What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, wherein non-inflammatory pain and tenderness in ligaments, muscles, and joints is experienced. It is similar to the condition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), but, with the added musculoskeletal pain.
Low serotonin level is considered to be the most important cause for Fibromyalgia. Apart from this, chemical changes in the brain, infections, injury, sleep disturbances, altered muscular metabolism, abnormal responses, are also believed to cause this condition.
Fibromyalgia usually presents itself in the form of aches, burning sensation, stiffness, or throbbing in any location of the body. For diagnosis, the physician usually checks for pain in at least eighteen specific â€˜tender pointsâ€™. The pain is usually severe on waking up in the morning, and gradually decreases with passing of the day.
Fibromyalgia, being closely associated with CFS, the patients also experience symptoms associated with CFS, including generalized fatigue, chronic headache, sleep disorder, neuronal complaints, swelling, increased sensitivity, irritable bladder, chest pain, irritable eyes, swelling in limbs, feeling of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, apart from irritable bowels, Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome.
Ayurvedic treatment methods
Fibromyalgia usually responds well to Ayurvedic and herbal treatments, and there are plenty of herbs suggested for this condition in Ayurveda. Many of these herbs also help in various arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis, inflammatory joint conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to Ayurvedic approach, Fibromyalgia is caused by imbalance in Vata, the physiological energy generally responsible for stability and activity of nervous system. Herbal, dietary and lifestyle modifications are suggested in Ayurveda to counteract the Vata imbalance.
Accumulation of toxins is believed to be the root cause of several auto-immune disorders including spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. The build-up of toxins can lead to feeling fatigued all the time. Toxin accumulation takes its toll on the nerve tissue, resulting in symptoms of tenderness, sensitivity and pain. Therefore, cleansing of toxins becomes necessary, and herbs like Kumari Saar (Aloe vera juice), and Aam vatantak Churna are considered.
Panchakarma Therapy is the main physio-therapeutic process employed in managing this disorder in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda uses a range of natural anti-arthritic herbs for treating the condition. Few among them, which may also be useful in treating Fibromyalgia, are:
Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) â€“ This is considered to be the most potent natural anti-arthritic herb effective in controlling pain and inflammation in arthritic conditions.
Shallaki (Boswellia serrata) â€“ Commonly known as â€˜Salai Guggulâ€™, the resin which is obtained from the tree is purified and used to treat pain and inflammation. It relieves pain naturally without side effects, and is a popular natural anti-inflammatory herb used by Ayurvedic physicians across the world.
Guggul (Commiphora mukul) â€“ Also known as anti-inflammatory agent, it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in weight-loss formulas and helps particularly in osteoarthritis. It is also believed to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) â€“ Popularly known as â€˜Indian ginsengâ€™ in the west, this herb has good anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and anti-cancerous properties.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) â€“ Also known as dry ginger, it is a useful anti-inflammatory herb that improves appetite and is known for its excellent results on digestive and respiratory system. It also reduces inflammation and is a good analgesic.
Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia) â€“ This is one of the leading immune-modulators. The herb is also known as â€˜Amritaâ€™, which also means â€˜elixir for long lifeâ€™.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) â€“ This supports liver detoxification, also has anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing benefits.
Grape seed extract (maritime pine bark) â€“ helps in improving circulation and shows anti-inflammatory effects.
Passionflower and Valerian -â€“ Helps in relaxing the nervous system
Olive leaf extract â€“ Good for chronic viral infections.
- Some home remedies that could be easily tried at home regularly by Fibromyalgia patients are:
- Drinking freshly prepared cranberry juice or radish juice daily.
- Grind 8-10 papaya seeds, and mix it in a glass of water. Bring it to boil, and drain. Drink this twice or thrice a day for a month.
- Drinking freshly prepared juice of raw vegetables like carrot, cabbage, beetroot, etc can help in fighting this condition, apart from improving overall health.
Recommended Diet and lifestyle.
The best suited diet for Fibromyalgia patients are vegetable juices and soup; coconut milk and coconut water; cooked vegetables like pumpkin, zuchhini and squash; spices such as ginger, coriander, asafoetida, garlic, turmeric and fennel; and green salads.
As Fibromyalgia is a condition associated with magnesium deficiency, it is good to consume foods that are high in this mineral, particularly green leafy vegetables, soybeans, cashews, and almonds. Also, eating lots of lean proteins like beans and soy products can help in keeping up energy levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids help in creating prostaglandin, the hormone that helps reduce inflammation. Flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and fatty fish have plenty of these.
It is also essential to drink plenty of clean water to flush out toxins and reduce pain.
Fibromyalgia patients should take care and avoid eating hot, spicy and fried foods, excess caffeine, white sugar, cocoa, chocolate, and sweetened yogurt.
A single herbal remedy can treat a range of symptom associated with this condition, without side effects in comparison to some conventional medical treatments. Herbal remedies work naturally to help the body heal itself, and due to such factors, many people turn to herbal remedies for effective relief.
But, it should be noted that herbs do give results, but it will take some time for herbs to manifest in the body. Therefore, take care not to double up on doses. Some herbs should not be used by people who are already suffering from other health conditions, or are taking certain medications, as they may worsen their condition. Therefore, herbal remedies should be consumed only as advised on the label or as recommended by an Ayurvedic physician or herbalist.