Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender (trigger) points.
It is not one condition but a compilation of different syndromes; therefore, one treatment does not fit all patients. More than that, treatment of two patients with similar fibromyalgia symptoms may be drastically different due to different underlying triggers.
Dr.Anne Louise Oaklander, MD, PhD, director of the Nerve Injury Unit in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology says, “Fibromyalgia is too complex for a 'one size fits all' explanation.
However there are some basics that apply to most fibromyalgia patients. Glutamate and GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric acid) are the most abundant neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, and especially in the cerebral cortex, which is where thinking occurs and sensations are interpreted. In people with fibromyalgia there is a GABA deficiency and excess of other neurotransmitters such as, glutamate, dopamine and norepinephrine. They are all supposed to be in balance.
For instance, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter and when it connects to nearby cells, it causes them to activate and send a nerve impulse. GABA on the other hand does the opposite – when it attaches to another cell, it tells it to stop and not to send an impulse. Therefore with a deficiency in GABA, nerve cells can fire easily and far too often.
Normally, the brain pumps out all the GABA we need. Unfortunately, due to a poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins, or other factors, levels of GABA may become depleted.
When the body fails to produce enough GABA, or utilize the amounts it has, tension, anxiety and pain can escalate.
Dr. Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer, Professor at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zurich and at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Zurich says, “The spinal cord is placed between these structures as kind of a pain filter.”
GABAergic neurons are widely distributed throughout the central nervous system, including regions of the spinal cord dorsal horn known to be important for transmitting pain impulses to the brain. In addition, GABA neurons and receptors are found in supra-spinal sites known to coordinate the perception and response to painful stimuli. This neurotransmitter system has been shown to regulate control of sensory information processing in the spinal cord.
Findings published April 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation show that within the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), the neurotransmitter GABA can interfere with the propagation of pain signals.
Gabapentin is a drug often prescribed for chronic pain. It is an ‘analogue’ of GABA and manufactured to mimic the effects of GABA, however it does not appear to affect the same receptors in the brain, is not converted into GABA and has no effect on the amount of GABA in the brain. Furthermore it requires a doctor's prescription and may cause side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, mood swings and weight gain. A sudden withdrawal may also create the risk of seizures.
Suggest 500mg GABA 1 or 2 x a day.
Skullcap (Scullcap) is one of the most useful herbs to restore and calm the nerves. Skullcap is known as a slightly sedating nervine, neurotrophorestorative, anxiolytic, and spasmolytic.
A nervine normalizes the functions of the nervous system, soothing and relieving tension. A neuro-trophorestorative is something herbs can do which pharmaceutical drugs don’t. It restores optimal function and structure of an organ or tissue. In skullcap’s case, its attention is the restoration of the neurons. An anxiolytic relieves anxiety. Not all anxiolytic herbs do this in the same way. A spasmolytic relieves or decreases muscle spasms in smooth or skeletal muscle.
Skullcap taken together with GABA reduces the painful nerve signaling associated with fibromyalgia.
Published online in the journal “Brain, Behavior and Immunity”, a study by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers -- collaborating with a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden -- has documented for the first time widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia.
The study, suggested a potential role for neuroinflammation in the condition -- including elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid.
Cannabidiol also known as CBD is a chemical compound that is present in hemp, a close relative of marijuana. It is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t make people feel high. CBD is also known to have many benefits that can help relieve patients from pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other conditions.
CBD passes through the cell membrane to get inside a human cell and bind with a nuclear receptor. It does this by attaching itself with a fatty acid binding protein, which takes it into the cell’s interior. One study suggests CBD in the brain inhibits anandamide reuptake and breakdown, which increases endocannabinoid levels in the brain’s synapses and in turn, has been found to have neuroprotective effects against seizures.
Another study concluded that CBD might counteract the hypersensitivity of cells surrounding nerves in people with chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia.
There are so many CBD products on the market that are of very low quality you have to be careful which one you purchase. There is no point using inferior CBD for pain if it doesn't work. We use personally and with our patients Plus CBD Oil (CV Sciences) and get consistent great results.(Pluscbdoil.com)
Low vitamin D levels can cause muscle pain and weakness. Studies show that as many as 25% of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have low vitamin D levels, and that supplementation may help lower pain levels in some cases. One study shows that vitamin D-deficient people need twice as much narcotic pain reliever as non-deficient people.
A study reported from the Orthopedic Hospital Vienna, researchers found between the first and the 25th week on Vitamin D supplementation, the treatment group improved significantly on a scale of physical role functioning, while the placebo group remained unchanged.
Your Vitamin D blood level should be between 50 & 70. Get it tested if you haven’t already and check the numbers. Don’t settle for a report of normal or low from the doctor’s office.
Most fibromyalgia sufferers sleep very tight, stressing the nervous system and muscles and as a result suffer from lack of sleep. Taking a natural muscle relaxer such as Muscle Tranq (Vinco) 1-2 tabs before is helpful.
Extremely gentle massage with experienced therapists is very beneficial and most fibromyalgia patients tell me works wonders for them.
As stated earlier, fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome where diet, hormone balance, lifestyle, stress, sleep and potentially numerous other factors need to be addressed. There are also natural pain and anti-inflammatories that may be beneficial.
Consistency is the key! Be diligent every day for at least 3 months to begin feeling a noticeable improvement!
In-office and Telephone appointments with me are available at the Tree of Life Wellness Center Inc. (508-336-4242).
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner
Host Holistic Healthline Radio