2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Fibromyalgia: An Almost Natural Approach

One of the best ways to envision fibro is as a generalized anxiety disorder of the muscles, initially triggered by a stressful event and then perpetuated by the pain of the muscles themselves.

Let’s reiterate exactly who and what we’re treating when we treat fibromyalgia:
• A person, usually a woman, who is genetically more susceptible to stress because of an inherited low-serotonin stress buffer.

• Before her fibro started, she likely experienced a protracted period of stress–emotional or physical–which, due to her body’s constant fight-or-flight response, has tightened her muscles painfully and fatigued her stress-responding adrenal glands and thyroid.

• She now suffers widespread muscle pain, exhaustion, and unrefreshing sleep.

• Although the specific triggering events may have receded, the stress from her current fibro (unrelenting pain, exhaustion, little help from doctors) keeps everything going. In addition, she may have heightened sensitivity to other yet undiscovered (but correctable) stressors, including diet choices, weather, shifting sex hormones, job, and relationships.

With this in mind, the fibro patient arrives at WholeHealth Chicago with her sheaf of normal test results. I always appreciate having this information as it saves unnecessary repetition of tests and thus money.

Usually, three more tests are necessary:
1. Neurotransmitter profile (measures levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and other brain chemicals).

2. Adrenal hormone profile (measures the stress hormones DHEA and cortisol).

3. Basal body temperature for thyroid testing.

4. And, if warranted, tests for food sensitivities (including gluten), vitamin D, and sex hormone levels.

Here are the first steps of non-prescription treatment:
• To raise serotonin: St. John’s wort5-HTPB complexfish oil.
• To raise norepinephrine (if low): Brain Energy, a supplement containing the building blocks of norepinephrine.
Adren-Plus for adrenal support.
Theanine, a natural muscle relaxant and anti-anxiety supplement.
Magnesium, a muscle relaxant, for better sleep.
Vitamin D, which for unknown reasons helps fibro pain.

Not-so-natural treatment:
There are simply no nutritional supplements capable of adequately controlling fibro pain. Depending on the situation, I recommend massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, or Healing Touch. Since persistent pain is one of the stressors that keeps fibro going, pain must be brought under control.
• I follow the American Pain Association recommendations of stepped pain control (start low, move up as needed) with low doses of tramadol, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. My goal is to see a fibro patient who self-scores her pain at a 9-10 level move down to a manageable 2-3 or better.
• If basal body temp is low, add natural thyroid (prescription).
• If cortisol levels are low, add cortisol (prescription).
• If sleep is a major issue, a prescription sleep med (Ambien, Lunesta, trazodone).
• If the patient is willing to try one of the new drugs for fibro, I recommend Savella, at half strength. If not tolerated, then Lyrica, again at half strength.
• If PMS is a major stressor, either progesterone (prescription) or chasteberry.

Diet is probably more of an issue with fibro than many doctors believe. More and more people (fibro or not) are being found to have gluten sensitivity, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or toxic food syndrome. Any of these can be a significant but hidden stressor to a fibro patient.

Hypoglycemia is an interesting trigger: every time blood sugar drops, adrenalin is released to boost it back up, but adrenalin also causes more muscles to contract. I often recommend a food sensitivity elimination-reintroduction diet using the product Xymogen I5 as a detoxifier. Also, by merely increasing protein and reducing high glycemic foods, you can treat hypoglycemia yourself.

If you have fibro, philosophically understanding what’s occurring in your body is an essential part of treatment. Once you pull back and see the larger fibro picture, you’ll realize that all your life you (and likely your mom) have been more susceptible to stress and more sensitive to physical sensation, like pain, than other people.

You’ll come to see that fibro is not a disease but a defense (Freud’s pupil Wilhelm Reich called it “character armoring”) and you’ll recognize that it won’t develop into a disease but will remain what it is–a stress response from hell–until you understand the message of this pain.

Your fibro appeared as a response to stressful factors in your life. Once you’re pain-free and doing well, fine. But if fibro symptoms start to return, don’t panic. Rather, regard them as a message that your body is perceiving stress from some source. With a “fibro-flare,” it’s fine to restart meds and supplements, but this time, press the pause button on your life. Seriously reflect on the possible source triggering the return of your symptoms. Have you been neglecting your diet? Are you in a relationship or job that somehow your body “knows” is wrong? Listen carefully for the message your body is trying to convey and act on it.

