History of Fibromyalgia:
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), unfortunately, a “dis-ease” that we don’t know a whole lot about yet, is on the rise of common disorders diagnosed today in the United States. Affecting approximately 5 million people in the United States alone, research on this disease is becoming somewhat of a priority in today’s medical world. Believe it or not, it was only a couple 100 years ago that doctors believed fibromyalgia to be a mental disorder. In the early 1800’s it was finally given the name fibrositis due to the new found belief that inflammation was to blame for the pain associated with the disease. In recent years the disease was changed to fibromyalgia as research has ruled out inflammation as the leading cause of this disease. The term fibromyalgia stems from Latin and Greek root words:
Fibra (Latin), meaning fibrous tissue (having to do with painful tendons and ligaments)
Myos (Greek), meaning muscles
Algos (Greek), meaning pain
FMS is now defined as: “A rheumatic disorder characterized by chronic achy muscular pain that has no obvious physical cause. It most commonly affects the back, neck, shoulders, back of the head, the upper chest, and thighs. (Balch, p.434).”
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia:
Most individuals suffering from this disorder describe the disease as burning, throbbing, shooting or stabbing pain throughout the body. Alongside the pain, sufferers may also fall victim to migraine headaches, strange sensations in the skin, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, anxiety, palpitations, memory impairment, irritable bladder, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, a need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescription, dizziness, and impaired coordination.
Unfortunately, there is not much known about the cause of this “dis-ease”, but thanks to modern technology we are able to learn more and more every day… Research is beginning to lead health care professionals to believe that this disease is related to the way in which our neurotransmitters process pain. Research is also leading us to believe that a virus is responsible for the malfunctioning neurotransmitters. It has just been in the last 20 years that guidelines to diagnose and “treat” fibromyalgia have appeared. Because this is such a new thing many doctors are not well trained in the area. It was just in 1997 that the first pharmaceutical drug was approved for treatment. In 1918 a group of tender points throughout the body were acknowledged to be associated with the disease. Doctors were taught to carry out a pressure point test with these 18 points to diagnose the disorder. The rule used to be that 11 out of the 18 points had to test positive for tenderness and pain to be able to diagnose as fibromyalgia. These 18 pain points have become outdated as it is hard to diagnose with that criteria due to tender spots coming and going on a daily basis. So, one day a sufferer may have 15 points test positive where the next day they only have 9 test positive. This leads to many misdiagnoses, so now the criteria is:
“widespread pain throughout the entire body for 3 or more months”
The diagnosis and treatment procedures for this “dis-ease” are the perfect example of how our healthcare system and Big Pharma use us as guinea pigs to make money off of. I can’t speak from experience, but I can only imagine how scary and disheartening it would be as a patient and doctor alike, to know very little about this disease and have little reassurance, understanding or relief on the matter. Up until recently the protocol for treatment of fibromyalgia has been newly marketed prescriptions that we have very little information on as far as long term use and effectiveness. To me, this does not sound like health care, it sounds more like a science experiment.
Where I am sitting health care should be rooted in the natural cause and effect way of life here on planet earth. It should be rooted in the idea that mind, body, and soul need to be in balance in order to live a life free of disease. I think this is even more important when dealing with disorders that have no known cause. If we are not able to pinpoint the exact cause of disease in the body, my first step to dealing with it would be to start balancing mind, body, and soul. Due to the broad spectrum of symptoms that come alongside the pain associated with fibromyalgia, it is very important that you work closely with a doctor, naturopath, dietitian and/ or other certified healthcare professionals when dealing with fibromyalgia. The idea that what works for one individual does not always work for another is very important in dealing with fibromyalgia because of its vast unknown. But if you don’t want to go the questionable prescription route you will find there is a lot of new research that is potentially connecting diet, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, and stress as a leading cause.
These are all things that can potentially be fixed with some simple holistic lifestyle modifications, which I have compiled together for you today! If you or a loved one is suffering from fibromyalgia please take this list of lifestyle modifications and discuss them with your healthcare professional and hopefully begin incorporating them into your daily life as a way to balance mind-body-soul, and eliminate the pain and suffering caused by this sometimes debilitating “dis-ease”…
Holistic Protocols for Fibromyalgia:
I have divided my list into the three sections of holistic healing of Mind, Body, and Soul…
1. Handle your stress: We all know how taxing stress is on the body. It is linked to a majority of today’s “dis-eases”. Eliminating (if possible) or dealing with your stress in a productive way is essential in dealing with not only fibromyalgia but all disease! Training ourselves to be less reactive to outside factors that upset us is the key to finding this balance. Try incorporating into your daily life relaxation techniques and activities such as:
A great place to start with this is heading over to YouTube.com and checking out the multiple free yoga, tai chi, and qigong videos specifically designed for fibromyalgia sufferers!
