How does a Naturopath approach treatment of Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a multifaceted condition that presents with a variety of symptoms and occurs more frequently, but not exclusively in women. A number of mechanisms have been proposed as to the etiology of fibromyalgia, but there may not be one single causative factor. Various theories have been proposed including central nervous system abnormalities, altered neurotransmitters like serotonin, immune dysregulation, underlying chronic viral infections, elevated substance P levels and stress.
The cardinal symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic widespread pain and tenderness on multiple soft tissue sites in the body. A multitude of other symptoms also present however, including: depression, anxiety, fatigue, disturbed sleep, digestive complaints, headaches, poor memory and concentration and peripheral numbness and tingling.
Typically, there is no specific lab markers for fibromyalgia and it is typically a diagnosis of exclusion once all other conditions have been ruled out. In addition to widespread pain for longer than 3 months, specific tender points can support a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Naturopathic treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on both pain relief and symptomatic support along with neurotransmitter support. This is accomplished through specific dietary treatments, as well as certain effective nutrients and herbal medicines. In some cases, acupuncture is also incorporated to improve muscle function and reduce pain.
Food changes emphasize optimizing digestion and reducing inflammation while supporting serotonin production. It is often important to remove foods that may be compromising digestion. Lean protein is vital to supply muscles with adequate energy so this is a focus in naturopathic diet changes.
There are a number of nutrients that have been shown clinically and in research studies to improve fibromyalgia. For example, D-ribose, SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) and 5-HTP have all been shown to benefit people with fibromyalgia. There are also other nutrients like magnesium, malic acid and co-Q10 which improve cellular energy production.
In addition to food changes and nutrient recommendations, your Naturopath may recommend acupuncture to treat fibromyalgia pain. There are a number of effective acupuncture treatment protocols that improve muscle function and consequently decrease local and referred pain.
Given the variety of natural treatment optional available to those with fibromyalgia, it is a good idea to meet with a Naturopath for a full assessment and discussion of the best treatments indicated for you.
Book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.