Do you or someone you know suffer from Fibromyalgia? Do you understand what this condition is? Given the fact that Fibromyalgia affects over 12 million people in the United States alone, you probably do know someone who suffers from this chronic condition. It is very misunderstood. Here are a few facts:
- Fibromyalgia affects more women than men.
- This condition usually affects people ages 35 and up, but it is becoming increasingly more common in younger people.
- There is no known medical test to confirm this diagnosis.
- Most Medical Doctors do not understand this condition. They rely on traditional medication and pain management techniques to treat patients.
- There is no known cure.
- Fibromyalgia is often confused with many other ailments that cause widespread pain and fatigue.
- Because it is essentially “invisible” (you cannot see the disease, physically or in tests, the patient “looks fine”) it is very misunderstood.
- Many people believe “it is all in your head”. The person who suffers from Fibromyalgia often feels guilt, depression, and isolation.
WHAT CAUSES FIBROMYALGIA?
While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, recent studies suggest that changes in the central nervous system may be responsible for fibromyalgia pain. Fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of overactive nerves. These nerves may be responsible for the chronic widespread pain and tenderness many people feel. But what causes this to happen? There are some common beliefs on what could trigger the onset of Fibromyalgia.
- AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: People with disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop Fibromyalgia.
- INFECTIONS: There is some evidence to suggest that certain illnesses can act as a trigger.
- FAMILY HISTORY: Genetics can influence your likelihood as to whether or not you will develop Fibromyalgia.
- TRAUMA: Physical and emotional trauma have been linked to Fibromyalgia.
Regardless of the cause, it is important to know you can find relief from Fibromyalgia.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue over 15 years ago. The symptoms have been debilitating at times. There was a period of time when it took all I had to make it through a work day. At the end of the week, It took me all weekend to try and recover. The best way I can describe it is, when I am in a flare up, I feel like I have the flu, without the vomiting or congestion. I hurt ALL OVER. Fibromyalgia pain is different from the pain you may experience from a headache or sprained ankle. Your bones ache, your joints hurt, your skin is sensitive to touch. You feel you need to rest, but you cannot truly rest because the pain makes it difficult to get comfortable.
If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, you have NO ENERGY, not the type of fatigue you feel when you are simply, naturally tired. The fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia (and Chronic Fatigue) is so overwhelming, you feel as though your blood is made of cement. You feel a heaviness all over, you can barely breathe. It takes tremendous energy to try to get up and do something, like take a shower. I can assure you it is not “all in your head”, NOBODY wants to feel this way.
Like many patients, we have many things we LOVE to do. We have a passion for life. Personally, I am not a depressed or lazy person, but when I am in a flare up I do feel guilt and sadness because I cannot do the things that I want and need to do.
You are afraid to commit to plans with family and friends because when the time comes you may not feel well enough to go, you may be in a flare up and have to cancel, eventually, you just don’t make plans.
Sleep? Impossible. You feel exhausted all the time, but at bed time you are wide awake. If you happen to feel great one day, you are so excited to feel “normal” you attack every task you can with vigor, only to pay the price for days after activity with a flare up
WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HURTS?
This is a very personal question. What works for one person may not work for another. Some people with Fibromyalgia are completely debilitated, while others may be able to function in a semi-normal fashion. Many patients are sick all of the time, while others may feel good for periods of time and have occasional flare ups.
Through my journey in dealing with this chronic condition, I have found relief from Fibromyalgia. There was a time when I was sick all of the time, no relief. Now, I am well 90% of the time. When I do get a flare up, I usually know what caused it, though sometimes I don’t. Some common triggers are:
- Poor diet
- Not enough sleep
- Getting sick. If you catch a cold or flu, it takes a long time to recover.
- Alcohol consumption
- Rigorous exercise
I am not going to suggest you stop or start any medications. I am not a Doctor, and my purpose is to help people find Optimal Health and Wellness through Holistic Measures. That is what helped me, and I know it can help you!
Initially, I turned to my Doctors for answers. I was given medications and Vitamin B12 shots. These treatments did not help me. My Doctor told me it was something I will have to live with. It may go away in time, or I may suffer from it forever. I went from Doctor to Doctor and found no answers that helped. I had multiple tests performed, saw multiple specialists and only got worse over time.
I finally took matters into my own hands. Through trial and error, I found the number one thing that gave me relief, it was my diet. What I ate or didn’t eat had the biggest effect on my health. I found relief by providing proper nutrition to my body and taking specific supplements.
When I told my Doctor that my dietary changes were making a big difference in my symptoms, he was not all that interested, he said, “Well that’s good, whatever helps you”. I brought in information for him hoping he might be able to offer this information to help other patients, but he did not embrace my new-found knowledge. It’s not that my Doctor didn’t care, it is just not the way Doctors are medically trained. Doctors are not nutritionists, their job is to treat patients through medication, surgery or therapy. It is truly important to be an advocate for yourself.
Let me ask you something. Don’t you find it interesting that Fibromyalgia and MANY other inflammatory diseases are on the rise? Why? The key issue here is INFLAMMATION. Inflammation is at the root of all disease processes. Everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s have a common denominator, inflammation.
“The number of people suffering from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases and cancers has increased dramatically over the last three decades”. (BioMed Central).
“It’s “an emerging field,” says UCLA’s Dr. David Heber. “It’s a new concept for medicine.” Why is it a new concept? Because modern medicine focuses on treating symptoms, not addressing the root cause of an issue. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Heart disease is inflammation of the arteries. Instead of taking a medication to reduce joint pain or lower cholesterol, we would be better served by reducing inflammation in the body.” (Dr. Axe)
Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, writes that “inflammation is now recognized as the “underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.”
