1. REDUCE STRESS -- If you are working full-time, switch to part-time or quit altogether, if possible. Get out of the "rat race!" Most fibromyalgia sufferers are high-achieving, high-energy people. We are "doers" who sometimes do too much! Don't overload yourself with time commitments that will cause you stress later. Learn to say "NO" and allow yourself to relax. Take time to smell the roses!
2. GET PLENTY OF SUNLIGHT (or daylight) -- If you work indoors, go outside for breaks. If you are at home during the day, open the curtains and turn on the lights. It's worth a few cents of electricity to create a cheerful environment and feel less depressed and achy. If you live in a cold, dark climate, you may want to visit a tanning salon occasionally for the concentrated light and warmth, but don't overdo it-- you don't want to get skin cancer. Full spectrum lighting can also be helpful if you are prone to S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)--biochemical depression caused by insufficient light on dark, gloomy days.
3. COMPUTERS -- The flickering light of my computer screen used to bring on a rapid worsening of my fibromyalgia! I have bright lighting in the room to offset this effect. Perhaps certain spectrums of light are harmful to people who are more light sensitive than others. Full spectrum lighting could be a good investment--at least for the computer room. Research is being done on the effect of light on the pineal gland--the gland which produces melatonin necessary for sleep. Flickering light has been proven to cause changes in the EEG patterns in the brain. Researchers are experimenting with flickering light therapy to help fibromyalgia patients by restructuring EEG patterns! Most patients report a relief of pain after a series of these carefully conducted sessions.
4. SLEEP -- Overcoming insomnia greatly improves fibromyalgia symptoms. (People who volunteered for sleep deprivation experiments actually developed similar symptoms!) You can try either melatonin or 5-HTP for restorative sleep at night with no "hangover" the next day. I used to take antidepressants for sleep, but they made me feel terrible!! Melatonin worked well for me for 5 years, until I reached menopause. Then my sleep disorder returned and I was miserable for over a year before finding a unique immune product that has helped rebalance my immune system. If you try natural products, get them from a good source and remember that they are simply nutritional support for sleep--not knock out pills. They may take a few days to start working. Even on nights when I don't sleep as long as I want to, I feel surprisingly refreshed the next day. I am evidently getting enough restorative sleep. Prior to finding nutritional helps, one night of "bad sleep" almost always led to more nights of the same. It was very frustrating! This was perhaps due to serotonin depletion in the brain. (Serotonin is a neurochemical that regulates moods and depression. It is related to melatonin, produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin is needed for sleep, and it regulates the level of serotonin.) With the right nutritional (or mild pharmaceutical) products, I get deeper sleep, resulting in more energy and a feeling of well-being the next day. I'm not fatigued or depressed anymore. Restorative sleep strengthens and repairs the immune system! After 30+ years of vicious insomnia, it sure feels good to get restorative sleep!
5. MENTAL RELAXATION -- Let your mind unwind in the evening. Listen to soft, soothing music. Avoid mentally stimulating activities such as intense conversations, balancing the checkbook, doing serious study or getting yourself into a "hurrying" mode for any reason. Do calming things like ironing (leisurely) or enjoy some light reading (not mystery thrillers or highly technical material). The brain has an arousal mechanism that once you get it going, it's hard to slow it down! You don't want to get into this state before trying to fall asleep. Some people can stay extremely active and animated until the very minute they fall asleep; however, people with FMS are generally not able to do this.
6. REST -- If possible, take 10-30 minutes after lunch to lie down and rest. You don't have to sleep--just slow your mind down and think peaceful thoughts. At one of my jobs, I used to lock my office door, turn off the lights and lie down on the floor for 10 minutes. It was the only way I could make it through the day because of fatigue. If you can't lie down, put your head down on your desk or go to a quiet place and just close your eyes and breathe deeply. You can also go outside and sit in your car if the weather permits. Close your eyes and block out the world for awhile. Some fibromyalgia sufferers have to lie down and rest for a short time every couple of hours to get through the day. Our society is so pressurized and achievement-oriented that "napping"--or even resting--is looked down upon. The truth is that many famous, high-achieving people (who don't even have fibromyalgia) take naps every day to restore their mental faculties!
7. COLD -- A cold gel pack (available at any drug store & used to treat injuries) stored in the refrigerator or freezer can be applied to the back of the neck when you're lying down. This has a way of slowing down one's thoughts and bringing on a quieter mood. A chiropractor gave me this idea, which helps me in going to sleep at night. (NOTE: If you keep your gel pack in the freezer, use a cloth over it to avoid damaging delicate skin or blood vessels with intense cold.)
8. HEAT -- Sometimes a warm or hot bath can relieve the stiffness and soreness of fibromyalgia for awhile, perhaps by increasing circulation to muscle tissue. Sometimes a heat pack feels good on a cold day and is very relaxing. Or, try a hot bath followed by a cold gel pack on the back of the neck and some soft music when you retire. (For some sufferers, however, extremes of heat and cold worsen symptoms.)
9. IMMUNE SYSTEM -- Some researchers believe that the ROOT of the fibromyalgia problem lies in our own immune systems! One of my newsletter readers sent me shocking information about the role of mycoplasmas (mutated viruses and bacteria) and biological warfare as a possible cause of the present worldwide epidemic of fibromyalgia! This intrigued me, because I hear from people all over the world with FMS/CFIDS. I have known for a long time that FMS/CFIDS is not just a disease here in America, caused by western diet, etc. If the mycoplasma theory is true, then helping the immune system is vital for FMS/CFIDS relief. So many of today's strange ailments that doctors can't help are directly related to immune function. To find out if the problem you are dealing with is immune-related, go to a good search engine like google.com, type in your ailment and the word "immune" and see what articles come up. You might be surprised to learn how many are related to a malfunctioning immune system! I have been using a natural immune-balancing product that has helped me tremendously since June of 2001.
10. EXERCISE -- Try not to be completely sedentary. Your cells detoxify better when you are physically active. Walk and stretch a little, but not to the point of worsening the pain. One exercise that a physical therapist taught me helped my shoulder and arm pain: Lie face down on the bed with your shoulders and arms hanging over the edge, then slowly and gently raise your arms to a V-position (sort of like Superman flying) while keeping your head level, not bent down. This helps stretch muscles in the upper back as well as the arms and shoulders. Some FMS patients have also benefitted from warm-water aerobics. A wonderful thing for many people who take either OPC's or other products I found, is that when their FMS pain diminishes, they can go back to normal activities. I even have played some tennis again, which is amazing for someone who lived for so many years as a semi-invalid!
11. MASSAGE -- Ask your spouse or family member to give you a massage, or see a licensed massage therapist who understands fibromyalgia and trigger points. Avoid deep massages such as "rolfing," as it will increase pain. Try something relaxing like a gentle Swedish massage. There's a massage school here in my city that offers student massages for $20 for a full hour. This is very reasonable, considering that the going rate in our area is $50 for 50 minutes. Perhaps you can find a reputable school in your area. Most massage therapists are aware of fibromyalgia and interested in alleviating the pain.
12. EXCITOTOXINS -- Some people find relief for fibromyalgia symptoms by eliminating all excitotoxins from their diet--monosodium glutamate (MSG or Accent), aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal), hydrolyzed protein, etc. Symptoms may worsen initially as the body begins detoxifying, but some people become pain free with this method. Excitotoxins are used in nearly all processed foods. You may want to research the internet to discover the many names excitotoxins masquerade under, and then omit them from your diet for a period of time to see if you notice improvement. This approach takes a lot of discipline, but may well be worth the effort. I can send you a list of sites about excitotoxins if you're interested. Write me at email@example.com. Also, my friend Marcia has gotten relief from her FMS symptoms through completely avoiding excitotoxins.
13. MATTRESS -- When my fibromyalgia was at its worst, I was like the fairy tale princess who could feel a pea under 20 mattresses! I bought and sold one mattress after another trying to find one that I could live with. I even tried a waterbed. The heat was nice, but the bed still felt too hard. Solving the mattress dilemma was tricky, because I needed firm support for my back, but softness for my sore muscles. I finally put a convoluted foam topper on my firm innerspring mattress, and that took care of the problem. Another idea might be a Select Comfort Sleep System (air bed).
14. ANTIOXIDANTS -- There is new exciting research indicating that antioxidants can bring about remission of fibromyalgia! Antioxidant damage has been found in people with FMS, so it is not surprising that many fibromyalgia patients find relief by taking OPC's. Dr. Jack Masquelier discovered OPC's in 1947 at the University of Bordeaux in France. OPC's travel through the bloodstream to every part of the body, especially those rich in collagen. Collagen is a structural part of our blood vessels, skin and connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. There are many brands of OPC's on the market now, but some are as low as 5-10 % bioavailable! You will not get results from these. Take high quality OPC's on an empty stomach with water--not milk or food--as this can interfere with absorption--first thing in the morning works best, then wait about 45 minutes before eating. The recommended dosage is 1 mg of OPC's per pound of body weight per day, although some people take more than this amount for relief of their symptoms. If you feel a fibro flare starting, double the dosage for a few days--take a regular dose in the morning and another at night.
