Women’s Holistic Wellness: Healthy Habits for Fibromyalgia Sufferers

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain syndrome, characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and specific tender areas of soft tissue. 

It is often difficult to diagnose, due to the lack of a specific laboratory test, but it is estimated that there are 3-6 million fibromyalgia sufferers in the US alone.

The causes of FM are still unclear, though recent studies have theorized that it may arise following a period of trauma, illness, or following a period of environmental or emotional stress; and there is some speculation on whether there may be some genetic susceptibility. 

Though there is no known racial or age predisposition to FM, it does seem to originate in patients between the ages of 20 and 30, and 80-90% of cases will be female. 

Though little is known about the causes of fibromyalgia, several studies have now shown that patients who display fibromyalgia have increased levels of the neurotransmitter ‘substance P’ in the spinal column. 

This chemical transmitter  effectively amplifies the sensation of pain in the brain, causing the patients to feel this intense pain.Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Pain – Fibromyalgia pain can vary in intensity and type; from deep muscular aches to shooting nerve pain. Pain tends to be more noticeable during activity, and can be worse in hot/cold weather, and upon waking.
  • Sleep Disorders – Studies have shown that not only do patients with fibromyalgia suffer from disturbed sleep due to tenderness and pain, but they also spend less time in the deeper stages of sleep. During the most restful periods of sleep, studies have shown that patients with fibromyalgia suffer from ‘bursts’ of brain activity that prevent them from taking advantage of this deep sleep period. This lack of sleep can exacerbate their levels of fatigue.
  • Fatigue – This can range from mild fatigue after gentle exertion to incapacitating tiredness.
  • Other symptoms can include irritable bladder syndrome, headache, anxiety, depression, ‘restless leg’ syndrome, and cognitive/memory problems.

Although there is no exact treatment for fibromyalgia, some preventive measures can be taken to get rid of it. Presently doctors are concentrating on managing pain, relaxing muscles and reduced depression. 

Doctors prescribe patients, low-stress exercises such as walking, swimming, water aerobics, and biking rather than muscle-straining exercises such as weight training. 

Some other measures are heat applied to sore muscles, stretching exercises (Pilates is one form.) and massage.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

Although there is no exact treatment for fibromyalgia, some preventive measures can be taken to get rid of it. Presently doctors are concentrating on managing pain, relaxing muscles and reduced depression. 

Doctors prescribe patients, low-stress exercises such as walking, swimming, water aerobics, and biking rather than muscle-straining exercises such as weight training. 

Some other measures are heat applied to sore muscles, stretching exercises (Pilates is one form.) and massage.

As there is no specific medicine for fibromyalgia, doctors try to reduce the pain and increase sleep. In order to achieve that following types of medicines are prescribed:

Analgesics: Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may reduce the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. However, its effectiveness varies with individuals. 

Tramadol (Ultram) is a pain reliever medicine that may be taken with or without acetaminophen. Doctors often recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Aleve) — in combination with other medications, but NSAIDs haven’t proven to be useful in control the pain in fibromyalgia when taken by themselves.

Antidepressants: Doctors advise antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) or doxepin (Sinequan) to help deep and uninterrupted sleep. 

Fluoxetine (Prozac) in mixture with amitriptyline has also been found efficient. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are also effective for the patients suffering from depression. 

These medications may be beneficial by affecting serotonin levels in the brain.

Muscle relaxants: Taking the medication cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) at bedtime may help to take care of muscle pain and spasms.

Doctors strictly oppose consumption of sleeping pills and painkillers. Patients sometimes take them for quick relief, but the effect is very short term while the side-effect lasts for a long term. 

These medicines are a type of narcotic, so these are very harmful for the patients.

Some self-made measures can also be effective to prevent fibromyalgia. These procedures can be exercised at home. The measures are:

  • Proper workout include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist may help you develop a home exercise program.
  • Stretching, Free-hands, Good posture and relaxation workouts are also helpful.
  • Develop a plan to avoid or limit over-exertion and poignant stress. Give yourself time each day to rest.
  • Exercise stress lessening techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises, meditation and Yoga.
  • Leading a very healthy and simple lifestyle can also help to prevent fibromyalgia.

Other Holistic/Alternative Options for Fibromyalgia

Below is an overview of various Fibromyalgia Treatment options available to the patient.


Acupuncture stems from the Chinese philosophy of energy flowing in the meridians that lie below the skin. Energy imbalances in these meridians are used for the diagnosis of disease.  

Acupuncturists insert very fine needles into the skin to balance energy as in fibromyalgia pain treatment.  

Acupuncture is often used to help control pain and is beneficial for  pain management in the treatment of fibromyalgia.


Typically Allopathic physicians recommend the following  medications for patients with Fibromyalgia Symptoms:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – These over-the-counter pain relievers may ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia, however, their effectiveness varies with individuals.
  • Antidepressants – These medications are prescribed to patients with depression.  The medication affects the levels of Serotonin in the brain.
  • Muscle Relaxants – If muscle relaxants are taken before sleeping, they may help reduce pain and spasms.
  • Narcotics – Physicians don’t usually recommend narcotics for treating FMS because of the potential for dependence and addiction.


Chiropractic treatment is based on the premise that restricted movement in the spine may lead to reduced function and pain. Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy a chiropractor uses to treat restricted spinal mobility.  

