune system problems (lupus, RA, allergies,MS,uveitis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome)
--female problems (miscarriage, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian fibroids, cystic ovaries, endometriosis, PMS, menopausal symptoms, dysmenorreha)
SOME VERIFIED ORGANIC FINDINGS IN FIBROMYALGIA ARE:
--low peripheral serotonin levels
--low central nervous system levels of norepinephrine and dopamine metabolites. This has been found to possibly result from inadequate thyroid hormone.
--elevated central nervous system substance P- which increases pain. (It has been stated that fibromyalgia is the only clinical disorder in which patients have profoundly elevated levels of cerebrospinal substance P)
--low cerebral blood perfusion (circulation and oxygenation)
--Fibromyalgia patients may have symptoms and signs typical of the hypometabolism that results from inadequate thyroid hormone regulation of cell function. In some cases, they are indicative of low thyroid function; in others from possible partial cellular resistance to thyroid hormone. Since laboratory tests of thyroid function do not assess the response of one’s peripheral tissues to thyroid hormone, they are – in most cases – of little use in determining optimal dosage should thyroid hormone therapy be decided upon. It is proper to use laboratory thyroid function tests only as one indicator of metabolic problems related to inadequate thyroid hormone regulation of cell function. Clinical indicators (from the list of symptoms above) have been found to be of the most practical use in the effort to normalize tissue metabolism.
--some people with fibromyalgia have been found to markedly improve or recover from the disorder by obtaining a sustained increase in their metabolism through the use of thyroid hormone, nutritional supplementation, and exercise to tolerance. With almost every person, the combination includes improved diet, nutritional supplementation, exercise to tolerance, sufficient rest and recreation, improved bio-mechanical function, stress reduction and minimized exposure to external and internal pollutants.
--Some MDs are known to blame fibromyalgia symptoms on “mental” problems and recommend psychiatric care. In many cases, this is not so. Hypometabolic brain tissue may account for mood disorders and depressive states. Add to that the fact that suffering has, in some cases, been prolonged and family members and MDs may be questioning the sincerity of your poor health.
--Low body temperature is seen in many people with fibromyalgia. It has not been decided if this is due to the chronic pain which in turn, may cause low body temp because the sympathetic nervous system slows down(due to the stress) OR hypometabolism due to hypothyroidism.
--Many researchers have found that the best way to determine a hypothyroid condition is by checking the basal temperature. It has been recommended that you take your temperature under the arm first thing in the morning – without much movement – for 10 minutes. Record the morning temperature for 5-7 days in a row. It has been found that a more optimal method might be by taking your oral temperature every 3 hours, 3 times a day, starting 3 hours after you wake up – then adding them all together and dividing by 3 to get the average basal temperature. Do this 5-7 days in a row.(women of childbearing age should take their temp on day 2 and 3 of cycle – day one being first day of period). If the temp is below 97.8 that is a strong indication that you are hypothyroid. Either method should give you come idea. THEN, it might be a good idea to have a thyroid panel done
--Pain can be disabling or only mild
--May be related to physical or mental stress, inadequate sleep, exposure to cold or heat, infections, or rheumatoid arthritis
--Studies have found that the disorder could be caused by not being able to go into deep sleep
--There are indications of a compromised immune system
--Found to be predominant in blood type group O. People with blood type O are found to be susceptible especially with the consumption of wheat. It may exacerbate the tendency for hyperimmunity which is a characteristic of autoimmune diseases and inflammation. O’s have a typically elevated immune system and are genetically prone to auto immune disorders. (A’s are genetically prone to hypothyroidism)
--Research has shown that insufficient oxygen reaching the muscles leads to a decrease in ATP, which leads to muscle breakdown, which leads to fibromyalgia.
--It has been found that serum cholesterol may be elevated in most people with hypothyroid. Clinical studies have found this to decrease in virtually every person with fibromyalgia who undergoes treatment with thyroid hormone – whether one is hypothyroid or euthyroid before treatment.
