From Health Facts
Jump to: navigation, search
Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2016-05-01 (EDT)

Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic disorder characterized by generalized musculoskeletal pain and stiffness, chronic aching, fatigue and multiple areas of local tenderness. This syndrome, along with chronic fatigue are disabling conditions that are rapidly increasing in prevalence worldwide.[1]


Causes Stress, Environmental Toxins, Smoking, Injuries, Infections, Dietary Factors
See Also Musculoskeletal Conditions, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothyroidism, Dysbiosis, Yeast Infection, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis
Books Books on Muscle, Joint and Bone Conditions
Articles Articles on Musculoskeletal Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Check out this book Fibromyalgia and Muscle Pain, Your Self Treatment Guide
Article D-ribose in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Cardiac Disease , Natural Medicine, 2010 February
Article Novel Fibromyalgia Therapy, Open Pilot Study Using a Liquid Emulsion Form of Cetyl Myristoleate , 2012 July;Vol8(7) NDNR [1]

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With fibromyalgia (FMS) the causes are variable and include trauma, chronic stress and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to fibromyalgia.

During an polling of people with FMS, 59% could identify a single event after which their symptoms began. Out of this 59%, 39% said that this event was a physical injury, 27% said that it was a major emotional shock (such as a bereavement), 15% said that it was an infection, 9% said that it was surgery, and 5% said that it was exposure to a chemical agent or drug. [2]


  • Sleep disorders are correlated with FMS.[3]
  • FMS patients often have impaired sleep, such that they do not spend sufficient time in stage four, delta stage, sleep. It is during this stage of sleep that 80% of growth hormone is released by the body. In adults, growth hormone causes tissue maintenance and repair. Thus, if a person is not spending adequate time in stage four sleep, then the ability of their body to heal damaged tissues such as muscles is hindered. This can contribute to muscle pain. Furthermore, disturbances in stage four sleep can cause difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness, as well as fatigue and lack of energy.[4], [5], [6]
  • Foods that commonly aggravate FMS are: sugar, wheat, dairy products, caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, and chocolate.[2] Sugar consumption worsens yeast overgrowth in the body, as yeast thrives on sugar. Yeast overgrowth and dysbyosis can contribute to FMS.[2]
  • Deficiency of B vitamins can exacerbate thyroid problems which are common in FMS patients[2]


  • Chronic stress is associated with increased occurrence of fibromyalgia and an increase in symptom flares.[2] High stress leads to many of the symptoms due to increased cortisol levels, which in turn cause a decrease in triiodothironine (T3), and an increase in reverse triiodothironine (rT3), contributing to a 'sick euthyroid' state.[7]
  • It is common for those with FMS to have undergone a traumatic emotional experience preceding the onset of their illness, and this is typically a traumatic experience of long duration.[2]


  • Toxic chemical exposure can cause FMS.[2], [7]
  • 75% of FMS patients report adverse reactions to various chemicals.[8]
  • Patients with FMS have been shown to have similar results on brain scans as patients with chemical sensitivities. That is, decreased blood flow to and through certain parts of the brain that deal with memory, concentration, and pain regulating functions (specifically, the caudate nucli). The disturbance of brain blood circulation may be one of the most significant contributing factors to the symptoms of FMS.[2]
  • Sources of chemicals include; medical treatments, illicit drug use, household cleaners, new carpets, perfumes, certain types of paint, and military ammunition made of depleted/reduced uranium. Exposure to the latter can cause disturbed thyroid function, and immune system dis-regulation. The following chemicals can also cause disturbed thyroid function, which is a typical component of FMS; poly-chlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, and DDT.[2]
  • It has been postulated that fibromyalgia is associated with viral infections, bacterial infections or with Lyme disease. The list of potential infections involved include: Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV 6), and the Coxsackie Virus (CSV).[9], [10], [11]


  • Trauma
  • A majority of those with FMS had been involved in a motor vehicle accident shortly before the onset of their symptoms.
  • Traumas that resulted in whiplash were associated with chronic global pain and increased risk of fibromyalgia.[12], [13]
  • Smoking
  • Smoking increases the risk of RA.[14], [15]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Benzodiazepines, Valium, Halcion, and Restorol are sometimes prescribed to patients with FMS to help them sleep. These drugs can interfere with stage four sleep also known as deep sleep.[4]
  • Antibiotic and steroid medication use (including the birth control pill), can cause an overgrowth of yeast, especially candida albicans. When this occurs, candida can begin to develop rhizomes that grow in the the lining of the intestines leading to intestinal hyperpermiability and the resultant increase in permeation of toxins from the gut in to the blood stream. This can then increase the incidence of allergic reactions occurring in the body, and also the toxin load.[2]


  • Breathing dysfunctions are common in FMS. One of the ways that people typically respond to a stressful situation is by using the upper chest instead of the diaphragm to breathe.[2] When this shallow breathing persists it can lead to tension in the accessory muscles of respiration which connect the neck and head with the upper ribs.[2] This leads to pain in these muscles, and to a modification in blood chemistry that in turn provokes feelings of greater anxiety.[16]