2. Regulate Your Sleep Schedule: Because sleep disorders are so common with fibromyalgia, it is essential to practice healthy sleeping habits as much as you can. When you are lacking in sleep not only is it hard on your immune system to keep up with diseases, but your body systems never get the full amount of time needed for their natural detox processes as well as the recharging process. This can lead to numerous ailments in the body but especially a foggy bogged down mind! Sleep is essential in keeping the mind clear and full of positive, healthy, healing thoughts which are key in dealing with disease. The following are key aspects of balancing sleep disorders:
Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day
Getting a full 8 hours of sleep (this may be very difficult when dealing with fibromyalgia)
Eliminate day time naps
Eliminate alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine consumption
Avoid screen time right before bed… try reading a book or listening to some relaxing meditation music to put you to sleep.
3. Get outside: Nature is medicine! I will preach this till the day I die. In today’s world, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting outside and spending time with mother earth. The research and studies on time spent in nature relieving stress are becoming more and more abundant. It doesn’t take much to step outside and connect with the outer world for a few minutes each day! I personally suggest trying out “Earthing” which is a term that some may have heard of that covers the idea that walking barefoot outside allows us to connect to the healing energy from deep inside the earth. Some may find the term to be funny but there is legitimate research linking “earthing” to:
Reduced or eliminated inflammation
Reduced or eliminated chronic pain (main symptom of fibromyalgia)
Regulated sleep patterns
Increased energy and vitality
Lowered stress and promoting calming of the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones
Normalized biological rhythms
Relieved muscle tension and headaches
Lessened hormonal and menstrual symptoms
Really any activity spent outside connecting to nature can be considered earthing… There is more to it than just walking outside barefoot! A few more examples of things to get you outside connecting to mother earth include:
Swimming in natural bodies of water such as the ocean, lakes, and rivers
Spending time with plants and trees… touch them, smell them, listen to their sounds in the wind, lean your back against a tree while you read your book,
Get your bare hands into the soil, whether you are gardening or just embracing earth… get your hands dirty!
Lay/sleep directly on the ground
Moderate physical activity is said by some professionals to be the key to eliminating symptoms and coping with this “dis-ease”. Because of the pain and tenderness resulting from fibromyalgia, it is important not to overexert yourself but to “start low, and go slow”. The amount of exercise your body can handle will largely be affected by the severity of your disease. The important thing is to listen to your body and stop if you are feeling any pain or exhaustion. It may be hard in the beginning as the pain may worsen but as muscles strengthen and tone, your symptoms will begin to decrease! Some low impact activities to try and incorporate into your workout routine may include:
Easy to moderate hiking (depending on your personal level of severity and physical abilities)
Physical therapy or personal trainer
2. Boost the Immune System:
A compromised immune system is strongly linked to fibromyalgia. Some recent research is pointing to infection being the cause of this “dis-ease”, making it very important to keep that immune system working adequately. If you follow all of the following holistic protocols for fibromyalgia (and general healthy living) it will come naturally that your immune system will get stronger!
3. Nutrition and Diet:
•Eat a well-balanced diet that consists of 50% raw foods and fresh “live” juices:
•Diet should mainly consist of fruits, vegetables (primarily millet and brown rice), raw nuts and seeds, soy products, skinless organic free-range turkey or chicken.
•Research has shown that eliminating refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, red meat, and processed foods from the diet reduces many symptoms of fibromyalgia.
•Plant sterols and sterolins (plant fats that are present in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts) are very important as they are stimulating to the immune system, thus helping the body fight off infection and tackle inflammation.
•Malabsorption problems are common in fibromyalgia, making a nutrient dense diet even more so important! All nutrients are needed in greater than normal amounts when trying to battle this dis-ease holistically.
•Colon cleansing is a great way to rid the GI tract of mucus and debris, aiding in nutrient absorption.
•It is important with fibromyalgia to try and eat 4-5 meals per day so there is a steady flow of protein and carbohydrates in your system: This is necessary for proper muscle function. A steady flow of macro-nutrients is important because when the body does not have enough fuel for energy it robs the muscles of these nutrients which can result in muscle wasting and pain.
•Incorporate Cayenne into your daily diet: Cayenne contains capsaicin, a constituent known to inhibit the release of neurotransmitters responsible for communicating sensations of pain.
•Avoid foods containing solanine: which is a chemical that interferes with enzymes in the muscles, and may cause pain and discomfort. Such foods include: green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and white potatoes.
