The verdict on fibromyalgia remains undecided. This is basically because the condition is not well understood, and its exact cause unknown.
There are, however, a number of doctors, researchers as well as people with fibromyalgia who believe that nutritional supplements should be an important part of symptom management.
Having said that, it is also important to remember that not all supplements are well researched, and only a few may have undergone clinical trials.
It is because of this uncertainty that any supplement taken should only be under the advice of a medical practitioner.
But before we take a look at which supplements come highly recommended for easing fibromyalgia pain, here is a quick look at what suffering from fibromyalgia means.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the muscles and soft tissues of the body. It is a poorly understood condition which is characterized by deep tissue pain and fatigue, insomnia and depression among others. While the condition can affect anyone, it does seem to have a higher presence among women than men.
If you or someone you know suffers from this condition, you will likely experience common symptoms like fatigue, chronic muscle pain, sleep problems, morning stiffness and painful trigger or tender points.
While many of these symptoms appear to be generic ones, the one thing that stands out about fibromyalgia pain is that it is felt all over the body. In fact, widespread pain is often what forces an individual to go and visit their doctor.
People suffering from fibromyalgia usually report the pain as a sharp, deep throbbing or a dull aching felt in the muscles, ligament and tendons around the joints. The pain can be experienced as one which comes and goes or one that seems to travel through the body.
Another feature that distinguishes fibromyalgia pain from other kinds of pain is that people with this condition may have painful tender points.
These points are mostly localized areas of tenderness which hurt when pressed. For the most part, these areas are located just under the surface of the skin and are not areas of deep pain.
However, it is not only the physical discomfort of fibromyalgia that can be problematic but other aspects as well.
For instance, while the pain is always there, you may also feel stress and anxiety due to sleep disturbances. Your mood may become unpredictable causing all sorts of problems including depression.
What options are available to treat fibromyalgia pain?
While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for fibromyalgia, a number of different approaches may be used to alleviate the pain.
Some people try using complementary and alternative medicine along with medication while others do the same by combining physical therapy and exercise.
Still others also try to relieve the fatigue, pain, and stiffness associated with the condition by using dietary supplements.
And even though no single method has been observed to completely ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, trying multiple approaches consistently over time can help with minimizing the discomfort of this debilitating condition.
All in all, treatments methods do not only aim at reducing the pain alone, but also try to address issues like sleep problems and mental wellbeing. In many cases, even anti-depressants are considered a choice in patients.
Why turn to supplements for fibromyalgia pain?
Trying to treat fibromyalgia pain with just medication is often a hit or miss experience. This can happen because some people may not tolerate medication well, or the prescription medication may come with a long list of adverse side effects.
In a number of cases where people suffer from chronic pain, they turn to opioids for pain relief.
And even though opioids can somewhat take the edge off of fibromyalgia pain, there is always the risk of dependency.
Natural supplements, on the other hand, offer a much safer treatment alternative and alleviation from the pain.
For the most part, the intention to use supplements focuses on boosting levels of specific substances in the body.
If there is deficiency of these substances, the symptoms of fibromyalgia may be felt more prominently and restoring balance can significantly reduce the severity of these symptoms.
Apart from the deficiency scenario, supplements can also help reduce the symptoms without the risks of serious side effects of prescription painkillers or other medication.
Remember that one of the biggest challenges for fibromyalgia sufferers, besides the pain is the utter lack of energy and total exhaustion.
This has a profound impact on the quality of life of the people. Many of the supplements recommended below can help overcome this problem.
These supplements are designed to counter the effects of chronic fatigue, while providing the body with energy and promoting better sleep patterns.
How to choose the right supplement
With careful planning, most of the symptoms can be successfully treated and relieved with the help of medications, alternative therapies, lifestyle changes and stress management.
For instance, if you feel you need supplements to relieve your condition, always make it a point to consult with your doctor first.
This is important since some supplements may have harmful interactions with medications while others may be unsafe to take if you have certain medical conditions.
