As we covered last week, Fibromyalgia differs from other pain conditions, such as rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, in that the pain originates in the brain versus the perceived site of pain. It is for this reason that NSAIDS and the majority of prescription pain medications—targeting the perceived site of pain in the muscle, versus the actual origin of pain in the brain—are ineffective for treating Fibro pain. In addition, commonly used medications such as Ibuprofen damage the stomach lining and can lead to the formation of stomach ulcers, whereas the active ingredient in Tylenol—acetaminophen—depletes the body of glutathione, an essential amino acid and antioxidant.
Compounding the problem is the fact that many prescription pain medications carry side effects that mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, to include fatigue, muscle spasms, impaired memory and cognitive functions. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that have proved safe and effective for treating Fibromyalgia pain, as Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum outlines in his book, From Fatigued to Fantastic (2007).
Rhus toxicodendron is a homeopathic remedy that is inexpensive and side-effect-free. Though it is likely not sufficient alone for long-term pain management, it is an excellent place to start, and can be used in conjunction with more aggressive pain management therapies.
Herbs such as wild lettuce, Jamaican dogwood, passionflower, and valerian root have a calming effect that is non-sedating and effectively relieves muscle pain and pain-related anxiety. Similarly, boswellia, cherry fruit, and willow bark—from which Aspirin is made—can decrease inflammation by inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), while ginger inhibits the production of Substance P, the spinal fluid that allows for transmission of pain signals to and from the brain.
The combination of ribose and magnesium, found in supplements such as Ribose Cardio, can effectively relieve pain and support mitochondrial function production of ATP, the body’s primary energy source. Meanwhile, tryptophan—a powerful amino acid—works by raising the body’s serotonin levels, which in turn relieves pain, and essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3 have anti-inflamatory effects. EFAs are involved in hormone production, fluid balance, cell-membrane formation and support of the body’s immune system. Interestingly, symptoms of deficiency mirror many Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue symptoms, such as sluggishness, memory loss, muscles aches, brittle nails and hair, GI upset, depression and moodiness.
While the side effects of many prescription drugs are not worth the benefits, a select few have proven to be effective and relatively light in experienced side-effects. Prescription pain medications such as Neurontin, Gabitril, and Lyrica work by increasing the body’s response to gamma-aminobutyric-acid (GABA)—often referred to as the “calming neurotransmitter.” Similarly, anti-depressants such as Cymbalta, Effexor, Paxil and Zoloft increase the production of serotonin while inhibiting Substance P spinal fluid. Essentially, these medications are effective because they target the brain’s pain-response center versus the perceived site of pain, and are most effective when taken in conjunction with natural and homeopathic remedies.
The natural and prescriptive remedies described above are designed to support the S.H.I.N.E protocol, to include Sleep, Hormone balance, Immunity support, Nutrition and Exercise. Next week, we will take a closer look at S.H.I.N.E, and the additional corresponding therapies our clinic provides.
Dr. Teitelbaum, Jacob. From Fatigued to Fantastic! 3rd ed. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Pub. Group, 2007. Print.
3. Mercury, cadmium, inflammation, stress, nutrient deficiencies and infections affect thyroid metabolism adversely, even if your thyroid gland is producing a normal and healthy amount of thyroid hormone.
T4 is the main product of the thyroid gland, with deiodinase enzymes in the liver, kidneys, brain and other organs changing T4 into the metabolically active T3. Most [>95%] PCP’s and endocrinologists do not test for free T3, free T4 and the ratio to reverse T3. Reverse T 3 acts as an anti thyroid, slowing metabolism and contributing to fatigue, pain and disease symptoms.
Action item: Don’t settle for just TSH and fT4 as the only thyroid tests ordered for you. Be pro-active and test your fT3 and reverse T3 to assess all of the important thyroid hormones, which enables your integrated, open minded doctor to adjust your thyroid hormones based on your metabolism and enzyme system function.
Next, test for the toxins known that affect deiodinase enzyme function adversely. We know how to remove these toxins safely, but you will only make this an action item if you test for it.
Effects of low mercury vapour exposure on the thyroid function in chloralkali workers.
