Archive for August, 2010

Hope for fibromyalgia sufferers

August 7, 2010

I just gave a presentation on fibromyalgia. So I thought I’d share some of the principles with the rest of the world. If you or a loved one is suffering from fibromyalgia, I don’t need to tell you how debilitating it can be. It’s a difficult condition to diagnose, probably due to a lack of definitive tests. Doctors who are looking for it see it frequently, whereas more conservative doctors may not even believe in it and would therefore never offer that as a diagnosis. Used to be, people who had it were generally told it was all in their head. Some people may still be told that from time to time since it’s so hard to prove.

One of the possible causes of fibromyalgia is depression. It will also trigger a flare-up and it’s also listed as a complication of fibromyalgia. So which comes first – depression or fibromyalgia? I’m sure it varies from person to person. One thing for sure, if you hurt every day and can’t do the normal things in life without difficulty, especially when there’s no obvious reason for it, chances are you will get depressed, if you weren’t already! It’s not all in your head, but it can at least partly stem from where your head is at.

The problem is that fibromyalgia isn’t really a specific disease. I refer to it simply as a condition. There are two main criteria for diagnosing it. First, you have to have widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months. Second, you have tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied. For more information, visit the National Fibromyalgia Association’s website at

I’ve gathered a list of possible causes of fibromyalgia from a number of sources:

  • Immune system problems
  • Physically unfit muscles 
  • Disturbance in brain chemistry
  • Sleep Disturbances or Insomnia
  • Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus
  • Food allergy
  • Emotional stress
  • Intestinal candida overgrowth
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Chronic mercury poisoning from amalgam dental fillings
  • Anemia
  • Hypoglycemia 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Fibromyalgia is closely related to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which causes similar symptoms, except that in fibromyalgia, muscle pain predominates over fatigue, whereas in CFS, fatigue predominates over pain.
  • Muscular hypoxia

It’s that last one that I’d like to focus on. I’ve seen some interesting research that may provide hope. It has to do with ATP production. ATP is the substance that your body produces for managing and storing energy. It’s been found that fibromyalgia sufferers frequently have low levels of ATP in their blood platelets. Two nutrients that help to boost ATP production are magnesium and malate (or malic acid). One study showed that patients taking 300-600 mg of magnesium and 1200-2400 mg of malic acid per day showed an average 60% reduction in pain after only 48 hours.

Here are a few other things you can do to improve this condition:

  • Exercise — Fibromyalgia can be a downward spiral. The muscles desperately need exercise, but it hurts to exercise and can cause a flare-up that can last for days. Without the stretching, increased circulation and movement in the muscles, fibromyalgia symptoms will gradually increase. Exercise is an important component of the management of this condition. The keys are to start off very slowly and to make the exercise regimen part of an entire management program (see the other suggestions listed in this blog). I recommend starting off with walking and stretching.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids — Irritation leads to inflammation, which can cause more irritation (another one of those ugly spirals). Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA, DHA) naturally reduces inflammation.
  • Chiropractic — Regular chiropractic adjustments will improve both mobility and function. It will also increase your general health and well-being.
  • Stress/emotion management — Find reasons to laugh, let go of stress. Emotional stress can kick off fibromyalgia flare-ups and is even suggested as one of the causes. As much as possible, avoid negative physical, emotional, chemical and nutritional stress. I realize that’s a very broad statement, but in this context, that’s about as deep as I can go on that. As much as you can follow a proper path of health and reduce stresses upon your system, the less pain you will experience.

Try these things. Hope is an essential ingredient in the management of any condition or disease. Do what you can to take control. Giving up, giving in only empowers the problem more than the solution.