Capsaicin for fibromyalgia: Is it beneficial?

Capsaicin for fibromyalgia

One of the hardest things to deal with when you have fibromyalgia is the flareups and pain associated with joint and muscle inflammation. More and more people are finding that using capsaicin for fibromyalgia pain relief is delivering positive results.

Fibromyalgia was thought to occur mostly in women, but a greater understanding of it has led to the recognition of a symptom cluster that is unique in men too. More and more people are being diagnosed with the disease, and trying to find the best ways to relieve its chronic pain is high on the list of many medical laboratories.

Prescription pain killers often come with associated side effects and risks that can make them a last resort. Capsaicin for fibromyalgia looks like a good choice for many people to naturally relieve their pain.

What is capsaicin?

It is a naturally occurring compound that is commonly found in night shade plants such as chili peppers. That it is proven so effective in reducing pain may be a surprise to you as the night shade plants are something that you aren’t supposed to eat when you have fibromyalgia.

These plants often cause more inflammation flareups, which is why they are avoided. It was in the use of the capsaicin chili peppers contain as a treatment for pain that revealed that at least one of the night shade plants could help as much as it could make the problem worse. The key is to only have the capsaicin, and not the rest of the pepper.

How do you use it?

Typically, it is prescribed as a topical treatment for fibromyalgia. It comes as a cream or ointment that is then applied to the skin over the area where the pain flareup is associated. The cream then allows the skin to absorb the it. It then interferes with the pain reception from the nerves and can reduce the overall sensation of pain in the body.

For someone with fibromyalgia, this can greatly work to improve your overall quality of life. It has taken several trials and studies to begin to understand how a topical cream with capsaicin can work for relief from fibromyalgia flareups, but we now understand the process much better.

Why does it work?

Recent studies have isolated the action of capsaicin for blocking something called Substance P in the body. Substance P is what carries the pain signal from the nerves to the brain. When it is blocked, feelings of pain are reduced or eliminated in the person. Topical cream has been shown effective in radically reducing Substance P in those with fibromyalgia when applied to flare up locations on the body.

Substance P has only recently been identified as it has been so successful in studies that many people have begun to look at it as a dietary supplement too. Taking it as a supplement, or adding it as an ingredient or spice to your food, may help – but not in the same way as a topical treatment will.

If I take it as a supplement will that help too?

As it is found in chili peppers and other hot foods; it can also be purchased as a powder or supplement. While it hasn’t been shown to have much of an effect in relieving pain when ingested, it has been shown to greatly improve digestive health.

Taking supplements for fibromyalgia symptoms such as IBS and other digestive disorders can help to provide relief from those symptoms. A large part of the recommendations for the use of capsaicin require that you also follow the diet and lifestyle recommendations for those that suffer from fibromyalgia too.

Managing diet and lifestyle for relief

One thing that can increase its ability to work for you is by following a fibromyalgia diet for symptom relief. There are certain foods that are known to cause inflammation and bowel discomfort, learning what to avoid is just as important as learning what to eat. IBS and other digestive related problems are common in the cluster of symptoms for fibromyalgia, capsaicin in your food or as a supplement can help you – but only if you also follow the other diet recommendations.

You should also find out more about working in the other recommended lifestyle changes that have been found to help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Everything from improved sleep hygiene to more exercise is recommended. The more you can do, the better topical pain agents and supplements containing the substance can work for you.

Before you try it for fibromyalgia

Before you try it for fibromyalgia you want to test to make sure that you can tolerate it well. As a topical agent it could cause an allergic reaction. In food, or as a supplement, it can also cause gastric sensitivity too. Try a very small amount first and see how well you it. If you handle it well, slowly increase the amount until you are at the right dosage for you. Use special caution if you have a history of allergies and skin reactions when testing out the area. If you do start to have a reaction, wash the area where it was applied thoroughly to remove the topical ointment.

Always be the educated consumer

The best way to approach managing fibromyalgia is to always remain the educated consumer. Become an active part of your treatment plan, read up on various treatments and ask questions. Many of the recommendations for relief will work for some people, but not all.

It is important that you maintain a willingness to try new things. Science is learning more and more about fibromyalgia and how to manage its symptoms every year. Even the use of capsaicin for fibromyalgia is something that we didn’t know to do before the past few years. Staying educated means always keeping up with the latest discoveries about the disease so that you always have resources to try that can improve your quality of life.

Further reading:

Short-term efficacy of topical capsaicin therapy in severely affected fibromyalgia patients http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22842953

Topical capsaicin helps severe fibromyalgia pain; depletes pain-signaling substance P in local nerve endings http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=17138

Capsaicin trials for fibromyalgia http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis/capsaicin/trials-for-fibro.aspx

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