But with so many varieties available, choosing supplements is not always easy. Plus, newer products introduced in the market may not necessarily have a lengthy track record, so their benefits or long term effects may not be known or well established.
There are, however some well-established supplements recommended for relieving the pain associated with fibromyalgia. The most popular of these include the following:
Vitamin D seems to be a natural choice because it has a lot to do with strong bones and may also impact nerve and muscle function to some extent.
While the medical benefits have not been clearly established for using this supplement, experts do believe that the sunshine vitamin can help ease the pain of fibromyalgia.
In fact, a lack of vitamin D has long been linked to a weak bone density and resulting pain.
In many fibromyalgia sufferers, vitamin D levels have been observed to be low. A lack of vitamin D does have some effect on nerve and muscle function and its deficiency may be linked to the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.
Some experts also believe that lower vitamin D levels could be the outcome of fibromyalgia instead of the cause of the condition.
To compensate for this deficiency, check with your doctor first. If needed, your doctor may recommend a daily dose, which should be followed as per instructions and not exceeded.
The risks of taking a high dose vitamin D pill may lead to certain problems such as kidney or heart damage.
This a substance found naturally in the body. Its functions include blocking cytokines, which are proteins in the body that trigger inflammation. It is also known as a pain reliever and is available as a dietary supplement.
When a SAM-e supplement is included to treat fibromyalgia, benefits such as relief in pain and morning stiffness have been observed. Plus, SAM-e supplements have also shown to improve mood disorders and reduce depression symptoms.
Unlike many other supplements, SAM-e cannot be taken through the diet. Instead, it is available in supplement form and dosage can be adjusted as per individual needs.
For those people taking SAM-e supplements, dosage typically starts with 400 mg/ day and if well tolerated, could go to as high as 800 mg a day.
The supplement needs to be taken on an empty stomach and because it can be stimulating, it is best to take it early in the day.
And just like any other supplement, SAM-e can also have some side effects. These may include some digestive problems, a skin rash or lowered blood pressure.
Likewise, the supplement can interact with certain medications so make sure to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using it.
Turmeric has long been used for its medicinal value in ancient cultures. Now, in modern medicine turmeric is also enjoying a solid repute for relieving pain, countering inflammation and offering many other health benefits.
Its active component known as curcumin works like a pain reliever in the body and may be helpful in alleviating the discomfort of fibromyalgia pain.
Curcumin can do this by blocking something known as the COX-2 enzyme, which can trigger pain and inflammation.
One of the biggest benefits that this dietary supplement offers is that because it is all natural, it is also safer on the stomach than most common painkillers.
Interestingly enough, turmeric has a similar action as an opioid painkiller in the sense that it acts along the same endogenous pathways to relieve pain.
Yet, it is neither addictive nor dangerous as other opioids. Plus, turmeric is fairly well tolerated by most people.
A good supplement to consider can be Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine. The product is designed to act as a natural anti-inflammatory helping relieve pain and stiffness to improve mobility and endurance.
It is very easy to incorporate turmeric into regular meals. Not only is it available as a supplement but it can also be used as an ingredient in everyday cooking to add flavor or spice up your meal. Turmeric can also be used as an ingredient in pain relieving tea recipes.
The combination of magnesium and malic acid has shown effectiveness when used to treat fibromyalgia pain.
Magnesium is a common mineral that is found in whole grains, nuts and leafy greens. It is important for the normal functioning of nerves and muscles.
A deficiency of this important mineral is often traced as a leading cause of symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness, fatigue and exhaustion among others.
Malic acid is an organic compound which is known for its potential to increase energy and tolerance to exercise.
Fibromyalgia sufferers exhibit low levels of oxygen in their muscles, a condition known as muscle hypoxia. In this situation, malic acid can help ease the pain caused by muscle hypoxia.
Now, since magnesium can correct a host of conditions associated with chronic pain, it is also believed that including a magnesium supplement may help in easing the muscle stiffness and pain caused by fibromyalgia.
To consider a magnesium supplement, look at something like Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium Dietary Supplement which combines magnesium with malic acid. Together the two provide energy to the body while successfully treating the chronic fatigue, pain and insomnia of fibromyalgia.