--Hypothyroidism is also known to increase the risk of osteoporosis. Thyroid hormone regulation has been found to be beneficial with this – as is weight bearing exercise, resistance training with weights, supplemental calcium (citrate or hydroxyapatite)/magnesium, vitamin D and K,and adequate steroidal hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
--Pulsed magnetic therapy found to work on painful, inflamed joints. This therapy sends signals on programmed frequencies through the magnetic field directly to the connective tissue and cartilage. Studies also show that this increases circulation and oxygen content in the blood and relaxes muscles –-easing tension and restriction. 1-2 months of QRS therapy is recommended. This therapy is researched extensively in Europe and approved for many disorders. It is not approved in the US.
--The tension of increased muscle tone in FMS requires greater oxygen availability. One needs increased blood flow for the delivery of oxygen, but because muscles are tight and put pressure on the blood vessels, blood flow is hampered. This pressure and oxygen deficit adds to the pain
--It is recommended that you not eat nightshade vegetables. These interfere with collagen formation. This includes peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant
--FMS patients have been shown to suffer either from thyroid hormone deficiency or cellular resistance to thyroid hormone. In either instance, studies are showing that hypothyroidism may cause FMS. It may be beneficial to request your family physician to run TSH,Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Anti-thyroid antibodies tests to determine your thyroid status. Numerous studies have shown that treatment with combined T3 and T4(Armour, Nature-throid, West-throid) in amounts to suppress TSH are effective at reducing fibromyalgia symptoms. Clinical studies have shown that when there are unresolved symptoms associated with treated hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia, there is evidence of under-treatment. A patient with cellular resistance may have perfectly normal circulating thyroid hormone levels, yet have the symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism.
--If you have autoimmune hypothyroidism, some classic FM symptoms may develop. T4 to T3 conversion can be impaired, therefore a normal TSH level does not mean that tissue metabolism is normal.
--Hypothyroidism is found to decrease the transport of tyrosine across the blood brain barrier. This is important in fibromyalgia because tyrosine is the precursor to 3 catecholamines – dopamine, norepinephrine,and epinephrine. Decreased dopamine due to hypothyroidism is shown to lower locomotor drive and activity (partly accounting for the fatigue and low motor drive of fibromyalgia patients).
--studies have shown reduced cerebral blood flow in hypothyroid patients. In fibromyalgia patients who have hypothyroidism and/or cellular resistance to thyroid hormone, reduced cerebral blood flow is likely to result from the same mechanisms as in other hypothyroid patients - -consistent with the high incidence of cognitive dysfunction among fibromyalgia patients.
--It has been found in studies that most fibromyalgia patients are women and the onset of exacerbations often occur during sex related events for women – menarche (starting periods),childbirth, premenstrual time, peri-menopause, and menopause. The worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms during the premenstrual time and
perimenopause may result from inadequate thyroid hormone regulation of the function of the ovaries. Inadequate thyroid hormone regulation can result in progesterone deficiency. Many women with fibromyalgia complain of infertility and/or difficulties carrying fetuses to term. Hypothyroidism causes infertility in many women. It can cause pregnancies of some to end in spontaneous abortions in the first trimester, still birth, or premature birth.
--Potential results of inadequate regulation by thyroid hormone – decreased motor and respiratory drive, low sympathetic activity, excess parasympathetic activity, and subnormal aerobic and anaerobic capacity – may render the fibromyalgia patient unable to benefit from exercise or unable to engage in it. Many individuals develop and continue to suffer from fibromyalgia despite remaining highly active physically. Mild exercise and stretching is beneficial- both mentally and physically. It promotes blood circulation and range of motion. Yoga and tai chi are very good.
--Some clients have acute treatment-resistant myofascial pain during episodes of hypoglycemia, therefore, it may be beneficial to eat every 4 hours to avoid hypoglycemic events. This pain is highly resistant to myofascial therapy that typically stops the same pain in most other clients. Oral contraceptives have been found to cause this same severe myofascial pain. Relief often comes from discontinuation.
