Fibromyalgia is often called the invisible illness because of its difficulty to be diagnosed. Fibromyalgia comes from the Latin for FIBRO meaning supportive tissue, MYO for muscle and ALGIA for pain. It is a complex syndrome with no known cure.
The most common symptom in this multi-syndrome disorder is muscle pain. It is an intense, crippling, nagging and constant chronic pain. Fibromyalgia contains eighteen points on the body that are tender and sensitive to touch around the neck, shoulders, chest, knees, elbow and hips. Eleven of eighteen trigger point locations must feel tender upon pressure in order for the doctor to confirm FM. Eighty to ninety percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. It has only been recognized as a disorder since 1990 and has been misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Possible Connections to Fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Fibromyalgia and clinical depression
- History of sexual abuse, domestic violence and alcoholism
- Epstein Barre
- Mercury poisoning
Other symptoms include poor sleep, anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, IBS, dairy intolerance, sensitivity to bright lights, jaw pain, memory or concentration problems and severe fatigue. FM can occur within your muscles or where muscles join the tendons but not in joints. It is neither an inflammatory disorder nor a degenerative disease. It is thought to be one of the most pervasive rheumatic disorders. FM sufferers have many specific tender points in the body. Eleven of eighteen trigger point locations must feel tender upon pressure in order for the doctor to confirm FM. Symptoms may worsen by weather changes, stress, hormone level fluctuations or inappropriate exercise.
No one cause has been pinpointed but it is believed that multiple stressors, a traumatic emotional event, stress and depressive episodes may contribute to the disorder. The course of the syndrome is very unpredictable. Some cases are of short duration; others go through alternating flare-ups and remissions, while many become chronic.
The Emotional Connection to Fibromyalgia
Dr. Christine Northrup believes that there is a strong connection to traumatic life events getting “trapped” in the muscles. Her program includes the following:
1. Exercise daily
2. Rest and Relaxation: Following a sleeping pattern from 10:00pm to 6:30 to 7:30am
3. Deep breathing or meditation for 15 minutes daily
4. Balancing Prostaglandins
5. Increasing Serotonin
6. Supplementation including B-vitamins and magnesium
- Nutritional deficiencies and chemical toxicity are considered to be a major factor in the development of FM.
- Some researchers feel that there is a connection between chronic fatigue syndrome and FM.
- Recent studies pointed out that the chief characteristic of FM is that the central nervous system “remembers” pain for a very long time.
- New studies show that for unknown reasons, the muscles stay in contraction and do not relax
- Others suggested that patients have less blood flowing to the areas of the brain that focus on pain. Some researchers suggested that there is decreased blood flow through the muscles, leading to fatigue and decreased strength.
- There are numerous suggestions pointing to high amounts of SubstanceP, a chemical that relays pain messages throughout the cells in the central nervous system. In turn, this stimulates the release of histamine, causing tissue swelling and inflammation, smooth muscle contraction and pain transmission. Substance P also suppresses serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter); whereas under healthy conditions serotonin inhibits the overproduction of substance P.
Diet for Fibromyalgia
A diet rich in organic foods, high quality protein, fresh vegetables and low in carbohydrates. Elimination of allergy causing foods and substances is a must, (milk, eggs, corn and wheat are the strongest offenders) Avoid trans-fatty acids and saturated fats, essential fatty acids are fine. Drink at least 4-5 classes of filtered water daily. All stimulants (caffeine) sodas, refined foods, sugar preservatives and alcohol should be avoided.
Exercise for Fibromyalgia
A Canadian study in Arthritis Care Research found that patients with fibromyalgia find that exercise is more effective in alleviating pain, depression and disrupted sleep versus medication and other treatments.1 The study concluded that 30 percent of the patients found improvement in pain symptoms and overtime a reduced amount of pain medications, anti-depressants and tranquilizers were used.
The best exercise for fibromyalgia is gentle in nature, including yoga, tai chi, qigong, cycling, light weights, swimming and walking. Focus on stress management, a peaceful environment, relaxation exercises, massages and sleep repair is very important. It is very essential to pace one and never to overdo it, especially if one feels good one day.
The Best Supplements for Fibromyalgia
If the mitochondria are depleted, muscles break down, and pain and fatigue appear. Magnesium is needed for mitochondrial function and relaxes the muscles, while malate helps creates ATP production through bypassing the need for sugar in the Kreb Cycle for ATP production.
In a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover pilot study, magnesium and malate together significantly reduced pain and tenderness in those with fibromyalgia at the right dosage and duration. A deficiency of malic acid and fumaric acid is linked to chronic fatigue and psoriasis, while supplementation malic acid has been reported to be beneficial in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by reducing symptoms of persistent fatigue, muscular myalgia and arthritic-like pains. Malic acid is highest in apples, along with other fruits and vegetables. It is also made in the body.
Capsaicin depletes bodily reserves of substance P, believed to be overabundant in patients with fibromyalgia. The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee treated 45 people suffering from primary fibromyalgia with capsaicin (0.025%) cream for four weeks. The patients reported less tenderness in the spots treated and a significant increase in their grip strength.2
3. Q-Best 100
Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have low levels of CoQ10. One study found that the distribution of CoQ10 in blood components was altered in FM patients. Results confirm the oxidative stress background of this disease probably due to a defect on the distribution and metabolism of CoQ10 in cells and tissues. The protection caused in mononuclear cells by CoQ10 would indicate the benefit of its supplementation in FM patients.
1. Shoman, Mary J. Living with Autoimmune Disease. HarperResource 2002.
2. McCarty, Daniel J., et al. “Treatment of Pain Due to Fibromyalgia with Topical Capsaicin: A Pilot.” Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 23:6 Suppl 3, 41-47.