Diagnostic Testing

Fibromyalgia is commonly diagnosed by assessing specific tender points on the body. Other testing can include:

  • Blood tests such as CBC, serum titres of CMV specific IgA/IgM antibodies, serum titres of EBV IgM antibodies, serum titres of HHV 6 IgM antibodies, NK activity, Thyroid panel including T4, T3, TSH,thyroid hormone antibody test, and serum DHEA, serum cortisol. Thyroid hormone function can be impaired in FMS patients.[4][5] Thus they may have normal levels of thyroid hormones, but still have hypothyroid symptoms because of the inadequate function of their thyroid hormone.[4][5] Thyroid hormone in these patients can be inactivated by their immune system, and can be poorly absorbed into tissues.[4][5]
  • Urine tests including Koensiburg test, Oxidata test, Urine pH, heavy metal tests.
  • Other diagnostic tests including Hair Mineral Analysis, Comprehensive Digestive Stool and Parasite Analysis, basal body temperature, deep tendon reflexes, iodine patch test and orthostatic blood pressure measurement.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

FMS and chronic fatigue are similar conditions. The main difference being that in FMS, muscle pain is a more prevalent feature than fatigue.[2]

Conditions that are commonly associated with fibromyalgia include:


  • Fibromyalgia mainly affects women aged 25-50 years (female to male ratio is at least 5:1).
  • An increased level of muscle tissue breakdown has been hypothesized as one of the main reasons for pain, aching and fatigue.[17]
  • Tension or laxity in neck muscles can lead to impairment in the circulation of cerebral spinal fluid and may account for the symptoms associated with FMS.

Common Symptoms

The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:[1] [2]

  • FMS is typically characterized by widespread muscle pain (meaning pain on both right and left sides of the body, both above and below the waist, and both along the spine and in front of the chest). This pain or muscle tenderness can be measured by touching specific anatomical sites including low cervical, second rib, greater trochanter, knees, occiput, trapezius, suprasinatus, lateral epicondyle, and gluteal. The tender points are located over muscles and tendon insertions and the discomfort can range from mildly irritating to completely debilitating. FMS is typically diagnosed when at least 11 of 18 points are tender. A number of other symptoms commonly associated with FMS include:
  • Chronic aching
  • Stiffness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Subjective soft tissue swelling
  • Cardiovascular problems (dizziness, palpitations)
  • memory and concentration difficulties
  • feeling tired upon waking

Energetic Patterns

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective fibromyalgia is associated with the following patterns:

  • Wind Bi Syndrome
  • Stagnation of Qi and Blood
  • Dampness

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. The treatment of fibromyalgia include symptomatic relief in order to provide the energy and ability to address the underlying causes.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.


  • Positivity, laughter, confidence, and happiness strengthen the immune system.[18]

Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Regular exercise decreases widespread pain and tenderness in women with fibromyalgia. The duration and intensity of the exercise should vary according to the abilities and tolerance of the individual. Exercise is an effective way of relieving tension and stress. It also increases blood flow to the body's tissues, increases flexibility, facilitates deep sleep, decreases pain, promotes relaxation, and stimulates the release of growth hormone.[19]
  • Weakness of posture and increased risks of falls in common in those with fibromyalgia. Addressing postural concerns may improve the symptoms associated with the disease.[20]
  • Sleep is facilitated by decreasing stress, especially before bed time.[2] Practice proper sleep hygiene,and make the place that you are sleeping in as dark as possible[18]
  • As stress is a major contributing factor to FMS, try to limit it decreasing daily tasks and responsibilities, and by planning ahead to facilitate difficult tasks

Naturopathic Therapies

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. The primary goal those with FMS is metabolic rehabilitation.[4] The secondary goal is to minimize as many of the factors that contribute to the disease as possible.

Article Novel Fibromyalgia Therapy, Open Pilot Study Using a Liquid Emulsion Form of Cetyl Myristoleate, NDNR; 2012 July

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Metabolic rehabilitation can be achieved by the administration of specific nutritional supplements that function to improve the function of the biochemical processes of energy production that occur within the mitochondria, and to protect the mitochondrial membrane and mitochondrial DNA from oxidative damage.[8]

  • Acupuncture has been shown to decrease pain and improve the quality of life of those with fibromyalgia.[26]
  • Acupuncture is not only effective in pain relief but has been shown to decrease the fatigue and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia.[27]

A body temperature bath helps to calm the nervous system. Essential oils of lavender or chamomile can be added to the bath water to increase the relaxing effect. Salt glows, or rubbing wet sea or Epsom salt over the body is an appropriate therapy for FMS patients.[2]

