I’ve been having fibromyalgia for as long as I remember. I can recall that at least back in 1994, I had severe pain in my left upper shoulder every day of my young and almost joyful life. It’s been over 25 years, and I have been able to learn and live with this condition in ways I never thought possible to get better with.
If this is the first time visiting my website, my name is Marti. I created this blog to help women to use Ayurveda and Nutrition Science to manage fibromyalgia and be happier. When I visited a doctor back in the 90s they could not precisely find a name for my pain. The pain was sharp and consistent and doctors could not find any health conditions in my body to cause such terrible pain, that the only reason left to be causing it was related to stress. Stress, did she say that? I was 25 years old, I had a great job as a chemist, was young, beautiful and as I recall it, being single, and living in the Caribbean very close to the beach. There was no way I was under stress, not an ounce of stress in my life. But well, I accepted it and learned how to live with it whether this would be taking prescribed medications or falling into bad habits like smoking and social drinking. It was until 2007, that my new doctor at the time, after moving to Louisiana in 2006 after hurricane Katrina, mentioned the word fibromyalgia to me for the first time. I did not even know how to pronounce it none less, write it. I started calling it fibro for short. I have to confess that it took me a good three years, to finally be able to comfortably say it in a conversation.
Although my doctor was very knowledgeable as she seems to be, the information she gave me, left me with so many gaps. As the scientist I have in me, I did research on the condition and first, answered my first question, that fibromyalgia is not a well-understood condition, at least in the United States.
What is Fibromyalgia? In plain English.
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain which is accompanied by fatigue, memory, sleep, and mood issues. It is a chronic condition where there is non-inflammatory tenderness in muscles, ligaments, and joints. Fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way by which the brain processes pain signals. Fibromyalgia patients have been found to have lower levels of a brain neurotransmitter known as—serotonin which leads to lowered pain thresholds and increased sensitivity to pain. Serotonin is also clinically known to promote a calm and stable mental state.
Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Many people suffering from fibromyalgia also suffer from tension, headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. There is no cure for fibromyalgia in modern medicine but a variety of medicines are available to control its symptoms. Exercise and stress-reduction measures may also help.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
- Widespread pain—There is a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least 3 months. The pain occurs on both sides of the body and also above and below the waist.
- Cognitive difficulties—A symptom is commonly known as—fibro fog impairs the ability to focus and concentrate on mental tasks.
- Fatigue—Patients suffering from fibromyalgia often awaken tired and their sleep is often disrupted by pain many patients also develop sleep disorders like—restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Many patients who have fibromyalgia also experience depression, headaches, or cramping pain in the lower abdomen.
- Burning sensation
- Pain is usually severe on waking up in the morning and gradually decreases with the passing of the day.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
- Infections—Some illnesses trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or Emotional Trauma—Post-traumatic stress disorder can be correlated with fibromyalgia.
- Heredity—Fibromyalgia tends to run in families.
- The diagnostic evaluation of fibromyalgia can take time, but this should not be a barrier in primary care practices. It is diagnosed on the basis of characteristic symptoms. Patient history, physical examination, and ruling out co-morbid disorders are the cornerstones of fibromyalgia recognition. No radiological testing is required however some tests like—ESR, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a complete blood cell count, and rheumatoid factor (RF) factor is recommended.
- There is also, another test where a specialist will press 18 points around your body, where fibromyalgia manifests the most, and based on the number of points you feel pain, they can make an estimated diagnosis. Again, this is so subjective, because every person is different. This is the way, my doctor diagnosed me back in 2007, and called it fibromyalgia, for the first time.
Fibromyalgia as per Ayurveda
There are ancient Vedas or scripts that have ever existed, at least for 5000 years. I am describing a few of these texts here for general reference.
Fibromyalgia is an imbalanced state of Vata energy or dosha according to Ayurveda. The physiological principle at the basis of nervous system stability and activation is called Vata. A state of Vata imbalance means the pitta (metabolism) and Kapha (immunity) are also thrown out of balance.
- The Charak Samhita Sutrasthana Chapter 13 elaborates on the pre-eminence and primacy of the Vata dosha in the body. According to Master Charak, Vata is the physical energy of the body penetrating as a life force everywhere in physiology.
