Dr. Carolyn Chambers Clark, Award-Winning Author and Wellness Nurse Practitioner

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Wellness Approaches for Fibromyalgia

Wellness Approaches to Fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia, you're probably searching for peace, calm and comfort. This article presents tested wellness self-care approaches for fibromyalgia that may help you.


Find the Cause of Your Fibromyalgia


Factors that are unique to you may be at the root of your pain and fatigue that interferes with wellness. Keep a Food/Stress diary for at least two weeks. Write down everything you put into your mouth and all environmental dust, mold and pollen you are exposed to. For all, note when, and how you feel 30 minutes later. You will begin to notice patterns. If you don't, keep the diary for another 2 weeks. Once you find which foods and environmental factors that make you feel worse, eliminate them.


Change What and How you Eat to Soothe Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Enhance Wellness


1.Read labels of all foods, drinks and drugs and make sure they do not contain aspartate or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Glutamic acid, the main component of MSG can be found listed by any of the following names: autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed oat flour, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monosodium glutamate, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, textured protein, yeast extract, bouillon, broth, flavoring, malt extract, malt flavoring, natural beef flavoring, natural chicken flavoring, natural flavoring, seasoning, spices, carrageenan, enzymes, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, or whey protein concentrate. Try eliminating all products with any of these ingredients for two months and see if your symptoms are relieved. To be sure you aren't ingesting any of these ingredients, you will have to forego eating in restaurants during this time period.


2.Eat a diet rich in whole, fresh foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains (if tolerated), dry beans and peas, soy products and fish. Once in a while, eat skinless turkey or chicken. This kind of regime will help your body neutralize dangerous free radicals. Try to eat 50 percent raw foods and fresh live juices. Buy a juicer and drink at least 12 ounces of carrot juice a day. If you like, add the carrot juice to 2 ounces of spinach juice and/or 2 ounces of beet or 2 ounces of cucumber juice.


3.Avoid green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and white potatoes. These foods contain solanine, which interferes with enzymes in your muscles and may cause pain and discomfort.


4.Avoid meat, dairy products or any other foods high in saturated fats that can raise cholesterol levels and interfere with circulation. They can also promote inflammation and pain. Avoid fried  foods, processed foods (in cans, bottles, bakeries and fast food restaurants), shellfish, and white flour products such as bread, and pasta. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Sugar in candy, cake, pies, ice cream and even yogurt promotes fatigue and, increases pain and can disturb sleep. If you've eaten a lot of these foods, gradually withdraw from them as your symptoms may get worse at first as your body "withdraws" from them. Avoid wheat and brewer's yeast at least until your symptoms improve.


5.Eat four to five small meals daily to keep a steady supply of protein and carbohydrates available to your body. Never skip breakfast and never eat after 7 p.m. (That way you'll be hungry by breakfast.) Don't eat junk foods, but carry a small bag of fresh nuts and raisins to snack on if you get hungry.


6.Investigate the use of acidophillus and related "good" bacteria that can balance the flora in your intestine. Some plain yogurts have active cultures that can help. You can also find other sources of "good" bacteria at health food stores.


7.Drink at least 10 glasses of distilled water a day, or purchase a reverse osmosis water filtration system to insure you are not taking in parasites. Infection by these creatures can mimi fibromyalgia symptoms.


Investigate Supplements to Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Enhance Wellness


*SAMe is a supplement to look into to alleviate depression and pain and promote healing. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), is synthesized from the amino acid methionine and is found throughout your body. SAMe protects your chondrocytes, the cells that manufacture the main components of cartilage, against wear and tear on your joints. Follow directions on label.


Other Supplements For Fibromyalgia


Other supplements that have been reported to be helpful for fibromyalgia include magnesium malate (300-900 mg/day), pycnogenol (25 mg twice a day), chromium picolinate, vitamin C (until you get gas),  CoQ10(50-100 mg three times a day),  vitamin E (400-800 IU a day), glutathione (150 mg three times a day), and acetyl carnitine (250 mgs three times a day). These supplements can reduce oxidative stress due to free radicals that cause severe inflammation and destruction. Borage oil or evening primrose oil capsules may help with inflammation and pain.


Try Herbs for Fibromyalgia Symptoms


Investigate the use of herbs. Remember that herbs are potent substances and need to be used with care. Do not take herbs at the same time you're taking medications. To learn more about herbs prior to using them, buy a book with research-based references or find a health care professional with expertise in the use of herbs.


Some herbs that have provided relief from fibromyalgia include the Chinese herb combination Tuo Li Xiao and Gui Pi Tang. St. John's Wort taken with Bach Rescue Remedy at the first sign of a FMS flare-up can be an emergency relief.


Devil's claw is a muscle and joint anti-inflammatory. St. John's Wort decreases pain, and is an anti-depressant and a muscle relaxer. Scullcap decreases pain, and is a nerve sedative and muscle relaxer.


Milk thistle can help protect your liver and may help with pain and fatigue. Skullcap and valerian root improve sleep, and ginkgo biloba improves circulation and brain function. Topical applications of 1 part cayenne powder mixed with 3 parts wintergreen oil can help relieve muscle pain. Teas brewed from dandelion and red clover can promote healing by cleansing the bloodstream and enhancing immune function. Parasites can be a problem in fibromyalgia. Black walnut and garlic can help remove them.


Choose which herbs to use in consultation with your health care provider. Bring along your herb reference book or any information your have about the use, action, and side effects of the herbs you choose for your health care provider to read.


Try Homeopathic Remedies to Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Enhance Wellness


Pulsatilla is a homeopathic remedy used to decrease tension, anxiety and emotional agitation. Arnica removes blood is an analgesic, muscle relaxer and warmer and can reduce stress.


