Fibromyalgia is a mysterious condition that affects about two percent of Americans, typically between the ages of 35 and 55. It also occurs seven to ten times more frequently in women. While it can trigger unexplained pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia can also cause foggy thinking, sleep disturbances, painful menstrual cramps, and irritable bowel symptoms. Fibromyalgia has no single cause. It’s thought that people with the condition experience a “short circuit” that suppresses the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls sleep, hormonal function, temperature, and autonomic functions such as blood pressure and blood flow. This tiny area of the brain uses more energy for its size than any other organ, so when there is an energy shortfall, it goes offline first. This decreases its protective function in the face of what it perceives as overwhelming stress. As a result, the muscles end up short of energy and in pain.
It’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, keep a diary of how certain foods make you feel. Once you’ve identified your “trigger” foods, avoid them. It’s also wise to avoid foods that encourage inflammation, especially highly processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy fats. Some people with fibromyalgia find that eating small meals frequently throughout the day can help keep energy levels up.
When it comes to fibromyalgia, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment. What seems to work best is a combination of customized tactics that focus on ensuring quality sleep, easing pain, keeping muscles pliable, improving metabolism, and reducing stress. A gentle exercise routine is also indispensable for those with fibromyalgia to increase flexibility, reduce pain and reign in stress. But since most patients can’t begin or maintain a typical exercise routine, it may be best to focus on gentle stretching, yoga, or tai chi. Water exercises are also ideal since they do not put stress on the joints. Many patients with fibromyalgia have benefited from acupuncture to reduce pain.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: is an energy producing amino acid that helps ease fibromyalgia symptoms. A study in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology found that acetyl-l-carnitine reduced musculo-skeletal pain and the number of tender spots. It also lessened depression. Typical dosage: 1,500 mg daily.
CoQ10: levels are often low in people with fibromyalgia and supplementation may help. During one recent clinical trial, fibromyalgia sufferers who took 300 mg of CoQ10 daily reported a significant decline in their symptoms after nine months. Typical dosage: 100 to 300 mg daily, taken with a small amount of fat to aid absorption.
L-theanine: is an amino acid found in green tea that has been shown to promote sleep, reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and mood, and boost immune function. Typical dosage: 200 mg daily taken shortly before bedtime.
Ribose: is a natural sugar that occurs in all living cells and it’s the key building block for making energy. Taking supplemental ribose can reduce muscle pain, stiffness, and exercise fatigue. In one study, fibromyalgia patients took supplemental ribose for an average of 28 days. In just 12 days, 66 percent of those taking ribose reported significant improvement in energy, sleep, mental clarity, and pain intensity, with a 44 percent average increase in energy and an overall 30 percent increase in well-being. Typical dosage: 5 grams (1 scoop) up to three times per day as needed.