--Patients who have normal thyroid lab tests, but still have hypothyroid symptoms may have candida hypersensitivity. Often candida has been found to indirectly cause FM. Some causes of candida could be –taking broad spectrum anti-biotics for 8 weeks or longer, or more than 3 shorter courses within a year; taking cortisone; using synthetic hormones (estrogen is known to cause candida); have a high sugar diet; been treated with immunosuppressive drugs; had a chronic multiple infection.
--Hypothyroidism has also been found to increase the incidence of fungal(yeast) and bacterial (strep) growth. This is due to the lowered basal temp. Candida and strep survive in an environment a few degrees lower than our normal temp of 98.6. If our basal temp is low, then, they thrive. Some symptoms of candida are:
** multiple allergic symptoms
** extreme sensitivity to chemical fumes, perfumes or tobacco smoke
** feel worse than usual after eating yeasty or sugary foods or drinks
** crave sweets and/or alcohol
** suffer frequent bouts of bloating, stomach distention, diarrhea, or constipation
** fatigue and lethargy
** poor memory
** upper respiratory tract infections such as colds, postnasal drip, coughs
** have nail or skin fungus, vaginal yeast infection more than once, have vaginal discharge, recurrent cystitis, prostatitis or endometriosis
** muscle aches for no reason, tingling or numbness in fingers or toes, swollen joints, or erratic vision and/or spots before your eyes
--after the candida is treated, the symptoms for hypothyroid (and fibromyalgia) are often resolved. The theory on this reaction is that when the immune system attacks the candida cell, a chemical may be released that interferes with thyroid hormone's ability to cause its effect in the cell. Theoretically, if you effectively treat candida, then you may get rid of the fibromyalgia and the hypothyroid symptoms.
--There are 2 aspects that are extremely important in alleviating candida - 1)a low carbohydrate diet is critical, since it starves the yeast and prevents them from growing back. 2)Supplementation with 3 particular strains of probiotics (L.acidophilus, which secretes lactic acid and inhibits the growth of yeast, B. bifidum, which inhabit the large intestine and effectively lower pH in that region making it uninhabitable for harmful bacteria, and L. bulgaricus, which is a transcient bacteria and basically float around assisting the other resident beneficial bacteria. It is necessary to eliminate all fruits, juices, refined and concentrated sugar, all breads and yeast products, all wheat and refined grains, dairy, cheese, ice cream, smoked or preserved foods, processed foods, antibiotics. In most cases, it could take 6 months of treatment for candida before fibromyalgia symptoms may lessen. (if a patient does not test positive for candida, then there is obviously no reason to treat for it)
--Another aspect of treating candida – which is NOT recommended at all – is treatment with NYSTATIN. This is a yeast based drug, and studies have shown that after treatment, a resurgence of yeast colonies often occurs, with more active colonies showing up than before treatment started.
--a great deal of interest is being directed at the neuroendocrine system and to the abnormal status of neurotransmitters – in addition to the hormones of the
hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
--Parasites are known to be a possibility in fibromyalgia. It might be a good idea to approach your family physician to rule out parasitic infestation. It may be beneficial to take anti-parasitic herbs for 3-6 months at some point. Some beneficial herbs are – garlic, pau d’arco, wormwood, black walnut, pumpkin seeds, black radish, calendula, goldenseal (in small amounts), and cloves.
--Massage, cranio-sacral therapy,and chiropractic adjustments are all beneficial.
--Hot epsom salt soaks are good for pain – ½ pound to a tub of water
--Accupuncture may be good for painful muscles
--It may be beneficial to induce sweating to remove toxins from body. Ginger, peppermint, yarrow, and elderflowers are all good to promote sweating.
--Studies indicate that meditation-based stress reduction programs are effective for people with fibromyalgia
*Lack of sleep and pain cause stress in the body.
*Skullcap and valerian are very good herbs for sleep problems
*External, emotional, or long term stress intensifies this. Stress places wear and tear on the immune system and organs of the body.
*FMS may be linked to childhood emotional traumas, perfectionism, or constant worry over others.