15. SOFT DRINKS -- Carbonated beverages contain orthophosphoric acid and leach calcium and magnesium from the body. These two minerals are absolutely necessary for healthy muscles and bones. People with FMS don't need to be losing any magnesium, since they are usually deficient already--so avoid soft drinks! Diet soft drinks are even worse because they also contain aspartame. (See #12.) Inadequate levels of calcium and magnesium can lead to muscle cramping. Calcium/Magnesium supplements can help you obtain these two minerals, which are sometimes called "nature's tranquilizers." I use something in my water that keeps my body more healthily alkaline. Acid causes disease!
16. DOCTORS -- Perhaps you have discovered by now that most doctors do not know how to treat fibromyalgia. It's a confusing condition with strange symptoms. I had been to numerous doctors in many cities during the first 14 years I had FMS, and none of them were able to help me find relief. They all prescribed muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, sleeping pills and pain pills. None of these things helped, and many of these drugs had unpleasant and dangerous side effects. When FMS patients don't get better and keep returning to their doctors with complaints, some doctors have a tendency to blame the patient rather than admit that they don't know what else to do! Some have even told FMS sufferers, "It's all in your head," or "You have to learn to live with it!" Doctors also refer FMS patients to psychiatrists, although FMS is not a psychiatric condition. I had a most encouraging conversation with a doctor I hadn't seen in over 2 years. When I told him I had found relief for my fibromyalgia with OPC's, I cringed inwardly at what he might say! Was I ever surprised when he replied, "Those are antioxidants, aren't they? I wouldn't have believed you 2 years ago, but I and many other doctors have been learning about nutrition lately. Strong antioxidants clear fibromyalgia right up. You are on the right track." This comment thrilled me!
17. DEPRESSION -- Depression is a problem for most FMS sufferers. It is caused by a disturbance in brain chemicals brought on by a continuing lack of restorative sleep. In addition, the losses suffered by people with FMS can be overwhelming--our health, our lifestyles, our ability to think clearly, our careers and in some cases even our spouses, friends or family members who do not understand! Prior to finding melatonin and other sleep aids for my sleep disorder, I struggled with severe depression. At times I even felt suicidally depressed. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness would overwhelm me. When I began sleeping better, my depression completely vanished! Strangely, antidepressants never did this for me. In fact, some of them had extremely unpleasant side effects such as anxiety, depression, restlessness, drowsiness and even the inability to sleep. I always felt "numb" or drugged when I was taking them! I have sinced learned that depression may be related to poor immune function. To learn more about this, go to a good search engine like google.com and type in the words "depression" and "immune." It's surprising the number of articles that come up. Balancing the immune system and sleeping well at night can make a great deal of differnce for biochemical depression. I now use an immune-balancing product that has made a world of difference for me! Without restorative sleep, the body can't function properly and the endocrine system becomes deregulated. Melatonin worked well for me until I turned 48. Then it suddenly stopped working--maybe due to drastic changes in my hormone levels? I began needing a lot of strong sleep meds just to knock me unconscious for a couple of hours--I wouldn't even call that sleep! After 18 months of that misery, I felt totally ragged and my nerves worn out! Since I have been taking the immune product, I need much less sleep meds to really sleep and I have plenty of energy and stamina.
18. NIGHTSHADE VEGETABLES -- Some people report more muscle pain after eating tomatoes, bell peppers or potatoes. You may want to experiment with omitting these from your diet. Tomatoes contain high levels of glutamates, which cause muscle pain in some people.
19. REPETITIVE ACTIVITY -- Any repetitive activity of the muscles, such as typing, can worsen fibromyalgia. Limit the amount of time you spend in activities that use the same muscle groups over and over, such as writing, typing, knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, piano-playing, etc. It gives the neural pathways a rest. Many people with FMS became afflicted due to their jobs as secretaries or computer operators. With the increasing popularity of personal computers, there will probably be many more cases of FMS in the future. Sitting still for long periods of time is not good for FMS either, so take frequent breaks or at least do some shoulder exercises when sitting at the computer for long periods of time. Most people with FMS have to move around a lot to keep their muscles from becoming stiff and sore ("gelling").
20. MAGNESIUM -- Researchers say that most people with FMS are deficient in magnesium, the mineral that helps muscles relax. I used to use a malic acid/magnesium supplement for FMS, but it was very expensive so I switched to a good quality magnesium. It was less costly but actually more effective. I am now able to type on my computer all day without any ill effects. I take 1 or 2 magnesium tablets at night along with my supplements for sleep. If my muscles start to feel tense during the day, I may take 1 or 2 additional magnesium tablets. Fertilizers, food processing and cooking already greatly deplete magnesium from our foods. This mineral is vital for those with fibromyalgia. (However, magnesium draws water into the digestive tract, so if you experience loose bowels, just decrease the amount of magnesium or take it with meals.) Calcium is the mineral that helps muscles contract, and ideally calcium and magnesium should be in balance. For this reason, you can also supplement with calcium, since calcium deficiency can cause muscle cramps--especially in the legs.
21. NOISE -- If you have sensitive hearing and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears), as many people with FMS do, try to avoid loud noises. For sleeping, try using soft foam ear plugs (my favorite brand is Hearos from Wal-Mart because they don't hurt my ears) or try a "white noise" machine to block out unwanted sounds. I also carry a pair of Hearos ear plugs in my purse for emergency use around loud noises.
22. CALMING HERBS -- Herbs like Kava Kava and St. Johns Wort can be helpful for nervousness, depression, anxiety, tension, stress, insomnia, etc. Kava is also good for a case of the jitters (like before public speaking) and it can help you fall asleep at night--or help you get back to sleep. Since Kava is relatively short-acting, its effects don't stay in your body for a long period of time.
23. YEAST -- Yeast (candida albicans) overgrowth can cause symptoms suspiciously similar to fibromyalgia and CFIDS! These include muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, insomnia, bowel dysfunction, a weakened immune system, etc. If you crave sugar or carbohydrates, or have been taking antibiotics, you may have a yeast problem. You can try eliminating all sugar, fruit, honey, fructose and fruit juice from your diet for awhile to see if it helps your symptoms. Yeasts feed on sugar! You may feel worse before you feel better, however. Try acidophilus or other probiotic formulas containing beneficial microflora that help control yeast overgrowth (candidiasis).
24. VITAMIN E -- I used to take 400-800 I.U. whenever I get any fibro shoulder or arm pains from "overdoing it." Vitamin E also helps in preventing painful leg cramps, which used to bother me from time to time, perhaps by increasing circulation.
25. FASTING -- Your body works hard to process food. Fasting gives your system a chance to rest and detoxify. Some nutritionists recommend using fruit and vegetable juices, but if you have a problem with candida, you don't need sugar from fruit juices or carrot juice. Whenever I feel "blue," if I stop eating for awhile it picks up my spirits. It gives the body time to do its "housecleaning." I have also found it helpful to fast 12 hours out of every 24. For instance, if I eat a snack at 8 p.m. in the evening, I don't eat anything again until 8 a.m. the following morning. However, if you have hypoglycemia, you may not be able to do this.
26. DARK/LIGHT -- If light wakes you up too early in the morning, install room-darkening shades or drapes. However, don't sleep in too late! It may be more helpful in getting your sleep/wake cycle regulated to go to bed early and get up early rather than go to bed late and get up late. This gives your body more hours of daylight to help set your internal time clock for sleep.
27. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME -- Many people with FMS also have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) with chronic constipation, diarrhea, bloating and gas pain. Researchers say that people with FMS don't absorb food properly because of mucous buildup, and therefore need to take in more nutrients than other people. By keeping your colon clean and in good working order, you can get the most from your food and supplements. Soluble fiber, digestive enzymes and probiotics (good bacteria for colon health) are helping many people overcome irritable bowel syndrome. Since I've been using a very unique immune product, my digestive problems (gas, bloating, etc. for which I had to take enzymes and probiotics) became a thing of the past. (One more thought--this may sound strange, but when I got off birth control pills, my problems with chronic constipation ended. I don't understand this, but thought I would mention it since it might help someone else with this problem.) I have also heard that taking magnesium tablets greatly helps those who suffer with chronic constipation--perhaps because this mineral draws water into the colon and also helps with muscle relaxation.
