Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome with no known cause or cure. Its predominant symptom is pain in the fibrous tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, although other symptoms may be experienced. Research has demonstrated that the axis connecting the three glands primarily responsible for the stress response (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenals) may be dysfunctional in people with fibromyalgia.1 Inflammation of the involved structures is generally absent in fibromyalgia.

Of the estimated three to six million people2 affected by this disorder in the United States, the vast majority are women between 25 and 45 years of age.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia? Trigger-point pain at characteristic locations is the defining symptom of fibromyalgia. The most commonly affected locations are on the occiput (nape of the neck), the neck itself, shoulders, trunk, low back, and thighs. Other symptoms may also be experienced, including fatigue, chest pain, low-grade fever, swollen lymph nodes, insomnia, frequent abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.3

Conventional treatment options commonly involves a combination of medications, including one of several antidepressants, to diminish pain and improve sleep (e.g., amitriptyline [Elavil®], cyclobenzaprine [Flexeril®], fluoxetine [Prozac®], sertraline [Zoloft®], paroxetine [Paxil®], and fluvoxamine [Luvox®]). Low-impact exercise programs to improve aerobic fitness, stretching techniques to ease muscle tension, and cognitive therapy for coping with stress and emotional disorders are also included in conventional treatments. Numbing medicine can be sprayed onto or injected into trigger points to assist muscle stretching. Oral pain relievers, such as aspirin (e.g., Bayer®), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®), and acetaminophen (Tylenol®), may also be recommended. However, one double-blind trial found no difference between ibuprofen and placebo with respect to treating fibromyalgia symptoms.4 All of these medications may have certain side effects.

We have found that the NEWSTART® program may be very helpful without the inherent side effects of some medications. Our vegan diet (includes no animal products), that is also low in salt, may help those with fibromyalgia. In a controlled clinical trial,5 women with fibromyalgia were put on a special diet consisting only of raw foods – primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and cereals (such as rolled oats). The diet also contained several fermented foods, including a fermented yogurt-food made from oats, a fermented beverage made from wheat berries (called Rejuvalac), and several types of fermented vegetables, particularly cabbage. During the three-month trial, women following the therapeutic diet experienced a significant reduction in body weight, pain, morning sickness, use of painkillers, depression, and the number of sore fibromyalgia points, compared with those who continued to eat their regular diet. Due to the liberal use of nuts and seeds, this diet was not low in fat; for example, 31% of all calories came from fat. Nonetheless, the total number of calories was relatively low (less than 1,900 calories per day), which was probably responsible for the decrease in body weight.

The NEWSTART® lifestyle including low-intensity exercise may improve fibromyalgia symptoms. People with fibromyalgia who exercise regularly have been reported to suffer less severe symptoms than those who remain sedentary.678 In a controlled trial, a program consisting of two 25-minute exercise classes plus two educational sessions per week for six weeks resulted in immediate and sustained improvement in walking distance, fatigue, and well-being in a group of people with fibromyalgia;9 however, no reductions in pain, anxiety, or depression were seen. In a more recent controlled trial, a 35-minute exercise program in a warm pool once a week for six months, coupled with counseling sessions, led to improvements in hand-grip strength and endurance, as well as to reductions in pain, distress, depression, and anxiety.10 The results of this trial, and other similar trials, suggest that underwater exercise training, in combination with a counseling intervention, should be considered by people with fibromyalgia. The exercise program at NEWSTART® includes special exercises in a non artificial environment designed to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: People with fibromyalgia often have low serotonin levels in their blood.111213 Supplementation with 5-HTP may increase serotonin synthesis in these cases. Both preliminary1415 and double-blind trials16 have reported that 5-HTP supplementation (100 mg three times per day) relieves some symptoms of fibromyalgia. Manganese has also been reported to be helpful.

Some studies have found low vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels and reduced activity of some thiamine-dependent enzymes among people with fibromyalgia.1718 The clinical significance of these findings remains unknown.

One early preliminary study described the use of vitamin E supplements in the treatment of “fibrositis” – the rough equivalent of what is today called fibromyalgia. Several dozen individuals were treated with vitamin E using amounts ranging from 100 – 300 IU per day. The results were positive and sometimes dramatic.19 Double-blind trials are needed to confirm these preliminary observations.

The NEWSTART® cooking classes assist our guests in the preparation of food rich in nutrients needed to reduce the need for special supplements.

