Managing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that debilitates many people. It’s primary symptom is pain, but symptoms can be many and varied, as it is a disorder of the central nervous system. I think a better name for it would be “central nervous system hypersensitivity”, as this describes current understanding of the condition. I am in the (long!) process of writing a book on natural treatments for fibromyalgia, so for now, here is just a basic outline of two of the most important remedies.

Magnesium

As I have mentioned in a previous post, magnesium is required for muscle relaxation. It is also involved in nerve transmission and energy production, so it is pretty much a standard remedy for fibromyalgia sufferers, many of whom find it helps with muscle pain and sleep in particular.  Magnesium is found in wholegrain foods, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and in legumes such as lentils. Magnesium levels in the soil have become depleted in recent times so a supplement would ensure sufficient levels to help with symptoms. The best forms of magnesium for efficient absorption are magnesium malate, magnesium citrate and chelated magnesium. It is also available as “magnesium oil” to use externally and is well absorbed through the skin. Epsom salts are magnesium sulphate, traditionally used for a relaxing bath soak.

St John’s Wort

St John’s wort increases serotonin levels, which are low in fibromyalgia. As well as being involved in mood regulation, serotonin normally regulates levels of substance P,  a pain “messenger” in the body. Medical herbalists also see St John’s Wort as a nervous trophorestorative, which means it restores the health of the nervous system tissue. It relieves pain and symptoms such as numbness or tingling, caused by nerve damage, infections in the nerves such as shingles, or the overactive nerves in fibromyalgia. St John’s Wort interacts with a number of medications, which can be potentially dangerous, and with the contraceptive pill, which may lead to pregnancy, so do not take in these circumstances without medical advice. It  is otherwise a safe remedy and can be taken with other herbs, vitamins and minerals.

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