28. PAIN RELIEVING GELS -- You can relieve a lot of aches and pains with soothing gels for relief of muscle pain from fibromyalgia, overwork, muscle strain, etc.
29. BRAIN -- A recent study found diminished blood flow to parts of the brain in people with fibromyalgia and an increase in the chemical that helps transmit pain signals. Researchers also discovered that men produce 52% more serotonin than do women. Perhaps this is why more women than men develop fibromyalgia. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates moods and depression. It is related to melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland and is necessary for sleep. When a person is under stress, more serotonin is used. People with FMS are often deficient in serotonin, so it is understandable why stress aggravates fibromyalgia symptoms.
30. PARASITES -- Symptoms of human worm infestations (yuck!!) are very similar to fibromyalgia. Parasites can invade our bodies through food or from having pets in our homes. Parasites are a constant drain on the immune system. If you suspect that parasites may be a problem, try an herbal anti-parasitic formula to help rid your system of these unwanted freeloaders. It can also help the body eliminate toxins and heavy metals. There's a controversial book by Hulda Clark called "The Cure for All Diseases" in which she makes a very good argument for parasites being at the root of most illnesses, incluing fibromyalgia.
31. "BE HAPPY" -- I am strongly opposed to the idea that FMS is a "mind-over-matter" illness! Those who have not experienced this dreadful disorder cannot even begin to understand what FMS sufferers go through. However, try to do ALL you can to cheer yourself. Read inspirational, funny or uplifting books, think about happy things, sing joyful songs--whatever brings a smile to your face and happiness to your heart. I learned about this while recovering from major surgery. I am basically a serious person, but a friend had loaned me some books by a very funny author--a man who really had a gift for writing about himself humorously. Whenever my post-operative pain became excruciating, I would read these books and soon find myself smiling and even laughing inwardly. Somehow the humor helped me get through the worst times of pain.
32. SMOKING -- NO ONE who is serious about their health should be smoking--least of all people with fibromyalgia! Smokers breathe in BILLIONS of free radicals with every puff. These free radicals greatly damage blood, tissues and cells.
33. JUNK FOOD -- "Junk food" is loaded with fat, chemicals, food additives, sugar, excitotoxins, etc. that put stress on your body and cause toxicity. Make healthy food choices--your tissues and cells need all the help they can get! (See #37)
34. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS -- Sometimes high quality nutritional supplements help people feel better. Each of us has our own unique requirements. Products of the "one-a-day"variety are usually not very effective. Look for supplements that are cold-processed or highly bioavailable. (NOTE: Do not take excessive amounts of iron, as this can lead to fatigue, joint pain and even heart disease as the iron oxidizes in the body.)
35. RESEARCH -- Fibromyalgia is a puzzling disorder with many components--neurological, autoimmune, hormonal, etc. A lot of interesting research is being done now. Several recent clinical studies have revealed damage and irregularities in the shape of the red blood cells in people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia! This causes blockages in the blood flow through the capillaries, resulting in insufficient oxyen getting to the muscles and tissues, hence the pain and fatigue. (One researcher is even trying to get his blood test approved internationally. It could become a much-needed diagnostic tool.) Since OPC's help heal free radical damage, I am not surprised that after I began taking them, my FMS pain and stiffness disappeared back in 1996. ("The life is in the blood..." says the Bible.) Many FMS sufferers report that their pain and fatigue left in just a few days or weeks after they began taking them. For others it took several months. There also are some people who do not experience improvement. We are all different--we detoxify and heal at different rates based on a number of factors. Many people who use OPC's also experience an increase in energy (a welcome relief for chronic fatigue) due to improved circulation to the cells. I use a unique, recently-developed immune product that balances immune function, improves circulation, modulates autoimmune responses, helps digestion and gives me energy and stamina. I only wish this product had been available many years ago!
36. RAW FOODS -- Despite an abundance of food in our modern society, serious health problems and chronic degenerative diseases are on the rise! Our bodies are toxic from all the chemicals we get in our S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Without regard for nutrition, we often "live to eat" rather than "eat to live!" Many people find that their health improves when they stop eating so much processed food, red meat and dairy products. Livestock are injected with hormones to fatten them up, and also with antibiotics to keep them alive. Their feed is mixed with substances from "rendering plants." You may want to try a more plant-based diet which includes raw fruits and vegetables, brown rice, beans, seeds, nuts, etc. You may even want to invest in a good juicer and make your own fresh carrot and other vegetable juices. By providing our bodies with better fuel, our cells can detoxify and function properly. One word of caution--make dietary changes gradually, so that your body can adapt. I still eat small amounts of chicken, fish and red meat, because I don't do well on a completely vegetarian diet. However, you can research the internet about the safety of various kinds of meat and even fish, as there are many strains of bacteria contaminating our food these days. Some "clean" animal protein is needed by most people in their diets.
37. Co-Q-10 -- In the popular book "From Fatigued to Fantastic," Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. discusses Coenzyme Q10, which is essential in the energy cycle because of its effect on the mitochondria. People with FMS/CFIDS have dysfunction in the mitochondria of their cells and without CoQ10, your cells cease to produce energy. They deteriorate and even die. Coenzyme Q10 is believed to boost the immune system, supply the body with energy and counteract free radical damage.
38. LOW-FAT -- Because of the pain that exercise causes, a lot of people with FMS have become overweight due to bodily inactivity. Eat regular, well-balanced, low-fat meals to help keep blood sugar levels stable and maintain a healthy body weight. Since toxins are stored in fat cells, it would make sense to not be overweight. If you use processed foods, avoid buying those whose calories are more than 30% from fat. (Check labels carefully.) Also, make pure water your beverage of choice. Water helps flush toxins out of the body. Do not consume soft drinks! Interestingly, Dr. Swank long ago claimed that all of his MS (multiple sclerosis) patients improved when they reduced their saturated fat intake. Recently researchers have discovered that most MS patients cannot digest saturated fats properly. MS is kind of a diagnostic catch-all category, but most people will probably find improvement in their health by eliminating fatty foods. However, from what I have been reading lately, you don't want to go overboard on a fat-free diet either, as this is not good for the body. If weight control continues to be a problem, please write me firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be glad to share information about safe products that assist with weight loss.
39. ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES -- Most doctors do NOT think that fibromyalgia is an inflammatory disorder, but I have always maintained that it feels like one--my muscles used to actually feel inflamed! Lately I've been hearing some fascinating reports that FMS may be an inflammatory condition caused by mycoplasmas. These are mutated bacteria and viruses that invade certain glands of the brain and even organs of the body! I am reminded now of something that happened to me during the 1980's, when my fibromyalgia was at its worst. A doctor prescribed prednisone (a steroidal anti-inflammatory) for a persistent ear infection I had. Surprisingly, during the week I was on prednisone for the ear inflammation, my FMS pain vanished completely! I begged the doctor to prescribe predisone for me on a regular basis, but he wisely replied, "Prednisone is SHORT TERM MAGIC, LONG TERM TRAGIC!" (There are terrible side effects from long-term use.) Happily, I have since learned about some natural anti-inflammatories that can be helpful. One is Lyprinol--a marine lipid complex made from mussels (little sea creatures). It is 350 times more potent than Evening Primrose Oil and 400 times more potent than Flax Oil. Lyprinol has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, helping conditions such as bursitis and "rheumatism" (which may be the same thing as fibromyalgia). I have noticed that people with FMS are often prone to other inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis. Another natural anti-inflammatory is Glucosamine. New research reveals that FMS may indeed be an inflammatory condition after all! (See Tip #90 about mycoplasmas, which may be at the ROOT of the FMS problem!)
40. PILLOWS -- Some people with FMS are helped by buckwheat pillows. I tried one because I like a firm pillow, but my arms began to tingle and fall asleep after a few hours. (I think the pillow was so firm that it was cutting off circulation.) I prefer using a magnetic pillow from Magnetic Ideas which is made with a special foam that conforms to the shape of your head and isn't wiggly. It also helps relieve the brain from electromagnetic contamination, such as from sitting in front of the computer. I noticed a marked improvement in how quickly I fell asleep and also in going back to sleep (after getting up to go to the bathroom) when I began using a magnetic pillow and mattress pad. I was also not as restless in the night. Buyer beware: there are many substandard brands on the market. Do your research before buying!
