What is Fibromyalgia? What can be done about it?
Do you ache? Not just in the, ‘I’d really appreciate a neck rub after the day I’ve had’, kind of way, but in an all-pervasive, insistent, attention-grabbing kind of way that doesn’t ever seem to let up?
Fibromyalgia is one of those handy blanket terms that cover a whole heap of grey areas. Tucked in under that useful, encompassing blanket are many chronic, debilitating symptoms that don’t seem to respond particularly well to conventional approaches. There are other blanket terms that might be thrown over you: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, multiple allergies or Candida albicans infestation. It’s Blanket City and still you ache…
If you ache, predominantly, and have five or more of the other symptoms, you can crawl under the blanket covering Fibromyalgia. If your main symptom is fatigue but you have five or more of the other symptoms, the Chronic Fatigue blanket is for you. Not that it makes much difference what your condition is called: you’d probably like it to go away? Well just wait a moment; let’s see what it’s all about first.
High stress levels, poor eating habits, low quality food causing nutritional deficiencies, internal acidity caused by those poor eating habits and nutritional deficiencies: all of these factors can contribute to the onset of fibromyalgia.
One of the predominant features is the lack of good quality sleep, and this is thought to contribute to the further development of the condition. Whilst you are asleep, your body regenerates, relaxing and resting muscles and tissues, topping up on nutrients, getting rid of wastes. You should have deep sleep when your brain wave pattern slows down, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when you dream and process the events of the day. People with fibromyalgia don’t get the right balance of both types of sleep and wake up feeling tired and unrested.
Not sleeping properly means the muscles aren’t restored from the labours of the previous day, and it seems that poor sleep quality increases the perception of pain in the muscles and joints.
A better night’s sleep will reduce the amount of pain you feel the next day!
To check if your personal aching could relate to the fibromyalgia blanket, see how many of the following symptoms you resonate with:
- You ache (OK, we’ve established that one)
- Your muscles are constantly stiff and sore
- Sometimes you get nerve pain too
- You are fatigued, sometimes terribly so
- You have headaches, sometimes chronic
- Your sleep pattern is disturbed and your quality of sleep poor
- Your joints swell
- You experience numbness or tingling in your limbs
- You have digestive disturbances, often labelled Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The above selection of symptoms may be changeable depending on the time of year, type of weather, activity levels and stress levels, but they all get worse when you’ve had less sleep
What can be done?
- Favourite Sleeping Remedies
- Ban coffee and tea: drink chamomile, lemongrass or lemon balm tea.
- Avena sativa taken during the day reduces stress and thus improves sleep.
- Valerian can be taken at night to relax muscles and help you to switch off.
- Lavender oil, in your bath or sprinkled on your pillow, is calming.
Serotonin levels are believed to be lower in those with fibromyalgia. Serotonin is involved in the functioning of the central nervous system and when you have less of it, your pain threshold is lower. Increasing serotonin levels helps both those with fibromyalgia and migraine sufferers, as it lowers their perception of pain.
Hypericum (St John’s Wort) is known to increase the amount of serotonin in the body and has been used for centuries to reduce nerve pain (take note if you suffer from sciatica or shingles!). If you have IBS symptoms, make sure you take a tincture, as tablets take longer to work anyway and are difficult to absorb if your guts are playing up.
And on that note…
Eat sensibly! That doesn’t just mean avoiding the burger-chips-chocolate diet, but eating what you do eat slowly, chewing well and relaxing both during and after each meal to promote good digestion. It’s very simple: your body can’t digest and run about at the same time, so don’t ask it to! It’s amazing how many IBS sufferers improve just by designating their meal times as periods of calm and rest!
Having established this tranquil oasis in your day, fill it with magnesium-containing foods.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms are very similar to those of fibromyalgia. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to reduce tender point sensitivity. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation, for calming you mentally and emotionally, helping you to deal with stress and for getting toxins out of the body. Just a few benefits then. Fewer toxins means less acidity, which means muscles and joints are less likely to ache.
Where do we get this magical magnesium?
Well, in healthy wholefoods mainly, which is why we tend to lack it these days. Meat, dairy products and refined foods are low in magnesium. Try these instead.
- green vegetables
- brown rice
- haricot beans
- kidney beans
Give yourself a head start with a magnesium supplement. Start with 150mg once daily and increase over a month to 150mg three times a day. It gives you more energy too, so you can’t lose!
Last, but definitely not least, use one of my very favourite herbs, Devil’s Claw. This is a firm favourite with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, reducing inflammation and thereby giving pain relief. It has no side effects and can be taken alongside any other medication. Take it in the tincture form, as Devil’s Claw tincture works faster than tablets.
Shake the ache!