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.