Do you have unexplained muscle pain?
Do you have trigger points of pain and soreness?
Have you been diagnosed with depression but you think it’s physical?
Do you get tired easily?
Is fatigue a significant problem for you?
Have you been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Are you tired of hurting? Read on.
Fibromyalgia/Muscle Pain and Fatigue
If you’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia you are likely to be frustrated and discouraged by the lack of genuine answers or even practical advice from your doctor.
Here is a link to give you the mainstream thinking. Notice that eating a balanced diet is only mentioned in passing. [During the mid 1990’s doctors argued that Fibromyalgia didn’t exist all and was just depression or anxiety]
It is the intention of this paper to offer you some hope and encouragement that people with Fibromyalgia do get better and many are able to do so with a nutritional approach.
Fibromyalgia is a significant cause of pain and suffering. It can have a gradual onset or it may occur suddenly after an illness or injury. It is essentially a failure of the muscles’ integrity and function which results in pain, stiffness and weakness.
It is a syndrome, meaning its cause or causes are not known and its very existence is not well defined by doctors and medical textbooks, and therefore a source of great frustration for patients who suffer with it.
The facts support a nutritional/dietary cause.
Fibromyalgia is increasing in occurrence and could very well be a new condition in the past 30 years. Further, it affects women much more than men. This is probably due to pregnancy/childbearing and body composition differences between the sexes. Women are more prone to certain deficiencies, minerals in particular. [Women have less muscle mass and naturally higher fat percentages – needing fewer calories but often with increased nutrient needs]
Some fibromyalgia sufferers have consistent symptoms while others have symptoms that wax and wane. The location of pain, its character and association with other co-existing complaints can vary widely. Generally point tenderness and early fatigue are common complaints.
Patients with Fibromyalgia have many similar complaints but each have their own history making them unique, so each person needs an individualized assessment.
I’ve seen patients with very similar symptoms respond to very different treatments, everyone is different. Nutrition, digestion-assimilation and detoxification-elimination all interrelate. A doctor versed in each area can systematically optimize all three parameters.
Medical doctors are not formally trained in nutrition, but they do have extensive backgrounds in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, molecular biology (how the molecules of the life work), physiology, physics, microbiology, pathology (the study of disease), so when doctors are unsure or have no answers they tend to think that if it were important, they would know it already.
There are many illnesses (diagnoses) or let’s say syndromes that reflect this assumption; “auto-immune” – blames the patient’s body – “genetic or hereditary” – blames the parents – “Idio-pathic” – says it’s a “stupid disease” and the list goes on.
Occasionally, there are “breakthroughs” in getting the basic science or front line biology [usually from animal studies into mainstream medicine.
Stomach ulcers in animals [pigs] were shown to be caused by a bacteria [H. pylori] in 1958. There was a “breakthrough” in the late 1980’s when human testing verified the same, now it is thought that 90% of stomach ulcers are caused by this bacteria.
Many medical “breakthroughs are more about breaking into mainstream circles than actual discovery. To say it another way, it is about the reluctant application of proven facts into a fairly rigid system that resists change. Fortunately there is increasing interest in natural or nutritional remedies.
Well done scientific studies do exist and it is my hope these “new” findings will make their way into the mainstream belief systems [ie telling patients/ the public at large about them]
A side note: If the mainstream medical establishment were to say that nutrition can prevent and/or treat disease and illness this would shake the foundation of “medicine” based health care. Further, the suggestion that we must supplement our diets with vitamins, minerals and oils/fats to get optimal nutrition is a slap in the face to our food supply and generally not well received by the food industry. We have several levels of “interests” to overcome before we can look at nutrition honestly as a nation, but luckily we are working on a personal level – therefore more practical.
It is easy to find examples of exaggerated delaying of clinical application from time of “discovery” of new scientific information.
You are probably aware that Vitamin B9 [folic acid] can prevent birth defects. The connection was discovered in the 1950’s, yet expectant childbearing women were not told to take B9 until the mid to late 1990’s. Now supplemental Folic acid or vitamin B9 is widely recommended to prevent birth defects. Difficult to believe, isn’t it?
