Fibromyalgia affects as many as 6 million North Americans and causes more disability than rheumatoid arthritis. Despite these numbers, many diagnoses and treatments for Fibromyalgia are inadequate.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
Not only are chronic pain and neurobiological issues major factors for Fibromyalgia, but factors like stress, toxins, and nutrient deficiencies can also have a major impact.
The first step in treatment is to educate the patient, the patient’s family, and the patient’s caregivers to understand the causes of Fibromyalgia. Family members and caregivers usually misunderstand the patient, which can be problematic during day-to-day life.
Studies show there are many factors contributing to Fibromyalgia, and many bodily systems may be involved. For example:
- Almost 100% of patients have low levels of cortisol.
- About 90% of patients have hypothyroidism.
- A large number of patients have suboptimal DHEA levels.
- Low testosterone levels are common in men and women.
Many patients also have symptoms like chronic fatigue, memory difficulties, sleep disturbances, and weight gain. Major triggers for Fibromyalgia are stressors like early childhood trauma, peripheral pain syndromes, physical trauma, certain catastrophic events, infections, and psychological stress/distress.
TREATMENTS AND A BETTER UNDERSTANDING
According to a study published in 2004 in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) education, mild aerobic exercise, and cognitive behavior therapy are most effective as non-drug therapies for Fibromyalgia treatment.
Studies in the Journal of Rheumatology and Arthritis and Rheumatism show that Fibromyalgia is a Mitochondrial dysfunction disease. These studies found a 20% reduction in ATP levels—a body energy source that is manufactured by Mitochondria in muscle cells. Lower levels of ATP appear in cells taken from muscle biopsies from patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
The best approach is from a varying treatment of addressing diet, nutritional therapies, hormonal therapies, pain control gels, guaifenesin and, if necessary, treating infections.
FOOD PLANNING AND DAILY ACTIVITIES
Patients with the condition should be eating more vegetables and avoiding MSG- and Aspartame-rich foods to help relieve symptoms. For hormonal therapies, professionals should watch for adrenal dysfunction, thyroid dysfunction, and sex hormone balance.
Since lower levels of Melatonin can be found in Fibromyalgia patients during the evening, consider Melatonin as part of the patient’s hormonal therapy. Melatonin not only helps with sleep but also works as an antioxidant, therefore limiting the loss of mitochondrial glutathione, which prevents damage to mitochondrial protein and DNA while also increasing mitochondria ATP production.
There are many necessary nutrients used to treat Fibromyalgia for Mitochondrial, adrenal, and thyroid support. Examples include:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Vitamin B complex
- Ginkgo biloba
- Vitamin D
- Adaptogenic herbs
Studies also show that Guaifenesin may be helpful to some patients. Fibromyalgic kidneys tend to have excess phosphate, which interferes with cellular energy production. Guaifenesin helps kidneys increase the excretion of phosphate.
The bottom line is that Fibromyalgia is not a simple “pain and fatigue” condition. It is a complex multifactorial condition that must be treated comprehensively and before considering any of the above treatment suggestions, you must work with health care practitioners who understand these options and have trained in integrative approaches for optimal patient outcomes.
In Good Health,
B.Sc., Pharm., FAARFM, CCN, ABAAHP, IFMCP