  • Cranial electrotherapy stimulation was found to be as effective as drug therapies in reducing FMS symptoms.[28]
  • Relieving segmental facilitation via spinal manipulation, can "lower the threshold of activation for the preganglionic sympathetic neurons, and alpha motor neurons of the involved segment."[4]
  • Craniosacral therapy can be very helpful for people with FMS.[29]
  • Detoxification
  • Support liver function by detoxification. Fasting is a particularly good way to help the liver recover from toxic stress. Short fasts stimulate the production of growth hormone, which helps with tissue repair and maintenance. While fasting, people with FMS should rest, keep warm, and do as little as possible so as to divert all available energy to the repair, cleansing, and healing process that occurs during fasting.[2]
  • Removing heavy metals from the body will improve thyroid hormone conversion.[8]


Co-Authored by:

Dr. Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND[2]
Dr. Raymond Trott, ND
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Percival Mark (2000) Fibromyalgia: Nutritional Support Applied Nutritional Science Reports;2.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 Chaitow Leon (2001) Fibromyalgia and Muscle Pain, Your Self Treatment Guide Thorsons.
  3. Harding S (July 1998) Sleep in Fibromyalgia Patients: Subjective and Objective Findings. American Journal of the Medical Sciences. Fibromyalgia;315(6):367-376.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Chaitow Leon (2000) Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Practitioners Guide to Treatment Churchill Livingston.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Teitelbaum J (2005) Effective Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Integrative Medicine Journal;4(4):24–29.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Elrod Joe (1997) Reversing Fibromyalgia, Treat and Overcome Fibromyalgia and Other Arthritis-related Diseases Woodland.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Hawkes Kristi (2002) Breakthroughs in managing chronic pain and fibromyalgia, a functional medicine approach PowerPoint presentation.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray michael T (1997) A Textbook of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition Churchill Livingston.
  9. Buchwald D, et al. (Jan 1992) A chronic illness characterized by fatigue, neurological and immunological disorders and active human herpes virus type 6 infection. Annals of Internal Medicine;116(2):103-113.
  10. Behan P (1993) Enteroviruses and post viral fatigue syndrome/CFS. CIBA Foundation Symposium.
  11. Nash P (1989) Chronic Coxsackie B infection mimicking primary FMS. Journal of Rheumatology;116:1506-1508.
  12. Hallgren R, Greenman P, Rechtien J (1994) MRI of normal and atrophic muscles of the upper cervical spine. Journal of Clinical Engineering;18:433-439.
  13. Buskila D, Neumann L et al. (1997) Increased rates of fibromyalgia following cervical spine injury. Arthritis and Rheumatism;40(3):446-452.
  14. Källberg H, Ding B, Padyukov L, Bengtsson C, Rönnelid J, Klareskog L, Alfredsson L; EIRA Study Group (Mar 2011) Smoking is a major preventable risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis: estimations of risks after various exposures to cigarette smoke. Ann Rheum Dis;70(3):508-11. PMID: 21149499.
  15. Bang SY, Lee KH, Cho SK, Lee HS, Lee KW, Bae SC (Feb 2010) Smoking increases rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility in individuals carrying the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope, regardless of rheumatoid factor or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody status. Arthritis Rheum;62(2):369-77. PMID: 20112396.
  16. Chaitow Leon, Bradley Dinah, Gilbert Chris. (2002) Multidisciplinary Approaches To Breathing Pattern Disorders Churchill Livingstone.
  17. Lund N, et al. (1986) Muscle tissue oxygen pressure in primary fibromyalgia. Scand J Rheumatolo;15:165-173.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Kelly Mari (2002) Women Living With Fibromyalgia, Hunter House.
  19. Kelley George A, Kelley Kristi S, Jones Dina L (2011) Efficacy and effectiveness of exercise on tender points in adults with fibromyalgia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arthritis; Article ID 125485, 10 pages.
  20. Jones KD, King LA, Mist SD, Bennett RM, Horak FB (Aug 2011) Postural control deficits in people with fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Arthritis Res Ther;13(4):R127. PMID: 21810264.
  21. Skelly Mari (2002) Women living With Fibromyalgia Hunter House.
  22. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser 2010 Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
  23. Boon Heather, Smith Michael 2004 The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Robert Rose, Toronto
  24. Hershoff Asa 2000 Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  25. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth 1997, Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing
  26. Targino RA, Imamura M, Kaziyama HH, Souza LP, Hsing WT, Furlan AD, Imamura ST, Azevedo Neto RS (Jul 2008) A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture added to usual treatment for fibromyalgia. J Rehabil Med;;40(7):582-8. PMID: 18758677.
  27. Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH (Jun 2006) Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial. Mayo Clin Proc;;81(6):749-57. PMID: 16770975.
  28. Lichtbroun Alan, Raicer Mei-Ming, Smith Ray (April 2001) The Treatment of Fibromyalgia with Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation Journal of Clinical Rheumatology;7(2):72-78.
  29. Cabrera Chanchal (2000) Fibromyalgia, The Path to Healing, Medicines from the earth. Audio recording.