41. SLEEP MEDS -- During a cross-country trip, I got my sleep cycle all mixed up. After 3 nights of virtually no sleep, I was exhausted. I finally went to a doctor who prescribed ambien. After so many years on prescription drugs, I was really cautious, so I used only half a tablet each night. It helped me to sleep fairly soundly. However, ambien can only be used for a short period of time--like for 7 to 10 days--and there is difficulty resuming normal sleep (rebound insomnia) after stopping ambien, so I rarely use it anymore. Presently, I use either ativan (lorazepam)--a prescription drug--or these over the counter (OTC) products: diphenhydramine HCL (generic Sominex) or doxylamine succinate (generic Unisom). Prior to the onset of menopause, I preferred using natural substances, such as melatonin. However, after age 48, I couldn't sleep at all no matter what I took! I had 25 hot flashes per day, my hair was falling out in clumps and I had these awful mood swings. At first my doctor thought it was a thyroid problem, but testing by an endocrinologist showed that it was just a dramatic drop in estrogen. After about 12-18 months with NO restorative sleep (ugh!) a friend told me about a unique immune product. With this I find that I am able to sleep again with the help of mild and various sleep meds. But everyone is different, so you just have to experiment to find what works best for you. Strangely, certain sleep medications that help some people with FMS have been totally disastrous for others! So, when trying out a new sleep med, start with an extremely low dose to see how it will affect you. I have heard (and experienced) some horror stories about sleep meds--especially anti-depressants, such as Remeron--so use caution!
42. MILK -- There's a lot of information on the internet about the health hazards of commercially produced milk, which contains hormones, antibiotics and substances too gross to mention here! See http://www.notmilk.com/ Also, you may want to read the book, "Don't Drink Your Milk!" by Frank A. Oski, M.D., the Director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I personally stopped using dairy products 4 years ago because of residual endometriosis. Evidently the hormones in milk were causing my endometrial implants to flare up. I began to feel better overall after almost totally eliminating all dairy products--milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Many people with allergies are finding that eliminating dairy products helps a lot. Milk causes mucous formation in the body. Most people with FMS produce too much mucous already, so by avoiding dairy products, you may be able to assimilate nutrients from your food better. I have been using Rice Dream Original Flavor rice milk as a substitute for cow's milk. It tastes great. If you decide to reduce the amount of dairy products you are presently consuming, be sure to supplement with calcium and magnesium. These minerals are sometimes called "nature's tranquilizers!"
43. CHIROPRACTIC -- I have been to chirorpractors for most of my adult life for neck and back problems with much success. However, chiropractic never seemed to help my fibromyalgia. Recently I heard from a lady who has had remission of her fibromyalgia with the Atlas Orthogonal chiropractic technique. I don't know if this relief was permanent or not. A-O chiropractic is said to be better than regular chiropractic care. An article was published in "Today's Chiropractic" that stated a cure rate of 92-100% of FMS symptoms after a series of atlas adjustments--the top two cervical vertebrae. Here are some sites about this technique: http://www.transportlogic.com/~romantic/wwwboard/messages/69.html http://www.pendulum.org/related/FMS/Brainstem_and_FMS.htm
44. SUNGLASSES -- You may want to re-think your use of sunglasses. Dr. Jacob Liberman, author of "Light: Medicine of the Future," describes the human body as a living photocell, stimulated and regulated by light. He says that our health is dependent on the sun. The body is nourished by the stimulation of sunlight. According to Liberman, "When light enters the eye, millions of light sensitive cells convert the light into electrical impulses. These impulses travel along the optic nerve to the brain where they trigger the hypothalamus gland. The hypothalamus is part of the endocrine system which governs most autonomic (automatic) bodily functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, digestion, sexual function, moods, the immune system, the aging process and circadian rhythm." It is possible that we cause or worsen a wide range of health problems by spending most of our lives indoors, under inadequate lighting conditions. On CNN there was a report on a possible association between the use of sunglasses and skin cancers. A possible explanation could be that the eyes and optic nerve are a kind of "sun meter" that regulates certain chemicals in the skin to protect it from solar damage. The wearing of sunglasses would interfere with these "meter readings," causing the brain to under-regulate the protective chemicals. Just a theory, but interesting. (IMPORTANT: If you wear contact lenses, remove them if you are outside in the sun without sunglasses--otherwise you could burn your own lens! Consult your optician about the use of sunglasses with contacts.)
45. CORAL CALCIUM WATER -- Our body's pH balance is very important for optimum health. We become too acidic because of things we eat and drink, such as coffee, soft drinks (highly acidic), sugar, etc. Disease processes thrive on acidity, but our immune systems thrive on alkalinity. The perfect pH balance for optimum health is said to be between 7 and 8.6. The only way I knew of to achieve a more alkaline state was to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet. For most people this is very difficult to do--and for some it is not even advisable. However, there is another way to make your pH more alkaline--just add a small sachet of coral calcium to 1.5 liters of pure drinking water. This water can help restore your body's basic alkalinity. I have been using this for about four years now, and it seems to help me with an overactive bladder problem when my body becomes too acidic.
46. POSTURE -- Many people with FMS & CFIDS have poor posture, because it takes a lot of muscle strength and effort to hold the body erect. During my years with CFIDS, I recall my doctor pointing out my slumping posture and telling me to stand with my back to a wall and making my shoulders touch it. That made me realize how much I was slumping, and it was one of the reasons I wasn't breathing properly. I was so exhausted, that it was quite an effort to change this habit, but I learned to catch myself dozens of times during the day and force myself to sit up or stand up straight. Now it has become normal for me to have good posture. I do it automatically. I have had a lot of neck and back problems in the past, so I know that this is helping me.
47. TENSION MYOSITIS SYNDROME -- This condition can cause (or imitate) FMS. It's when the muscles tense up under stress. Some people can get their whole body in a spasm of pain from getting stressed out emotionally. This tendency can be helped by avoiding stress, using magnesium for muscle relaxation, taking warm baths or getting a massage. If you can't afford a professional massage therapist, ask your spouse. You can also massage your feet, legs and arms with baby oil. Nerves in our feet affect our whole body. You may even want to learn about foot reflexology. A good massage can help you sleep more soundly also.
48. EPSOM SALTS -- Some people with FMS find that soaking in a warm tub of water with a cup of Epsom salts added is very relaxing to the muscles. This is an old-fashioned remedy, but I like it.
49. 5-HTP -- 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan is a nutritional supplement which elevates serotonin levels in the brain (SSRI's). This helps people with sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression and panic disorder--all of which are conditions that many FMS patients struggle with. Clinical studies show that 5-HTP is highly effective. 5-HTP is a natural alternative to anti-depressants, but should not be used with MAO inhibitors or other anti-depressants.
50. MALABSORPTION -- Some researchers say that people with FMS need twice the amount of nutrients that others do, because of excess mucous that builds up in their bodies, interfering with absorption. You can flush mucous out of the body by using gentle soluble fiber supplementation. It helps keep the colon clean so that you can absorb nutrients better. According to some nutritional experts, nearly all diseases begin in the colon. Also, gentle digestive enzymes taken at meals will help you get the most from your food. It's not just "what you eat," but whether or not your body is absorbing it!
51. PROGESTERONE CREAM -- Many women using transdermal progesterone experience an improved sleep pattern. I began using progesterone cream several years ago and it took away an "inner nervousness" I had for many years. In Dr. John Lee's book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause," he discusses estrogen dominance and the transdermal progesterone solution. Dr. Lee states, "Many of my patients have volunteered that the first benefit they perceived from using natural progesterone was an improved sleep pattern. After years of unstettled sleep they now look forward to retiring each night because they know they will enjoy sound sleep and awake refreshed in the morning....I recommended that progesterone cream be applied at bedtime." Dr. Eric Braverman, M.D. has reported only one side effect of progesterone--an increased (or a return to normal) sleepiness--which, as he described, is generally a beneficial side effect. Many women with FMS have hormonal imbalances, so transdermal progesterone could be helpful. You do not have to be of menopausal age to benefit from progesterone.
52. NECK INJURIES -- Many people with fibromyalgia trace the beginning of their symptoms to emotional or physical trauma. Neck injuries often seem to precipitate fibromyalgia. During the course of my life, I have been in a several car accidents, suffering whiplash. My neck still causes me trouble from time to time. I see my chiropractor every 2-3 months to stay in alignment. Since muscles are attached to bones, it makes sense to keep the spine straight to eliminate any cause of muscle pain from pinched nerves. There is an interesting chiropractic technique being used now to help many fibromyalgia patients. This is different from traditional chiropractic. Also, as drastic as it seems, brain stem surgery has helped some FMS/CFIDS patients.
