Two decades ago, I had decided to write one of my doctoral-level papers on the mysterious syndrome (not disease) called fibromyalgia.
The research was based on an extensive questionnaire that was filled out by 150 women (ages 25-75). Approximately half of the women were my own patients and half were patients at a major Pittsburgh hospital.
The questionnaire asked a number of important questions to these women who were either diagnosed with fibromyalgia by their physician9s) or had a sequence of symptoms that were very consistent with the syndrome.
The questions covered many health issues such as their overall energy levels, diagnosed disease states, stress and tension levels, exercise capacity, diet, hereditary aspects, prescription drug(s) taken, vitamins and dietary supplements taken, menstrual irregularities, and other criteria. When all the data was collected, I wrote an extensive report on my findings and gave an oral presentation to an audience made up of many medical professionals working at the hospital.
The personal ‘definition’ that I developed upon completing my research was the following:. “Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a musco-skeletal (much more muscular than skeletal) syndrome (not disease) in which your muscles are in a state of readiness.” In other words, over months and years as the muscles (especially in the myofascial area of the shoulders) become tense and tight (as one feels when they are standing on the edge of a diving board and fearful of the jump) a definite pain and inflammation ensues. This painful response continues over time and is not easy to abate because the muscles have become compromised.
I have heard many women complain over the years something like, “Ever part of my body hurts, and nobody knows why, and nobody takes me seriously!”
I further discovered that a high degree of emotional tension, stress, anxiety, etc., definitely act as “triggers” to a painful response. However, this is not the only aspect of this syndrome. What I (along many other health practitioners) have now discovered more completely (after 20 years of studying biological medicine), is that there is a myriad of “stressors” involved, many connected to or even antithetical to the emotional element.
Let’s look at these major “stressors” (more scientifically termed “endobiontic load”) that better explain the complexity and pathology of FMS.
1 Chronic viruses and cell wall deficient bacteria.
2 Heavy Metal Intoxication
3 Hormonal disturbances mainly from xenoestrogens and synthetic hormones
4 Life traumas and chronic stress
5 Lack of unsaturated fatty acids
7 Poor diet, excess sugar and hyperinsulinism
8 Deficiency of micro-nutrients and vitamins
9 Intestinal dysbiosis
10 Food allergies and sensitivities
11 Excessive protein intake
12 High sympathetic and low parasympathetic motor function
The recurrent problem with microorganisms that compromise our immune system is a major cause of FMS and FMS-like symptoms. Last year I wrote an article for Facebook entitled “The Age of Antibiotics is Just About Over.” Our antibiotic endemic medical society has not only created antibiotic-resistance across the board (Superbugs), they have also led to the near destruction of our intestinal flora (see last month’s article on the microbiome) and compromised immunity. Anthony William’s new book Medical Medium makes a strong case for the presence and exacerbation of the Epstein-Barr Virus in our environment, coupled with higher-than-normal levels of Strept and Staph bacteria. These may be a leading factor in the fatigue and exhaustion that goes along with FMS.
The barrage of heavy metals (especially aluminum, cadmium and mercury), PCBs environmental toxins, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals on our body is immense and only getting more problematic and critical to ill-health as the years go by. This toxic-load is collectively called “oxidative stressors.” This is actually a major accelerator of the “aging” process. In my personal experience the worst and most pervasive offenders include pesticides like glyphosphate (Round-up), atrazine, aluminum and mercury. These toxins directly compromised the mitochondria (power-house) of each cell in our body (of which there are trillions). In time, they are most likely the causes of the rheumatoid and neurological symptoms associated with FMS.
The factors leading to hormonal disruption in FMS patients is likely the most logical answer to the question of why FMS strikes women 8 or 9 times more women than men. Hormonal disruption (especially women in their mid-20s to early 50s who are most prone to FMS) are a direct result of chemical factors. Many of these environment toxic chemicals are “estrogenic” in make-up. This does not mean they are made of the female hormone, but strongly suggests that they are chemically and structurally similar to the female estrogen hormone. Over time these estrogenic (but synthetic derivatives of the hormone) will lower a women’s progesterone levels in a short period of time (her balancing hormone) and can frequently lead to dangerous estrogen-dominance health problems and diseases (e,g,, FMS, breast and uterine cancers, thyroiditis, endometriosis, PCOS, infertility, PMS, and other more female-related health maladies). One major solution to this chemical infestation in our body is to formulate a detoxification program.
