Natural Solutions to Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Natural Solutions to Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Given that we manufacture an energy boosting supplement, it is not surprising that we commonly get asked about fibromyalgia (FM) and if we can help people suffering with this affliction deal naturally with the symptoms, particularly the lack of energy and motivation. (We certainly do spend a considerable amount of time researching and testing various approaches to increasing energy levels.) So here's an amalgamation of our answers that should help.

The mystery of fibromyalgia.

The real problem of coming up with solutions is that no one really knows exactly what causes fibromyalgia. Scientists postulate it may be a problem with energy production in cells, hormone imbalances, or possibly an issue with mixed signaling between the brain and muscles (leading to micro-traumas.) Most likely, as with so many health issues, it is a combination of factors. FMRI scans show clear differences in how fibromyalgia patients process pain in their brains. Until we learn more, we seem to be stuck putting mostly band-aids on symptoms.

What we do know is that it affects a lot more women than men, and it causes a lot of serious problems. FM is usually identified by numerous tender spots over the body that cause extreme pain when pressed, and that have been consistent for at least three months. As it progresses, pain becomes chronic and shows up all over the body. It is also responsible for chemical sensitivities, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, gland and immune system dysfunctions, bladder infection, various levels of depression, and of course, chronic fatigue. It can be pretty nasty and relief is not easy to find.

The common treatments for FM are painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. Given that we don't fully understand the mechanisms of the problem, these medications really only help reduce symptoms like pain, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. Research done at the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation found that drug treatments simply do not work for everyone. Plus the side-effects from many of these drugs can create new health issues. I am not advocating that people stop these treatments, but there are other options available to all of us that at very least will complement them.

According to a lot of researchers, the more of the following types of non-drug methods you can employ to help, the better your symptoms will be. Until we know more, a broad-spectrum approach makes most sense.

What can we do to help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia ourselves?

First and foremost, fibromyalgia is definitely connected to stress, and plenty of research shows that whether physical, emotional, or even environmental, stress can exacerbate FM symptoms, so it is critical that you manage your life (and your mental state) to minimize stress. Read this post on some effective ways to relieve stress and lower anxiety for more details.

This is particularly important also because feelings of depression often accompany FM. Whatever you can do to keep your spirits up will help immensely. FM can often wear people down mentally, so use every beneficial technique to lift your mood. Seek out nutrition rich in serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (pleasure chemicals) to boost mood. 5-htp and SAM-e have also shown to be effective in raising mood, reducing stress, and helping with sleep. Studies at the University of Maryland Medical Center suggested 5-htp may help improve fibromyalgia symptoms like pain, anxiety, fatigue, and sleeplessness.

Nutritional needs:

When it comes to nutrition, obviously you need to start with a proper, healthy, balanced diet, full of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. Everything else must build on that or every subsequent effort is pointless.

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to muscle spasms and cramps. One study found that supplementing magnesium for eight weeks reduced FM pain and tenderness. Zinc is good for cell function, iodine for thyroid function, and selenium for boosting immune function. Iron is critical for a variety of reasons, especially for women. Key vitamins are B-1, B-2, B-12, C, and D.

Some result-specific supplements can be very beneficial for addressing symptoms without drugs. Natural stimulants for relieving fatigue are often very important. Besides the fatigue that comes with the disease, often the medications that are prescribed to help actually have fatigue and depression as listed side effects. Finding a safer, nutritional approach to improving energy levels can be crucial to daily function for many FM sufferers.

The key to increasing natural energy is to find a smart balance of nutrition that addresses the range of issues that are involved. Look for a formula that has the key vitamins and minerals mentioned above, along with natural stimulants like caffeine, DMAE, acetyl-l-carnitine, ginseng, rhodiola, and also mood enhancing ingredients like amino acids tyrosine, phenylalanine, theanine, and 5-htp will assist will mood elevation, disposition and focus. We developed our JUMPSTART EX specifically to do this job, so try one of our free samples and see if it helps you.

Mood support supplements may be beneficial in dealing with depression, and natural sleep aid supplements are another option that may help you deal with symptoms and stay away from drugs. Additionally, any formulas that boost your immune function are very useful for helping with FM symptoms. Look for resveratrol, fruit and vegetable complexes, and anything high in antioxidants. A high grade fish oil is important if you do not eat fish three time a week. If you are looking to combine an energy boost with some weight loss, consider a carefully balanced weight loss supplement.

Relaxation needs:

Other non-nutritional techniques that have proven to be effective in alleviating fibromyalgia problems include a range of relaxation methods.

