Functional Medicine for Fibromyalgia

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FIBROMYALGIA

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”), such as problems with memory and concentration
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Although there’s currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are treatments to help relieve some of the symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.

Treatment tends to be a combination of:

What causes fibromyalgia?

Although the precise cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, it is believed to be related to altered brain chemical levels and modifications in how the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) interprets pain signals sent throughout the body. Additionally, some people may be more predisposed to fibromyalgia because to genes passed down from their parents.

The syndrome frequently seems to be brought on by a physically or emotionally trying circumstance, such as:

  • an injury or infection
  • giving birth
  • having an operation
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • the death of a loved one

Who is affected?

Fibromyalgia can affect everyone, but about 7 times as many women as males are affected by it. The illness can affect persons of any age, including children and the elderly, and commonly appears between the ages of 30 and 50. Although research has indicated that fibromyalgia may be a very prevalent ailment, it is unclear exactly how many people are impacted by the condition. According to some estimates, fibromyalgia may have a mild to moderate impact on almost 1 in 20 people.

It’s unclear how many people are afflicted in part due to the fact that fibromyalgia can be challenging to diagnose. The disorder has no specific test, and the symptoms may resemble those of other illnesses.

Treatment is available to ease some of the symptoms, although it’s unlikely they’ll ever disappear completely.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

Widespread pain

Widespread pain is probably one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. Your entire body might feel this, but certain parts, like your back or neck, might feel it more intensely. Even though it could get better or worse at different periods, the agony is probably constant.

The pain could feel like an ache, a burning sensation or a sharp, stabbing pain

Extreme sensitivity

  • Your body may become incredibly sensitive to pain if you have fibromyalgia, and you can discover that even the slightest contact hurts. When you injure yourself, such when you stub your toe, the pain could last considerably longer than it would otherwise. You may hear the following medical words used to describe the condition:
  • hyperalgesia – when you’re extremely sensitive to pain
  • allodynia – when you feel pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch

Additionally, you can have sensitivity to things like smoke, some meals, and strong lights. The additional fibromyalgia symptoms you experience may worsen if you are exposed to anything you are sensitive to.

Stiffness

You might feel stiff if you have fibromyalgia. When you have been in the same posture for a long time, such as when you first wake up in the morning, the stiffness may be at its worst. Additionally, it can cause your muscles to spasm, which is when they uncomfortably contract (squeeze) tightly.

Fatigue

Extreme fatigue can be a symptom of fibromyalgia (fatigue). This can range from a slight sense of fatigue to the extreme tiredness frequently felt during a flu-like sickness. You may have abrupt onset of severe weariness, which will sap all of your vitality. You could feel too exhausted to do anything if this occurs.

Poor sleep quality

Sleep issues might arise with fibromyalgia. Even if you get a lot of sleep, you could still feel exhausted when you wake up. This is due to the condition’s potential to occasionally keep you from getting adequate restorative sleep.

Cognitive problems (‘fibro-fog’)

Cognitive problems are issues related to mental processes, such as thinking and learning.

If you have fibromyalgia, you may have:

  • trouble remembering and learning new things
  • problems with attention and concentration
  • slowed or confused speech

Headaches

You can also get regular headaches if fibromyalgia has made your neck and shoulders painful and inflexible. These can range in severity from mild headaches to severe migraines and may also cause additional symptoms like feeling nauseated.

Rheumatoid bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome may also develop in certain fibromyalgia sufferers (IBS). IBS is a typical digestive disorder that makes your stomach hurt and bloat. Additionally, it may cause diarrhoea or constipation.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms that people with fibromyalgia sometimes experience include:

How Functional medicine can help with Fibromyalgia

The focus of functional medicine is always on identifying the origins of your symptoms. Interruptions in your digestive and detoxification systems, particularly your liver, can lead to fibromyalgia, an inflammatory disorder.

Functional testing can identify any dietary deficits as well as the condition of your gut and microbiota. Tests can determine where your adrenal glands are in the stress cycle and whether your immune system is attacking your thyroid. Other tests can determine whether toxic metals, mycotoxins, or viruses are a concern for you, or whether you have a hereditary tendency to have detoxification issues.

The goal of treatment will be to:

  • Support gut healing and a healthy bacterial balance in your microbiome.
  • Correct any nutrient deficiencies, and provide plenty of antioxidants in your diet to combat free radical inhibition of your muscles’ energy factories.
  • Support adrenal function using herbs and supplements, and manage stress.
  • Reduce the toxic load on your liver by avoiding environmental toxins, plastics and by supporting your liver with herbs, foods and nutrients.

Testing that we may use could include:

  • ·         Thyroid function test
  • ·         Digestive system testing
  • ·         Blood testing
  • ·         Urine testing
  • ·         Saliva Testing
  • ·         Heavy Metal testing
  • ·         Fatty Acid testing
  • ·         Anti-Oxidents
  • ·         Minerals and Vitamin testing

Dr Stavy can prepare a personalised treatment plan for you based on a comprehensive analysis which can include:

  • ·         Advice on nutrition
  • ·         A plan and advice for exercising
  • ·         Medication
  • ·         A lifestyle change and recommendations

Lifestyle changes, including dietary changes, may help some people manage their symptoms.