A particularly scary example [as well as appropriate for this topic] is Keshan’s Disease, a disease of the heart in humans, is due to selenium deficiency. A fatal cardiomyopathy.
Keshan’s Disease has appeared in nearly every medical text book since the early eighties. The story goes like this: In the mid 70’s kids in Keshan’s province of China were dying of a new heart condition, 13 out of a thousand [where 3/1,000 is an epidemic].
Children that lived near a railroad line [and got some food from elsewhere, in addition to eating the typical diet] died of this fatal condition at a much lower rate only 1/1,000.
Soil analyses indicated that selenium [a trace mineral/anti-oxidant] content in the soils were low.
[Remember plants cannot make minerals – we are designed to get our minerals from plants grown in dirt – plants take rock-like mineral, 3% absorbable and convert them to a colloidal form, 98% absorbable]
A study was done… 36,000 kids… Some got selenium some didn’t and you guessed it. The kids in the non-selenium group had a rate of 13 out of 1,000 while in the selenium group only 1 out of 1,000 contracted this illness and died. Now every medical text book contains this info!!
To this date I have not found one cardiologist who’s heard of it, however I’ve told a few about it. Initially the tone is somewhat mocking but once they look it up, they usually go out and purchase a selenium supplement.
I’ll add now that viral cardiomyopathy, idiopathic cardiomyopathy, idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, post-partal cardiomyopathy and sadly SIDS [sudden infant death syndrome] compare closely to Keshan’s, each named for the given presentation. Also their causes are listed as “unknown”.
The next time you hear of an athlete dying suddenly with no blockages and a failing heart you’ll have new insight. How many people await heart transplants who could benefit from this info? 100-200 thousand?
White muscle disease, stiff lamb disease and mulberry heart disease are all examples of muscle diseases [“myopathies”] in animals and they were eradicated/prevented with nutrition in the late 1950’s. Vitamin E, Selenium, and the Omega 3 oils are credited in veterinary literature.
Fibromyalgia has just gained widespread acceptance as even existing, much less being appreciated as a preventable or reversible condition.
Remember it took scientists/doctors more than a hundred years to agree that citrus [vitamin C] could prevent and reverse scurvy.
The derogatory term “Limey” persists today for the British sailors required to carry/eat a quarter of a lime or lemon per day per sailor around 1795. The merchant ships didn’t follow suit until 1865; it’s worth noting not a single British navy sailor died of scurvy during that 70-year period.
Now, would you believe that in addition to bleeding gums and easy bruising that muscle pain also accompanies vitamin C deficiency?
Vitamin E is important for muscle function as well, without it, muscle pain.
Vitamin E also has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer as well as heart disease.
Vitamin E in two Harvard Studies showed a 77% reduction in heart attacks and 47% reduction in death from heart disease. Check out Dr Atkins book Vita-Nutrient Solution .
CoEnzyme Q10 is also essential for muscle function, its deficiency results in fatigue/ weakness and even heart failure with fluid retention :and interestingly obese patients will often lose weight much easier on CoQ10; about 1/3 of overweight patients studied were deficient.
Interestingly enough: The Statin drugs, the popular cholesterol medications, impair the body’s ability to make CoQ10. Everyone taking a statin is wise to take extra CoQ10.
Many of the B vitamin deficiencies can lead to pain syndromes.
Thiamin deficiency can lead to pain and noise hyper-sensitivity- small noises, big annoyance].
B6 or pyridoxine, B12, B9 or folate are important for nerve and muscle function and pain can result if they are deficient.
B vitamin deficiency can occur – either by dietary shortages or by over utilization – too much sugar in the diet depletes B vitamins – sugar is converted to fat and this burns or consumes B vitamins.