Yoga benefits so many aspects of the human health, and some small studies have been done on yoga and FM. In one study participants who practiced yoga for 30 minutes a day for 4 weeks saw a 30% improvement in their symptoms, especially pain and fatigue. It is believed that yoga affects the way pain signals are processed in the brain, probably linked to breathing techniques.

Speaking of breathing, we have previously posted on how certain breathing can bring instant changes, relaxing and calming the body, and triggering key reflexes. Deep breathing relaxation has very beneficial effects on FM.

Tai chi is another form of physical relaxation that seems to really help. It eases pain (interrupting the pain cycle,) anxiety, and improves sleep quality. There have been several studies on the effects of Tai Chi on FM patients and it has consistently shown benefits, with participants experiencing improvements in pain, mood, sleep, and quality of life.

Another successful relaxation technique that helps is good old massage therapy. There is one particular form called myofascial release that has shown positive effects on FM symptoms, and another called manual lymph drainage therapy which has its own unique form of efficacy. A study on FM sufferers given a 90-minute weekly myofascial release massage session for 20 weeks reported significantly lowered levels of pain, as well as stress and anxiety. It appears that in people with FM, the fascia, deep connective tissue surrounding muscles and joints, tighten and cause pain. Massage loosens fascia, making them softer and more relaxed, and thereby reducing discomfort and improving quality of life.

Although the jury is still out on acupuncture, with mixed results in testing, it still seems promising. Acupuncture may increase brain receptor activity that dampens pain signals. Even though tests weren't conclusive, many patients report lowered pain levels. It's always going to be hard to extract the placebo effect from these studies, but that is not necessarily a bad thing sometimes.

Exercise Needs:

Finally, I wrote a few posts on learning to love movement a while back, and it keeps coming back when talking about paths to health. Movement is absolutely critical to helping relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. You will hear FM sufferers often complain that physical activity is difficult at best, but nevertheless, research confirms that regular moderate activity is not only possible, it is very beneficial in many ways. One study done at Johns Hopkins University found that regular exercise resulted in a third less overall pain.

I went in depth into the ways you can embrace movement in many aspects of your life, and I highly recommend the practice of NEAT for people with fibromyalgia. Even if you cannot get to 30 minutes a day, you can add lots of regular movement to your day such that it really helps, and then slowly build on it. You might be surprised at how small steps at first can quickly get you to 30 minutes. If you really can't do regular exercise, water-based exercises are much easier on you and still excellent.

Moreover, exercise improves mood and disposition. It also has another benefit that can really help: weight loss. Studies show that even small reductions in weight can have real reductions in many symptoms of FM. In fact, overweight people are almost twice as likely to develop FM. We think that elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines that are common in obese people and FM sufferers can trigger pain and heighten sensitivity to it. Of course, it goes without saying that losing weight also leads to more energy and less fatigue. This should be a serious priority for anyone with FM who is overweight.

Another important challenge is healthy sleep. Losing weight is one sure way to improve sleep, which anyone with FM will tell you can be a commodity in short supply. Worst of all, beyond tiredness the next day, without sleep muscles cannot properly recover and signals between them and your central nervous system switch into a type of overdrive leading to what is called central sensitization, or more simply, more pain and fatigue. So sleep and especially relaxation (the relaxation response) are so important. 

The bottom line is that you absolutely must learn to feed and nurture your body well. Take good care of it inside and out. Apply the practices above that suit your personality and lifestyle, along with your doctor's advice, and you are bound to see improvements. This means being smart about being kind and gentle, taking time to calm and slow your mind and body. These choices will have cumulative positive benefits. None of them have a downside. Come to think of it, these suggestions are just as smart choices for every human.

Related Posts:
Are You Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? 
The Relationship Between Energy, Nutrition, Focus, Discipline
Understanding Energy Usage is Crucial to Weight Loss

Jumpstart EX energy

References:

Maletic V, Raison CL (2009). "Neurobiology of depression, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain."

Hauser W, Bernardy K, Arnold B, Offenbacher M, & Schiltenwolf M. "Efficacy of multicomponent treatment in fibromyalgia syndrome: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials." Arthritis Care & Research. Volume 61, 2.

"Fibromyalgia." Treatment at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Jan. 2011.

"Fibromyalgia: Research Report." The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation

Lewis, Daniel. "National Fibromyalgia Association: Fibromyalgia and Meditation." National Fibromyalgia Association: Fibromyalgia and Meditation.

Yunus MB. "Role of central sensitization in symptoms beyond muscle pain, and the evaluation of a patient with widespread pain". Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. June 2007.

Martin, DP, CD Sletten, BA Williams, and IH Berger. "Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial." Mayo Clin Proc 81.6 (2006): 749-57. 



The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

 

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