Diet

Everyone should have a balanced diet, regardless of whether they have fibromyalgia.

But a 2018 literature review found that eating the appropriate combination of nutrients is crucial for persons with fibromyalgia.

Reduced symptoms may result from diets high in antioxidants and provide sufficient levels of minerals, such as vitamin B12. A balanced diet should include:

Foods Likely to Make Symptoms Worse

The following foods may worsen symptoms by increasing inflammation, aggravating food sensitivities, or both.

  • Sugar. 

For two reasons, cutting out or reducing sugar can significantly improve health. First, eating meals high in sugar is associated with higher fibromyalgia discomfort, according to the medical literature. Second, restricting sugar aids with weight management. Being overweight places additional strain on the body, which contributes to weariness, and accumulated fat may occasionally cause inflammation. Sugar is a well-known component of confectionery and soft drinks, but it is also included in some meals that are regarded as being healthful, such yoghurt. It is useful to be aware that sugar is also known by the terms glucose, fructose, and sucrose when reading nutrition labels.

  • Carbohydrates. 

Cookies, various breads, pastries, and white rice are examples of refined carbohydrates that are easily absorbed and cause an increase in blood sugar levels. However, the effect quickly wears off and the person becomes hungry once more as a result of a dip in blood sugar. These changes can worsen fibromyalgia-related fatigue and pain while also encouraging overeating.

Whole wheat sources should be chosen when consuming carbs. Because whole wheat products digest more slowly, they don’t cause the highs and lows that other carbohydrates do.

  • Processed foods. 

Sugar and unhealthy fats, which increase inflammation, are a large part of many processed foods. Flavourings and preservatives commonly used in processed foods also may trigger food sensitivities.

  • Alcohol. 

While some evidence suggests that moderate alcohol consumption helps reduce symptoms4, some fibromyalgia sufferers claim that alcohol makes their symptoms worse. Alcohol use may have negative interactions with some fibromyalgia drugs, including anti-convulsants, antidepressants, and acetaminophen (a common constituent in many treatments).

Exercise

For those with fibromyalgia, exercise in particular has been shown to provide a number of significant advantages, including easing pain. People with fibromyalgia might experiment with several fitness regimens to see which one suits them the best. The types of exercise that may be helpful include:

Aerobic exercise

Numerous fibromyalgia symptoms can be reduced by engaging in aerobic exercise, such as jogging or walking. People can choose low impact aerobics like swimming if they are worried that aerobic activity might put stress on their muscles or joints.

Group exercise

Exercise classes can increase fibromyalgia patients’ motivation and aid in their commitment to an exercise programme. An individual who has never exercised before can think about beginning with a lower-intensity activity, like yoga, tai chi, or aerobics.

Tai chi

Tai chi is an ancient martial art that originated in China and incorporates stretching and slow movements. As it encourages mind-body awareness, it may help with both the physical and psychological symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Resistance and strength training

Resistance training strengthens muscles and can improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.  A wide range of strength training routines, from group strength classes to lifting weights at home, may help.

Yoga

Yoga offers gentle stretching, mind-body awareness, and a slow and steady approach to physical fitness.  Yoga can often be a very accessible exercise option. Some gyms and community centres offer yoga classes, and many yoga videos are also available online.

Supplements

The goal of fibromyalgia treatment is to reduce symptoms. Medication, lifestyle modifications, and holistic approaches may all be used as treatments. No single treatment is effective for everyone. Supplements and herbs may be useful. Continue reading to learn more about these herbal cures.

Panax ginseng

This plant is also known as Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng, and Chinese ginseng. It is available as an herbal supplement. It can also be found in teabag form, and as a root, in its natural state. While relatively new to the Western world, ginseng has been used medicinally throughout Asia, for thousands of years.

St. John’s wort

A flowering herb, St. John’s Wort is available in tablet and capsule form. St. John’s Wort is also available as an extract, in oil form.  St. John’s Wort can negatively interact with certain medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills, so it’s important to discuss its use with your doctor. St. John’s Wort may help .

Melatonin

A hormone found in nature, melatonin. The pineal gland, which is found in the brain, is where it is made. Melatonin is produced synthetically as well and is sold as a supplement. This hormone can be helpful to fibromyalgia sufferers since it regulates sleep cycles. Exhaustion and poor sleep quality are typical signs of this disorder. Melatonin may lessen fatigue and enhance sleep quality.

Chlorella pyrenoidosa

Chlorella pyrenoidosa is an alga harvested from freshwater sources. It is high in many macronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein. It is available in supplement form.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that can be found in a wide range of foods, including almonds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and spinach. It is also available in capsule form, and as a topical solution.

For more information or if you would like to discuss treatment and management for hypothyroidism with Dr Stavy then please contact us via email: info@drstavy.com