Chromium deficiency leads to insulin resistance/hypoglycemia and eventually diabetes. Chromium being short will lead to protein wasting or muscle loss because sugar [glucose] is converted into fat with higher than normal insulin levels [usually sugar cravings will occur]. The brain works mostly on glucose, so the liver will convert protein from muscle into glucose for energy as needed. This loss of muscle can be perceived as weakness. To fix this problem; limit sugars and starches, increase protein intake and optimize chromium levels by supplementing [200-400mcg twice a day – chromium is safe, toxicity occurs above 70,000 mcg per day according to the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA].
Magnesium and Calcium Balance
Magnesium deficiency, either absolute or relative [compared to calcium], can cause significant muscle pain, spasm and weakness. Remember that magnesium is the mineral center of the chlorophyll molecule, the green pigment of plants. Greener vegetables have more magnesium [and those that start out green, tomatoes, in particular]
Proper Calcium balance is required for proper sleep as well as muscle and nerve function. Many people are not aware of this fact.
If you are deficient in calcium, you will not sleep well.
Neither do animals……..[and worse]
Laboratory rats, when deprived of calcium become irritable, belligerent and eventually cannibalistic. Yes, you read that correctly. Interestingly enough, these same rats became friendly and docile again when re-fed a proper diet including calcium.
So, it is worthwhile to learn how we can optimize our calcium balance.
I have mentioned the concept of a “calcium balance” a few times, let me explain what I mean.
Our bodies require around 60 minerals for optimal health. As you can imagine, this collection of characters must interact properly or all will be chaos. Some have bigger parts, but all serve a purpose and must be present in the correct ratios.
Calcium has its supporting cast. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium interact and keep us alive.
Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus have a love/hate relationship, let’s call it co-dependent but they try their best to get along.
You see, Phosphorus is the most plentiful in our diets [meats, dairy, fiber and colas all provide us with all we need, and more].
Magnesium is very important [some say 300 functions in the body] and, of course, Calcium is the prima donna [140 plus functions] that demands the spotlight.
Our bodies insist upon a 1:2:1 ratio [1 Magnesium : 2 Calcium : 1 Phosphorus]
In other words, if we have 1,000mg of phosphorus we need 2,000mg of calcium to be balanced. Here’s where the trouble starts. If we have a phosphorus burden [say a 12oz cola with 1,000mg of phosphorus] we must go to the bones to “borrow” calcium if we are short. A complicating fact is that the “bone bank” loans out calcium in increments of 10. This overshoots our needs and results in a relative excess of calcium that betrays the 1:2 ratio with magnesium [perhaps 1:8]. In nature and in our bodies there are ways that imbalances are corrected. In this case two things will happen – one is increased spilling of calcium in the urine – Secondly precipitation of calcium occurs [aka malignant calcification] in the tissues, blood vessels and bones in the form of spurring or calcium deposits. I told you there’d be trouble.
Take home message:
~We need to avoid excess Phosphorus in our diets [especially dark colas]
~It is important to get plenty of Magnesium [found in plants’ chlorophyll – YOUR veggies]
~Getting adequate Calcium is a must. [dairy is the primary dietary source, but often impractical]
Which Calcium supplement is best?
~Take 500mg of MCHA [Calcium] twice a day.
~MCHA is derived from cows and is 40-60% absorbed where calcium carbonate products are 3% absorbed.
No animal eats rocks for its Calcium, we shouldn’t either.
Remember calcium carbonate is chemically identical to limestone; so are oyster shells, egg shells, coral and dolomite. Calcium citrate is also an example of a metallic or rock-like mineral and therefore not very bio-available. Save your money.
Protein and amino acids help prevent muscle pain.
As previously mentioned, protein and it’s building blocks amino acids have very specific functions dealing with cellular structure, membrane function and permeability, enzyme form and function as well as backup energy.
Protein is important for normal muscle function.
The importance of getting balanced protein in adequate amounts cannot be overstated. Protein is built or comprised of 20 different amino acids [Think of amino acids as being the different railcars of a train with proteins being the whole train].
Remember animal proteins are complete and well balanced where vegetable sources are known for missing one or more of the essential amino acids.
