How to Treat Fibromyalgia With Diet and Supplements

Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic condition characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain that causes sleep and cognitive disturbances, depression, fatigue, migraines, and widespread pain. Psychiatric symptoms often accompany fibromyalgia. 

As of now, fibromyalgia has an unknown cause and uncertain pathophysiology; however, it is an actual disease of pain regulation. People with Fibromyalgia experience higher than normally perceived intensity of pain. [1]

Fibromyalgia is triggered or aggravated by physical or emotional stressors or trauma and infections.

Fibromyalgia is more common in women than men, and it affects 2 to 3% of the global population. Its prevalence increases with age, and the risk increases for people with rheumatic disease.[2-3] 

The muscle pain associated with the condition has been linked to nutrition deficiencies. An imbalance of nutritional components, including minerals and vitamins, can play a critical role in developing fibromyalgia.

Here are natural ways to help treat fibromyalgia:

Magnesium

Studies have shown a decrease in magnesium in people with fibromyalgia [4-5] Magnesium deficiencies are linked with low-grade chronic inflammation, muscle weakness, and lowered pain threshold, which are typical symptoms of fibromyalgia [6-9]. 

It would be best if you took magnesium in citrate form and in sufficient quantities to take effect. I recommend taking daily supplements of 400 mg per day before sleep at night. 

Probiotics

Research shows that people with fibromyalgia have altered microbiota with an abundance of different microbes correlated with disease [10]. 

Therefore probiotic treatment can be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. One study examined the effect of 7 weeks of supplementation with a multi-species probiotic supplement. They found that it led to improved cognition and better impulsive choice and decision-making in 40 people with fibromyalgia. Still, when asked, people stated that there were no benefits in feelings of pain, quality of life, or level of depression [11].

I recommend taking a probiotic supplement with at least 10 different bacterial strains and 100 billion bacteria (CFU’s).

Selenium 

According to a study on the role of nutrient supplementation in managing chronic pain in fibromyalgia, researchers reported a selenium deficiency in people with fibromyalgia.[12] Selenium is necessary to produce antioxidant enzymes that fight free radicals, which cause cellular damage. Brazil nuts have the highest selenium levels, but it is also found in brown rice and other whole grains and certain beans and cashews. 

Selenium also comes in supplement form. However, a person can overdose on selenium, which may cause fever, nausea, liver damage, and heart problems. Therefore, it is best to increase selenium-rich foods than to supplement in an unmonitored way. 

Vitamin D 

About 40% of people with Fibromyalgia have been reported to have vitamin D deficiency [13]

Studies show the connection between low vitamin D levels and chronic pain, depression, and anxiety in people with Fibromyalgia [14-15]

In a study led by the team from the Department of Oncology, Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK, researchers assessed the role of vitamin D supplementation in managing fibromyalgia. The research involved 466 studies and found vitamin D deficiency to be prevalent in people with fibromyalgia. [16] 

Certain breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Another way to boost vitamin D and maintain optimal levels is by spending time in the sunlight; the healthiest time to spend under the sun is midday when the UV index is over 3. You can find this information in any weather app.  

Iron

Iron deficiency produces emotional and psychological problems because energy metabolism and nerve impulse balance influence emotional behavior. Iron deficiency also produces deficits in memory and learning capacity and poorer motor skills. Iron-deficient people also have increased anxiety, depression, and social and attention problems. All of these symptoms are common in fibromyalgia and are named together as Fibro fog.

Even after supplementation, sometimes behavioral alterations persist [17].

One study indicated a potential link between iron deficiency and fibromyalgia, showing that fibromyalgia was a common finding in patients with iron deficiency anemia. [18]

Another study examined the effect of iron supplementation on fibromyalgia symptoms of 81 people with fibromyalgia. Their results showed an overall improvement only in the group supplemented with iron [19].

Iron deficiency also affects dopamine function since iron is a cofactor in a critical enzyme in dopamine production. [20-22].

Furthermore, GABA or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, whose principal role is the reduction of neuron excitability, is increased in iron deficiency. This leads to decreased brain activity because of insufficient energy [23].

It is crucial to ensure sufficient iron levels, but you must also avoid too much iron. Increased iron levels promote the generation of free radicals, leading to cellular and tissue damage. This will cause similar symptoms as iron deficiency, including dementia, loss of brain function, depression, and emotional behaviors. [24-25]

Since ideal quantities of iron are different for different populations, I recommend consulting with a nutritionist after doing blood tests to ensure you have healthy iron levels.

Increase sleep quality 

A study on the association between pain and sleep in fibromyalgia by a team from the Department of Psychology in North Cyprus studied 16 quantitative studies. The results revealed that increased pain in fibromyalgia was associated with reduced sleep quality and increased sleep disturbances. [26] 

Some ways to improve sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbances include:

  • Reducing blue light exposure at nighttime.
  • Consuming melatonin-rich foods before bedtime such as oats, walnuts, tart cherries, and bananas.
  • Avoid caffeine consumption before bed 
  • Taking supplements that induce relaxation for better sleep, such as valerian root, Ginkgo Biloba, and lavender. Consuming 240 mg of Ginkgo Biloba one hour before bedtime may help reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and promote better sleep.

Physical Activity

Endurance exercise is recommended for people with fibromyalgia as it helps endure pain and improves sleep. I suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of endurance exercise such as walking, swimming, or biking three-four times a week. 
 

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References

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