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Natural therapies for fibromyalgia

By 1
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Natural therapies for fibromyalgia

Question: My daughter is only 32 but she has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have never even heard of this disease — can natural therapies help?

Answer: Fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed because it presents as a bewildering and debilitating cluster of some — but not all — of the following symptoms: sinus infections, widespread pain, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, exhaustion, sleep disturbance, depression, and body stiffness.

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It is also a great deal more common in women than in men, and high levels of stress are a predisposing factor.

Conventional treatment focuses on relieving the pain; many patients are also prescribed antidepressants.

Nutritional supplements which may help include the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which reduce inflammation and pain in the body, and magnesium, which helps to support muscle strength and function and reduce cramping.

There is some evidence to suggest that fibromyalgia patients may be deficient in the hormone serotonin, which is one of the body's natural pain-relieving compounds.

The supplement 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) — which is what the amino acid tryptophan is converted into before it is made into serotonin — may be able to reduce persistent muscle pain.

Bodywork therapies can also help, improving the body's ability to cope with stress as well as pain — chiropractic and osteopathy may help normalise spinal areas that may be contributing to pain; hydrotherapy and aerobic exercise improve both cardiovascular and muscular conditioning; and acupuncture may be able to provide pain relief.

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Caution: Check with your healthcare professional before taking supplements, especially omega-3 fatty acids if you are taking blood-thinning medications, or 5-HTP if you are taking antidepressants.

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