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 Fibromyalgia  Holistic-online.com

Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Alternative Medicine

Alternative, Complementary and Holistic Approaches to Treating Fibromyalgia

Holistic approach in the treatment of fibromyalgia focuses on the individual case history to relieve underlying problems. A healthy diet, a light exercise program, stress alleviation and an interest in personal health are the cornerstones of the holistic treatment program for fibromyalgia.

Physical therapy, relaxation techniques, herbal remedies, nutrition and diet therapy, exercise therapy, massage therapy, deep heat therapy, and biofeedback are all helpful in some cases. Massage therapy is particularly beneficial for improved muscle function and pain relief. Stress is one of the underlying problems of fibromyalgia. Stress Management is covered in detail elsewhere. If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it is wise to seek out a health care provider who has specific experience in the management and treatment of this condition. 

As in many other diseases, fibromyalgia involves multiple facets. So, an integrative approach is required in successful management of this disease as the following real life case history demonstrates:

GAYLE'S MIRACLE: "At Last, My Mysterious Virus Was Gone" 

It was an ordeal that Gayle Carter, a twenty-nine- year-old editor for Gannett's Sunday magazine supplement, USA Weekend, recalls with almost perfect clarity. 

In March 1996 she thought she had the flu. But it lasted for weeks, "I just couldn't shake it." One doctor gave her antibiotics. But she got worse. "I started to have this incredible neck and ear pain." 

Thinking she had an ear infection, she consulted an ear, nose, and throat specialist, At the time her fever was "a raging 102," She would wake up sweating. The new doctor blamed "some sort of virus," either mono or Epstein-Barr, and sent her home to "rest and let it run its course." 

The pain in the right side of her neck was so intense that she could barely sleep. Not even a prescription of super-strength Motrin helped. After eight weeks she was still running a fever of about 100, had a horrendous sore throat, and suffered pain throughout her body-even the soles of her feet hurt. 

She went to an infectious disease specialist who, alarmed at the neck pain, ordered an MRI to be sure it was not a tumor. 

Then she heard about the herb echinacea from some new acquaintances. "I bought an herb book, looked it up, bought some, and started to take it, My fever broke after one week on it-two pills a day, each 400 milligrams, for a total of 800 milligrams." 

She was elated. Her bad sore throat started to disappear also. She skipped echinacea for a few days and the fever returned. "So I went back on it and the fever went away," she says. "As soon as I started taking it, I began to feel good again." 

With the high fever and sore throat mostly gone, she could function again. "At last, I could go on living." But she was still in some pain. She had also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a form of arthritis, possibly related to her chronic Epstein-Barr viral infection. 

In July 1996, she went to see James Gordon, M.D., a clinical professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington. He recommended she continue on echinacea for three to four weeks to help fight the virus and stimulate her immunity. Additionally, he advised taking daily 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C; a multivitamin mineral tablet; many herbs, including astragalus, red peony, and licorice. He also recommended acupuncture, yoga, and physical manipulations of her neck and upper back to relieve pain. Dr. Gordon attributed much of her jaw and neck pain to fibromyalgia, but some also was due to misalignment of vertebra from minor injuries in an automobile accident. The pain gradually went away and the suffering patient returned to normal good health.

Gayle is sold on echinacea. "It really helped save me over and over. I know it boosts my immune system." 

Dr. Gordon agrees. "The echinacea certainly seemed to have helped her, which is no surprise, because research shows it is antiviral and enhances immunity. I take it myself if I feel the symptoms of a cold or flu coming on." However, he stresses that echinacea, albeit effective, is not a magic bullet for chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. "You need a comprehensive, integrated approach," he says, "that addresses the complex multiple underlying causes, not just symptoms." Unfortunately, doctors relying exclusively on Western conventional medicine tend to treat individual symptoms and miss the big picture, says Dr. Gordon.

During her four-month search for relief, Gayle Carter saw twelve medical doctors-four internists; two ear, nose, and throat specialists; three infectious disease specialists; one rheumatologist; a radiologist; and, at last, Dr. Gordon. 

Excerpted from Miracle Cures by Jean Carper (HarperCollins Publishers)

Therapeutic Considerations 

Chronic pain sufferers, especially those with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, tend to be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium supplementation has produced very good results in treating fibromyalgia. 

Common painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are not usually effective at relieving the pain of fibromyalgia. Other approaches, including attention to diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation, are more likely to be of benefit. 

Many different disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia, including anemia, depression, hepatitis, and Lyme disease, among others. Anyone who experiences muscular pain and/ or fatigue that persists for longer than a week or two should consult a health care provider. There may be an underlying medical disorder that requires treatment. 

Because malabsorption problems are common in fibromyalgia, all nutrients are needed in greater than normal amounts, and a proper diet is essential. Colon cleansing is recommended to rid the gastrointestinal tract of mucus and debris, and so improve nutrient absorption. 

Food allergies can exacerbate the discomfort of many disorders. Determine hidden food or chemical hypersensitivities by appropriate tests. Many fibromyalgia sufferers also have irritable bowel syndrome. It is recommended that a comprehensive digestive and stool analysis be done for parasites.

Many professionals believe that the central cause of the pain of fibromyalgia is a low level of serotonin. Thus, it is beneficial to raise serotonin levels and improve sleep quality along with providing adequate nutrition. 5-HTP has shown considerable benefit in treating fibromyalgia in double blind studies. Although 5-HTP can be effective on its own, a combination therapy involving a combination of 5-HTP (100 mg), St. John's wort extract (300 mg, 0.3-percent hypericin content), and magnesium (150 to 250 mg) three times per day may be even more effective. (Caution: Some concern exists about the safety of 5-HTP. Please read the safety warning carefully.)

Mental and Emotional Health

Counseling is strongly advised with fibromyalgia patients. They need to learn to strike a healthier balance between work and relaxation along with establishing a slower pace, a healthier rhythm, in all of their activities. Learning to say no is vital to this process of healing. 

If someone in your family or friend is suffering from fibromyalgia: It is very important to be understanding and sympathetic to those suffering from fibromyalgia. Not believing that the afflicted person is in pain can add to their stress and worsen the condition. For the young, it is important that teachers are informed and understand that the student, even though looking perfectly healthy, might not be able to participate in sports or other activities. 

Support Groups 

Join a local fibromyalgia support group. You can find a local fibromyalgia support group through the Fibromyalgia Network, an organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Their phone number is (602) 290-5508.

Alternative Therapies



Bach Flower Remedies


Herbal Remedies

Massage Therapy
Nutrition and Diet Therapy
bullet5-HTP Combination Therapy
External/Physical Therapies
Tissue Salts

Related Topic: 

Stress Management

Common Sense Recommendations

Next Topic: Acupressure

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