There is little doubt that every day life is filled with chronic stress, nervous tension and other life traumas. It’s almost epidemic in our American culture. Everyone seems to always be in a hurry.
There’s a joke about how you tell an American when you’re traveling in Europe? The American eat so darn fast. Although these stress-laden and emotional life situations are mainly perceptions (how we think about things), they directly correlate to adrenal fatigue, thyroid sluggishness and an increased sympathetic and lower parasympathetic nervous system. These are classic FMS problems.
The general lack of essential fatty acids in our diet (way too many Omega 6’s and not enough Omega 3’s) may be one of the leading causes of chronic inflammation. Inflammation is not the result of a disease state in most cases, but is either the result of an injury, the presence of a foreign invader [Williams], or the body’s response to a deficiency or accumulation of anything the body needs to function with (e.g., food and water, bacteria, minerals, amino acids). The accumulated inflammation then leads directly to adrenal fatigue and pain (common FMS symptoms). There are both healthy marine and land-based omega 3 fatty acids to choose from. See a qualified health practitioner.
Perhaps the leading contributor to FMS and FMS-like syndromes is acidity. The acid/base balance in our body (pH) is likely the most important thing the body needs next to oxygen, food and water. The American diet is nearly 85 percent too acidic. A major culprit is sugar. Over consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates leads directly to hyperinsulinism which causes acidification and fattiness of tissues. This process ultimately causes substantial changes in the milieu (intestinal flora). This intestinal imbalance is a leading cause of diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer.
Do your own research on how to consume a more alkaline, plant-based diet.
The deficiency of nutrients in the American diet is uncontested. Even if one believes they are eating a healthy diet, the hidden chemicals, GMOs, and pesticides in our food chain is disconcerting. Add to that the relevance of soil depletion over the decades, acid rain and contaminated water, air and soil. It just becomes way too difficult to tell yourself that you can attain all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need in the American food market alone. If your physician tells you that supplementation in a waste of money- they are simply misinformed- it wasn’t taught in medical school. The main nutrients that are most deplete in our everyday diet include magnesium, zinc, B-complex (especially vitamins B3, B6 and B12), probiotics, and essential amino acids. This lack of nutrients leads to more negative ions in the body and less positive ions. This ion imbalance leads to the formation of calcium stones and accumulation of excess calcium deposits in our circulatory system, kidneys, joints – another direct correlation to FMS. We generally need less calcium and more magnesium. The importance of a balanced intestinal flora has already been stressed. The medical term for this is called dysbiosis.
It is a fancy word that basically states that your gut flora (bacteria) is imbalanced. Again, refer to my article last month entitled “Why Our Microbiome is so essential for Health” to get a better understanding of this critical body regulation. Over time, the accumulation of endotoxins, microorganisms, mold, fungus, all parasites (all loving an acidic environment to feed, grow and reproduce) is another cause of FMS.
The most hidden cause of FMS may be food allergies. I prefer to call them food sensitivities because they can lead to inflammation and atrophy of the intestinal mucosal over time. The main culprits include wheat gluten and dairy products (maybe 70-80 percent), but be careful of nuts, eggs, and alcohol. A psychological response to food allergies and dysbiosis actually can induce lower serotonin** (depression), higher histamine (asthma and allergies), and depletion of B-vitamins (the nerve vitamins).
Finally, there is valid reason to lower your overall intake of protein- especially animal protein. I realize that we frequently hear the ‘health’ media reports about getting and needing more and more protein. The truth is that most of us have hyperproteinisation which leads to over acidity and the deposit of acid substances in the body (FMS again). In truth, it is quite difficult in America to not get enough protein (unless you’re an alcoholic) and presently the majority of us get way too much! So, don’t be asking your vegetarian friends, “Where do you get your protein?” There are plenty of good vegan sources of protein (hemp, pea, rice), but better to ask yourself, “Am I getting too much protein?” This overview on the “ins and outs” and “pros and cons” of the mysterious syndrome we call fibromyalgia was meant to inform you on the many aspects associated with the common affliction. Try to do many more “little” things to fix the problem – not just one major change. Recognizing and practicing more of the little things addressed in this article (along with exercising to tolerance) will add up to one bigger fix over time, and your life will be more pain-free and full of energy.
** Recommended supplement for low serotonin levels: 5-HTP