--Reiki has been found to be very beneficial in auto-immune disorders. It often alleviates a number of symptoms such as insomnia, heartburn, indigestion, IBS, chronic pain, stress.
--Homeopathic arnica 30c. and rhus.tox.30c. may be beneficial for pain.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS
(it is not at all practical to attempt to take ALL supplements. A good idea is to discuss them with a health care provider knowledgeable in nutrition and devise 2-3 different protocols that you can use to cycle every 6 months, or so.) Here is an extensive list to choose from:
--a good multi vitamin – It may be best to use liquid if possible. A multi is the basis for any nutritional program
--COQ10 30-100mg (Q-sorb or Q-gel is recommended as the best delivery system). This has been shown to oxygenate the blood, increase energy, and destroy free radicals – halting damage.
--Probiotics - Mega-dosi for 3 to 6 months is known to be effective if you have candida sensitivities. There are no known contraindications to taking mega doses of probiotics. Natren Healthy Trinity brand has had many studies conducted on it's formula. It has been found very beneficial in alleviating candida. Jarro-dophilus powder is also very good.
--other supplements beneficial for candida are:
–-B-complex (when there is an imbalance in bacteria, the good bacteria can’t make the optimum amount of the B vitamins). This is also known to be very effective for stress.
--caprylic acid – This is known to be a very strong anti-fungal
--grapefruit seed extract – Many studies have found this to be a phenomenal anti-fungal, anti-bacterial,and anti-microbial supplement.
--germanium – Found to be anti-fungal. Also to oxygenate the system, and increase energy
--lecithin granules or caps – this is a type of fat needed by every cell of the body. Cell membranes, myelin, muscles and nerves all contain this. Is a derivative of soy or egg yolk. Although this is a fat, it is partially soluble in water so is an emulsifier. It enables fats such as cholesterol to be dispersed in water and removed from the body. This has been shown to be effective for energy production, circulation, immunity, brain function. It shows promise in chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, AIDS, and immune disorders.
--Calcium/magnesium – This is best taken in a 1:1 ratio at bedtime. Studies have shown that both are known to be needed for proper functioning of all muscles, and to relieve muscle spasms and pain. It may be best to try and find a liquid, since malabsorption problems are prevalent in fibromyalgia. Most liquids are found in as 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, so it may be necessary to supplement additional magnesium when using a liquid cal/mag. supplement.
--malic acid This has been shown to give an energy boost and pain relief in conditions of hypoxia.
--St.John’s Wort and 5HTP have been shown to be beneficial in reducing sleep problems, depression, neuralgic pain, and increasing serotonin. St. John's Wort is not recommended in people with blood type O- they can just take 5HTP alone. If you take this, it is necessary to avoid hard cheeses, smoked foods, preserved foods, dairy products, almonds – any foods high in tyrosine. These foods may cause a sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure.
--SAMe has been shown to be effective at reducing chronic pain and depression. (If taking St.John’s Wort and 5HTP, there must be a 2 week break between stopping them and beginning SAMe)
--homocysteine modulators – B6,B12,Folic acid and TMG. These are known to lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels are found to be associated with fatigue (and heart disease).
--immune modulators are beneficial in supporting the system. It is best not to use Echinacea.(you do not want to over stimulate the system) ARA-6 (arabinogalactan),olive leaf, or MGN-3 are all known to be good immune support supplements without risk of overstimulating the immune system. Fibromyalgia, in some instances, is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Always follow label doses.
--Digestive enzymes– 2 with each meal or at the largest meals are most beneficial. Malabsorption disorders are known to exist in fibromyalgia. People with blood type O need to use digestive enzymes with no HCL; people with blood type A and AB should use enzymes with HCL.
Wobenzyme or Michael’s W-zyme are each found to be beneficial as an anti-inflammatory in reduction of pain and in tissue repair. These need to be taken on an empty stomach.
--Emergen-C This is found to be beneficial for energy. It is also known to be anti-viral and a good source of vitamin C and potassium.