Or try Fibro-M which has been formulated to help maintain proper muscle function. This supplement also draws its healing potential from ingredients like magnesium, malic acid, bromelain, and Siberian ginseng to help reduce tenderness, soreness and fatigue soreness in working muscles.
Benefits also include reducing muscle recovery time, giving you more time to actively engage in work, performance or training.
Some research shows that individuals with fibromyalgia tend to have low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical which has an impact on a person’s sleep, mood and pain endurance levels.
When serotonin levels are low, people naturally suffer more from sleep problems, muscle stiffness, pain and possibly even anxiety.
5-HTP is a natural amino acid and a building block of serotonin. Including this supplement to treat fibromyalgia pain can help with improving the person’s deep sleep and thus reduce pain.
Low levels of serotonin are also linked to depression, so it is believed that raising these levels can help boost better mood.
Plus, researchers also believe that boosting 5-HTP levels may also positively influence pain sensation.
Considering trying a 5-HTP supplement? Why not take a look at Anatrin which is a product packed with a combination of nutrients and plant extracts that help in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Anatrin contains ingredients such as magnesium, ginger root extract, 5-HTP, melatonin powder and malic acid, together all of which target the fatigue and muscular pain associated with fibromyalgia.
The supplement is designed to aid musculoskeletal system, sore muscles, body aches and tenderness.
Use upon the advice of a doctor. The supplement will be tolerated well by most fibromyalgia patients. Recommended dosage can vary greatly from 50 to 500 mg. with dosage starting low and increasing slowly.
However, anyone who may be allergic to any of its ingredients, or is taking other medications for hypertension, diabetes and hypothyroidism should not take it.
Other exemptions include people who take antibiotics, diuretics, anti-depressants or blood thinners. Patients with renal problems or pregnant and nursing women should not take this supplement.
Carnitine is an amino acid found in the body and is critical for energy production. One of its forms, known as L-carnitine is believed to help the brain utilize serotonin and glutamate which can be out of balance in people with fibromyalgia.
Some research shows that carnitine supplementation may help lower pain levels and boost mental health in people with fibromyalgia.
Once again, care needs to be taken when deciding to use a supplement. The first thing to do is to check with your doctor so that any interactions with other supplements can be ruled out. Also, carnitine can impair thyroid function and is not recommended for anyone on dialysis.
When used in supplement form, there can be a therapeutic benefit from 500 mg of L- carnitine twice a day.
Medical advice on dosage is important because high carnitine levels can lead to side effects such as rapid heartbeat, increase in blood pressure and fever.
You can look at this L-carnitine supplement to support heart and brain health while boosting mood support and sustained energy levels.
This is a natural hormone produced by the body which affects a person’s sleep cycle. Since the pain of fibromyalgia can also aggravate sleep related problems, a melatonin supplement may be recommended to ease the discomfort. Plus, it has been noted that not getting enough sleep can worsen pain over time.
For people suffering from fibromyalgia, the lack of restful sleep can also result in a lack of muscular endurance.
Since melatonin is a sleep promoting agent, it is also seen as a supplement which will induce rest. At the same time, melatonin in pill form is also used for treating depression and chronic fatigue.
Melatonin supplements are generally considered safe, but can interact with certain medications. These can include birth control pills, immunosuppressant drugs, anticoagulants and diabetic prescriptions.
A word of caution
After getting a go ahead from your doctor, you can try one supplement at a time. The one-supplement-at-a-time rule is very important because if you take a couple at the same time, and experience side effects, then it becomes difficult to tell which supplement caused it.
Instead it is a better option to try out a new supplement at a time for at least 2 to 3 weeks and make sure that there are no reactions.
If the supplement works for you then stick to it, otherwise you can always try another one or add a new one.
Also, remember that different supplements cater to different needs. Some may be created to specially boost energy while others may address sleep issues.
Supplements that target mood problems will be very different from others that deal with pain and tenderness, so always get professional medical advice first.