53. HORMONE INSTABILITY -- Hormone imbalances are frequently found in women with fibromyalgia--PMS, endometriosis, mood swings, etc. DHEA and progesterone cream can relieve these symptoms for many women. Following an early hysterectomy, I used to take Premarin, but the estrogen was causing my endometrial implants to flare up. (One of the latest treatments for endometriosis, by the way, is dietary--avoiding sugar and dairy products!) Some of my friends who are entering menopause also use DHEA and progesterone cream. One friend with a normally sunny disposition was having crying jags and mood swings that she simply could not control. It was upsetting to her and her whole family. With DHEA, my friend was able to regain her emotional balance. Another friend was suffering from hot flashes and loss of sleep due to approaching menopause. Progesterone cream gives her almost 100% relief from her hot flashes and has greatly improved her sleep. When I turned 48, I had a blood test done and my estrogen level was very low. Since I can't take oral estrogen because it causes intestinal problems and the estrogen patches irritate my skin, I really had a dilemma! A friend told me about a natural soy phytoestrogen supplement that you can buy at Wal-Mart or any pharmacy. It helped for awhile, but then my hot flashes and sleep disorder returned with a vengeance! I now use a unique immune-balancing product that has helped me tremendously. I have since learned that the immune system and endocrine system are related.
54. CARBOHYDRATES -- Do you crave carbohydrates? This may not be all bad. Your body may be trying to calm you down! According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology nutritional biochemist Judith Wirtman, carbohydrates increase brain levels of serotonin, which acts as a natural sedative. Eating carbohydrates can produce a calming effect. An English muffin with jelly might be a good snack for this purpose. You just don't want to eat protein at the same time, since it can interfere with the production of serotonin. I usually eat some carbohydrates before going to bed--normally crackers or cereal with some rice milk. I have found that low blood sugar levels can keep me from sleeping, so raising my blood sugar levels slightly before retiring has been helpful. Be careful, however, if you have yeast problems, as sugars can cause yeast overgrowth.
55. PRAYER -- Since we are spiritual beings living in a physical body, it makes sense that what helps us spiritually can also help us physically. I have heard of several instances where people with fibromyalgia were healed through prayer. (I can believe this because I personally experienced a divine healing for endometriosis several years ago. Why God heals miraculously at certain times but not at others, I do not know!) I read the Bible and pray every day (even for a short time) and I strive to keep my relationship with God and others right. I have learned that negative emotions such as bitterness, resentment, grudges, repressed anger, etc. can cause poor health. Continuing unresolved stress brings down the immune system and causes biochemical imbalances in the body. I highly recommend a devotional book called "Streams in the Desert, Vol. 1" by Mrs. Charles Cowman. It's inspirational for anyone who is going through suffering or hard times. I also like "Guideposts," "Decision" and other such magazines that give my spirit a lift. If you need inner healing from childhood abuse issues, I recommend the book "Stormie," the life story of Stormie Omartian. I couldn't put it down! Only wish I had read it many years ago. The more peaceful we can become in our souls, the healthier our bodies can be in many cases.
56. ASPARTAME (NUTRASWEET) & MSG (HYDROLYZED PROTEIN) -- These substances are called "excitotoxins" because they excite the neurons in the brain, causing them to fire so rapidly that they can die. Once these cells are gone, they cannot be regrown. (It's like poking your eye out!) There are many sites on the internet explaining the dangers of these food additives--I'll be glad to send you a list if you want to do some research. A friend of mine with debilitating FMS was able to get total relief of pain by completely avoiding excitotoxins in her diet. She welcomes all email and is more than happy to tell others how she found relief. Marcia's email address is: email@example.com
57. GUAIFENESIN -- Some people with FMS have been helped by Dr. R. Paul St. Amand's guaifenesin (drug) treatment. The theory is that fibromyalgia is caused at least in part by a defect in phosphate metabolism. Guaifenesin helps rid the body of excessive amounts of phosphorus. Some people experience flu-like fatigue when the stored toxins and excess phosphates start releasing during guaifenesin treatment. A number of unpleasant symptoms may occur during this process. You also have to be very careful what you put on your skin or ingest, or it will interfere with the action of the guaifenesin. I have heard both positive and negative reports about the use of guai therapy for FMS. I personally have not tried it, since I am doing well on natural supplements, which I feel are better for my body and less complicated to fit into my daily life.
58. IONS -- A reader of my site shared some intriguing thoughts with me about ions. Basically, it is this: Computer screens are positively charged, and since electricity flows from negative to positive, it seems likely that the negative physical effects one experiences when sitting near a computer screen are caused by negative ions being pulled from the body, particularly the fluids of the eye. Sitting in front of a computer screen is probably bad for anyone, but in a weakened state, such as exists with fibromyalgia, it may be more of a "drain" on the system. The positively charged screen is also capable of stripping electrons off the oxygen near the screen. If one breathes in these atoms that are missing electrons in the outer ring, then it seems likely that the ionized atoms would find regained stability by stealing a few (millions?) from the inner tissues of the inhaler of these. We are talking about free-radicals and inhaling them in quantity. A solution could be a negative ion generator and placing it as near as possible to the area between the CRT screen and the operator. A negative ion generator adds elections to the outer rings of atoms--especially those of oxygen. These negatively ionized atoms provide a plentiful supply of electrons for the unstable positive ions which are missing electrons. This can make a dramatic difference in eye irritation. Another idea might be to use WebTV where you can sit across the room from the television monitor. Apparently the deleterious effects of positively ionized air diminish rapidly with distance from a CRT.
59. COLDS & VIRUSES -- In regard to the immune system, I use an immune balancing product that has been an enormous help to me. I used to get sick for a week or two (or even much longer) every couple of months. This had been "normal?" for me all my life! I also found something that can be used as a natural alternative to antibiotics. I spray it on the back of my throat if I feel a sore throat starting. I also spray it up my nostrils at the first sign of a sinus infection. For a weakling like me, it's great not to be at the mercy of viruses anymore! (See my CFIDS story--link below.) It's much easier to nip viruses in the bud than try to get rid of them once they have gotten a foothold in your body. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics, and although these can be very helpful for acute infections, they can also harm you. It's better to keep your immune system strong so that you don't need them. (If you absolutely must take an antibiotic, you may also want to take acidophilus capsules and a good B-complex formulation to avoid problems with yeast. Some say to take these supplements AFTER you are finished with your course of antibiotics, whereas others say to take the supplements at the same time, just as far away as possible from the antibiotic doses daily.) Others find it helpful to use zinc lozenges at the first sign of a sore or scratchy throat. Many find greatly improved health with natural vitamin/mineral supplements in liquid or pill form.
60. SLEEP ANXIETY -- Having suffered with a sleep disorder for over 30 years, I developed something called "bed dread!" I hate the thought of going to sleep! For decades my bed was a torture rack of insomnia--tossing and turning, worrying about how I was going to make it through the next day, suffering with FMS pain, etc. (One person I know calls this process "rotisserizing!") I know this sounds weird for those who haven't "been there," but most people with FMS know what I'm talking about! The immune product I use helps me greatly. You can also try taking some calming herbs and minerals at bedtime that can help with nervousness, anxiety, stress, etc. Since age 48, I have to take a small amount of sleep med (usually Unisom or Sominex generics, or Ativan) at bedtime. Prior to this, I used just melatonin and calming herbs and minerals. Restorative sleep has done much to help my body repair and heal after all these years of stress and sickness.
61. MAGNETS -- Special magnets that you wear on your body help some people with FMS and other types of pain. About 10 years ago, I bought a set from a dentist who used magnets on his lower back and claimed that without them he wouldn't be able to work on patients all day due to back trouble. I used the magnets on my shoulders and found them quite helpful, but had a problem finding a good way to keep the magnets in place. My skin became extremely irritated from the tape used to hold the magnets in place. I then made "sleeves" out of Ace bandages to hold the magnets, but they kept sliding down my arms, so I finally stopped wearing them. Awhile back, I ordered a magnetic mattress pad from Natural Health Alternatives (now out of business). It was expensive--$1,000 for a queen size--but the quality was great! The magnets in it are 4,250 gauss strength and NORTH-facing. The topper was made by Sealy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If I wake up, I can go back to sleep fairly easily. The conflicting reports I've heard over the years about magnetic mattresses may be due to the different ways they are constructed. If you decide to try this, do some thorough research first and find a good brand. The pineal gland controls hormones and immune function and is acutely sensitive to magnetic energy. A negative magnetic field (with the use of magnets) stimulates the pineal gland's production of melatonin and the hypothalamus' production of human growth hormone. High levels of melatonin are necessary for sleep. Electric blankets, electric clocks, TV's, computers, etc. offer chronic low-grade electromagnetic explosure. This can disorder the body's energy systems, including brain function. If you've tried everything else unsuccessfully, you might want to investigate magnet therapy. DO NOT USE MAGNETIC THERAPY WITH A PACEMAKER OR DEFIBRILLATOR.
