Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally: How Dietary Supplements Matter

What does it mean to ease fibromyalgia symptoms naturally? A natural approach uses treatments that involve lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and specific activities to help you reduce fibromyalgia pain.

Medications have their place. But as you may have discovered, there isn’t a simple pill to make fibromyalgia go away. There is no universal set of symptoms. Chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness and depression are among the difficulties. Fibromyalgia has different triggers, and different effective treatments, for different people.

Most likely, it will take a mix of different approaches to treat fibromyalgia. Your own path to wellness may not be like anyone else’s path, and may take some work to figure out.

Nutritional Supplements As Part of A Treatment Plan

People with fibromyalgia are finding that certain herbs and supplements help improve pain relief without the difficulties and complications of drugs.

Before beginning a treatment plan with nutritional supplements, check with your doctor. Get the information you need about dosage, and any possible interaction with prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking.

Here are a few of the many helpful nutritional supplements that have proven important in reducing fibromyalgia symptom and improving wellness:

  • Vitamins D, E, the B vitamins: Researchers believe that too little Vitamin D is linked to muscle aches and joint problems. It’s not just for bones anymore. Vitamin E helps anti-oxidants reduce cell damage. B Vitamins, especially Vitamin B12 help with energy production.
  • Minerals, especially calcium and magnesium: Studies find that women with fibromyalgia also have much lower levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese than those without fibromyalgia. Magnesium (found in leafy greens and whole grain) and calcium are important for proper bone formation. Magnesium also has an important role in the activation of hundreds of enzymes in the body. Raising low levels of magnesium and calcium with supplements is beneficial to many people with fibromyalgia
  • GABA is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes low in people with fibromyalgia. Taking GABA may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep for some people with fibromyalgia.
  • SAM-E is derived from an amino acid. It promotes health in the joints and is involved with neurotransmitter function. Among its several benefits, it is used to treat pain in osteoarthritis and relieve depression. It’s found to help some people with fibromyalgia more than others.

These are just some of the dozens of nutritional supplements that may have an important role in treating fibromyalgia

They are seen as part of a natural approach to treatment because they are dietary supplements, rather than medicines, and are available without prescription.

It’s important to work with a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable about the use of dietary supplements, and who can help you find how to evaluate them for your own treatment plan.

You can explore a few more details about specfic dietary supplements in these brief videos:

Dietary supplements can work along side other natural treatments. They don’t interfere with your food plan, acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques you want to use for better pain relief, rest, and sleep with fibromyalgia.

Top 5 Sleep Strategies for Fibromyalgia

For people with fibromyalgia, sleep is more than ordinary downtime. Getting good quality sleep is an important strategy to reduce pain, fatigue, and emotional stress that are some of the biggest challenges of living with this condition.

Research suggests that the normal sleep pattern is interrupted for people with fibromyalgia. Studies show bursts of “awake” brain activity, that constantly interrupt the deepest, most restorative sleep stages. Some studies show that deep sleep is interrupted twice as often for people with fibromyalgia than for those with normal sleep patterns. It’s not clear whether brain chemistry or pain is the cause.

Even if the connection between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia isn’t completely understood, getting better sleep is important. Regardless of the cause, interrupted sleep leads to higher pain, extreme fatigue, and limited mental functioning.

When you get better sleep with fibromyalgia, pain symptoms decrease, mental focus and concentration improve, you feel less stress and more able to enjoy daily activities.

Strategies for Better Sleep

There are dozens of things to try to improve sleep quality. Every body is different. Here are the my top recommendations

1) Dedicate regular hours for sleep, and don’t try to go over or under them. It may seem counter-productive to get up on time if you think you can sleep some more. But the quality of your sleep will be better and less disturbed if you limit your time to the just the amount you need to help feel refreshed.
2) Keep a regular routine. Your body naturally adjusts to a sleep schedule if you have a consistent bedtime. Specifically, going to sleep is easier if you have a regular time you go to bed. It also important to wake up at the same time everyday. In fact it actually may be more important to wake up at the same time every morning, in order to have better quality sleep.
3) Help yourself fall asleep more easily and regularly by winding down your activity level well before bedtime. That means limiting computer use, limiting time in front of any screen, avoiding drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Wind down your physical activity.
4) Exercise regularly, but leave the last 3 hours before bedtime for quieting your body. Many people find that a warm bath with Epson salts very relaxing to aching muscles. Warm herbal tea and a light protein snack can also help your body feel relaxed and calm. Relaxation techniques that calm your mind and body can be very helpful in bringing on good quality sleep. Deep breathing and massage are two such techniques that help.
5) Limit daytime napping. It makes it harder for you to get the deep restful sleep you need most during your regular bedtime hours.

These are just a few of the many sleep strategies that can make a big difference in reducing your symptoms.

Here are some additional resources for you, with more tips and insights into better sleep:

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center

How Fibromyalgia Disturbs Normal Sleep

We know that every body needs sleep.

During sleep, your body restores both physical and mental functions. Sleep takes your body through stages of rest, moving from higher to lower levels of brain and muscle activity. This is the sleep cycle, which repeats a few times during the course of normal sleep.

Sleep specialists refer to the 5 stages in normal sleep, normally described by number. Briefly they are:

  1. Transition; you have just fallen asleep but can easily be awakened and become alert
  2. Light sleep where brain activity, heart rate and breathing slow in preparation for deep sleep
  3. The start of deep sleep, also called slow wave sleep, because the level of brain activity begins to produce slower delta-waves when measured
  4. Deep sleep when the brain activity shows only slow waves, and the body does most of its regeneration; if awakened at this phase, a person is groggy and unfocused
  5. Dream stage, or active stage of sleep. This includes rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep. Brain, breathing and muscle activity increase, sometimes almost as much as when you are awake.

During stages 3 and 4, the body does fine repairs to bones muscles and tissues. Hormones to stimulate cell growth increase. During REM sleep, brain areas that handle memory and emotions are more active.

What does sleep do for you?

Good sleep helps you feel refreshed and re-energized physically. You feel alert when awake, and your memory stays in reasonably good working order.

More work is being done now to study the connection between fibromyalgia and sleep. Research shows that fibromyalgia disturbs the stages of deepest sleep. One study at the National Institutes of Health found that when deep sleep is interrupted, otherwise healthy women had lower tolerance to pain, and increased discomfort and fatigue.

With fibromyalgia, these symptoms are linked with a lack of normal sleep:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling a lack of energy
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression

The connection between sleep disturbance and fibromyalgia needs more study. Researchers are working to better understand the causes of sleep problems. Does the pain of fibromyalgia disrupt the sleep cycle, or does altered body chemistry cause the interrupted sleep cycle seen in people with fibromyalgia?

Better sleep means much better pain relief, energy and lower emotional stress for people with fibromyalgia. Because sleep is so important to coping with fibromyalgia, it’s important to know that getting good sleep may have to be a major focus for you in taking good care of yourself.

Fibromyalgia definitely makes it much harder for you to get the sleep you need – but once you understand sleep’s role in reducing your symptoms, you can plan some good sleep strategies to make the most of your ability to sleep.

More sleep stratgies are coming soon. Meanwhile you can check out these more detailed suggestions:

Improve Sleep Quality with Fibromyalgia
What is the Connection Between Sleep Problems and Pain

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center