Reverse triiodothyronine (rT3) was statistically significantly higher in the mercury exposed subjects, with the free thyroxine (T4)/free T3 ratio also higher in the highest mercury exposed subgroups compared with controls.
Thyroid hormones and methylmercury toxicity.
High exposures to the organometal, methylmercury (MeHg), may perturb neurodevelopmental processes by selectively affecting thyroid hormone homeostasis and function.
Removal of dental amalgam decreases anti-TPO and anti-Tg autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis.
Removal of mercury-containing dental amalgam in patients with mercury hypersensitivity may contribute to successful treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis.
Effects of perinatal exposure to low doses of cadmium or methylmercury on thyroid hormone metabolism.
Thyroid hormone metabolism in fetuses and neonates might be a potential target of Cd and MeHg.
As we head into the new year, many of us resolve to make a new start on weight loss and fitness. For some, this means attempting the most recent and celebrated diet. For others, it means continuing the same calorie-restrictions and exercise plans, often without results.
According to a physician with the Loyola University Health System, recent findings suggest that only 20% of dieters successfully achieve and maintain weight loss. Healthy diet and exercise are key in slimming down, but there are additional factors to consider when the pounds won’t budge.
~Blood Sugar Balance~
There is a direct relationship between elevated blood sugar and weight gain. In fact, the body relies upon blood sugar and insulin levels to tell it when to begin storing fat, rather than burn it.
When blood sugar spikes, such as it does after eating a cookie, bread, or some other simple carbohydrate, the pancreas must produce an especially large amount of insulin. This insulin allows our cells to use the sugars, but it also signals them to convert the sugar into fat. Even on a low-calorie diet, the wrong food can cause a spike in your blood sugar, leading your body to think it is time to store, when it is actually time to burn.
Blood sugar balance can often be controlled by changing the types of foods we eat, and when we eat them. However, other factors can disrupt blood sugar balance, including cortisol fluctuations due to chronic stress and other hormonal imbalances.
It is no secret that low thyroid function plays a significant role in weight gain and resistance to weight loss. Sadly, many people are not screened for thyroid dysfunction, and those that are tested do not always receive a thorough screening.
Each of our cells require thyroid hormone in order to burn calories and produce energy. Without healthy thyroid function, the body will not respond properly to diet changes and exercise. To effectively screen for thyroid imbalances when weight loss is a struggle, it is important to measure more than just the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), as TSH is not always a reliable indicator of thyroid health and metabolism. Additional tests include, but are not limited to, inactive and active thyroid hormone levels. A normal TSH level does not always rule out low thyroid function. Pursue more thorough testing if you struggle with weight loss.
Thyroid is not the only hormone that can cause weight fluctuations in your body–cortisol, estrogen and testosterone all play a role in metabolism and fat storage. Imbalances in these and other hormones can disrupt your body’s ability to burn fat. The calorie-burning, energy-producing components of your cells, called mitochondria, need adequate levels of these hormones in order to do their job.
Physical traumas, mental and emotional stress, and even aging can cause imbalances in these hormones which then disrupt metabolism. Botanical supplements, focused nutritional therapies and physiological doses of bio-identical hormones can help to restore balance and make your body more responsive to diet changes and exercise.
Our bodies are designed to survive, and they do so brilliantly. In times of starvation, we produce a cascade of hormones that tell our cells to slow metabolism and store fat in preparation for hard days to come. Though we no longer live in times of famine, our bodies still carry this self-protection mechanism. Calorie restriction and other forms of stress, both physical and emotional, can activate this hormone cascade, leading to increased body fat.
A common mistake made by dieters is over-restriction of calories. Fewer calories does not always equal fewer pounds. When the body detects starvation, it creates changes in thyroid hormone production and mitochondrial function in order to slow metabolism. While over-eating can lead to fat deposition, so can under-eating. A balance must be found between moderate calorie restriction and therapies that support metabolism. Exercise is a great way to stimulate mitochondria, but as mentioned above, blood sugar and hormone balance are just as important. For the best results, fuel your body with healthy foods, exercise daily, and work with your physician to address blood sugar and hormonal imbalances.
Dr. Kaley Bourgeois
Loyola University Health System (2013, January 3). Top four reasons why diets fail. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 4, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/01/130103192352.htm