Fibromyalgia treatment is complicated. Why is it complicated? Because no two people experience fibro the same. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary greatly and even the diagnosis is one of my least favorites because it doesn’t tell you what exactly is going on in your body, but rather simply that you have a lot of symptoms going on with widespread pain being the most common or problematic. In fact there is no real lab test that is considered widely accepted, the most accepted diagnosis criteria is simply your doctors opinion.
Given the diagnosis is based on the opinion of your doctor, depending on your doctor’s predisposition and experience they will have different outlooks. If your doctor has never treated a case of fibromyalgia that resolved, then they would have zero hope for you, while if your doctor has a high success rate treating patients with fibromyalgia, the path may look difficult but doable. Fibromyalgia treatment in conventional medicine is primarily comprised of management of symptoms by use of prescription pain relievers and antidepressants. If that is not what you want, then it’s time to look at a more holistic view of treatment options.
The holistic view of fibro treatments is a multi-faceted approach where many things are considered. It almost always requires lifestyle changes but the upside is that many peoples’ pain levels decrease rapidly.
What are some of the major factor to address when treating fibromyalgia?
1 – Food Sensitivities
In this category the first major food that should be avoided is gluten. Gluten is known to be associated with many conditions, but one of the more common presentations is neurological pain. In fibromyalgia one of the common tenets is excessive sensitivity to pain. Meaning what is not painful to someone else is very painful to you. Other major food sensitivities include solanines (aka nightshades), albumin (egg whites), casein (dairy), caffeine and its derivatives, and zein (corn). Having a sensitivity to any one of these foods can lead you to experiencing chronic pain and increased sensations due to inflammation.
2 – Fungal Overgrowth
Candida is the most commonly known fungal overgrowth. It can go undetected for years or even decades in many individuals. Fungi release toxic substances called mycotoxins that create things like brain fog, fatigue and bloating. According to the National Institute of Health, mycotoxins “are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals.” In the patient population of fibromyalgia, my experience suggests that nearly all patients have or will develop a fungal infection. This may be in conjunction with a depressed immune system or may be a result of antibiotic use, but it is something that should be ruled out.
The other place that fungus often occurs that people are unaware of is in your own home. Mold aka fungus from water leaks can be the reason many people never recover. As people get sicker, they stay inside their house more often and the house can make them continually progress in a downward spiral. House mold can also be the reason why people often find that they get sick when moving to a new house. If the previous owners had a leak and didn’t remediate properly it can plague you for years without ever being discovered. I find that clinically people often suffer from psychological symptoms ranging from anxiety to hallucinations and feelings of gloominess at night when exposed to fungus.
3 – Thyroid Disorders
If you haven’t ever been checked for thyroid disorders, with pain and fatigue it is a good place to start. The catch is that standard thyroid treatment, even by most natural practitioners is simply recommending thyroid medication. In my opinion, this is not the ideal way to treat the thyroid. Without going into too much detail, the thyroid more frequently a result of other more root level causes that have gone wrong.
Digestive disturbances, allergies (gluten, dairy, corn), estrogen dominance, heavy metal toxicity, etc. definitely need to be looked into before simply taking a medication. Even when medication is required, these root level causes should be addressed in addition to the medication. Not looking for root level causes is one of the reasons why many people have lab tests that show a need for thyroid hormone and yet when they take it they feel the same or sometimes worse.
4 – Vitamin & Nutrient Deficiencies
As diseases progress, vitamins and nutrients get depleted. Magnesium, B complexes and Vitamin D are all common deficiencies, but no different than a drug, we need to find out why you are depleted in certain vitamins and/or minerals in the first place. Magnesium is most commonly needed due to blood sugar imbalances, activated B complexes are often required due to allergies/histamine and vitamin D is often low due to kidney and liver function issues.
5 – Dysbiosis, Leaky Gut and SIBO
Lab testing for leaky gut, SIBO and other gut health issues is still in its infancy. Most patients that present to my office have had false negatives in lab testing. Meaning it came back negative, but it shouldn’t have because there really is an infectious component. There are tests that can discover some variations of each of these conditions, but it is important to know with lab testing that you can only find what you are looking for.
My other most common patient presentation is someone that has tested positive for gut infection but that hasn’t used the right natural remedy. Gut health can change rapidly and which natural remedy you take can change from week to week. This is one reason why having an astute practitioner educated in all virus, parasite, bacterial and fungal infections is important to resolving deep rooted health problems.
6 – Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metal exposure and eventually toxicity is more common than most believe. As the body is overloaded with other toxins like plastics, PCBs, GMO foods, dyes, chemical inhalants, etc. the liver and kidneys get overburdened and are unable to detoxify all of the heavy metals that one is exposed to. Dental work often releases heavy metals in to the body that had been stored previously in tooth and bone. The parotid glands in the mouth play a major role in the detoxification of heavy metals.
7 – Adrenal Dysfunction
I find that the most common stressor to the adrenal glands is a hidden food allergy. This is one of the main reasons why so many people respond well to the paleo diet or any other elimination diet. All of the above mentioned factors can also stress the adrenals and lead to chronic pain. Once chronic pain has set in, that also can put stress on the adrenals. It is a viscous circle that has to be stopped by finding out the stressor to the adrenals and then supporting the adrenals while you persistently avoid the stressor over time. When you have a stressor to your body for extended periods of time, this leads to high cortisol levels. Often times you may notice gradual weight gain due to a constant stressor to your body. Abdominal weight gain is highly correlated with adrenal dysfunction.
There never is a simple route to recovery when dealing with fibromyalgia but by dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle that focuses on avoiding triggers you stand the best chance of recovery. Traditional medicine is only going to mask your pain and drug you for the unforeseeable future, so its not really the best option.
By finding a holistic doctor, meaning someone that addresses all root causes, you can often start to notice changes rapidly. Please contact me if you need help or if you are looking for a qualified physician in your area.