Fibromyalgia is an illness that stumps doctors while patients look for relief. The mainstream medical community has only a relatively small group of treatments for fibromyalgia, most of which provide only incomplete relief from chronic pain or have a long list of unpleasant side effects. Consider instead some of these natural alternatives that may provide some comfort without unwanted effects.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese remedy that involves sticking tiny needles in the skin on specific points of the body. Three studies have found acupuncture effective for fibromyalgia pain relief when combined with a pulse of electrical current. Despite the fact that acupuncture works, the results appear to be short-lived.
Researchers have noticed that fibromyalgia patients have chronically low levels of vitamin D, the best source of which comes from exposure to sunlight. Fibro folks also have low levels of magnesium. Although it hasn’t yet been conclusively proven that increasing vitamin D and magnesium intake will minimize or eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms, vitamin D and magnesium both have enough other benefits for proper nerve function that supplementing them could still be useful.
Supplementing with S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) can help to relieve pain associated with fibromyalgia as well as arthritis and depression. This is an amino acid produced by the liver, although not in great quantities. SAMe is supposed to help with fibromyalgia pain, stiffness, and fatigue. However, studies show that the benefits from SAMe may be small, and it must be obtained from a supplement because it isn’t present in food.
Yoga can provide fibromyalgia relief because it helps on two fronts: relaxation and movement. A study backs up the idea that yoga is beneficial for fibromyalgia pain, too. The findings of the study suggest that yoga may help to change the patient’s perception of pain, making the experience of fibromyalgia pain more bearable.
This supplement is the building block of serotonin, one of the brain chemicals linked to depression and pain. One study found that 5-HTP supplements reduced anxiety, fibromyalgia pain, and insomnia. 5-HTP is made from the amino acid tryptophan, which can be gotten from supplements or from food sources of tryptophan such as turkey, milk, pumpkin, or potatoes.
Although the pain of fibromyalgia can make the thought of exercise seem unpleasant, regular exercise can actually help to lessen pain. Exercise doesn’t have to involve heavy weight lifting or running marathons to provide benefit: even a moderate 20-minute walk or short stretching routine can help.
Almost all Americans are sleep-deprived. But this has more consequences for people with fibromyalgia, because lack of adequate sleep prevents the body from healing each night. As a result, pain and fatigue are generally much worse when patients with fibromyalgia don’t get enough sleep. Many of the supplements that are recommended for fibromyalgia, such as 5-HTP and SAM-e, promote better sleep, which may reduce pain.
Natural treatments for fibromyalgia begin with the basics of a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet and stress reduction, and include a few supplements and complementary treatments. Keep a positive outlook and take an active role in your healing.