62. FRUCTOSE INTOLERANCE -- A friend with fibromyalgia told me that her doctor believes she is "fructose intolerant." She has been avoiding sugar and fructose and her FMS pain has subsided! Here is part of her doctor's interesting report: "The patient's lymphocytes have shown a deficient ability to tolerate fructose (found in table sugar, corn syrup and fruits). Fructose is metabolized differently from other sugars. A fructose load leads to accumulation of fructose-1-phosphate in cells which may partially deplete intracellular ATP levels in susceptible individuals. Decreased cellular ATP causes disturbances in protein, DNA & RNA synthesis, interferences with cyclic AMP formation, and reduced ammonia detoxification. Several forms of hereditary fructose intolerance have been described. Symptoms may include fatigue, headaches, weakness, dizziness, behavioral changes and depressed immune function. Excess intake of fructose should be avoided, rather than absolute removal of dietary fructose. Whole foods containing fructose (fruits and some vegetables) may be consumed, in order to benefit from their overall nutritional value. Foods very rich in fructose include table sugar (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates and a large list of prepared foods containing sucrose and/or corn syrup. Reduction of excess dietary fructose intake by avoidance of foods very rich in fructose is suggested."
63. MSM -- MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) is biological sulfur, which is essential to life and a major component of all living things. MSM is found in most fresh fruits and vegetables but is easily destroyed in cooking, storing and processing of foods. MSM helps the cells throw off waste products. I know several ladies whose FMS pain has improved by taking MSM. It also seems to significantly help people with allergies and arthritis.
64. ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS -- According to a book I came across recently, a lot of insomniacs who have gotten rid of electromagnetic fields in their bedrooms are now sleeping like babies! You might try shutting off the circuit breaker to your bedroom and see if that helps your sleep improve. (The man who wrote the book sells a metal shield that goes on 2 walls surrounding the bed. It has to be grounded with wire outside to the ground.) You can also try a magnetic mattress pad--Tip #61. There are ways to measure the amount of electrical charge in your house with a meter. I don't have one of these gadgets, but I find this idea to be very intriguing! If true, it could explain why sleep difficulties are practically epidemic in our modern society. Interestingly, computer use seems to aggravate insomnia in a lot of people too.
65. LEAKY GUT -- Dr. Devin Starlanyl discusses FMS and "leaky gut" in her book "Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome." Also, Dr. Sherry Rogers, herself a sufferer, has stated that when people take antibiotics, aspirin, aleve and other pain reducing drugs, it can cause intestinal permeability. Cells within the intestine separate and small food particles begin to enter the blood stream. Then white fighter cells attack because they see these food particles as something to be destroyed. In doing this, bad toxins are formed in the blood and this causes soreness throughout the body. There is a special test that doctors can prescribe that uses a stool sample to have leaky gut diagnosis confirmed. The more you take pain relievers to help, the deeper you get into trouble with this problem. Chemical sensitivities are caused from leaky gut syndrome. You can try proteolytic enzymes, digestive enzymes and gentle soluble fiber to help problems with intestinal permeability.
66. MIGRAINES -- People with FMS are often prone to headaches. OPC's and magnesium may help people susceptible to migraines. Dietary and lifestyle changes can help too (avoid cheese, salt, chocolate, nitrates, etc.--as well as excessive stress and fatigue).
67. CYTOMEGALO VIRUS -- Some researchers believe that this virus is the cause of FMS/CFIDS. You can get more information by searching the net. The antibiotic, doxycycline, is sometimes used successfully to treat it, but it is not without side effects, so investigate carefully and remember to take acidophilus and B-complex when taking antibiotics.
68. BOOKS --When I first developed FMS in 1982, there was very little information available. However, a number of books have now been written by medical doctors regarding natural treatments. It's nice to see that some ideas which have worked for me and others with FMS are actually in print by health care professionals! Here's a list of some you might want to browse through at your local bookstore: "Alternative Medicine Guide to Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Environmental Illness" by Burton Goldberg; "America Exhausted: Breakthrough Treatments of Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" by Dr. Edward J. Conley; "Dr. Crook Discusses Yeasts and How They Can Make You Sick" by Dr. William G. Crook. M.D.; "From Fatigued to Fantastic" by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.; "Getting Well Naturally - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" by Michael T. Murray, N.D.; "Inside Fibromyalgia" by Dr. Mark J. Pellegrino, "Natural Alternatives to Prozac" by Michael T. Murray, N.D.; "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; "Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" by Dr. William Colline, M.P.H., Ph.D.; "The Fibromyalgia Cookbook" by Mary Moeller; and "Wellness Against All Odds" by Dr. Sherry Rogers.
69. OVERACTIVE BLADDER -- This is an annoying problem which many people with FMS have. The bladder is hypersensitive resulting in frequent urination, which interferes with activities in the day and with sleep at night! One thing that might help is to keep your body in a more alkaline (rather than acid) state through diet. I found it easier to use these little sachets that I put in my drinking water that help keep your body pH more alkaline. I have been using this for many years to help my overactive bladder problem. I also heard of a lady with an overactive bladder who began using aloe vera and was finally able to sleep 7-8 hours without getting up for the bathroom.
70. SHOES -- Sometimes in our search for solutions to complex problems, we can overlook things that are right under our noses--or in this case, feet! One summer I began to have pain in my leg muscles and around my knees. I couldn't find any way to get rid of it! For months I had been wearing those perfectly flat slip-on tennis shoes that come in a lot of cute colors, but have absolutely no support for the foot or arch. My chiropractor noticed them last year and remarked that although he knew I was "making a fashion statement," my shoes were not good for me! He strongly suggested a pair of high quality athletic walking shoes. It was not until at least 6 months later when my legs began bothering me a lot that I remembered my chiropractor's comment and finally took his suggestion! I now try to wear my walking shoes as much as possible (at home, running errands, etc.) and I save my "fashion statements" for less frequent occasions. I just heard of an interesting study by Harvard Medical School about how wearing high heels may contribute to osteoarthritis of the knee in women! It was confirmed in this study that wearing high heels significantly alters the normal function of the ankle and that compensations must occur at the knee and hip to maintain stability and progression during walking. For those of us who battle FMS pain, it's probably an excellent idea to wear comfortable shoes with good support as often as possible.
71. METHYLCOBALAMIN -- This is a type of Vitamin B-12 that is helping some people with fibromyalgia. According to Dr. Paul Cheney, Vitamin B-12 is a potent detoxifier of the brain. A study done by Swedish rheumatology researchers showed that levels of B-12 in cerebrospinal fluid is below normal levels in a majority of FMS/CFIDS patients.
72. MERCURY POISONING -- There are many sources of mercury around us--auto exhaust, pesticides, fertilizers, amalgams (silver dental fillings), drinking water (tap and well), certain foods, fabric softeners, fish, talc, body powder, paint pigments and solvents, laxatives, mercurochrome/methiolate, cosmetics, mascara, floor waxes and polishes, wood preservatives, plumbing, adhesives, batteries and air conditioner filters. With dental amalgams, mercury in vapor form is released when the teeth are ground together while chewing. This mercury is absorbed into blood and tissue--including the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These two glands seem to play a part in FMS symptoms. Many researchers believe that the brain dysfunction which causes fibromyalgia is a direct result of mercury toxicity! For this reason, some people with FMS have had their amalgam dental fillings replaced with other materials. Some (not all) have reported improvement in their symptoms. However, removing silver fillings alone doesn't completely solve the problem, since mercury has also become lodged in the body's tissues. Mercury chelation can help rid the body of toxicity, but can also cause unpleasant symptoms. I have a massive amount of information about mercury poisoning and chelation that I would be glad to share, so if you're interested, please email and request it.
73. SOY AND FOOD ALLERGIES -- A lady with fibromyalgia once told me she suspected that the "soy smoothies" she was making for breakfast every morning were causing her to have increased muscle soreness. I also had a similar experience when I began eating a lot of soy products (tofu and tempeh) in an attempt to replace red meat in my diet. My muscles suddenly began to get extremely sore! Since I had been virtually pain free for over 2 years, this effect was quite noticeable. I reviewed my diet and realized that this soreness began when I started eating soy on a daily basis. I stopped eating soy products altogether and the soreness left in a day or two! The moral of this story is that even foods we think are good for us may not be. People with fibromyalgia seem to have more food allergies and sensitivities than other people. Some common "allergic" foods are: wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts, oranges, chocolate and fermented food. If you suspect any of these are causing you problems, try eliminating them from your diet one at a time and "listen" to your body. I have even heard of people with FMS who stopped eating sugar in all its forms and their symptoms completely disappeared! Remember that "excitotoxins"--such as aspartame and MSG--can also cause or increase FMS symptoms.
