Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja), is a condition that affects five to six million Americans. Eighty to ninety percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women and most people are diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia presents itself as widespread chronic pain, multiple tender points in joints and muscles, sleep disturbances and insomnia, extreme fatigue, stress, anxiety, and an interference with basic daily activities. A high percentage may also have irritable bowel syndrome, which suggests a food allergy component.
According to the National Institutes of Health web site, many people with fibromyalgia report varying degrees of success with complementary and alternative therapies such as massage, low impact exercise or stretching, chiropractic treatments, vitamins and minerals, eliminating allergic foods, avoiding caffeine or alcohol, and drinking a lot of water.
Fibromyalgia and arthritis are "rheumatic" conditions -- those that are known to impair the joints and/or soft tissues such as muscles and tendons and cause chronic, long-term pain. The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology recently published a study that found vitamin D deficiency is common in fibromyalgia and a 2010 study published in "International Orthopaedics" found a significant connection between vitamin D deficiency and arthritis of the knee and recommends that any patient with symptoms of arthritis be screened for vitamin D deficiency.
MSM for Pain
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural sulfur-bearing nutrient that occurs widely in nature. It is found in fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains. However, MSM is mostly lost when food is heated, frozen or pasteurized. According to research from Ronald Lawrence, M.D., MSM represents a safe, natural solution for chronic headaches, back pain, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, athletic injuries and muscle spasms. A study in the journal "Osteoarthritis Cartilage" confirms this and reports: "Compared to placebo, MSM produced significant decreases in osteoarthritis pain and physical function impairment. MSM also produced improvement in performing the activities of daily living."
Nutrition expert Ray Sahelian, M.D. writes: "In one study, researchers reviewed medical charts of17 fibromyalgia patients who agreed to eliminate common foods from their diet such as corn, wheat, dairy, citrus, soy, nuts and sugar. After two weeks without eating any of the potential food allergens, nearly half of the patients reported significant reduction of pain, and most reported a reduction in other symptoms such as headache, fatigue, bloating, and breathing difficulties."
Minerals for Fibromyalgia
Calcium and magnesium have been researched for their roles as both natural pain relievers and insomnia remedies. A study from Hong Kong in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (a chiropractic journal), states that supplementing with calcium and magnesium in fibromyalgia subjects reduces the number of tender points. The study concluded that "calcium and magnesium supplements may be indicated as an adjunctive (additional) treatment of fibromyalgia."
Calcium for Insomnia
Fibromyalgia may be related to or originate out of a sleep disorder. The pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis says "A calcium deficiency often shows itself by insomnia, another form of an inability to relax. The harm done by sleeping tablets, to say nothing of the thousands of dollars spent on them, could largely be avoided if the calcium intake were adequate." In one study published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, and that disturbances in sleep are related to a calcium deficiency.
Natural Sleep Remedy
Natural remedies for pain and insomnia should contain highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, along with Vitamin D. The ingredients are best delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making them more easily assimilated than capsules or tablets and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Pain medications or anti-depressant drugs may be prescribed for fibromyalgia, but they tend to mask the symptoms, not heal them. It's often a better option to use the tools of healthy diet, gentle exercise, and nutritional supplements to create greater health.