Start to Exercise to Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms


Low-level aerobic exercise such as swimming, walking, low-impact aerobic dancing and bicycling can reduce FMS pain and reduce stress. You may have to begin with just 5 minutes a day if you have been inactive for quite a while. Warm water pool exercises may be the easiest way to begin. You can also try walking up a single flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator.


Use Cognitive Behavioral Training to Reduce Fibromyalgia Stress and Enhance Wellness


*Cognitive behavior therapy can help you learn to prioritize your time and activities so you can include meaningful work and pleasurable leisure activities in your day, change your self-critical attitudes when tasks take longer than they used to, learn ways to deal with daily hassles without feeling stressed, and reduce attention spent on your symptoms while increasing focus on your accomplishments. You will probably need cognitive behavioral therapy if you hold any myths that are keeping you from changing your exercise and eating patterns. 


*Relaxation strategies, meditation-based stress reduction techniques, self-hypnosis and guided imagery techniques may help you restructure negative thoughts that have left you feeling helpless and hopeless. It may be beneficial to do this work in a group with other FMS patients, so that you see others like yourself master situations. Also, it will probably be easier to listen to your peers' ideas than it will be to take advice from a therapist.


*If you tend to catastrophize (make situations sound worse than they really are) and make depressive self-statements, these behaviors may have a role in your pain. A cognitive-behavioral therapist can also help you bring your self-statements to a more positive level, which in turn can brighten your outlook by focusing on positive outcomes.


*If you were abused be sure to get individual psychotherapy from either a mental health nurse practitioner or a psychologist to overcome your victim role. If you're currently being abused, make a plan for leaving. You cannot hope to conquer your FMS symptoms without tackling this important area of your life.


Relax More to be Well


Purchase a relaxation, hypnosis and/or fibromyalgia healing tape and listen to it twice a day. When your body is relaxed, you will feel much less pain. It is tight, tense muscles that ache and hurt. Try listening to the tape when you first wake up to relax you and give you energy. Listen to it before you go to sleep to get a good night's sleep. If your muscles are tense, it will be difficult to rest.


If you're traveling, additional rest is especially important. Scheduled extra rest before, during and after your trips. Add a ten to 15 minute rest stop for every two hours of driving. Be sure to plan your trips in great detail, especially how much activity you will have. Make a commitment to yourself to stay within a safe activity level. This will help you resist the temptation to do too much when on the road. Also, tell your travel companions of your limits ahead of time and ask them to honor your plans.


Start Postural Retraining to help with your Fibromyalgia


Common postural distortions in individuals with chronic pain conditions such as FMS include a forward positioned head, rounded shoulders with a locked chest and inefficient mouth breathing. Postural Retraining can help you learn how to correct improper use of your muscles for long-term relief. Two easy exercises follow, which prove more effective if you listen to a relaxation tape first.


1.  Stand against a wall with your hands at your sides and your buttocks, head and back touching the wall. While inhaling from your abdomen, slowly raise your arms up along the wall until they touch over your head. While exhaling, slide your arms down the wall until they are at your sides again. Repeat several times, building up to ten times a day.


2.  Stand against a wall with your arms bent and your knuckles touching each other at nipple level. Slowly inhale from your abdomen while pulling your hands apart and letting your elbows move toward the wall until they touch it. Hold your breath for several seconds, then slowly exhale, returning your bent arms to nipple level. Repeat several times, building up to ten times a day.


Here are some other things you can do to improve your posture and fibromyalgia.


*  Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time. Shuffle your feet, slowly reach out in front of your with arms, slowly stretch your arms over your head or touch your knees and then your buttocks several times.  If you're driving, pull over every hour, get out, walk around the car, stretch up to the sky, take a deep breath and find at least one little thing to enjoy in your surroundings.


*  Sit in a rocker when watching television or sitting and relaxing. This will prevent the muscles in your back from locking and build up strength in your knees and ankles.


*  When you stand, lean forward and let gravity help you. Don't just push yourself up with your arms.


*  Sleep with a small soft pillow between your knees to keep your back in alignment. Never sleep on your stomach. When turning in bed, roll with your head down and float and use your arms to help turn. Relieve stress on your neck by not lifting your head and leading with it to roll over.


*  Avoid sitting in drafts or cold rooms. Both can tighten your muscles, especially in your neck and shoulders and increase pain. Put a small towel or scarf around your shoulders and neck to keep them warm.


Try Magnets to Reduce Fibromyalgia and Enhance Wellness


A report in a journal of Italian ergonomics presented the results of a study of the effect of magnets on the prevention of musculo-skeletal disorders. The results showed the magnets prevented muscle contractures that arose due to sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time.


Another report published in The Newsletter of the American Institute of Stress found that two-thirds of participants who slept on mattresses with magnets reported substantial pain relief, decreased fatigue, and an improved sense of well-being.


Engage in Meditation to Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Enhance Wellness


Studies provide strong evidence that joining a meditation-based stress reduction program could help.


Use Affirmations to Reprogram Negative Thinking about Fibromyalgia


Affirmations can replace negative thinking with more positive thoughts. Say or write one or more of the following sayings on 3x5 cards and place them in prominent spots around you.


*     I lovingly release the past

*     I am free and so is everyone else

*     My heart is healed

*     I can hear and accept other people's viewpoints

*     I am safe and secure


To find supplements and herbs, click on this line.

This article about fibromyalgia is for information purposes only. Consult with your health care provider for individualized care.

Copyright 2008 Carolyn Chambers Clark



Think positive and you'll be positive!

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