Fix Your Fibromyalgia with Diet, Supplements, and Lifestyle Changes
Fix Your Fibromyalgia with Diet, Supplements, and Lifestyle Changes
Fibromyalgia, also known as “fibrositis1”, is characterized by widespread pain for at least 3 months2,3. The pain can also be localized along the spine1. There are other characteristics of FM such as fatigue, joint stiffness, numbness in hands and feet, headaches, depression, anxiety, IBS like symptoms and sleep disorders2,1. There can be a psychosomatic components and abnormalities with the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress response system1”. The exact cause of fibromyalgia are unknown. Some theories are inadequate sleep, trauma and exposure to certain viruses such as hepatitis B, C or HIV1. Some diseases that appear alongside fibromyalgia are Lymes disease, hypothyroidism, and hepatitis C3. Some research shows that EBV can be a causal factor of FM. In a study done with 21 people, 76% of the patients has IgG antibodies against EBV (5-10 times above the normal range)4.
There is not one specific test to identify Fibromyalgia, rather it is diagnosed by meeting certain criteria created by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)5. Even though FM is hard to diagnose, it is reported that 2-8% of the population worldwide has FM1,3. However, around 75% of people with the condition remain undiagnosed6.
Through a systematic review, it was found that those that had FM and went on a vegan diet, showed improvement in the VAS-Pain (Visual Analog Scale), GHQ (General Health Questionnaire), HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire); morning stiffness; and sleep quality5.
It is important when eating a vegan diet to eat whole foods, and avoid processed foods and mock meats. Also, eliminating MSG and Aspartame is beneficial for improvement in pain, fatigue, sleep and cognitive function2.
Focus on getting the following nutrients in your diet to help with FM:
Pumpkin seeds, almonds, boiled spinach, whole grains (ancient wheat, and gluten free grains- amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa7) black beans, edamame, avocado, dark chocolate, brown rice, oatmeal8.
Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame, almonds), potatoes, squash, shitake mushrooms, mustard greens, spinach, avocado, and nutritional yeast.
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas9.
Iron (best eaten at the same time as vitamin C rich foods):
White beans, lentils, spinach, tofu, kidney beans, chickpeas 10.
“Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beet, collards), honeydew, kale, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomatoes, and bell peppers (all colors)9”.
“Almonds avocado, Swiss chard, leafy greens (beet, mustard, turnip), peanuts, red peppers, spinach (boiled), and sunflower seeds9”.
Sweet potato, boiled spinach, carrots, melons, red bell peppers, mangos11.
Green leafy vegetables:
For minerals (calcium and magnesium): Kale, watercress, spinach, collard green, chard, leafy lettuce, arugula12.
Those who supplemented with vitamin D found improvement in FM scores2. For vegans, vitamin D can be found in fortified foods, mushrooms, and sunlight. It is also in the superfood, chlorella, recommended below.
Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, algea omega supplement for DHA/EPA
Since there can be an underlying viral component to FM, it is important to address the virus and not just change your diet. Many people’s symptoms come back when going off a diet or supplements, which indicates they are not targeting the root cause. Some antiviral herbs/roots you can use in your cooking are: ginger, turmeric, garlic, oregano, and thyme. You can also sip on lemon balm and licorice root tea. Be careful with licorice root if you have high blood pressure and/or are on any medication. Always consult a healthcare practitioner before adding herbs to your diet. You can also use fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro and sprouts to your meals.
2 Foods Beneficial for FM
Sun ChlorellaTM (500mg daily) was found to improve PAQ (General Patient Questionnaire), VAS- PAIN (Visual Analogue Scale) TPE (Tender Point Evaluation) and Hassles scale over the course of 3 months5. Chlorella is a good source of antioxidants, amino acids, and also contains vitamin D and B1213. This makes it a great supplement for a vegan diet and it also benefits FM.
Ancient Grains: Kamut
Modern day wheat is hybridized, and may be a cause of inflammation. However ancient wheat, such as Kamut, was found to improve RM symptoms. Ancient wheat does not go through the same hybridization process as regular wheat. Kamut is rich in, “magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc, as well as carotenoids and polyphenols, compared to modern wheat2”. A study done on 20 patients, found that those that switched from wheat to Kamut had improvement in FM symptoms (widespread body pain, fatigue and tiredness)2. Other ancient wheats include Spelt, Emmerson and Einkorn. These all still contain gluten. Gluten-free grains include buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and corn tortillas.
- VIBE Fruit & Veggie Superfoods Immune Daily Multi Liquid:
Vibe contains “32 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, PLUS more than 30 fruits and veggies superfoods, including Elderberry, Acai berry, Pomegranate, Green tea, Aloe vera, CoQ10, Amino acids, and much more14.” I like this supplement because it contains all the nutrients for Mitochondria support: vitamin D, C, E, thiamine and robolflavin15. It also contains the cofactor/antioxidant CoQ10, and transporter L-carnitine, also beneficial for FM15. It also has L-lysine which is anti-viral. It is in liquid form, and is “cell ready”. This is good to ensure absorption for those that may have leaky gut, and digestive issues.
Dose: Take one ounce daily with food. Start with ½ the dose to avoid a niacin rush.
- Vitalzyme Extra Strength: Vitalzyme is a proteolytic systemic enzyme proprietary blend of: bromalein, papain, rutin, amylase, protease, lipase, serrapeptase and amla extract. It is in an enteric-coated liquid gel capsule so that the “enzyme integrity” is preserved and nearly 100% is absorbed in the small intestine16. The systemic enzymes are formulated around serrapeptase, “one of the strongest fibrinolytic enzymes available 16”.