•Avoid meat, dairy products, and any foods high in saturated fats; Avoid fried foods, processed foods, shellfish, and white flour products such as bread and pasta… you will lose essential nutrients when removing these food products from your diet. Most specifically, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. To ensure you are getting these essential vitamins you can drink herbal teas high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D such as…Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Nettles (Urtica dioica), and Oat Straw (Avena sativa).
4. Get Ample Amounts of Antioxidants in Your Diet:
Some research is linking oxidative stress with fibromyalgia. Ensuring you have ample amounts of antioxidants in your system is the best way to combat oxidative stress. So how does one pump themselves full with antioxidants?
•Foods such as: berries (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and cranberry), leafy greens, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, Beans (black, pinto, kidney, and soy), artichokes, prunes, apples, and russet potatoes are all among the foods richest in antioxidants.
•Drink Japanese Ground Green Tea: This magical plant is chock full of antioxidants such as catechins, L-theanine and EGCG. Due to the high caffeine levels in matcha tea, I suggest using sencha tea products when using for fibromyalgia. Due to the common sleep disorders that are associated with this “disease”, you should try to eliminate all caffeine from your diet. Thankfully sencha is naturally low in caffeine and has ample health benefits as matcha does. By choosing Sei Mee Teas Edible Green Sencha Products you will benefit from receiving the whole plant nutrition whereas with steeped green tea you lose about 78% of the nutrients. In addition to the ample amounts of antioxidants, green tea is also known for its chlorophyll content which is also known to aid in fibromyalgia.
•Eat Japanese Red Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum): Packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, this fungus has been used for centuries in traditional Japanese medicine known as Kampo. It has numerous health benefits and an increasing amount of research to back it up! You can get red reishi in capsule form, tinctures, or mushroom teas depending on your preference. *there are multiple types of reishi mushrooms, all medicinal but all slightly different in their constituents so it is important to pay attention to the Latin name!
For an easy option go check out Sei Mee Tea’s Immune boosting adaptogenic tea blend with the two main ingredients being Red Reishi Mushroom and Cacao! This makes for a chocolaty delicious drink, you can mix with water or my personal favorite coconut milk (or any other nut milks). Not only will you greatly benefit from the red reishi, but recent research is starting to show the benefits of cacao for fibromyalgia suffers as well. Most likely due to the high mineral content providing consumers with high levels of magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc. All important minerals for fibromyalgia sufferers!
The aspect of soul in talking of balancing and healing mind-body-soul, can often times get pushed to the side and not taken very seriously, but in many ways, it should really be at the top of people’s lists.
The soul is thought to be the energy source that flows through our bodies. It is our emotions, our feelings, our personalities, our vitality. It is the immaterial part of ourselves that we cannot physically see but is very much so a part of who we are as living beings. When it comes to dealing with chronic “dis-ease” especially ones that include chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, being aware of our emotional pains, and taking time out of our busy schedules for some soul work every day is absolutely essential to healing. Research is beginning to show how much trapped negative emotion especially depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and fear are directly related to chronic disease, and most specifically chronic pain.
These emotions can be both emotions that have been building up since childhood as well as emotions that are surfacing up due to your fibromyalgia.
Trapped negative emotions are a serious struggle for many people living in today’s fast-paced, materialistic, disconnected society. Due to all of the distractions we face on the daily, as well as the go go go attitude many of us have, it makes it difficult to take a step back when feelings and emotions are arising. In not taking the time to process and release these emotions they build up over time and then surface as physical ailments and disease in the body. There are so many options out there today in energy healing techniques and therapy. Here a just a few to give you an idea and get you started. I also want to note that many studies and research are proving these therapies and exercise as crucial aspects of healing chronic pain and fibromyalgia!
Ways to heal emotional pains/ stagnant negative energy:
Support Groups for Fibromyalgia
Spiritual practice (whatever that may be for you)
Due to the vast unknown of this “dis-ease,” it really is a heavy topic with a lot of information leading to dead ends. I am far from knowing all there is to know about this disease, but I believe the information here will be a good start for those of you suffering and seeking relief. I truly hope the information I’ve compiled here today will lead you all to a path of healing your fibromyalgia. If you are seeking more information on specific aspects of this post please don’t hesitate to reach out through comments or email!
As a holistic health practitioner, it is my passion and purpose to educate others on how they can heal themselves!
Happy Healing Folks!!!
As a bonus to you for being one of my blog readers here is a free download of a fibromyalgia journal template. Use this journal to track your daily nutrition, sleep habits and levels of pain. Tracking this information every day will be a very beneficial tool for any health care professionals you are seeking help from.
Disclaimer: The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. All content in this newsletter is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure of prevent any diseases. Benefits may vary from person to person. Consult with a health professional before use of products.
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Meet the Author: Mackenzie