74. THYROID - Symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can be remarkably similar to FMS! For instance, with hypothyroidism the symptoms include fatigue, inability to tolerate cold, fertility problems, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, hair loss, recurrent infections, constipation, depression, difficulty concentrating, slow speech, etc. With hyperthyroidism, symptoms include nervousness, irritability, a constant feeling of being hot, insomnia, fatigue, hair loss, hand tremors, rapid heartbeat, etc. A simple blood test can detect an under active or overactive thyroid gland.
75. MARITAL STRESS- I recently read a study about how arguing and discord in marriage can actually suppress the immune system by producing elevated stress hormones. I don't think this comes as a surprise to any of us! We all know how bad we feel physically when there is disharmony in our personal lives. Chronic "invisible" illness can put a bad strain on ones personal life. I have a list of helpful sites about family relationships for those who have FMS/CFIDS. Please email me to request it.
76. LYME DISEASE - This disease is caused by a tick bite and symptoms are very similar to FMS/CFIDS! There is a test that can determine if you have Lyme disease. Some researchers, however, believe the test can give a false negative result, but it might be worth investigating. There's a lot of information on the net.
77. BREATHING - Several factors contribute to oxygen depletion--air pollution, mineral deficiencies, overeating, infections, fluoride in drinking water and improper breathing. A lot of people with FMS and CFIDS do not breathe properly. I know that I have a tendency to hold my breath a lot, especially when concentrating. I have to remind myself to breathe from the diaphragm. Back when CFIDS was ruining my life, the effort of merely breathing exhausted me! I would breathe very shallowly to conserve energy. (I also remember being so fatigued that even eating--which involves chewing, swallowing and digesting food--would completely wear me out!) Be sure to sit up straight and breathe deeply from the diaphragm.
78. ATIVAN - This is an anti-anxiety drug that can help with sleep and nervousness. I use it very sparingly along with a mild OTC sleep aid. Be careful, though, as I have known people who need more and more of this drug to get the same results. Used very cautiously, it can be a help.
79. SOLUBLE FIBER - Some believe that fibromyalgia is a toxicity illness. Therefore, it would make sense that anything we can do to detoxify the body will help us heal. Gentle soluble fiber can cleanse and detoxify the colon Look for a brand that contains bentonite to absorb toxins, as well as soluble fiber for colon health and regularity. This is a smooth powder that you put in juice. Shake it well and drink it right away. Follow with a glass of water. Take soluble fiber as far away from your other supplements as possible. The best time for me is between dinner and bedtime. (Soluble fiber acts like a broom to sweep away debris, and you don't want it to "sweep away" your supplements.) Many people with FMS/CFIDS also suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) -- gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Soluble fiber can be very helpful for this. It also helps counteract yeast overgrowth, or candidiasis.
80. DELAYED SLEEP PHASE SYNDROME (DSPS) - Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is a fairly common disorder of sleep timing. People with DSPS tend to fall asleep at very late times, and also have difficulty waking up in time for normal work, school, or social needs. This may possibly be related to the sleep problems we fibromyalgics have.
81. TYPE A PERSONALITY - I have yet to meet a person with fibromyalgia who is not very intelligent, articulate and high-achieving! We tend to be "movers and shakers." We are "doers" who sometimes do too much! Perhaps we manufacture more stress chemicals than our "Type B" friends. We hate sitting around doing nothing. We like to stay busy, achieve our goals and carry a lot of responsibility. Because of this, the disabilities that result from fibromyalgia can be devastating to us! Unlike the "laid-back" personalities who enjoy a respite from work, we thrive on accomplishment and achievement. Learning to pace ourselves and not say "YES" to every opportunity that comes our way is difficult! However, we must try to re-shape our lives into a more relaxed mode and learn that the world will not cave in if we do not participate in everything. It took me years to learn to "slow down and smell the roses." FMS/CFIDS does not get better by "pushing the envelope" of our endurance--in fact, it is a sure way to bring on a flare. I have heard from many newly diagnosed fibromites who tell me, "I'm going to BEAT this thing!!!!" Well, what they find out is that it will beat you, if this is the approach you take. Determination is a wonderful quality, but forcing yourself to keep up a hectic schedule will only make your FMS/CFIDS worse! A new way of looking at life is needed. When FMS/CFIDS disabled me in 1982, I became very depressed. My identity could no longer be in my work and what I was able to achieve. As the years of unrelenting illness continued, I found that I had time to spend on inner healing and issues that I had been too busy to think about in years prior. Now that I lead a normal lifestyle again, I look back on those years of inactivity and suffering and am actually thankful for what I learned. Basically it was this--that my worth is not in what I can do or achieve in life, but rather in who I am as a person.
82. B-COMPLEX - I think it may be helpful for people with FMS/CFIDS to take a good quality, cold-processed B-complex supplement. The B vitamins help maintain the health of the nerves, skin, eyes, liver and hair and also help with healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and in proper brain function. The B vitamins can even alleviate depression and anxiety. The B vitamins should always be taken together. Sugar depletes certain B vitamins, as do oral contraceptives, estrogen therapy, antidepressants and other drugs.
83. BRAIN SURGERY - It may sound drastic, but a special kind of brain surgery is now being used to successfully cure chronic fatigue syndrome in some people. Spinal stenosis is where the spinal cord is compressed by surrounding bone (such as a herniated disk). This can cause debilitating neurological symptoms throughout the entire body, including pain and weakness. The surgery was performed by Dr. Tim Johnson.
84. RED BLOOD CELLS - Researchers have noticed irregularities in the shapes of the red blood cells of FMS and CFIDS patients. They are working to develop a standardized blood test that can be used internationally to provide a definitive diagnosis. This will greatly benefit FMS/CFIDS patients who can't get their doctors or others to believe them! Dr. Leslie Simpson of New Zealand and Robert Suhadolnik, Ph.D., a biochemist at Temple School of Medicine, have both been working on a diagnostic blood test. Interestingly, blood tests performed on people taking OPC's for chronic fatigue syndrome have been very revealing! Prior to taking OPC's, their red blood cells were either irregularly shaped or in chain or clump formations. These cells were unable to transport oxygen efficiently to the body. After 30 days of taking OPC's, these patients' red blood cells were round with smooth edges and of similar size. They were able to transport oxygen into body tissue efficiently. This boosted the energy levels of these patients and many were able to go back to work after being disabled. OPC's also help many other health conditions by strengthening the circulatory system, supporting collagen and oxygenating body tissue. The Bible says, "The life is in the blood...."
85. IRON - Don't take any nutritional supplements with iron, unless you have had a blood test that shows you are anemic. There's a condition called hemochromotosis caused by excessive iron in the body. The symptoms are very similar to fibromyalgia.
86. SUBSTANCE P - There is now actual proof of abnormally low levels of blood flow in the parts of the brain that deal with pain in people with FMS! Fibromites also have twice the level of a brain chemical called Substance P, which helps nervous system cells communicate with each other about painful stimuli. Elevated P levels may actually produce the higher levels of pain throughout the body. See the pictures for yourself at the ABC news website at http://www.abcnews.com/sections/living/DailyNews/fibromyalgia980408.html
OPC's often helps FMS pain and "fibro fog," since they improve oxygenation of body tissue--including brain tissue! OPC's are one of the few substances that can cross the blood brain barrier. They even help many children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
87. GLUTEN INTOLERANCE - This is also known as celiac disease. People with this condition cannot eat any grains. Some people who thought they had fibromyalgia actually found out they have celiac disease!
88. RACING THOUGHTS - Do you ever have a song going through your head that you can't get rid of--or do you have racing thoughts? If this is a problem, try supplementing with potassium. I heard that potassium malate is the best for this. Interestingly, signs of potassium deficiency include depression, nervousness, glucose intolerance, insomnia, muscle fatigue and weakness and headaches. As a church organist, I found that songs I practiced during rehearsals were constantly going through my head and I couldn't turn them off! They were there when I woke up in the middle of the night and also during the day. But interestingly this problem disappeared after I began taking a unique immune-balancing product. What a relief!
89. DHEA -- Some people have found help for FMS by supplementing with DHEA, "the mother of all hormones." Our endocrine (hormonal) system is dependent on adequate levels of DHEA, but these decrease as we age. DHEA raises all hormone levels. I found DHEA helpful for relief of my "peri-menopausal" symptoms--particularly tearfulness and "feelings of unreality." I also have some menopausal friends who experience the same relief of moodiness with DHEA.
