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Anyone here using natural remedies/treatments for fibromyalgia?

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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:12 PM
Original message
Anyone here using natural remedies/treatments for fibromyalgia?
I have a cousin recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, she is exhausted, in pain, and really suffering terribly. She has insurance, but it doesn't cover much and she doesn't have much out-of-pocket money available. I know there are natural remedies and treatments for this condition, including diet changes, and I know there are osteopathic physicians who are using such treatments as well, with great success.

Is anyone here using such treatments, and, if you are, could you shed some light on what they are and explain how they're helping?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. There are a number of websites on the subject
I have a family member who had it as well--eventually recovered once menopause kicked in. It affects females far more than males.

Some remedies, as I recall, included magnesium and calcium (relaxes the muscles), massage, not too hard, a benadryl--or two-- at night to help sleep patterns and also to clear out sinuses, which often accompany the condition, MSM, and NSAIDS. Some swear by large doses of guaifenisen (in pill form, not liquid), which is basically the shit in Robitussin, because it has a clearing effect on all the crap that builds up in muscle tissue and causes the pain. However, titrating up to a large dose can be painful, as once aches while adjusting to the dose on top of the aching of the condition. On the plus side, it does clear the sinuses as well.

The key to the whole thing is SLEEP. You sleep, you produce growth hormone, your body repairs itself. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP, and lots of it. REGULAR SLEEP, eight hours a night at least. Did I emphasize SLEEP enough? (Heh, heh!).

You can spend a fortune on doctors and drugs, and you will probably be just as well off doing your own research and going with the supplements, diet, and sleep pattern recommendations. The odds are good a doctor will just prescribe some sort of antidepressant which will not help the situation, leaving your cousin zoned out and still in pain. A favorite one is a small dose of nightly elavil, supposedly to help sleep, and no one I have ever met says it works--it's either worthless or gives nightmares (this is a common "get lost" tactic with military doctors treating GW vets, too, take it from me). Doctors are way behind the curve on the condition. I swear, it's environmental....thanks a lot, GOP (had to get political, it's just my way!).

Do the google, check the bulletin boards, even check out message boards on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome--they share some, though not all, of the same symptoms. Also, look at some of the Gulf War Illness websites--again, I am of the mind that these conditions are related as well. Some think there is a continuum of sorts with the afflictions. Skip the sites trying to sell you shit, look for message groups and whatnot that are a community for sufferers. Read the archives of these message boards, glean what you can. Better than going on as a newcomer and trying to get any info--those sites can get kind of clubbish and there are always a few dramatic people, so it's easier just to sift through the old stuff to find what you need.

You are a nice cousin, your cousin is lucky to have you!
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thank you, I
really appreciate it! I do know that sleep is very important, the problem is, she just can't sleep well at all, which I hear is common with this. I think internal cleansing might help as well; since I've started natural internal cleansing every six months or so I feel so much better than I ever did. I keep trying to tell her exercise helps a lot as well, and she knows that, the problem is she feels so lousy that it's hard to do even small amounts of exercise. Soaking in a hot bath or hot tub helps her, too, but she doesn't have the luxury of being able to do that a lot.

I'll do some research for her based on your suggestions, and see what I can come up with. Thanks again!
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. You can buy of those goofy mats with a hose attached to a blower that you put in the tub, and it makes bubbles. You can adjust the blower so that it blows hot air bubbles...they aren't too expensive, and they are better than the ones that hang off the side of the tub (safer, too, as you can put the blower "machine" far far away from the tub, even outside the bathroom, if your bathroom isn't huge).

Tell her to try the hot bath right before bed. Have a turkey sandwich and some vanilla ice cream or a glass of milk as an evening snack (the calcium and tryptophan will make her sleepy, plus, it tastes good!).

I cannot stress the importance of sleep discipline enough. ROUTINE is the key, and the benadryls will knock her out (didja know that when the nurse in the hospital gives a patient something to help them sleep, it's a double dose of OTC benadryl? Great for sedating an injured pet, too, but you don't want to exceed one for a small to mid sized dog). Dim the lights, better, still, turn them OFF, soft, soothing, drift-away music on the timer, no TV. What may help, especially if she has pain in the lower quadrant of her back, is to get her one of those wedges so that she sleeps with her feet elevated, and her arms on pillows. Sounds odd, but it works. In the meantime, pile up a bunch of pillows and tell her to stick her legs up on them, almost as if she were sitting while lying flat on her back. This may sound counterintuitive, but she may also want to raise the head of her bed as well--helps with sinus draining and breathing. She can do this with pillows and wedges too--some people go so far as to put the front of the bed up on blocks (looks stupid, but some swear by it--the poor man's adjustable bed!). Beats sleeping in a barcolounger, which is one way to try to get comfortable. If she sleeps on her side, tell her to stick a good sized pillow between her legs from knee to ankle. If her mattress sucks, put a board under it short term, get a foam topper, whatever is needed to make the surface more welcoming...then, when circumstances and finances permit, start shopping for a better mattress.