If any one of the 12 essential amino acids is missing problems ensue [Soy protein lacks the amino acid methionine, a sulfur containing amino acid]- methionine and cysteine [both sulfur containing] are necessary for flexibility of cells, tissues, joints and muscle alike; MSM, glucosamine and bovine cartilage supplements help here when there are shortages.
Taurine [not strictly speaking an amino acid – actually a sulfonic acid] is also a sulfur containing molecule – that is naturally occurring -it helps equalize the balance of sodium and potassium as well as magnesium and calcium; those who tend to retain fluid benefit from taurine as a supplement without the side effects of medicine’s “water pills” or diuretics.
Tyrosine, an essential amino acid, is converted into several of the brain’s neurotransmitters [dopamine and adrenaline], and utilized in the production of skin and hair pigment [melanin] as well as being one part of the thyroid hormone [the other, Iodine].
Tryptophan [an amino acid found in turkey but not in corn] converts to serotonin [one of the neurotransmitters necessary for sleep and also suppresses hunger] and into niacin [Vitamin B3 whose deficiency leads to the four “D’s” of Pellagra diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death].
l-Carnitine [an amino acid which can be made from lysine, one of the essential amino acids] found primarily in red meat, is essential to carry fats into the body’s furnace [the mitochondria] and hence referred to as a “fat burner”; without it, weakness and fatty accumulation in tissues can occur [fatty liver] ; dose generally 500mg twice a day, up to 4,000 mg per day.
There are other amino acids that are considered “essential”, that is we cannot make them from other amino acids and therefore they must be present in the diet.
One final note here: l-glutamine, the most common amino acid in muscle, is not considered essential because we can make it from other amino acids. However, it approaches the essential category for many people because it serves as secondary energy source [it converts to glucose], it donates a nitrogen group [amino group] to help make other amino acids and to balance the body’s acid [when it donates that amino group to make urea] and as a protein reserve.
l-glutamine is helpful in balancing blood sugar and also curbs the craving for alcohol.
Omega 3 oils and other Fats
The omega 3 fats found in cold water fish and in flax seed oil are necessary for normal brain function, skin, sinuses, lungs, heart, liver, eyes, and muscle, both structurally and for energy.
Because fats tend to spoil or go rancid, they are taken out or “processed out” of many foods to extend shelf-life (low fat = longer shelflife).
A big problem with several simple answers.
Chickens fed flax-meal lay eggs rich in omega 3 fats.
Flax seed oil has twice the amount of the omega 3 fats as fish oil [everybody needs at least 6 grams or 6,000 mg per day, more is needed when deficiency syndromes occur.
I recommend 2 eggs per day [be imaginative, soft scramble, poach, boil, over easy with butter but don’t fry in grease or overcook]. Also in eggs – carotenoids, B vitamins including lecithin/choline – Choline is not found in many foods and is very important for acetyl-choline production – the major neurotransmitter of the brain and body.
Use Butter – Never use Margarine (hydrogenated oil) with its “trans” fats – the enemy to the good fats and sabotages the body’s ability to process fats normally.
Hydrogenated oil [margarine] cannot be avoided completely because it is found in many processed foods like peanut butter, bread and many baked items, again the force behind this is extension of shelf life and reduced cost.
Taking extra vitamin E, vitamin C and omega 3 fats [like flax seed oil or fish oil] help protect you from trans fats .
It is also wise to avoid the omega 6 rich oils – safflower, sunflower, corn, canola and soy bean oil. Use olive oil.
Quick side note; Vitamin E is difficult to get in sufficient amounts from foods so I advise people to supplement with at least 400 IU per day [the natural versions are best, look for “d-tocopherol” but avoid “d-l-tocopherol”- it’s the man-made version and is only 25% usable]. Look for a vitamin E with mixed tocopherols that also contains selenium.
The adrenal glands are like hormone factories that sit atop the kidneys, named for the adrenaline they produce and they also make a long list of hormones that are based on the cholesterol molecule. In fact over 150 cholesterol based hormones are made there including cortisone, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and aldosterone.