Serratia peptidase has, “anti-inflammatory, anti-oedemic and fibrinolytic activity and acts rapidly on localized inflammation17”. It can also be beneficial for viruses, since many viruses act like proteins, proteolytic enzymes can work on these viruses18. Scientific texts also agree that, “ certain enzyme mixtures (containing papain, lipase, bromelain, protease, rutin, invertase….) can act against viruses and its immune complexes, especially if administered early and in high enough doses19.”
A study by Dr. Billigmann (1995) confirms that enzyme therapy is effective for EBV19. This article states that, “Enzymes are considered one of the best anti-viral therapies with very few side-effects while also providing significant pain relief for the patient19.”
Dose: Take 3 caps of vitalzyme morning and night on an empty stomach . Start with one enzyme morning and night and work your way up to 3. Do not take this supplement at the same time as blood thinner medication.
FM is a complex disease that presents itself as widespread pain for more than 3 months. It also can come along with fatigue, headaches, joint stiffness, IBS symptoms, anxiety, depression, mood disorders and sleep problems. A virus could be an underlining trigger, as well as trauma and lack of sleep. A vegan diet has shown to help improve FM symptoms. Focus on eating whole foods rich in magnesium, zinc, C, E, A, iron, and B vitamins. Eating a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, ancient grains and gluten-free grains, legumes and nuts and seeds can help to meet these daily nutrient requirements. Chlorella provides vitamin D and B12, which can be hard nutrients to get following a vegan diet. Vibe is a good liquid multi- vitamin to help meet daily micronutrient requirements and also has some cofactors to help improve FM. Proteolytic enzymes can also help with inflammation and pain, as well as targeting viral underlying issues. Other important lifestyle changes are managing stress and getting good sleep. Some other treatments that can help with FM are warm salt water baths, mud baths6, and acupuncture. CBD oil may also help to manage pain (and doesn’t have the side effects of medication). Always check with your healthcare professional before adding CBD and other supplements to your regime. CBD can have interactions with some medications. On a final note, a study that dates back to 1998 found that there is a relevance between environmental toxins and chronic fatigue syndrome and FM20. It is also important to limit exposure to environmental toxins, including chemicals in households, body products and water. Stress/trauma, toxins, poor diet and sleep can trigger a dormant virus, such as EBV; thus, it is important to address all aspects of the disease.
- Escott-Stump S. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 8th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2015:671.
- Pagliai G, Giangrandi I, Dinu M, Sofi F, Colombini B. Nutritional Interventions in the Management of Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2525. Published 2020 Aug 20. doi:10.3390/nu12092525
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine, fourth edition. Elsevier; 2018: 475-479.
- Reshkova V, Kalinova D, Milanov I. Evaluation of Antiviral Antibodies against Epstein-Barr Virus and Neurotransmitters in Patients with Fibromyalgia. J Neurol Neurosci. 2016, 6:3. doi: 10.21767/2171-6625.100035
- Lowry E, Marley J, McVeigh JG, McSorley E, Allsopp P, Kerr D. Dietary Interventions in the Management of Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Best-Evidence Synthesis. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2664. Published 2020 Aug 31. doi:10.3390/nu12092664
- Maffei ME. Fibromyalgia: Recent Advances in Diagnosis, Classification, Pharmacotherapy and Alternative Remedies. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(21):7877. Published 2020 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/ijms21217877
- Rybicka I. The Handbook of Minerals on a Gluten-Free Diet. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1683. Published 2018 Nov 5. doi:10.3390/nu10111683
- Magnesium Rich Food. Cleveland Clinic. Reviewed November 24, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15650-magnesium-rich-food
- Antioxidants. Harvard T.H. Chan. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
- Iron: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: National Institutes of Health. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/
- Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: National Institutes of Health. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
- Kim L. 7 of the Healthiest Leafy Greens. Keck Medicine of USC. Accessed December 4th, 2021. https://www.keckmedicine.org/7-of-the-healthiest-leafy-greens/
- Bito T, Okumura E, Fujishima M, Watanabe F. Potential of Chlorella as a Dietary Supplement to Promote Human Health. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2524. Published 2020 Aug 20. doi:10.3390/nu12092524
- VIBE Fruit & Veggie Superfoods Immune Daily Multi Liquid. Eniva Health. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://eniva.com/vibe-fruit-veggie-superfoods-immune-daily-multi-liquid/
- Ross, K. FM_CFS. [Canvas]. Tempe, AZ: SCNM Masters in Clinical Nutrition Program; 2021.
- The Vitalzym Product Line. World Nutrition Incorporated. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://worldnutrition.net/vitalzym-products/
- Mazzone A, Catalani M, Costanzo M, et al. Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res. 1990;18(5):379-388. doi:10.1177/030006059001800506
- Merrill MH. EFFECT OF PURIFIED ENZYMES ON VIRUSES AND GRAM-NEGATIVE BACTERIA. J Exp Med. 1936;64(1):19-28. doi:10.1084/jem.64.1.19
- Enzymes Therapy for EBV. Epstein-Barr Virus Natural Health. Accessed December 11, 2021. https://www.epsteinbarrvirusnaturalhealth.com/enzyme-therapy-for-ebv.html
- Bell IR, Baldwin CM, Schwartz GE. Illness from low levels of environmental chemicals: relevance to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Am J Med. 1998;105(3A):74S-82S. doi:10.1016/s0002-9343(98)00162-4
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