Fibromyalgia responds well to the NEWSTART® program. The eight point program is designed to help a wide range of lifestyle diseases. The chronic problems of muscloskeletal pain and fatigue are common afflictions that most doctors believe are incurable. Generally, the patient is simply told that the pain is somewhat manageable through the use of drugs and other therapy. Also, many are told they cannot get well and are destined to live with this condition for their lifetime. The good news is that this is absolutely not true. While the causes of Fibromyalgia are not clearly known any enhancement of lifestyle has a positive impact on Fibromyalgia and other diseases.


References

  1. Griep EN, Boersma JW, Lentjes EG, et al. Function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in patients with fibromyalgia and low back pain. J Rheumatol 1998;25:1374 – 81.

  2. Anonymous. Is fibromyalgia caused by a glycolysis impairment? Nutr Rev 1994;52(7):248 – 50.

  3. Wolfe F, Ross K, Anderson J, Russell J. Aspects of fibromyalgia in the general population: Sex, pain threshold, and FM symptoms. J Rheumatol 1995;22(1):151 – 5.

  4. Yunus MB, Masi AT, Aldag JC. Short term effects of ibuprofen in primary fibromyalgia syndrome: a double blind, placebo controlledtrial. J Rheumatol 1989;16(4):527 – 32.

  5. Kaartinen K, Lammi K, Hypen M, et al. Vegan diet alleviates fibromyalgia symptoms. Scand J Rheumatol 2000;29:308 – 13.

  6. Wilke W. Fibromyalgia: Recognizing and addressing the multiple interrelated factors. Postgrad Med 1996;100(1):153 – 70.

  7. Carette S. Fibromyalgia 20 years later: What have we really accomplished? J Rheumatol 1995;22(4):590 – 4.

  8. Mengshail AM, Komnaes HB, Forre O. The effects of 20 weeks of physical fitness training in female patients with fibromyalgia. Clin Exp Rheumatol 1992;10:345 – 9.

  9. Gowans SE, deHueck A, Voss S, Richardson M. A randomized, controlled trial of exercise and education for individuals with fibromyalgia. Arthritis Care Res 1999;12:120 – 8.

  10. Mannerkorpi K, Nyberg B, Ahlmen M, Ekdahl C. Pool exercise combined with an education program for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. A prospective, randomized study. J Rheumatol 2000;27:2473 – 81.

  11. Fava M, Rosenbaum JF, MacLaughlin R, et al. Neuroendocrine effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine, a novel putative antidepressant. J Psychiatr Res 1990;24:177 – 84.

  12. Bell KM, Potkin SG, Carreon D, Plon L. S-adenosylmethionine blood levels in major depression: changes with drug treatment. Acta Neurol Scand 1994;154(suppl):15 – 8.

  13. Bell KM, Potkin SG, Carreon D, Plon L. S-adenosylmethionine blood levels in major depression: changes with drug treatment. Acta Neurol Scand 1994;154(suppl):15 – 8.

  14. Puttini PS, Caruso I. Primary fibromyalgia syndrome and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90-day open study. J Int Med Res 1992;20:182 – 9.

  15. Moldofsky H, Warsh JJ. Plasma tryptophan and musculoskeletal pain in non-articular rheumatism (“fibrositis syndrome”). Pain 1978;5:65 – 71.

  16. Caruso I, Sarzi Puttini P, Cazzola M, Azzolini V. Double-blind study of 5-hydroxytryptophan versus placebo in the treatment ofprimary fibromyalgia syndrome. J Int Med Res 1990;18:201 – 9.

  17. Eisinger J, Zakarian H, Plantamura A, et al. Studies of transketolase in chronic pain. J Adv Med 1992;5:105 – 13.

  18. Eisinger J, Bagneres D, Arroyo P, et al. Effects of magnesium, high energy phosphates, piracetam, and thiamin on erythrocyte transketolase. Magnesium Res 1994;7(1):59 – 61.

  19. Steinberg CL. The tocopherols (vitamin E) in the treatment of primary fibrositis. J Bone Joint Surg1942;24:411 – 23.

Comments ( 2 ) Leave a Comment
  1. 1 Cynthia Feb 18, 2012, 9:02 PM PST

    What is 5-HTP ?

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  2. 2 Trudie Mar 8, 2012, 6:02 PM PST

    5-HTP is the abbreviation for 5-hydroxytryptophan, a naturally occurring amino acid in the building up of neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.

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