Causes of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition with many different factors that can contribute to it in different people. In my experience, most people with fibromyalgia will improve when these factors are addressed. The most common factors are as follows:
- Food allergies
- Blood sugar and insulin imbalances
- Methylation problems
- Sleep problems
- Low thyroid
- Adrenal fatigue
Bottom Line for the Natural Treatment of Fibromyalgia
Natural fibromyalgia treatment should begin with identifying and treating the underlying causes that can contribute to fibromyalgia. Specifically, I recommend:
- Get a blood test for food allergies – Easy and accurate, this can be extraordinarily helpful
- Try a low glycemic diet to control inflammation, blood sugar and insulin levels
- Try methylators such as methylfolate, B12, B6, and SAMe
- Test for and treat adrenal fatigue
- Test for and treat low thyroid
- Improve sleep with methylators, tryptophan, and herbal medicines
- Try magnesium and other selected nutrients
Naturopathic doctors are physician experts in treating the underlying cause of disease and using natural medicines to help people get and stay well. To find out which natural treatments are appropriate for you or to be tested for food allergies or other causes of fibromyalgia, schedule an office visit or food allergy test. Blood sugar imbalances, caused by eating too much sugar and flour, are very important to address in natural fibromyalgia treatment. Sugar and flour are high glycemic foods, which means they cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to spike after you eat them. This is often followed by a blood sugar drop, known as reactive hypoglycemia. Over time, the cells in your body get used to the higher levels of insulin and develop insulin resistance. The insulin resistance prevents the sugar in the blood from getting into the cell where the mitochondria turn them into energy. Fatigue is therefore a very common effect of eating too many of these high-glycemic foods, as are depression, weight gain, and hypoglycemia.
Methylation Defects in Fibromyalgia Treatment
Methylation is a process the body uses to make and metabolize neurotransmitters. Problems with methylation can therefore trigger neurotransmitter imbalances which lead to fibromyalgia, depression, and/or anxiety. The nutrients B6, B12, methylfolate, and SAMe are crucial to proper methylation, and hence any problems with these nutrients can contribute to fibromyalgia. Unfortunately it is not always as simple as taking a vitamin with the above nutrients, because some people don’t absorb or metabolize these vitamins properly.
Sleep in Fibromyalgia Treatment
Several studies have demonstrated that many people with fibromyalgia have a sleep disorder known as alpha wave intrusion. This type of sleep disorder prevents the body from getting adequate rest during sleep. Experimental subjects who have had this type of sleep disorder artificially induced experience symptoms similar to that of fibromyalgia. Correcting this disorder has also been shown to help people with fibromyalgia.
Thyroid in Fibromyalgia Treatment
Adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for the proper function of the body’s mitochondria. As we all learned in high school biology, mitochondria are the powerhouses in our cells that produce our energy. Mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to play a central role in fibromyalgia.
Adrenal Fatigue in Fibromyalgia Treatment
Low adrenal gland function is also a common contributor to fibromyalgia. This can occur as a result of chronic stress, excessive caffeine intake, toxic exposure, and other factors. Fatigue is usually the most significant symptom from low adrenal function. There are good tests available for this condition, the best of which is a salivary test to measure the adrenal hormone cortisol. Treatment usually includes taking an adrenal glandular supplement that replaces the missing adrenal hormones in combination with herbal medicines such as licorice, ashwaganda, ginseng, rhodiola, and others that help to protect and restore adrenal function.