90. MYCOPLASMAS - A newsletter reader sent me a fascinating article about THE ROLE OF MYCOPLASMAS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF FIBROMYALGIA, CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME, ETC. It is from the Consumer Health Organization of Canada and may explain why FMS/CFIDS is so prevalent today. The article states that mycoplasmas were a government experiment as part of biowarfare research. This disease agent is not a bacteria nor a virus, but was made from brucellosis bacteria. You can read the entire article: "The Linking Pathogen in Neuro-Systemic Diseases: Chronic Fatigue, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis." According to this article and others I have read recently, these mycoplasmas destroy areas of the brain! My sister-in-law, who has a Ph.D. in virology, told me many years ago that she thought all of my FMS problems appear to be hypothalamus related! Interestingly, FMS researchers are now focusing attention on the hypothalamus, the gland in the brain that controls many functions of the body. I am using a relatively new immune product that has improved my health tremendously. (See Tips #9 and #67.)
91. RELAXIN - A friend gave me a tape by Dr. Samuel Yue, an anethesiologist who became interested in researching fibromyalgia about 10 years ago when he heard a doctor dismiss fibromyalgia symptoms as "all in your head." This statement made him quite angry, because he knew that the patients' pain was real! He said that in some countries, people with FMS are even given opium to relieve their pain. Dr. Yue has now tested hundreds of people with fibromyalgia and found very low relaxin levels in the female patients and very low testosterone levels in the males. He says that relaxin is the hormone that is produced in greater quantities during the third trimester of pregnancy which helps relax the muscles and tendons and increases their elasticity to prepare for childbirth. He believes that birth control pills have a lot to do with the development of fibromyalgia in women. Fibro is a fairly recent development in our world, and it does coincide with the alarming rise of FMS. Dr. Yue says that teenagers as young as 14 being put on the pill and not getting off until age 34 when they want to have a baby. Dr. Yue is trying to get government agencies and doctors to recognize fibromyalgia as an ILLNESS, not a "syndrome" as it is presently called. Wow! Sadly, he stated that half the money given to the NIH to research fibromyalgia has now been siphoned off to research other illnesses instead. Dr. Yue wants to get relaxin recognized as a possible "cure" for fibromyalgia. He also mentions how monthly hormonal fluctuations affect female fibro patients. See http://www.immunesupport.com/ep_promotions/EP100501/index.cfm (See Tip #53.)
92. WARM WATER EXERCISE - A newsletter reader shared this helpful information with me: "When I get too sore, I head for the nearest warm water pool and do the Arthritis Foundation water exercises. It MUST be a warm water pool....the results are astounding. For me, anyway. When I was first diagnosed (3 1/2 years ago) I went to the pool 3 times a week. Now I go only when I'm hurting and usually that's once every 3 weeks or so. I highly recommend it. Contact the Arthritis Foundation for a list of pools in your area that offer the certified classes. Go for a few weeks to learn the exercises and then do them on your own, when needed. It truly works wonders for me."
93. ESSENTIAL OILS - Some people are getting help for their FMS with therapeutic grade essential oils. These don't feel oily on the skin, but silky smooth. I tried Lavender and Peace and Calming from Young Living to help with my insomnia and they worked great for me! You rub several drops on the soles of your feet, on your wrists and temples. Then rub some on your palms (or put a few drops of the oils on a cotton pad) and inhale deeply for several minutes. The olfactory (sense of smell) system is connected to the limbic system of the brain (glands that affect sleep, etc.) If you are interested to learn more, please email me. Essential Oils are fascinating -- involving electrical frequencies! The only down side is that some of the oils have a strong odor that may or may not be pleasant to you or your spouse. I personally didn't care if they smelled good or not--they were working for me, but my husband is extremely sensitive to fragrances and he couldn't sleep when I was wearing the oils to bed. Still, I think they are wonderful and one of the gentlest ways to get your body to cooperate with you and sleep! You can immediately access questions and answers to every imaginable health care issue involving therapeutic oils at http://www.onelist.com/group/Healthlineonline. Click on the calendar "grid" OR insert a word in the "search" field. You will be riveted with the questions and answers from professionals and experienced members.
94. BLOOD VOLUME - Dramatic abnormalities found! It's not all in your head!! Below is a snippet from the fascinating article found at http://chronicfatigue.about.com/health/chronicfatigue/library/weekly/aa07260 0a.htm - "Dr. David S. Bell's last major study, with endocrinologist Dr. David Streeten, yielded a startling discovery: that the vast majority of Bell's CFIDS patients had extraordinarily low circulating blood volume (a combination of plasma and the red blood cells via which the plasma delivers oxygen throughout the body). While his average patients ran about 70 percent of normal, several patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (PWCs) had only half the blood volume of a healthy person, an amount so low that it would ordinarily cause shock and prove fatal in a car accident (as apparently happened to Princess Diana during a 2 1/2-hour drive to a French hospital). Bell hypothesized that the low blood volume could help account for the prevalence of orthostatic intolerance (worsened symptoms upon standing) in CFIDS, because the limited amount of blood tended to pool in the legs and feet, with a corresponding drop in the amount available to the brain. The result? That common sensation of overwhelming gravity and of wearing lead boots. Other research has added to the mounting evidence that this is a core problem in CFIDS, including reduced cerebral blood flow on SPECT scans and neurally mediated hypotension on tilt-table tests."
95. ACIDOSIS - Here's a short quote from a thought-provoking article at http://www.majidali.com/Vol%202%20No%201%20Fibro%20Furies.htm - "I call oxidosis (too much oxidation), dysoxygenosis (abnormal oxygen metabolism), and acidosis (too much acidity) the three furies of fibromyalgia ("the fibro furies")....The fibro furies are unleashed by the gods of sugar, antibiotics, and pesticides industries...and of industrial pollutants, toxic metals, synthetic hormones, and radiation. Other gods of greed populate hospital committees, licensing and insurance boards, and medical journals. They do know what they do. They are utterly committed to profitability. How many children get hurt in their way is not their concern. How many adults are mauled is not their concern. How many elderly are numbed by their drugs is of no significance." [NOTE: For help with acidosis, I use sachets in my drinking water that have a specific mineral in them to keep body fluids more alkaline. Acid promotes disease. To help oxygenate body tissue, try OPC's. Also see Tips 45, 69, 77, 96 & 97.]
96. OXIDATIVE DAMAGE - The Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain reported a study in 1997 which showed evidence of oxidative ("free radical") damage in people with FMS. This could be why OPC's help so many people with FMS get significant relief from pain. (See Tips 14, 77 & 95.)
97. HYPERBARIC OXYGEN - A friend told me that her friend with fibromyalgia was basically cured with hyperbaric oxygen treatments. More about this on the net at http://www.arrowheadhealthworks.com/HBOTInfo.htm and http://www.bcna.bc.ca/article-hyperbaric.htm (See Tips 14, 77, 95 & 96.)
98. BEDDING - Check out Cuddle Ewe underquilts on the net. Their customer survey claims that 78.5% of fibromyalgia patients reported significant pain relief as well as more restful, restorative sleep with the underquilt. Customer studies showed the following symptoms were relieved: Soft tissue muscle pain; Tender point muscle pain; Fatigue; Morning stiffness; Lack of restful, restorative sleep; Not sleeping through the night. The underquilt is a little pricey but might be worth a try. Some have had good success with them, but others haven't. An alternate idea to improve your bedding would be a convoluted foam topper (inexpensive) or a magnetic mattress topper (expensive). (See Tips 13 and 61.)
99. HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE - A newsletter reader alerted me to the subject of histamine intolerance and FMS, CFIDS and IBS. This seems to be a problem for many of us. Check out these sites--there are many more on the net which you can find by typing "histamine intolerance" into the search box. I use google.com - http://www.masmith.inspired.net.au/docs/food_allergy.htm#Histamine Intolerance and http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/fibromyalgia/dsallerg.htm/ Perhaps this is why many of us with FMS sleep better if we take a mild antihistamine at bedtime.
100. BLOOD THICKNESS - A newsletter reader wrote to ask if there could be a link between blood thickness and conditions like FMS/CFS and also if anyone had received heparin injections and if so, did it work? See the article below: Hypercoagulation Theory Viable Explanation for Some CFS & FM Symptoms http://www.immunesupport.com/library/showarticle.cfm?ID=3110 Here's a snippet from the article: "Dr. John Couvaras, an infertility specialist in Phoenix, AZ, and HEMEX, began to research infertility in women. We found a hypercoagulable state due to a coagulation protein defect, existing in women that we tested who were infertile and/or had recurrent spontaneous abortions. In 1996, Dr. Couvaras noted that when he put women on low dose heparin in order to become pregnant, the CFS/FM symptoms, pelvic pain, and migraine-like headaches diminished. He asked us, "Why?" As a result of this scientific curiosity, we performed a retrospective study on 30 patients with chronic illness symptoms, and determined that all had coagulation system activation. As the hypercoagulability was decreased by heparin injections, the chronic illness symptoms diminished. This was the first clue to the connection between coagulation and chronic illnesses."
From site http://www.fms-help.com/