Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Fibrositis
Description: This is a very difficult illness with patients complaining of one or more of a group of symptoms including – weakness, fatigue, tiredness, lethargy, aching muscles and joints all over the body, ‘brain fog’, inability to sleep. What is hard for both patient and doctor is that the patient looks well, and there are usually no abnormal physical findings or blood tests. In the past patients suffering from this very real illness have been put down as emotional, hysterical, neurotic, and often sent home with a tranquiliser or any pill the doctor could think of to get them out of his surgery. The cause is unknown, but many people have blood tests suggesting recent or previous viral infections, especially glandular fever. Some people believe that the symptoms are due to poor function of the hypothalamus in the brain, others have blamed agricultural sprays including phosphate.
Most people believe that Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome are two ends of a spectrum of the same disease. At one end Pure pain is the only symptom (usually involving both sides of the body and above and below the waist) and at the other crashing overwhelming fatigue – with no pain. Patients can be anywhere along the line joining these, and some can move from one end to the other.
What your doctor can do
- Investigate to exclude another medical diagnosis – Lyme disease, side effect of statin drugs, low thyroid function, anaemia. Unfortunately there are no tests which diagnose chronic
- Usually doctors have little to offer, although they can give tablets for the pains (amitryptiline, gabapentin) or antidepressants. Anti-inflammatory drugs like voltaren, brufen or even steroid drugs are often tried but usually give little benefit. This has been a huge problem for the medical profession and also the relationship between the doctor and their suffering patients.
- Low dose naltrexone – is very likely to help (click here for more details) – in most countries this requires a prescription, but after a discussion with your health provider, if the symptoms continue, this treatment should be considered.
What you can do
Treatment some suggest a 5 way approach to the disease : THINS – Toxins, Hormones, Infections, Nutritional deficiency and Sleep. Fix these and many people are greatly improved.
- Toxins. Based on hair mineral analysis, some people are found to have excess heavy metals. Have your teeth checked for excess mercury, infected root canals or jaw cavitations.
Go onto a low stress diet (no milk products, gluten, chocolate or alcohol, and reduce simple sugars) for 2 months. Drink filtered water and eat organic foods as much as possible.
- The gut – is often the cause of most of today’s immune diseases, and allowing this to heal with a low stress diet (see above), fish oil supplements and probiotic can often slowly make a difference.
- Hormones. Thyroid function is usually lower than normal. If your hands or feet are cold, thyroid hormone treatment is often helpful, especially if the thyroid tests are in the low normal range. The tissues may be less responsive to this hormone. The levels of sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone may be low, and in many cases bio-identical progesterone can help sleep and mood. Low levels of adrenal hormones are very common and low dose hydrocortisone − 10mg in the morning and at noon (a total of 20mg per day) − may be very helpful.
- Infections. The immune system is weak and patients often have fungal, viral, parasitic or bacterial infections. Nearly all patients have yeast infections – avoid sweets and simple sugars, take regular acidophilus probiotics, and under the care of your health provider, use the drugs mycostatin (1 million units twice daily for 4-6 weeks) and fluconizole (200mg/day [4 weeks after starting mycostatin] for 6 weeks). Also avoid peaks in blood sugars – eat mainly low glycaemic foods.
- Nutritional deficiency (see below). Better nutrition is absolutely essential to treat this condition. (NB. get your doctor to check your iron and vitamin B12 levels)
- Sleep. Eight to nine hours of good sleep is essential. Melatonin 1mg at night. Sometimes a mild sleeping tablet (imovane) may be necessary but is better avoided as it can become addictive and has a depressant effect on some people.
- Tai Chi which combines gentle flowing movement seems to help the mind/body practice, and there are good studies showing that it can help. A recent study (click here) shows that it was better than exercise in improving frbro symptoms, and helped with depression, self worth and anxiety.
- Yoga – has a similar benefit
- Acupuncture – there are some studies which have shown great benefit from acupuncture, but one suspects that the quality of the practitioner makes all the difference.
- Caffeine can often help, and despite attempts to paint it into an evil corner, there is little in fact no good data to say that caffeine does anyone any harm.
This possibly holds the greatest promise for improvement, although the response may be slow.
- A good multivitamin/multimineral makes sure that the tissues have all the nutrients and minerals required to function perfectly. See comments below on the USANA Cellsentials. These contain phytonutrients which upregulate many of the internal cell switches. It is possible that in fibromyalgia, these switches are down regulated, and this product could make a significant difference.
- Omega 3 fish oils, 1–2 grams daily. These are very important for good brain function, energy and the tissues.
- Calcium and magnesium, 800-1,000mg/day. Magnesium has a very calming effect, relaxes the tight muscles, helps with sleep and enables people to cope better.
- Coenzyme Q10 (60–200mg/day) This energy-producing Coenzyme can restore energy, stamina and strength.
- Gamma linoleic acid (found in evening primrose oil).
- Olive leaf extract can reduce yeast infection (candida) in the bowel.
- Grape seed extract (proanthocyanidins) is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and many people benefit from high doses of this supplement.
- Fibre shakes keep the bowels moving and help eliminate toxins.
- For brain fog take ginkgo biloba (60 mg twice daily).
- If the bowels are sluggish, or you have had courses of antibiotics, a good probiotic can help swing the bowels back into order.
- Liver support – many tissues including the liver can work sluggishly, and the liver may need some support (nutrients) to help it detoxify poisons and toxins in the blood and body, some of which may be making the symptoms worse. A good liver detox supplement containing products like N acetyl cysteine, lipoic acid and milk thistle is worth taking.
Energy drinks – some people find these help, but most have high sugar levels and cause a crash after an hour or two. Some contain herbs and supplements which may help, but there is one (see below **) which is low glycemic and contains caffeine, antioxidants, ginseng, rhodiola and malate – which many people have found to be very helpful.
The Nutritional supplements I use and recommend to my patients
For Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue patients – USANA – Cellsentials, Biomega, Active Calcium plus, Coquinone, Ginkgo, Proflavanol C, vitamin D, probiotics and the USANA shakes – USANA energy drink – Rev 3.
Other therapiesThere are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at. They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help. They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner. My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.
Nutritional supplementsI believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.