When you take steps to resolve these triggers, your muscles will slowly relax, the pain recedes, your body begins to heal, and many of the meds and supplements can be tapered off or even discontinued altogether.

Next week: Your health and the oil spill.

Leave a Comment


  1. Gina Pera says:

    Wow, this is an amazingly succinct and helpful post on fibro.

    I’d like to get it into the hands of every physician who encounters patients with these symptoms.

    Kudos, Dr. Edelberg!!! Please keep up the great work. Your book (The Triple Whammy Cure) is so helpful!

    Gina Pera, author
    Is It You, Me, or Adult with A.D.D.?

  2. Pamela Kearns says:

    I would be interested in more information. Actually, it makes great sense. Much of the supplimental regime I have discovered to work on my own. But I would love to get this information to my own physician. I think he would be open to it.

  3. What a great series of information and right on. Thanks for the insight.
    Chandra Klaiber, RN

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Upcoming Workshops

**Finding Your Calm
Tuesday June 5, 6:00 – 7:30pm
Christine Savas, LPC & Renee Zambo, RYT
Fee: $65 (including take-home materials)

Are you looking for ways to wind down amidst a hectic schedule?  Do you want to learn how to deal with ongoing stress?  Do you need tools to help you relax, but aren’t sure how or where to start? Join WholeHealth Chicago’s Clinical Psychotherapist Christine Savas and Yoga Therapist Renee Zambo for an evening of education on the importance of slowing down.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online or by calling (773) 296-6700
More>>

 

**Shamanic Healing Clinic
Monday, June 11, 2018
with Katie Oberlin, HTCP
30-Minute Sessions ~ $40.00 (regularly $55.00)

Summer is just around the corner with the Solstice approaching on June 21st. Shamanically speaking, this is a great time to harness the power of the Earth element to ground your intentions and welcome it as a container for taking action in positive ways.

Experience a shamanic healing session.
Have you been thinking about new ways to address your health? Or build new relationships? Or be more authentically present in your work?

Take this opportunity to support this time of transition from Spring into Summer with an individual 30-minute session.

Registration
By appointment only, June 11, 12 – 5 pm
Half-hour session for $40 (regular price $55)
Please call 773-296-6700 to register.
More>>

 

***Vaginal Rejuvenation Workshop
Thursday, June 14, 2018;  6:00 – 8:00 PM
Mari Stecker, LAc & Renee Zambo, RYT
Fee: $65

Are you experiencing vaginal dryness? Or pain with intercourse? Have you been told you have vaginal atrophy due to menopauseAre you frustrated because you believe your sex life is overWell, it doesn’t have to be!

Come learn easy, non-pharmaceutical, non-hormonal, low cost techniques that you can do at home to help alleviate vaginal dryness, atrophy, thinning of vaginal skin and/or painful intercourse.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online or by calling (773) 296-6700
More>>

 

Recent Health Tips

  • Controversial Diagnosis #3: Candida Overgrowth Syndrome

    Patients come to WholeHealth Chicago regularly with this common refrain: “You’re the fourth (or seventh or tenth) doctor I’ve seen. I feel terrible but am always told that my tests are normal and there’s nothing wrong with me. Recently I read about Candida overgrowth and the symptoms seem to fit me exactly. But the doctors I’ve seen all tell me there’s no such illness.” These Read More

  • Controversial Diagnosis #2: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    In the mid-1980s, two outbreaks of what appeared to be infectious mononucleosis appeared in the US. Unlike typical mono, which caused exhaustion for a few weeks, people with this type were left in a permanent state of fatigue, with low-grade fevers, swollen lymph glands, muscle aches, and poor focus/concentration. In some cases, the fever and lymph gland swelling subsided, but the utter exhaustion persisted. Because Read More

  • Controversial Diagnosis #1: Fibromyalgia

    I encountered my first significant controversial diagnosis when we opened WholeHealth Chicago in the mid-1990s. The concept of combining conventional and alternative medicine was new to the Midwest and right away we began seeing patients who came to us with chronic symptoms but no solid diagnosis. One group that stood out was made up of primarily women who had longstanding and severe widespread muscle pain Read More

May Sale: 20% Off Metagenics Gut Health Formulas

In honor of World Digestive Health Day on May 29th, some of our favorite gut-supportive formulas are 20% off this month! You’ve asked us to put these on sale and we’ve listened, but please pace yourselves – you have all month to take advantage of this great deal! More>>