Q. My girlfriend, who is 29 years old has suffered for around 3 years from muscle pain, fatigue, IBS, bad sleeping patterns and (as she calls it) zombie brain. She has just finally been given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Can you give us any advice on how she can help herself. The doctor has suggested anti-depressants and ibuprofen but she's not keen to go down that route.
SB (by e mail)
A: Fibromyalgia is the diagnosis doctors give when autoimmune symptoms develop at the same time the patient suffers from sore joints, painful muscles, disturbed microcirculation, chronic fatigue, impaired immunity, sleep disorders, and a reduced level of energy. (Lancet, 1992). It is difficult to identify the causes, triggers and origins of Fibromyalgia, and it is often misdiagnosed, while some doctors are still uneducated and ignorant about this debilitating disease. In simple terms, most patients suffer from loss of synovial fluid around their joints, resulting to loss of lubrication. Another hypotheses is that, in addition to this joint problem, there is a lack of fluid in the fascia; the connective tissue throughout the body.
As the number of contributing factors increase, the symptoms of fibromyalgia increase until the body becomes weaker and less able to identify self from non-self. Ultimately, the burden of multiple problems decimate normal immune function, until the body can no longer suppress the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It is interesting to note that wherever the body is weakest the symptoms become strongest. For this reason each fibromyalgia patient suffers in different places. The scientific community will continue to discover more specific causes for auto immune disorders but at present there are four significant factors that have been proven to cause fibromyalgia like symptoms, they are:
1. Fungal infections (primarily systemic)
2. Parasite/viral infestations
3. Bacterial infections
4. Chemical poisoning or prolonged exposure to chemical exposure
5. Severe trauma or shock
The viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections can trigger autoimmune and hypersensitive reactions that may lead to auto immune responses, but in most cases the human body is only exposed to that infector a single time. The body can usually defend itself and eliminate the disease or suppress all the symptoms. If there is only one exposure the pathogen will be suppressed or it will mutate and become a different manifestation. This is important because the intestinal yeast infection can cause autoimmune disease that has similar symptoms continuously, indicating that it is probably the primary cause of fibromyalgia. We have worked, for the last 10 years, with Dr Andy Wright from Bolton. who is one of the UK's leading experts on CFS and also treats a lot of fibromyalgia patients.
There are many options that your girlfriend can take which could help her.
We've had some good success using a couple of our products to help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Firstly Filisa -- Filisa is the Sutherlandia Frutescens plant and is probably the most diverse of the Southern African plants. Sutherlandia is an adaptogen which means that it helps the body to use it's own resources to cope with physical and mental illness. The plant itself naturally contains a number of key chemicals. One of them is GABA which stands for Gamma Amino Butyric Acid. It is the body's natural muscle relaxant, tranquilizer, and nerve calmer and is responsible for feelings of well being. When we are anxious, stressed, depressed and in pain, we may be short of this important inhibitory neuro-transmitter As melatonin is the body's natural sleeping agent. GABA is the body's natural stress reliever and muscle relaxant.
Anxiety attacks occur when the limbic system the part of the brain which stores anxiety messages begins to release numerous signals. Concurrently, physiological responses begin to take place. . . the fight-or flight syndrome and many others. To an anxious person this is a situation of dread and fear that threatens a potential loss of control. The unceasing alert signals from the limbic system eventually overwhelm the cortex. The cortex and the rest of the stress network becomes exhausted.
GABA inhibits the cells from firing, diminishing the excitatory messages reaching the frontal cortex. This controlled neuro transmission allows the cortex to communicate with the limbic system and the rest of the brain in an orderly manner. What GABA seems to do is lower the excitatory level of the cell that is about to receive the incoming information.
Neurotransmitters are compounds in the body's nervous system that transmit electrical signals between nerves and receptors. Adequate levels of neurotransmitters are essential to control pain, GABA is an essential neurotransmition inhibitor that aids control of pain and anxiety. GABA has been shown to help those with neuro muscular conditions such as fibromyalgia and M.S. People with pain need GABA for so much of pain is due to muscle spasm. Not only does GABA provide direct muscle relaxation, but prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxants may lose their power if the body doesn't have enough GABA.
