Fibromyalgia (FM) affects 1.5% (444, 000) of Canadians over 12 years of age (1). Those who are most affected are women, people over 40, smokers, the obese, low-income earners, and the physically inactive (1).
However, it is unclear whether or not low income, educational status, smoking, and physical inactivity are consequences or determinants of the disease.
People who suffer from FM have disturbed sleep due to chronic systemic muscular and skeletal pain. Often FM co-occurs with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition characterised by disabling physical and cognitive exhaustion. Unfortunately, 2 out of every three people with CFS and FM have at least three other chronic health conditions (1). As a result, CFS and FM cause significant impairment and stress, both at work and at home.
So how does one develop CFS or FM?
About 50% of CFS patients can recall a viral infection triggering their CFS. Others triggers include motor vehicle accidents, surgery, or an unexpected fall (2). Also, adverse effects of some psychiatric medications may cause overwhelming fatigue.
It is not uncommon for digestive complaints to occur in the presence of CFS and FM (3). Optimizing your digestive function through the use of mindful eating, an elimination diet, and hypoallergenic diet may help to lessen the digestive burden. Your naturopath may also opt for botanicals and supplements to increase digestive function. These interventions may include digestive enzymes and bitters.
Regarding possible vitamin deficiencies in FM and CFS, it is important to know your vitamin B12 status. Deficiency of B12 can lead to anemia, and fatigue (4). Your family doctor and your naturopath can test for serum values of vitamin B12.
Other nutrients are shown to be helpful in improving symptoms of CFS and FM target mitochondria and glutathione; the powerhouse of the cell, and your body’s primary antioxidant, respectively. These nutrients include N-Acetylcysteine, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, L-Carnitine, and CoQ10.
Some environmental triggers to avoid when living with a diagnosis of CFS and FM include changes in sleep schedule, exposure to the cold, physical & mental overexertion, sensory & information overload, excessive stress, prolonged driving & air travel, alcohol and caffeine.
A matter of boundaries
Above all, scheduling “me time” and setting boundaries (both emotional and personal) will help to build energy and reduce the risk of burnout (3).
For more information on what can be done to improve your symptoms of FM & CFS, and to find the specific nutritional protocol best suited for you, contact your local naturopath.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.