Fibromyalgia, A Natural Approach
By Sarah Axtell, ND • November 20, 2016
Fibromyalgia is theorized to be an unusually strong response by the nervous system to physical and/or emotional trauma. Traumatic events, such as a car accident, work-related injury, surgery, physical or emotional abuse, can lead to a heightened and prolonged pain response to stimuli, such as bright lights, sounds, changes in temperature, or household chemicals.
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, know that you have options beyond taking an antidepressant or pain medications. While these medications can absolutely be helpful, they are primarily palliative and only address a small part of this multi-faceted condition.
When working with patients with fibromyalgia, my goal is to restore proper cellular biochemistry and metabolism with this 4-fold approach:
1.Balance the endocrine system. Ensuring the thyroid is in optimal range (not just in “normal range”) with proper testing is important. Also, stress plays a significant role in heightening one’s response to pain. People with fibromyalgia are not “imagining” their pain. The pain is real and is commonly triggered by stress. Therefore, addressing adrenal dysfunction with a salivary hormone test is key. There are many herbs and nutrients that can support the thyroid and adrenal glands (translating to less pain and improved energy), but lifestyle modification is also important. I recommend predictable sleep patterns (in bed by 10 pm) and moderate exercise (but not overexercising!).
2.Replenish nutritional deficiencies. I routinely test for deficiencies through Spectracell’s functional micronutrient test. The most common deficiencies I see associated with fibromyalgia are:
- CoQ10– crticial in the cellular production of energy, proper cognitive function, and muscle function and metabolism
- Magnesium– plays a role in relaxing tense muscles
- B vitamins– improves energy metabolism
3.Reduce toxic load. I find many patients with fibromyalgia are hypersensitive to their environment. Pain is often triggered by walking down the detergent aisle of the grocery store, Chinese food (MSG), cigarette smoke, the smell of new paint, or alcohol. These chemicals place an incredible burden on our bodies, especially the liver, our main organ of detoxification. The accumulation of toxins and toxic by-products in our organs and tissues can have profound detrimental effects on our physiology. Liver supportive herbs, castor oil packs, green tea, selenium, and biotherapeutic drainage remedies (a means to eliminate wastes intracellularly) are all ways to enhance liver function and thus reduce pain.
4.Reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes pain and achiness, and one of the most powerful ways to reduce inflammation is with diet. Avoiding individual food sensitivities is critical. The most common problematic foods are gluten, dairy, corn, sugar and soy. To determine one’s individual sensitivity, I recommend either an “elimination-challenge” diet or a food sensitivity test. In addition to eliminating inflammatory foods, I also recommend adding in anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and salmon.
This approach, while it can take time, ultimately leads to a reduction of pain and enhanced energy long-term.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.