- Fibromyalgia is classified as Mamsa Dhatugat (diseases affecting muscles and tendons) and Mamsavrut Vata (diseases due to excess of Vata dosha in muscles and tendons). It involves dysfunction in Vata Vaha Srota, Mamsa Vaha Srota, and Mamsa Dhatvagni. It falls into a sub-type of the disease known in Ayurveda as “Vatavyadhi”—the diseases caused primarily due to the vitiation of Vata dosha—the physiological energy responsible for the stability and activity of the nervous system.
- It is described in ancient texts or Vedas as manifesting with a variety of possible and changing symptoms and signs including pain, stiffness, fatigue, gradual loss of movement, mental disturbance, etc. Dietary and lifestyle modifications are suggested in Ayurveda to correct the Vata imbalance. In Ayurveda, the accumulation of toxins is believed to be the root cause of various auto-immune disorders like—rheumatoid arthritis, cervical spondylosis, and fibromyalgia.
- The build-up of toxins can lead a person to feel fatigued all the time. In Ayurveda, toxins are called Ama. When toxic accumulation or Ama takes its toll on the nerve tissue, it results in the symptoms of tenderness, sensitivity, and pain. Therefore, cleaning toxins becomes necessary. Primarily, samprapti (pathogenesis) originate in the gastrointestinal tract, then branches out through the madhyama rogamarga, the middle channels of the pathogenic process of disease with a special inclination for shleshma sthana especially mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue) and their corresponding channels. Ama can also be manifested emotionally in our bodies in the form of anxiety, stress, depression and anger.
Ayurveda uses a range of natural anti-arthritic herbs to treat this condition. Various herbs are
- Shallaki (Boswellia serrata)—This herb is commonly known as “Salai Guggal”. It is a resin obtained from the tree and is purified and used to treat pain and inflammation. It has the potential to relieve pain naturally without having any side effects and is a popular natural anti-inflammatory herb used by Ayurvedic physicians across the world.
- Nirgundi (Vitex negundo)—It is considered the most potent anti-arthritic herb effective in controlling pain and inflammation in arthritic conditions.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)-– This herb is commonly known by the name Indian ginseng in western countries. This herb has anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties.
- Guggul (Commiphora mukul)—This herb has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This herb helps particularly in osteoarthritis.
- Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia)—This herb is one of the leading immunomodulators. This herb is known by the name “Amrita” meaning elixir for long life.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)—It is a very common anti-inflammatory herb that reduces inflammation and is also a good analgesic.
Start with these home practices to start managing fibromyalgia
- Follow a Modified Vata Balancing Diet. Learning what foods to eat and avoid, is one of the most important things you can learn to start improving your fibromyalgia. More about this topic in this blog post.
- Grind 8-10 papaya seeds and mix them in a glass of water and boil it. Drink this water twice or thrice a day for a month.
- Drink freshly prepared cranberry juice or radish juice daily.
- Drinking freshly prepared juice of beetroot, and carrot can help in fighting this condition, apart from improving overall health.
- Make Meditation a part of your lifestyle.
- Regular Sleeping Habits—This is important for reducing pain. If insomnia is one of your problems, I will be writing an article about treating this condition with ayurvedic principles. Stay tuned.
- Make a habit of morning walking every day.
- Epsom salt—Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Epsom salt bath helps the body to absorb magnesium as fibromyalgia is associated with magnesium deficiency.
Nutrition and Diet Recommendations
- The best-suited diet for fibromyalgia is vegetable juices, cow’s ghee, spices such as—ginger, coriander, asafoetida, turmeric, fennel, etc. It is a condition mainly associated with magnesium deficiency, so it is good to consume green leafy vegetables, soybeans, cashews, and almonds. Taking omega-3 fatty acids helps in creating a hormone prostaglandin that helps in reducing inflammation.
- It is essential to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins from the body.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid eating spicy food, caffeine, refined sugar, and yogurt.
Note : It should be noted that herbal natural remedies can work differently for each person and manifestation in the body varies per person.
I hope you found value in this post. Until the next one.