Pain. Fatigue. Brain fog. Poor sleep. They’re all signs of fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that affects an estimated 5 million people in the United States. For a long time, finding relief from this debilitating disease and its unpleasant symptoms seemed out of reach. Now, however, advancements in natural medicine are providing fibromyalgia patients with a safe, effective solution for their pain and suffering—a feat conventional medicine has yet to accomplish.
When Life’s a Pain
Fibromyalgia is different for everyone and includes such a wide array of symptoms that diagnosis can be a nightmare. The number one symptom is chronic pain, which sufferers often find difficult to describe. While some people experience a deep aching throughout their body, others feel shooting or radiating pain from certain areas called “tender points.” Still others complain of a “pins and needles” sensation in their extremities. Sometimes the pain feels like it travels, and other times it feels like it’s everywhere, all at once.
Chronic pain can be exhausting and can often overlap with symptoms of other common health issues, like irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, restless leg syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and interstitial cystitis. Fibromyalgia sufferers also tend to experience increased sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds, and often report problems with memory, dizziness, headaches, morning stiffness, and unrelenting fatigue. Because fibromyalgia symptoms are so widespread and tend to coincide with other serious diseases, medical professionals often use a “tender point” test to make an official diagnosis.
Where Does It Hurt?
To diagnosis a patient with fibromyalgia, doctors check the body for 18 tender points, or spots on the body that tend to be extra painful when pressed on. The 18 points are located in pairs, with one on each side of the body. They are often situated around joints, like knees and elbows, and are approximately the size of a penny. The tissue at these tender points tends to be much more sensitive to pain than the surrounding areas. If 11 of the 18 tender points are extra sensitive when pressed on, fibromyalgia is believed to be the culprit. But the pain can be anywhere and everywhere.
One of the reasons fibromyalgia can be so frustrating is that it’s difficult to pinpoint what causes the disease to strike in the first place. Though nothing is certain, medical experts have a few theories about what can trigger the onset of fibromyalgia, including injury or trauma, infections like Epstein-Barr virus or Lyme disease, hormonal problems, and allergies or sensitivities to food, chemicals, and the environment. It’s likely that many factors play a role in the development of fibromyalgia, though an exact cause is still unknown.
Advancements in Treatment
Fibromyalgia can be both physically and emotionally devastating. The good news is that both mainstream and naturopathic practitioners recognize the need for treatment options for their patients. In recent years, conventional medicine has come out with pharmaceuticals designed to treat fibromyalgia, but they come with a long list of dangerous side effects. Instead of putting your health at further risk, why not try safe, effective botanicals that are proven to relieve muscle pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia?
It may seem like curcumin is touted as a cure-all for every ailment under the sun these days and there’s a reason for that. It works. This powerhouse ingredient is proving to be unparalleled in its ability to fight pain and inflammation throughout the body and has been clinically studied for relieving osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain in particular. These findings are promising for fibromyalgia sufferers, as curcumin is likely to offer the pain relief they so desperately seek.
How does it work? Chronic inflammation is the result of the body releasing many inflammatory compounds. Curcumin can safely and effectively inhibit several of these, therefore producing powerful anti-inflammatory activity throughout the body without causing any unwanted side effects.
Many standard extracts of curcumin are poorly absorbed in the body, so selecting a high-quality, well-absorbed product is vital. BCM-95 is a superior curcumin combined with turmeric essential oil for enhanced absorption—10 times that of standard extracts. Its high-absorbability factor makes it more effective in smaller doses than other extracts.
Turmerones are a group of compounds found in turmeric essential oil. They act in similar anti-inflammatory ways to curcumin and help to further increase the absorbability of curcumin in the body. Turmerones really shine in their ability to increase the body’s antioxidant capabilities by boosting production of superoxide dismutase and glutathione—the body’s “master” antioxidants. Early research on these cell-protecting compounds points to their ability to fight everything from cancer to depression.
The agony of fibromyalgia pain can often lead to mental distress and cause anxiety and depression. Taking a curcumin product that contains turmerones can help relieve those symptoms and get you one step closer to regaining control of your health.
Boswellia is a little-known herb that’s making a big name for itself in natural medicine, and its potential for treating fibromyalgia is extremely promising. That’s because boswellia targets multiple pain pathways in the body, in contrast to conventional medicines that usually target single pathways. Boswellia’s unique properties make it able to lower inflammation, reduce joint pain, and even fight cancer and prevent other diseases.
While this amazing herb fights inflammation through many pathways in the body, boswellia’s most important benefit concerning fibromyalgia is its unique ability to target the 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) pathway. 5-LOX is a major contributor to the pain felt by fibromyalgia sufferers, but boswellia can fight that specific inflammation and relieve pain throughout the body. It’s especially effective at targeting inflammation of the digestive system, respiratory tract, and brain.
Research shows that a compound in boswellia called Acetyl-11-keto-B-boswellic acid, or AKBA, is one of the main components that allows it to do its job so well. Look for an extract that contains at least 10 percent of naturally occurring AKBA for best results.
The boswellia plant comes in a variety of species, and boswellia carteri, more commonly known as frankincense, is another key player in the treatment and prevention of a variety of diseases. Like boswellia, frankincense is a potent anti-inflammatory, but is also recognized for its ability to balance cortisol levels and fight stress and anxiety—key complaints for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
In addition to supplementing with amazing botanicals, you should integrate other healthy habits into your lifestyle in order to experience greater comfort and better overall health. In published placebo controlled research, the SHINE protocol has helped people with fibromyalgia increase their quality of life by a remarkable 90 percent.
Sleep: Sleep heals the body and replenishes energy. Get at least eight to nine hours per night. This will require a mix of treatments, and many herbals can be very helpful.
Hormones: Get tested for hormone deficiencies, as these can be a contributing factor for fibromyalgia.
Immunity: If you experience symptoms of infection, seek treatment. Underlying viral, bacterial, bowel, sinus, and yeast infections are common contributing causes to fibromyalgia.
Nutrition: Make sure your body is getting a proper balance of nutrition. Vitamin B-12, magnesium, acetyl-L-carnitine, glutathione, iodine, ribose, and vitamins A, B, C, and D are especially important.
Exercise: If you are able to exercise, make it a daily habit. Even walking for 30 minutes a day can help ease symptoms.