Home Remedies For Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that also involves fatigue, sleep problems, and other complaints. Since there is really no single drug, including traditional pain medication, that is effective, more supplement and lifestyle research is needed. 

I suggest taking the guinea pig approach: Find a doctor who’s willing to monitor you while you try a different supplement every 3 to 6 months to see what works. In many clinical guidelines, aerobic exercise, low-intensity strength training, and cognitive behavioral therapy (individualized to each person’s situation, of course) are recommended. I’d add acupuncture, hypnosis/guided imagery, and tai chi to the guinea pig approach list, as well.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals.

Symptoms often begin after an event, such as physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.

Home Remedies For Fibromyalgia

Capsaicin cream

In one study, subjects applied topical capsaicin (0.075 percent) to 18 different tender points three times a day for 6 weeks and reported some moderate improvement. Research suggests fibromyalgia patients have higher levels of a compound called substance P, which is a neuromodulator; the higher the amount, the greater the perception of pain. Topical capsaicin (derived from hot chile peppers) reduces neuropathic pain in people with diabetes by reducing or depleting levels of substance P. Even though it’s had mixed results in studies, the overall effects appear to improve as the strength of the capsaicin increases (you can get higher doses in patch form via a prescription).

Vitamin D

There is some controversial preliminary evidence from recent randomized trials that suggests normalizing blood levels of vitamin D (to 30 to 40 ng/mL) can reduce muscle pain. Although a larger study is needed, it is already known that muscle tissue contains receptors for vitamin D, so it makes sense that having a lack of D could lead to pain. Always get a blood test to evaluate your levels before you start taking high doses, though. Also, keep in mind that healthier lifestyle behaviors, from exercise to weight loss and improved diet, could increase blood levels of vitamin D as well.

Melatonin

In numerous studies, taking 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin, usually at bedtime, reduced pain, depressive symptoms, and fatigue and improved sleep in people with fibromyalgia. Some studies have even combined it with prescription medications to achieve better results. 

Acetyl-L-carnitine

In a preliminary clinical trial with fibromyalgia patients, taking 500 milligrams of acetyl-L-carnitine twice a day for 2 weeks and then 1,500 milligrams per day for 8 weeks reduced depressive symptoms. Acetyl-L-carnitine moves fatty acids further into cells to produce energy and possibly help regulate neurotransmitter function (a neurotransmitter imbalance may lead to increased musculoskeletal pain). This is interesting, but it’s from an older study.

Creatine

In one study with fibromyalgia patients, using 20 grams daily for 5 days (divided into four equal doses) and then 5 grams a day for 15 weeks resulted in improved muscle function compared to a placebo. This could be critical in helping those with the condition maintain regular exercise.

Miscellaneous

Almost everything else that has been suggested for fibromyalgia comes from cases series (which are more observational versus trials that test an intervention of some sort). 

For example, high doses of vitamin B1 (600 to 1,800 milligrams per day) were reported to

dramatically help with pain. The researchers theorized that fibromyalgia may lead to a problem with how the body uses B1. Higher doses of the vitamin could overcome this issue (it sounds good, but this is why it all goes back to trial and error and being a guinea pig while working with your doctor). 

Similarly, 100 milligrams of CoQ10 per day may reduce fatigue in juvenile fibromyalgia patients; these patients often have lower levels of CoQ10, and this nutrient is crucial for proper energy production. D-ribose is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that is sold as an energy- boosting dietary supplement. It received a lot of attention about a decade ago in a study using 5 grams three times a day for fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue patients, but there has been very little evidence since then.

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