If we are “stressed”, physically, emotionally, nutritionally or with toxins/chemicals/medications etc, Adrenal Exhaustion can occur which classically manifests as odor/smell sensitivity to fumes, foods, perfumes or an unusually sensitive sense of smell which will lead to frequent nausea or upset stomach.
The short answer is this: by taking an Adrenal Extract you can supplement the adrenal glands’ function while you take other measures to support its function like getting more sunlight, supplementing with vitamin C, getting more animal protein and fat (red meat, eggs etc). Women need about 5% of the testosterone [the male hormone] for muscle strength and maintenance as well as for libido. The adrenal glands produce testosterone under the direction of the growth hormone [the trace mineral boron is also necessary for the adrenals to make testosterone].
Another thought: Basal Body Temperature
If your temperature is ever 97.8 or less you probably have an “underactive” thyroid gland, even if the lab tests are “normal”. Taking the temperature orally under the tongue is probably the best way; the typical way axillary or under the arm is too variable and often gives a lower temperature, variations in humidity/moisture cause this discrepancy [the more moisture the better the heat transfer], therefore oral temperatures are more accurate.
Iodine deficiency or lack of dietary iodine will impair the thyroid glands’ ability to make thyroxine, the thyroid hormone [The thyroid hormone works by “setting the thermostat” or the “idle of the body” [like a car will idle too low and die at red-lights or rev if the idle is set too high].
A few interesting tips:
If you apply a 3-4 inch circle of tincture of iodine on your bare skin it should last 24 hours. If your body is short on iodine, the body will eagerly and quickly absorb the iodine, making the stain disappear in 2-3 hours.
This is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic [ie gives your body a source of iodine]. You can re-apply this in different locations repeatedly [the same spot may get irritated]. I’ve seen people with increasing energy in a week or so.
There are products which contain both iodine and tyrosine that can be taken by mouth. Potassium Iodide is the fastest iodine to be utilized [kelp, although more popular doesn’t work as quickly or as completely.
Sea salt is not a good source of iodine, contrary to popular belief, where iodized salt is, you can buy iodized sea salt.
More symptomatic patients require thyroid replacement medication. See your doctor if you have significant symptoms and do not stop any medication before discussing it with your physician.
In conclusion, Fibromyalgia is very real, yet it’s been largely ignored by Organized Medicine until recently.
Fibromyalgia is not a deficiency of any medication. Medicines can provide much needed symptom relief but we must also consider the underlying causes of these symptoms.
There are answers to help each patient, however, just as we differ as individuals so will the path to recovery.
Careful evaluation of each patient can help determine the actual causes of the symptoms [Heart, lung, thyroid, kidney or liver problems, diabetes, electrolyte abnormalities, anemia, immune problems and vitamin/mineral deficiency].
The depth of testing must be individualized to accommodate each patient’s presentation; often tests are too much of the focus and the history’s value is under-valued [Listen to the patient first].
Many Fibromyalgia victims come to me after being diagnosed as depressed or after being treated “unsuccessfully” for depression for extended periods of time, months to years.
Finally – Depression may make pain worse but Depression does not cause muscle pain but the reverse is true, chronic muscle pain can cause depression.
It is very important to be evaluated by a doctor. There are many treatable conditions that cause fatigue and pain.
Balanced nutrition is necessary for optimal health
Consider taking a CoQ10 supplement.
Take supplemental Calcium [MCHA is the best type]
Measure you body temperature.
If your blood pressure is low, consider extra B12.
Make sure you are getting extra vitamin C.
Take a B complex supplement.
Get a good multiple vitamin mineral product that includes selenium.
Consider taking extra vitamin A and vitamin E.
Take quality omega 3 supplements.
Avoid Trans fats. [Margarine or hydrogenated oil]
Consider taking supplemental digestive enzymes.
Finally, get some sunlight every day – 20 to 30 minutes [Vitamin D]
To achieve full spectrum nutrition we all need to supplement our diets.
Supplements to consider:
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.
As always, feel free to comment or message questions or concerns.