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Fibromyalgia – How to Find Relief


If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FMS), you know the overwhelming aches, pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia all too well. It makes every movement of your body an excruciating effort.

We now know that everything in the body is connected. Even how we think about our health can impact our well-being. But did you ever consider that the health of your mouth or toxic chemicals in your personal care or cosmetic products could affect how your whole body feels including the management of fibromyalgia?

As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you probably have experienced health concerns in nearly every part of your body.  Most FMS patients say that they ache all over, with muscles that feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Their muscles sometimes twitch or there is an unpleasant burning sensation.

Part of the difficulty in understanding FMS is that it displays so many symptoms that frequently fluctuate from person to person. Although not everyone has all of these FMS-associated problems, several of them frequently occur at once and you have probably experienced many of them.

* Fatigue is present in varying degrees, from mild to severe. Many people report difficulty concentrating and experience short-term memory loss (“brain fog”).

* Insomnia is a common complaint among FMS patients. Most don’t reach deep sleep (Level 4) long enough to get needed rest and rejuvenation.

* Depression is often present, but may be due to dealing with fibromyalgia and not necessarily a cause of it.

* Chronic headaches, such as migraines and tension headaches are noted in about 50 percent of patients.

* Irritable bowel syndrome is found in about 40 to 70 percent of FMS patients. This condition causes constipation, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain and nausea.

* Musculoskeletal pain that feels like deep aching, burning, and shooting pain is another common symptom. The pain may feel worse in the morning and result in stiffness, especially in muscle groups that are used most often. The pain is pinpointed in anatomically defined tender “trigger points.

* Temporomandibular joint disorder, referred to as TMJ or TMD, is accompanied by severe pain in the jaw, face, and neck. This may cause difficulty in chewing as well as yawning and even talking. Approximately 75 percent of patients with fibromyalgia report jaw pain of varying degrees. TMJ has many other symptoms that manifest in other areas, for example dizziness, ringing in the ears, neck, shoulder, back pain, and headaches.  Relief for jaw pain starts with a visit to your dentist.  Most often, a simple mouthguard can bring fast relief.

As you can see, pain in varying degrees in many parts of the body is a constant unwelcomed guest with FMS.  Imagine if some of that pain could be relieved - without barraging your body with any more harsh drugs. Sound impossible?

Think three things: chemical sensitivities, guaifenesin and emu oil

Doctors are now recognizing that as many as 75 percent of the people who suffer with fibromyalgia are also sensitive to many common, often unavoidable chemicals, like perfumes. Some common ingredients that have been associated with chemical sensitivities are commonly found in personal care and cosmetic products including sodium lauryl sulfate, and strong preservatives.

Additionally, some individuals develop symptoms similar to fibromyalgia when they eat foods that contain additives.

Diagnosis of chemical sensitivities is difficult, since the signs so closely parallel those of fibromyalgia. Not only do they include the aches and pains associated with the autoimmune disease, but symptoms of chemical sensitivity may include unexplained fatigue and difficulty in sleeping as well as difficulty in breathing.

Additional signs of this problem include painful headaches, very often migraines, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The signs even manifest as the flu-like symptoms of a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a sore throat. Some individuals complain of problems with concentration.

Chemical sensitivities usually accompany fibromyalgia. Medical experts are at a loss to explain what causes this health problem. But, that doesn't mean your doctor can't help lessen these problems. With a few simple lifestyle changes, including some which may involve your diet, you may be able to pinpoint the exact causes. Even partial relief is helpful.

If You Have Unknown Cause of Allergies, Read on…

Sensitivity to an ingredient may result from a variety of causes. What may be a harmless substance to one person, may cause a variety of reactions, from mild to severe, in another person based on how their immune system responds.

The more compromised the immune system is (as with fibromyalgia), the more likely the person will react to substances. Some allergies are inherited, others can develop over time.

Salicylates (pronounced sal-e-se-late) are natural chemicals in plants and should be considered in the list of potential causes of sensitivity. They are also used as one of the main ingredients in aspirin and other pain relieving medications. Many personal care products contain salicylates as one of their ingredients. Some products contain salicylates in the chemical form, while others are in the natural form through plant ingredients that are included in the formulation of the product. For example, a product that contains herbs, may not list the word "salicylate" on the label, but may contain salicylates through the plants or herbs in the product.

Besides personal care products, salicylates can be found in food, medication and cosmetics. Many people realize they have sensitivity to Aspirin, but may not realize that same ingredient is contained in many of their other personal care products but not labeled as Aspirin or salicylic acid, but mint or other plants or herbs.

Salicylate sensitivity can lead to symptoms such as:

* Asthma-like symptoms * Headaches * Nasal congestion * Itching, skin rash or hives * Swelling of hands, feet and face * Stomach pain

Most people assume if a product has the word "natural" on it, it must be safe. Since these plant ingredients in varying degrees contain salicylates, it's possible allergies develop over time from the continued long term use of plant ingredients that are absorbed through the skin into the body.

If you do suffer with numerous sensitivities, determine which chemicals are the culprit and eliminate them. 

Relief from pain…from down under

Another helpful way to relieve pain associated with fibromyalgia besides monitoring chemical triggers I listed above, is to use emu oil on painful muscles. The emu bird was originally used by Australian Aborigines for their meat and the oil had many uses.

Studies from University of Australia report temporary relief for painful muscles, arthritis joint pain, eczema, aging and many other uses. The meat is also reported to be healthier than chicken breast as far as cholesterol is concerned. So if you want an easy, safe and inexpensive way to relieve painful muscles due to fibromyalgia, try rubbing in some emu oil. Just make sure it's pure and has the American Emu Association seal of approval. If the oil has not been purified properly, it may contain contaminants.

Can a supplement bring relief?

Guaifenesin is an over-the-counter supplement that bestselling author endocrinologist Paul St. Amand, M.D. prescribes with success for his patients who suffer with FMS. In his book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia" (co-authored with Claudia Marek), he explains how guaifenesin can help relieve symptoms.  His research led him to the conclusion that it is phosphates that build up in muscles that result in pain and weakness.  Guaifenesin, which is commonly used as an OTC expectorant to loosen phlem, releases the phosphates, and brings relief.  He also feels strongly that a low glycemic index diet is crucial for management of FMS.

Flora Stay, D.D.S.