I subscribe to several online newsletters including Health Central.com. Recently Karen Lee Richards wrote about an article she came across in the March 2013 online issue of Prevention magazine entitled “Problem Solved: Fibromyalgia. What’s new, what’s natural, and what’s tried and true?”
The Prevention article lists 12 treatments for fibromyalgia – five were classified as new treatments, three as natural remedies and four as tried and true methods. In Karen’s article, Fibromyalgia Treatments: Problem NOT Solved she says, “You can imagine my reaction to the title – Problem Solved?! Really? Tell that to the more than 12 million people in the U.S.alone who continue to suffer with the pain of fibromyalgia every day.”
While some of the treatments listed in the article may be helpful for relieving symptoms none are new. Some have been used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms for decades. I have been writing article about natural treatments since 1998, right after my recovery from fibro and chronic fatigue, including articles on those new treatments. Here are my thoughts:
- Magnesium – I’m glad they mentioned that people aren’t getting enough magnesium—found in green leafy vegetables, meat and milk. Magnesium with malic acid was one of the first supplements I took when I started my natural road to recovery in 1997. My niece had used this for relieving her fibromyalgia symptoms before that.
- Yoga – Yoga has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and became popular across the Western world in the 1980s. During my recovery, I used a variation of Yoga designed by Mary Moeller, LPN. Mary had suffered with fibromyalgia since she was a child and used stretching exercises during her recovery. Instructions for this gentle stretching routine are in Mary’s eBook “Fibromyalgia Cookbook: A Daily Guide to Becoming Healthy Again!” found exclusively in the FCI bookstore. NOTE: Even though it does contain a few recipes, it’s a step-by-step guide which I found easy to follow even with fibro fog.
- Biofeedback and breathing – Biofeedback can help produce a relaxed state; the physical responses of skin temperature and muscle tension can provide information. However, as Karen points out, biofeedback has been used to treat fibro since 1987. Breathing properly, so we get more oxygen into our body, can help reduce pain.
- Tai chi – Tai chi, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a relaxed movement that is designed to improve healing and help with muscle strength, posture, balance, sleep and coordination. As far back as April 2001, FCI wrote about the benefits of tai chi in newsletters and magazines.
- Acupuncture – This treatment has also been around for centuries. An article in FCI’s Apr. 2004 newsletter mentioned “one small but well-designed acupuncture study showed promising results for fibromyalgia, which are probably due to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.” Acupuncture has been mentioned in FCI publications every year since.
Three Natural Remedies
- Massage – The article mentions a study that shows Myofascial Release to be helpful. The John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach® is considered to be very good for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. Jan Kelly, OTR/L, LMT trained extensively with John F. Barnes, founder of the Myofascial Release Approach. She has utilized Myofascial Release since 1998 and has been an assistant instructor with John F. Barnes at Myofascial Release Seminars nationwide. She will be speaking at FCI’s Health Retreat in October. Find an MRT practitioner here.
- Weight loss – Various research has shown that the average weight gain in fibro patients is 25-35 pounds during the first year after diagnosis! The author mentioned a theory that “elevated levels of inflammatory substances … can trigger pain and heighten sensitivity to it.” Dr. Gloria Gilbère, author of Pain & Inflammation Matters advocates reducing inflammation to relieve fibro symptoms. She will give a cooking demo with tasting and handouts at the FCI Retreat in Oct.
- Movement –The author of Problem Solved must have heard that many fibro patients do not like to exercise (they refer to movement). But remember, lymph carries waste and toxins from the cells of your body. (Your heart pumps the blood but lymph doesn’t move until you do!) If fibro patients do not keep moving, they become stiffer and pain will increase. I used to take a comfortably hot shower before doing my stretches to prevent discomfort (see Yoga above).
Four “Tried & True” Methods
- Antidepressants – The antidepressant amitriptyline was one of the earliest medications used to treat fibro. I took it during most of the 1990s. Now, two of the three drugs approved for fibro, Cymbalta and Savella, are antidepressants. Some healthcare providers in the FCI’s Practitioners Alliance say these only work for 15 to 25 percent of their patients.
- Talk therapy – The author uses the term to describe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. While CBT has been helpful for many fibro patients, support group meetings are also helpful. FCI support group meetings provide an informal forum for anyone needing information, education, and support. If there is not a positive group in your area, why not consider starting one? Contact me for tips on starting a support group.
- Anticonvulsant medication – The first drug approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia was the anticonvulsant, Lyrica. There are other anticonvulsants such as neurontin that are prescribed off-label. These are designed to block the transmission of pain signals, but like antidepressants they often do not work for patients – at least not long term.
- Prescription painkillers – As I explained in my previous blog, Fibromyalgia and Compartment Syndrome, pain relievers are transported through the blood and since there is no blood in the fibrous tissue, pain meds only help if the pain is somewhere other than the fibrous tissue.
I have used several of these treatments, and while some helped, they are not what put fibromyalgia into permanent remission for me. There is one thing that holds true for all of us—if we want to get better, we need to eat nutritious food—fruit, vegetables and meat or other types of protein! Increased awareness about the food we eat leads to improved health and a better quality of life.
What about you? Are you willing to do what’s necessary to get your health back? Then let me know and I will do my part to steer you in the right direction.
Your partner in health,