Fibromyalgia and Holistic Healing
- Reversing Vicious Cycles
- Holistic Treatments for Fibromyalgia: Strengthen Your Body’s Natural Healing Systems
- Fibromyalgia Diets
- Fibromyalgia and Thyroid Treatments
- Links to Useful Fibromyalgia Websites
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Reversing Vicious Cycles
Being ill with any chronic health problem creates both physical and psychological complications. These in turn make the primary illness worse. Such vicious cycles block the body’s natural abilities to heal. Fortunately, vicious cycles can be interrupted and reversed. Accomplishing this is a key for treating Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and most forms of chronic illness. More information can be found on Vicious Cycles That Interrupt Healing.
Holistic Treatment for Fibromyalgia: Strengthen Your Body’s Natural Healing Systems
Holistic treatments for Fibromyalgia are unglamorous and low-tech—but very important. As a Fibromyalgia treatment center we have often found these valuable. Such natural remedies can help both general well-being and Fibromyalgia pain.
Biomechanical (body work) therapies can be effective natural treatments. But, because Fibromyalgia patients are highly sensitive to pain, physical therapists and massage therapists who treat them must have special skills. One advanced technique is a trigger point massage technique. This can cause muscle spasms to relax. A related technique is called “dry needling”. Here the clinician gently probes a trigger point using an acupuncture-like needle. This is not acupuncture, but a physical therapy technique that has helped many of our patients.
We have been very pleased with the work of Carol Cote, P.T. and her physical therapy associates in Morristown and Hackettstown, NJ. (tel: 973-538-8877) Please also see our Fibromyalgia Pain Control of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania physical therapists. These clinicians have special training in “soft tissue” disorders, including Fibromyalgia, headaches, and TMD (Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction).
Better Sleep: Almost all people with Fibromyalgia have non-refreshing sleep. Perhaps 10 to 15 % suffer from a specifically treatable sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome or periodic leg movement disorder. When diagnosed and treated, both pain and fatigue usually improve. For persons with Fibromyalgia and insomnia, useful supplements can include Ashwaganda, Valerian, Theanine, PharmaGaba, Melatonin, Inositol, and magnesium.
Relaxation skills training is also important. For insomnia, Gary Goldberg PhD, a psychologist in Livingston, NJ offers an effective short term behavioral treatment for insomnia based on a program developed at Harvard Medical School. However, natural Fibromyalgia sleep treatments don’t always work. Therefore, it sometimes makes sense to recommend medicines. That is a decision to be individualized for each person.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Fibromyalgia patients who take a short course of training in CBT gain better pain control than similar patients who do not. CBT is a counseling technique that focuses on practical skills such as “reframing” adverse situations in order to see them in a more favorable light. For example, the glass is half full. The idea is to learn specific skills that allow molehills to remain molehills and not become mountains.
Applying CBT almost always makes a difference. Consider CBT as a skill to learn more than a “pyschotherapy”. CBT is quick and practical. It does NOT probe childhood issues or the deep subconscious. You can master its essentials in just a few sessions.
We offer CBT training through our Fibromyalgia clinic. We recommend a useful CBT workbook in the Feeling Good series by David Burns, M.D. Another rewarding paperback is Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
Stress management/relaxation skills are another form of Fibromyalgia holistic therapy. One technique involves re-programming the rhythms of your breathing. Most people who have chronic pain slide into a pattern of shallow chest breathing. But, this causes metabolic imbalances that tend to worsen pain, increase vulnerability to stress and create difficulty concentrating—what Fibromyalgia clinics call “fibro-fog”. Fortunately it usually takes only two or three training sessions to begin to re-pattern your breathing. We also teach several advanced relaxation methods, including meditation and a valuable tool called HeartMath. Edwina King, R.N., APN, PhD offers excellent training in these skills.
Exercise Reconditioning definitely helps—if it’s done correctly. Too little exercise deconditions muscles and worsens Fibromyalgia pain. But, over-doing exercising also flares symptoms. We teach the Goldilocks Principle. We help you find the level that is just right for you.
Fibromyalgia Diets, a natural remedy
Fibromyalgia and leaky gut syndrome: Many but not all persons with FMS have “leaky gut syndrome”. Basically, large molecules from dietary food allergens and/or yeast or bacteria cell walls leak through the gut lining into the circulation. Leaky gut is believed to cause low grade inflammation, straining the immune system and worsening illness.
Leaky gut may also plays a role in auto-immune inflammatory illnesses including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and systemic lupus. We collaborate with specialized labs that can test leaky gut and related gastrointestinal issues including pancreatic enzyme deficiency, yeast overgrowth, food sensitivities, and insufficient natural bacteria (probiotics).
There is no single Fibromyalgia diet for everyone. But, many patients improve on variations on the comprehensive elimination dietfeatured on this link. A less restrictive but potentially helpful diet is one directed to counter hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Please see our page on Hypoglycemia.
For all people with Fibromyalgia, your diet should eliminate both MSG (monosodium glutamate) and NutraSweet (aspartame), the artificial sweetener. Glutamate (in MSG) and the amino acid, aspartic acid (in aspartame) stimulate Fibromyalgia pain receptors within the brain and spinal cord. Person with any chronic illness should also consider whether you might have an allergic sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye. We can check for gluten sensitivity with a blood test or a stool test.
Fibromyalgia and Thyroid Treatments
As an “alternative medicine” approach, Dr. Robert Lowe proposed that some patients with Fibromyalgia are functionally hypothyroid (low thyroid). Dr. Lowe and many (but far from all) Fibromyalgia centers believe that thyroid treatment can help even when standard thyroid blood tests are normal. This is controversial. But a fair number of our Fibromyalgia patients have been helped by thyroid treatments.
Links to Useful Fibromyalgia Websites
- Dr. Devin Starlanyl's Fibromyalgia Site: Dr. Starlanyl is a physician who has an informational website and has written a best-selling book for patients.
- Prohealth provides up to date comments about both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They sell a broad range of nutritional and herbal supplements. Prohealth is run by people who suffer from FMS and CFS.
- Phoenix Rising is a patient run support group that is mainly for chronic fatigue but also relevant for Fibromyalgia.