--Omega 3 – fish oil or cod liver oil is known to protect against cell damage. It has also been found to be anti-inflammatory, protect against pain and fatigue.
--Melatonin - Studies have shown this to be beneficial in over coming sleep disorders.
--Iodoral as directed by a knowledgeable health care practitioner. This is a precisely quantified tablet form of supplemental iodine containing 5 mg iodine and 7.5 mg iodide as the potassium salt. It is supplemented to support thyroid functions and replaces the much studied "Lugol" solution. To prevent gastric irritation, the iodine/iodide preparation was absorbed unto a colloidal silica excipient; and to eliminate the unpleasant taste of iodine, the tablets were coated with a thin film of pharmaceutical glaze. Be aware that Iodoral® enhances the response of your body to thyroid hormones. Persons on Iodoral® feel warmer in cold environments and that is expected. However, you may need to cut down the amount of thyroid hormones if you experience palpitation, anxiety, increased sweating and intolerance to heat. That is because Iodoral® decreases your need for thyroid hormones. Your health care practitioner will guide you in titrating downward the amount of thyroid hormones, if need be. He/she should reevaluate you one month afterward if you are on thyroid hormones, and 3 months if not.
--L-tyrosine has shown benefit in supporting the thyroid. Do not use this, however, if you also are using St. John’s Wort.
--Studies have shown it to be beneficial to have a high protein diet. This may initiate the repair and rebuilding of muscle tissue. It also controls blood sugar and insulin.
--Eating lots of garlic is known to be beneficial. It enhances the immune function, increases energy, controls parasites, fights candida, improves digestion, cleanses the blood, and is known to destroy H.Pylori (the bacteria known to cause ulcers).
--Dandelion root, burdock root, and pau d’arco teas have been found to be blood cleansers and liver and immune tonics. They are also very good remedies against candida and some parasites.
--It is best to eat every 3-4 hours to avoid hypoglycemia and keep energy up.
--It is ALWAYS best to follow your specific blood type diet.
--No caffeine, alcohol, or sugar. They are all known to promote fatigue,increase pain, and disturb sleep.
--Chlorophyll has been found to be a good energizer and pain reliever, in addition to cleansing and purifying the blood.
--Studies have shown that plant sterols and sterolins are beneficial for immune function.
--Wheat lectins are KNOWN to exacerbate hyperimmunity. Most grains have been found to induce joint inflammation.
Here is the link that I promised you for the Fibromyalgia Treatment Center. Please go over it very carefully; the information is invaluable. You will find that the treatment they recommend (Guiafenison treatment) is not for the faint of heart. It is very specific on exactly what is to be done. If you don't follow it to the letter, chances are that it won't help you. However, if you have tried everything else (including holistic therapies), and are still plagued with symptoms, it is a very promising therapy. The support group is extremely knowledgable and willing to help in any way. Good luck in your search for relief.
Please email me if you have any questions.
ALL OF THE PREVIOUS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE OR TREAT ILLNESS. THE INFORMATION IS DOCUMENTED FROM NUMEROUS SOURCES, AMONG THEM ARE:
Eat Right 4 Your Type and Live Right 4 Your Type – D’Adamo
Nutritional Healing – Balch
Enzyme Therapy – Cichoke
Enzymes, The Fountain of Life – Lopez
Nutritional Influences on Illness – Werbach
PDR for Nutritional Supplements
PDR for Herbal Medicine
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine –Pizzorno
Alternative Medicine-The Definitive Guide
Know your Fats – Enig
The Thyroid Solution - Arem
Probiotics-Nature’s Internal Healers – Trenev
Adrenal Fatigue – Wilson
Thriving With Your Autoimmune Disorder – Ravicz
Herbal Medicine – Mills
Living Well with Hypothyroidism – Shoman
Low Blood Sugar – Budd
Disease Prevention and Treatment – Life Extension Foundation
German Commission E Monograph
Hormone Deception – Berkman
Adrenal Fatigue – Wilson
The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia-Lowe
Health Science Institute
Real Health Newsletter
Nutrition and Health Newsletter
Herb Research Foundation