As for excercise, gentle, mild exercise is best. No pounding runs, no working out with the heavy bag, no tai kwan do. I recommend water exercise. Three times a week to start, build up from there. Check with the local YMCA or community center, sometimes they have a geezer group for pool exercise in the HEATED pool (I lived in a town where they actually had a FIBROMYALGIA-specific workout in the pool, but that was just outside DC, where they have everything) -- you get to know an awful lot of very nice, very interesting old ladies at those things, they take you through range of motion, stretching, and so on, and it is totally NON IMPACT. She will actually, really FEEL BETTER afterward, with the right group and with a heated pool.

Good luck to you.
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DawgHouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:57 PM
Response to Original message
3. Watch the diet
Eating healthy and avoiding junk seems to help me a lot. Mild exercise is helpful as long as it's not overdone. I'm not in an acute stage right now but I know how your cousin feels. Elavil helped me but the side effects were bad. The best help is to find a way to get some GOOD sleep. I can give much more information but as said before, there is so much help on the net. I will recommend that you or your cousin visit There is lots of medical information and support there. Good luck to her. At least she has a doctor who believes fibromyalgia exists. Some still don't, you know.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:15 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks for the
web site info, I'll check it out for her. She says it comes in "flare-ups", she'll be fine for awhile, and then she'll go through a nasty period of pain and exhaustion. Is that the case with you?
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:21 PM
Response to Original message
5. St. John's Wort
There are theories that a lack of serotonin lessens people's ability to take pain or to focus it on more than they otherwise would. Prescription antidepressant have been prescribed with success.
Your friend might want to try St. JOhn's Wort, an herb that helps replenish serotonin levels.
I understand that some suffers of fibromyalgia are reluctant to take treatment that seems aimed at depression because they think people are telling them the problem is all in their heads. Actually, the problem is truly physical and getting serotonin levels up is supposed to help.
Good luck
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Thanks, I didn't know that.
I'm on anti-depressants myself, I wonder if St. John's Wort would be better?
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Possibly
Do you have Naturopathic physicians in your state? They are licensed in some states but not others. They would have the knowledge required to help you transition.
St. John's Wort is supposed to have fewer side effects than the SSRIs, like Prozac.
I really like Naturopaths and their approach to health.
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:46 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. The challenge with natural remedies that they do not give INSTANT results. The pharmaceutical companies like to poison us to make us better, and make us better RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! Now, when I have a serious infection, I do like the fast action of antibiotics, but, same as you, I also like the "heal thyself" philosophy of the naturopathic practicioners. It's a process.

You are quite right to urge seeing a doc to transition from ADs to another methodology. I've been given to understand that some of them need to be titrated down.
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. They may not give instant results,
but, with the exception of antibiotics, which are necessary for infections, they're far better for your body. And you're right, people don't stick with natural remedies because they want instant results and they want them NOW.

But I think if you stick with the natural treatments, you'll ultimately feel much better in the long run than you would with drugs and other standard medical treatments. After all, our bodies are made for natural remedies and treatments and it's what we used for thousands of years before the advent of modern medicine and drugs.
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LordshipLadyship Donating Member (379 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-12-05 01:59 AM
Response to Original message
11. yes I am
I have both fibromyalgia and polymyalgia, and my rhuematologist wanted to put me on some steroid. Well, it had a good chance of giving me a psychotic break, not to mention all the other bad side effects. (turned out I had a break from being on naprosen anyway, sigh ) Screw that. Here's what I'm on. Centrum, MSM (from Trace minerals company) Oscal, (calcium supplement) and Flax-Primrose oil complex from Health from the Sun company. As far as diet goes, I stopped ingesting anything with caffeine. It's very hit and miss with food in my experience. I cannot eat eggs, whole grains seem to bother me, it may be different for her. I use a walking cane called a palm cane for bad days. I'm careful to keep myself warm in cold weather, I use those heat pads that warm on contact with the air, I use aromatherapy. Hot baths with green tea soap (something I got out of a book on fibro) are wonderful. Mineral baths. Ridding the body of toxins. Doing a little at a time, don't push yourself, rest whenever you can. I noticed cold makes me worst, and if I miss my pills as described above, it makes a difference, I have bad pain. Try not to stress, the beginning of fibro is the worst, I have found. Let others help you as much as possible. Try aromatherapy, try oils, whatever she likes, even if it doesn't cure, it's pleasant, and aids in stress. Again, the onset is rough, I know, but it WILL change. I give her a virtual hug, I know only too well how horrible it is. There are several books, one I recommend is by Claudia Craig Marek Fibromyalgia, the first Year. If you cannot afford to get books on fibro, try the library. There are several online forums.
My love to her, I know what this is like, there is no cure in my opinion, but she WILL have better days. And she has you to do this for her. She needs to experiment with what's best for her.
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