Do you often hurt all over and feel exhausted? If you’ve been to the doctor and they haven’t been able to find anything specifically wrong with you then it’s possible that you are suffering from fibromyalgia. If this is the case, then you do not have to rely on traditional medicine. There are some natural therapies that can help. However, natural therapies are potent in their own right and should always be used under the guidance of the relevant practitioner so please do not use any of the following remedies without first seeking advice.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterised by pain in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as fatigue and tender points on your body. It is more common in women than men and tends to strike women between 35 and 60 years of age. The symptoms may vary in their strength but they are unlikely to completely disappear. However, there are some things that you can do to make the symptoms more manageable.
But what are the symptoms of fibromyalgia? Some symptoms include:
• widespread pain
• sleep disturbances
• irritable bowel syndrome
• facial pain
• heightened sensitivity
• numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
• problems concentrating
• mood changes
• chest pain
• dry eyes, skin and mouth
• painful menstrual periods
The purpose of acupuncture is to restore the normal flow of energy through the body using very fine needles at specific points in order to unblock trapped energy. Studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It causes changes in blood flow and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to pain reduction.
Chiropractic care is used for fibromyalgia as it believes that restrictions in the movement of the spine can cause pain and reduced function. Adjustments to the spine can restore this movement and thus improve both pain levels and the patient’s ability to functions. These adjustments are not necessarily forceful. Practitioners may also make use of massage and stretching.
Massage as a therapy for fibromyalgia aims to improve the flow of blood to the muscles, thus increasing the amount of nutrients available to the muscle and also eliminate waste products. It is also able to reduce heart rate, relax the muscles, improve the amount of movement you have in your joints, and increase endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. It can also relieve the stress and anxiety that can be associated with fibromyalgia.
There are some simple things that you can do in your day to day life to make coping with fibromyalgia easier. It is vital to reduce your stress. Avoid overexerting yourself or emotional stress. Allow yourself time to relax. Stay active but don’t do too much. Exercise may help but it is important to do only as much as you can handle. Walking and swimming are fantastic. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.
It is also important to get enough sleep. As well as getting enough sleep, practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Try to avoid daytime naps.
The following herbs and supplements may help in the management of fibromyalgia:
• SAMe – S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) occurs naturally in the body and is necessary for proper immune function, maintaining cell membranes, the production and breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and also helps in the formation of cartilage and DNA. Studies have suggested that SAMe can help with pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, mood, and clinical disease activity.
• Magnesium – is a mineral found naturally in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and also in supplement form. It is needed for over 300 things in the body. It can help with fibromyalgia as it can help generate energy in the body’s cells. It can also help with pain and tenderness.
• 5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan is though to work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Studies have shown that 5-HTP can help improve pain, tender points, stiffness, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep.
• Vitamin C – reduces swelling and helps the immune system to work better.
• Coenzyme Q10 – improves the delivery of oxygen to the tissues and also has antioxidant activity.
• B vitamins – help you to cope better with stress.
• Melatonin – can help you get to sleep and give you better quality sleep.
• Zinc – is vital for correct immune system functioning.
Use the following herbs to help with stress and to strengthen the immune system:
• Siberian ginseng
• Gotu kola
Use the following herbs to help with pain and nervous tension:
• Black cohosh
• Kava kava
The first thing to do is to eliminate food allergens in the diet as these may worsen the symptoms. Common culprits include dairy, soy, citrus, peanuts, wheat, fish, eggs, and corn. Some food additives may also cause a problem. An elimination diet, where suspect foods are removed from the diet and gradually reintroduced will help to identify the triggers.
You should try and eliminate all inflammatory foods from your diet. These include refined foods, sugar, saturated fats, alcohol and caffeine. Eat a diet that is rich in vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, protein, and essential fatty acids.