The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function, decreasing pain. Manipulation does not need to be forceful to be effective.

A Chiropractor may also use soft tissue massage in the treatment of FMS, stretching muscles that are shortened or in spasm.

Diet And Nutrition

A natural Fibromyalgia Treatment and balanced fibromyalgia nutrition diet can be helpful in counteracting stress, removing toxins from the body, and restoring the natural balance of nutrients. 

Homeopathy medicine, FIBRO-HELP products, help patients by combating stress, replacing deficiencies, and supporting the immune system.  

Patients are recommended to limit the amount of sugar; caffeine; alcohol; and fried, processed, fatty foods consumed.  These substances have been shown to irritate muscles and stress the system increasing FM pain.  

Even for those patients who do not have severe food triggers or allergies, eating a healthier diet can have long-term benefits in the treatment of fibromyalgia. 

Supplementing the present diet with greater quantities of raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables, and substituting meats that are high in fat with fish or lean poultry, are also beneficial practices.


Fibromyalgia Exercise is one of the most powerful remedies in the treatment of fibromyalgia.  Increasing scientific evidence has shown that exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes per day will help fibromyalgia patients as a natural fibromyalgia treatment. 

Exercise becomes a key component in healing FM Syndrome patients because a properly designed routine will improve the body tissues, decrease pain, and increase mobility.  

The fibromyalgia exercise program must be slow and gradual.  The goal is to improve overall health while decreasing FM symptoms.


The word Homeopathy (or Homoeopathy) is derived from the Greek words “homoios”, meaning “like” or “similar”; and “pathos”, meaning “suffering” or ”disease”.  

Homeopathy is a system of medical therapeutics for treating based on the principle of “similae” or “simile.”  

“Disease is eliminated through remedies able to produce similar symptoms.”  

The principle is that certain substances (herbs, minerals, inorganic salts, and other organic materials, etc.) in full strength yield the same symptoms as does a known disease, and that those same substances when “potentised” (or diluted and vigorously agitated) can provide relief of those same symptoms. 

Titrated dilutions and succussions of a particular substance can often be the means for fibromyalgia treatment. 

Today, unlike nutritional substances, Homeopathy substances are considered medicines, recognized as powerful entities which allow specific medical claims to be made about them.

Massage Therapy

Massage involves the use of different manipulative techniques to move the body’s muscles and soft tissues. 

Massage Therapy aims to improve circulation in the muscle, increasing the flow of nutrients, eliminating waste products.  

Massage can relax muscles, improve range of motion in the joints, and increase the production of the body’s natural painkillers.  It often helps relieve stress and anxiety for those afflicted with the symptoms of pain.


Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine are educated with the same general medical curriculum as traditional Allopathic doctors, but also study traditional natural therapeutics emphasizing lifestyle changes, disease prevention, and optimal wellness. 

They perform physical examinations, laboratory testing, gynecological exams, nutritional and dietary assessments, metabolic analysis, and allergy testing. 

They may order diagnostic testing, as well as incorporate a wide variety of natural therapeutics for  natural fibromyalgia treatment.


Osteopaths are licensed to perform many of the same therapies and procedures as traditional Allopathic doctors. 

One area where Osteopathy differs from conventional medicine – but is similar to Chiropractic medicine – is in the use of manipulation to address joint and spinal problems.   This is beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms


Physicians who specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are called Physiatrists.  

Doctors of Physiatry specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in 3 major areas of medical care: musculoskeletal injuries and pain

syndromes,  Electrodiagnostic Medicine,  and rehabilitation of patients with severe physical impairments.


Physical Therapy is a health care profession that helps the patient restore the use of muscles, bones, and the nervous system.  

The basics of the physical therapy profession include the use of modalities like ice, heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.  

Therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, manual therapy, and hydrotherapy-aquatic therapy are all used for pain relief and fibromyalgia treatment.

Self Care is critical in the treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome.  Some important tips for self care:

Reduce Stress – Avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow time to relax daily practicing stress reduction techniques such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation for FMS treatment.  

Sleep – Fatigue is one of the major symptoms of FM, getting enough sleep is essential.  

In addition to allocating enough time for sleep, get into a routine of sleeping and waking up at the same hour each day.  Take short naps to restore energy in the body. 

Fibromyalgia Exercise – Regular exercise will help improve chronic pain symptoms. Stretching, optimum posture techniques, and relaxation practices are also helpful.

  • Pacing – Keep a balance on daily activities.  If too much is done on a good day, take time off the following day, and rest to avoid bad days.
  • Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle – Eat a balanced diet, limit caffeine and alcohol intake, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and do a leisure activity which is enjoyable and fulfilling as a complete FIBRO treatment.

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment focuses on pain relief, relaxation, sleep promotion and patient education to enable sufferers to take control of their lives and symptoms. 

Many patients find relief from complementary therapies as well as coping techniques and medication, and gentle exercise can often be a good way of reducing symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is not a degenerative condition, more patients than ever are finding ways of coping with their condition and getting on with life.

Camille McClellan, MD, DNM, MBS
Naturopathic practitioner
McClellan Natural Health, Wellness & Nutrition
Free Naturopathic/Homeopathic Consults Available

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