Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder. Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, and widespread pain. People with this condition often have sensitive, painful points in specific areas of their body. People with fibromyalgia also have chronic pain in muscles, ligaments, and joints. This pain comes and goes over time.
Fibromyalgia’s cause is unknown. It may be related to the way the brain processes pain signals. There is currently no cure.
Treatment for fibromyalgia centers upon symptom relief. Treatments may include medication, lifestyle changes, and holistic options. There is no one remedy that works for everyone. Herbs and supplements may help. Read on to find out more about these natural remedies.
This plant is also known as Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng, and Chinese ginseng. It is available as an herbal supplement. The average recommended dosage is 200 to 500 milligrams daily. Panax ginseng can also be found in teabag form, and as a root, in its natural state. You can use 1 teaspoon of chopped, boiled root to make 1 cup of tea. While relatively new to the Western world, ginseng has been used medicinally throughout Asia, for thousands of years. A study on Panax ginseng use in people with fibromyalgia indicated that it is effective for reducing pain, and the number of tender points found on the body. The same study also indicated that ginseng may:
- improve quality of sleep
- decrease fatigue
- improve overall life satisfaction
St. John’s wort
A flowering herb, St. John’s Wort is available in tablet and capsule form. St. John’s Wort is also available as an extract, in oil form. Its recommended dosage ranges from 250 to 300 milligrams, taken two to three times daily.
St. John’s Wort can negatively interact with certain medications, including antidepressants and birth control pills, so it’s important to discuss its use with your doctor. St. John’s Wort may help alleviate depression in people with fibromyalgia. It may also help reduce inflammation.
Melatonin is a natural hormone. It’s produced in the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. Melatonin is also manufactured synthetically, and is available in supplement form. This hormone helps to regulate sleep cycles, which can make it beneficial to people with fibromyalgia. Poor quality of sleep and exhaustion are common symptoms of this condition. Melatonin may help improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue. Its recommended dosage ranges from 0.3 to 5 milligrams daily.
Chlorella pyrenoidosa is an alga harvested from freshwater sources. It is high in many macronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein. It is available in supplement form. A study found that people with fibromyalgia experienced better quality of life, due to an overall reduction in symptoms, when taking chlorella in supplement form. Study participants were given a combination of 10 grams of pure chlorella as a tablet, plus mL of a liquid containing chlorella extract daily, for two to three months.
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALCAR)
ALCAR is an amino acid produced naturally by the body. It is also manufactured synthetically, and available in supplement form. A study, reported in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, indicated that ALCAR may reduce pain and depression in people with fibromyalgia. Some participants in the study were given a dosage of 1500 milligrams of ALCAR daily for 12 weeks. Others were given duloxetine, an antidepressant. Both groups showed an improvement in symptoms, although researchers indicated that more studies are needed.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that exists in every cell of the body. It is also found in foods, such as brewer’s yeast, spinach, red meat, and organ meats. Alpha-lipoic acid can be taken as a supplement in capsule form. It can also be given via injection. It may help reduce diabetic nerve pain.
Alpha-lipoic acid may also plus protect the brain and nerve tissue from damage caused by free radicals. Due to alpha-lipoic acid’s positive effect on diabetic nerve pain, a trial study is currently underway, designed to analyze its potential for reducing pain in people with fibromyalgia.
Magnesium is a mineral that can be found in a wide range of foods, including almonds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and spinach. It is also available in capsule form, and as a topical solution.
A study reported in the Journal of Korean Medical Science found that women with fibromyalgia have lower levels of magnesium, as well as other minerals in their bodies. Based upon these findings, another research study, published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, sought to determine the effects of magnesium, applied topically, to those with fibromyalgia. Study participants received a sprayed-on solution of 400 milligrams of magnesium to their arms and legs, two times a day, for one month. Findings indicated positive results, with an overall improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms.
Side effects and risks
Herbs and supplements are readily available in stores and online. They are manufactured by many companies, both in the United States and abroad. It’s important not to assume that easy access, translates into overall safety. Many supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, can interfere with other medications you may already be taking. Others, such as alpha-lipoic acid, may have side effects, such as skin irritation. Melatonin may cause headaches in some people. Ginseng may exacerbate insomnia in some people, even though it helps to alleviate insomnia in others.
Herbal supplements are required to meet manufacturing guidelines, established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, they are considered dietary supplements, not drugs or food. To determine how these products will affect you, check with your healthcare provider. Choose products manufactured in the United States. Never exceed the recommended dose on the label. Only purchase herbs and supplements from trusted brands that are recommended by your doctor.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which causes widespread pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue. Its cause is unknown, but its symptoms may be improved by medical treatment, and by herbs, and supplements. It is important to check with your healthcare provider before trying any herbal supplement for fibromyalgia symptom relief.