Research is now pointing to inflammation in our bodies being the root cause of disease. When I started my research in finding how I could Holistically manage my condition, I came across a book called “The Autoimmune Solution” by Dr. Amy Myers, a functional medicine Doctor. In her book, she pointed out that inflammation was the key factor in Autoimmune diseases. Her approach to controlling the inflammation was through dietary measures. She had a very specific eating plan to follow. I read the book, was convinced it was worth a try and followed it religiously for three months. I started to feel better! Within the first week, I was amazed! I had more energy, less pain, I felt I was on to something, This was the start for me. Since then I have learned so much and have been able to improve my health in ways I never imagined!
Inflammation is not a bad thing, in moderation. Our bodies need it to survive. It is necessary for fighting off viruses, bacteria, etc. It is what helps our body fight off foreign invaders and heal itself.
There is a difference between chronic Inflammation and acute Inflammation. Acute inflammation generally comes on quickly and generally goes away in a few days. Chronic inflammation can last for months or years as a result of failure to eliminate the cause and minor, repeated exposure to the agent. In this instance, I believe Fibromyalgia is worsened by chronic inflammation, and I believe the #1 thing that is causing chronic inflammation is our FOOD.
A radical diet change can be very difficult for many. But what is it worth to you to be well? To live the life you want? I believe that saying, “if you have your health, you have EVERYTHING”. Here are the key components I followed that reduced my inflammation and allowed my body to begin to heal.
- GRAINS: Grains cause inflammation. So it will be important to eliminate them, at least in the beginning. I eliminated them strictly for 3 months, and slowly introduced a few back into my diet. I now eat small portions of Quinoa, Chia, and Acacia. The “grains” mentioned are actually seeds but can be eaten like grains. Start by eliminating all grains and seeds, then after 3 months you can gradually add some back in your diet and see how your body reacts.
- NIGHTSHADES: Nightshade vegetables are known to increase inflammation, so it is important to eliminate them. The most common Nightshade vegetables are Tomatoes, White potatoes, Eggplant, Okra, Peppers, Goji berries, Tomatillos, Paprika, Cayenne pepper, and Capsicum.
- EAT: Eat foods that are Whole, and Organic when possible. You can get delicious Organic Fruits and Vegetables at most grocery stores and your Farmers Market.
- ELIMINATE: Eliminate processed foods and processed sugar treats.
- ORGANIC MEAT: Consume only quality, free-range, organic meats. Just like any food labeled organic in the U.S., meat products should meet very specific, federally regulated standards, Meat and poultry labeled organic must come from animals fed organic – which also means non-GMO feed, given fresh air and outdoor access, and raised without antibiotics or added growth hormones.
- GREEN JUICE: This has been the biggest factor in my healing process. While changing my diet helped tremendously, Adding green juice to my daily diet elevated my healing to a whole new level. Within days of starting my green juice regime, I was virtually free from Fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. Here is a sample recipe:
3 cups fresh spinach and kale
1 large cucumber
1 knob of turmeric and ginger (about ½ inch each)
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 large apples, cored
½ lemon, with peel (or grapefruit)
- MODERATE EXERCISE: Walking, swimming, and yoga are great forms of moderate exercise. Many people with Fibromyalgia are not able to recover from rigorous exercise, it is too taxing on the body. Exercise is really important, but be sure not to overdo it. Too much will just put you in a flare up. Moderate, consistent exercise is key.
- MEDITATION: Meditation is a wonderful tool. Since stress is one of the biggest triggers for Fibromyalgia. It is important to find ways to manage it.
- HYPNOTHERAPY: I am a hypnotherapist, and I believe this is a very effective modality in helping a client achieve pain relief. Hypnotherapy is being used on cancer patients for pain relief and patients are achieving amazing results. Guided imagery and hypnotherapy are proven to help with so many medical and emotional problems, I know it has helped me with my pain and my sleep issues.
- SUPPLEMENTS: Supplements have been a key factor for me. Finding the right supplements is a process. What works for me, may be different for you. These supplements do many great things for our bodies, but I only listed the benefits as it relates to Fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium: Helps Increase Energy, calms nerves & anxiety.
Helps with digestion, relieves muscle aches and spasms.
- Vitamin D: Regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, aids in normal immune system function. Vitamin D improves resistance against certain diseases. It is an anti-inflammatory vitamin.
- B Vitamin complex: Increases energy, a mood stabilizer. Niacin has been shown to help with depression. Vitamin B has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin. Vitamin C helps heal the body, strengthens the immune system and is also a powerful anti-inflammatory vitamin.
- Calcium: Calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also important for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system.
(each individual may have different dietary needs. This is not intended as a prescription)
I know this might seem overwhelming. I didn’t make all these changes overnight and I don’t expect you too. It is important to make adjustments that are sustainable. However, if you are like me, I wanted more than anything to feel better. I was highly motivated to do whatever it took to find relief. The process has been a slow one because I had to do all the research on my own. I didn’t know where to turn. I did a lot of reading and research. The information I found has helped me tremendously. These results have led me to my passion, to become a Wellness Practitioner with a focus on Holistic Nutrition. I know you can get relief from many of the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
You don’t have to do it alone. It is my goal at Holistically Healthy, to help you achieve Optimal Health through Holistic measures. I am here to answer any questions you may have. Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Bridgett Zehnder – (916) 412-4671