The Sutherlandia plant also contains L-Canavanine, which is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Infectious illnesses, including certain viruses, may be at the root of fibromyalgia. Certain infections attack the central nervous system, inhibiting the production of neurotransmitters. This could cause fibromyalgia pain. Infections can also cause muscle trauma and injury, which may develop into chronic and widespread pain. Sutherlandia has also been shown to lower TNF Alpha, the cytokine responsible for inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The anti-fungal properties of Sutherlandia can help to eliminate the intestinal yeast, candida albicans. This and other fungal pathogens such as toxigenic molds can produce toxins which could be responsible for the symptoms and causes of Fibromyalgia. Dr Julian Kenyon, from the Dove Clinic for Integrated Medicine in London, has used Filisa to treat candida infections for the last 9 years.
Simba, the African Potato tuber. The African potato tuber is rich in phytosterols (plant fats) Phytosterols are found in most fruit and veggies, but our western diet is largely deficient in these important plant fats, due to the way our food is treated, manufactured and processed. Phytosterols play an important part in balancing and regulating the immune system. The African potato tuber is also a potent natural anti-inflammatory. Some experts believe that fibromyalgia could be the result of an over-active immune system. The immune system works to protect your body by attacking bacteria, viruses, and other foreign cells. When over-active, the immune system can cause severe inflammation and pain by the over-production of inflammatory agents such as Interleukin 6 and TNF Alpha. These inflammatory chemicals fuel many types of muscle and joint pain.
The results of this continual immune assault begins with pain wherever the body is being attacked. The most common places for autoimmune attacks occur in the muscles, soft tissues, joints or any cell that is identified as a foreigner to the body. This includes brain cells. When the immune system damages these tissues sufficiently, it produces diseases like arthritis, irritable bowel disease, CFS and fibromyalgia. Because the body is at war with itself, the true cause of fibromyalgia could be something that causes the body’s immune system to attack normal tissues. In order for this to occur one or more of the following must occur:
1. Normal immune cells that identify normal tissue have become damaged.
2. Normal immune cells are sending improper messages.
3. The receptor sites on normal tissues have been damaged and cannot receive proper messages.
4. Normal tissues are not sending or receiving normal messages.
5. Immune factors that communicate normal or attack status have been adversely affected.
6. Something damaged the immune system, communicating immune factors, or normal tissue receptor sites and is continuing to interfere with normal immunity.
So it is extremely important to restore normal immune functioning and to maintain a healthy immune system thereafter.
Our sleepy blend of herbs called Nalala may help her to get back into a normal sleep pattern.
Take all Little Herbal products as directed
There are a few other supplements which can help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Vegepa from Igennus (www.igennus.co.uk) gives a healthy balance of Omega 3 fish oil and evening primrose oil.
'Vegepa is a patented and unique formulation of ultra-pure EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from marine fish oil and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) from organic virgin evening primrose oil, providing a highly concentrated source of omega-3 & omega-6 long-chain fatty acids and botanical triterpenes. Supplementing with pure EPA - without DHA (another omega-3 fatty acid) - allows the body to produce maximal amounts of the important eicosanoids needed to counteract the inflammatory agents associated with fibromyalgia. By supplementing the diet with pure EPA, the body is able to convert the EPA into DHA as and when the body needs it, without interfering with the healthy production of the anti-inflammatory eicosanoids'.
Lamberts Acidophillus extra:
As I said when talking about Filisa, many people with fibromyalgia have yeast overgrowth, and the acidophilus helps to restore normal flora in the intestines.
Magnesium is a mineral found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in nutritional supplements.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. Magnesium, along with malic acid (a fruit acid found naturally in apples) are often suggested for people with fibromyalgia because they are both needed for the generation of energy in cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Take the recommended daily dose.
Fibromyalgia and generalized aches and pains not meeting the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia have been attributed by some researchers to vitamin D deficiency. For example, a large German study examined 994 people and found a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and higher rates and longer duration of generalized bone and/or muscle aches and pains.
A study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings examined 150 people with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain in Minnesota. The researchers found that 93% of them had deficient levels of vitamin D.
Many products we eat and drink today contain Aspartame (Nutrasweet; Equal Spoonful; Candarel etc. If you suffer from fibromyalgia symptons, you should stop taking any of these sweeteners, Stop drinking diet soft drinks and investigate labels. Why is aspartame dangerous, according to Dr Robets in America, when the sweetner is heated to 86 degress F aspartame converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants. This methanol toxicity mimics, among other conditions multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus.