Fibromyalgia, the "sore all over" syndrome may be part of chronic fatigue syndrome, with pain being a more prominent symptom than fatigue. In this condition, which affects mainly women in their late 30's and 40's, there is generalized pain and aching throughout the body, morning stiffness, fatigue, disturbed sleep, and multiple tender spots on the body.
Diagnosis is based on the presence of widespread muscle pain, aching or stiffness, (with absence of other conditions that would account for the pain), tenderness when pressing on eleven out of eighteen trigger points, non-refreshing sleep, frequent headaches, numbness, tingling, and chronic pain in the neck and shoulders.
The treatment plan is essentially the same as that used for chronic fatigue. Dr. Byron Hyde a leading chronic fatigue researcher defines chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) as, "a chronic illness of at least six months in duration, that develops after an acute infectious disease, in a well and physically active person. In this disease, the patient develops an unusual form of muscle failure experiencing fatigue, pain, or exhaustion in the exercised muscle."
Other important features of this illness, according to Dr. Hyde, are sleep disturbances, variability and fluctuations of symptoms, serious difficulty processing information (memory loss, lack of concentration, slurred speech, disorientation, loss of coordination) and generalized malaise. Some or all of these symptoms may be present in fibromyalgia.
Treatment of fibromyalgia requires a multi-pronged approach. This involves gentle exercise and massage as well as nutritional and vitamin supplements to stimulate the immune system. A high quality diet with emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, supplemented with chicken and fish, is essential. It is important to use an elimination diet or specialized testing by a natural practitioner to identify food allergies. Of course, sugar, junk foods and excessive animal protein must be cut out.
Proper rest and balancing of activities with rest is mandatory. This illness also requires a complete change of attitude and lifestyle as well as elimination of all major stresses.
If chronic yeast infection is present, treatment is essential for recovery. Dr. Carol Jessop, Assistant Professor of Medicine at The University of California, treated 900 of her chronic fatigue patients with a strong anti-yeast drug known as ketoconazole, and a sugar free diet with 84 percent making a full recovery. 40 hours a week. Dr. Jessop found that 80 percent of her CFS patients gave a history of recurrent antibiotic use and serious sugar addiction.
Evening of primrose oil is usually recommended for fibromyalgia. The usual dosage suggested is four capsules combined with two cod liver oil capsules (containing vitamin-A 1,250 IU and vitamin-D 100 IU) taken with breakfast and lunch but not at bedtime.
Magnesium supplementation is critical to the treatment of fibromyalgia. One study showed that 300 to 600mg of magnesium malate per day had very positive results in decreasing the number and severity of tender points in fibromyalgia. Malic acid (derived from apples) by itself is also helpful in fibromyalgia.
Other important supplements include zinc, vitamin-E, mega-B-50, betacarotene, and vitamin-C. The amino acid phenylalanine 500 to 1,000mg may be helpful in the morning. It is a natural antidepressant and stimulant. Niacinamide 500 to 1,500mg a day is an inexpensive supplement that is helpful for the pain of fibromyalgia.
A six week trial of Co-enzyme-Q-10 in doses of 90 to 200mg daily is recommended by Dr. Paul Cheney, particularly for improving fatigue, thought processes, muscular weakness and associated heart problems.
Research has demonstrated low vitamin-B-12 in the cerebrospinal fluid of CFS and fibromyalgia patients. Some doctors have found that daily or bi-weekly injections of vitamin-B-12 are helpful. Most patients can learn to do the injections themselves at home.
For the sleeping problems of fibromyalgia, tryptophan is highly useful. Tryptophan is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein and is available only by prescription in Canada. In doses of 2,000 to 4,000mg it helps you to sleep without a hangover effect. In the U.S. and Canada a precursor of tryptophan is available without prescription known as 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (50mg of 5-hydroxy-tryptophan equals 500mg of tryptophan).
Dr. Michael Murray, in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine recommends a combination of 5-HTP 50 to 100mg; magnesium 150 to 250mg and St. John's Wort extract 300mg (standardized to contain .3 percent of hypericin) all taken three times a day.
For all fibromyalgia patients, it is important to support the adrenal glands, which are often exhausted, through taking extra vitamin-C, pantothenic acid, and adrenal glandulars 2 to 3 times a day.
methylsulfonylmethane or MSM is an exciting new treatment for fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma and many other conditions. It is a natural organic form of sulphur with few side effects. Sulphur is concentrated in the skin, bones and muscles and is needed to produce collagen. The usual dosage is 2,000 to 6,000mg in divided doses three times a day with meals day. The dose should be increased until pain relief occurs and must be accompanied by vitamin-C for maximum effect.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM) is an important natural supplement formed in the body by combining the amino acid methionine with ATP. SAM is involved in over 40 biochemical reactions and functions closely with folic acid and vitamin-B-12. Three studies have demonstrated that SAM is very helpful for fibromyalgia. The recommended dosage is 200 to 400mg two times a day. SAM is well suited for long term use and it has no side effects.
Acupuncture stimulation of trigger points and tender points by an experienced acupuncturist can be very helpful.
Magnetic therapy often helpful either localized or sleeping on magnetic mattress. Two preliminary studies have been done on fibromyalgia and the use of unidirectional magnetic mattress pads. One was a small pilot study of six patients who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Many of these patients had symptoms of fibromyalgia. All of the patients showed improvement in their symptoms over the four months. The second study was a placebo controlled study involving 29 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The patients with the real magnetic mattress pad showed 2.4 times the improvement as the placebo group. This mattress has also been found to help many conditions including PMS, arthritis, insomnia and recovery from injuries.
Dr. Dean Bonlie is an experienced researcher in the field of biomagnetism who designed the sleep pad used in these studies. There are several kinds of sleep pads available on the market. Dr. Bonlie's is the only one that provide unidirectional magnetic fields.
Other sleep pads are designed to provide a bipolar magnetic field to the body. According to Dr. Bonlie, this unnatural magnetic field provokes and emergency response which decreases blood and electrical flow to the body. On a short term basis, this is very helpful, but on a long term basis, it uses up the body's reserves. These type of pads should never be used on a continuous basis, but with frequent breaks.
If you suspect you have this condition you may have to educate both yourself and your doctor. Women have tended to be dismissed by their doctors, told their problem was all in their head, or referred to a psychiatrist. Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia must be taken seriously by physicians and women alike.
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