Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by pain across the body, extreme exhaustion, sleepiness as well as poor memory. This condition, also referred to as fibrositis, tends to affect the musculoskeletal system. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, studies show that this condition tends to magnify the sensation of pain across the body, and this interferes with the brain’s normal functioning as far as processing pain is concerned. Symptoms often start to manifest after some form of surgery, an infection or trauma to any part of the body. In some cases, mental distress can also trigger the onset of fibromyalgia. Other risk factors associated with this disorder include genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances as well as overall poor physical conditioning.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia, in addition to those mentioned above, also include stiffness in the joints, numbness, sensitivity to smells and light as well as tingling sensations felt in different parts of the body. In some cases, the patient will also experience migraines, depression and anxiety. With this is mind, it is easy to see that fibromyalgia is not the easiest of conditions to treat. In fact, even with professional medical intervention, the main aim of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms. Complementary medication is available, as are natural home remedies. The latter are preferred because they tend to have minimal side effects for the most part. In case where the pain is so severe, or you are unsure of what remedy to take up, it helps to seek the opinion of a professional doctor.
1. Regular Exercising:
Time Required: Varies depending on the specific exercise routine.
What You Need: Appropriate exercising gear.
Regular exercise is one of the recommended remedies for the natural treatment of fibromyalgia. The long-term benefits of an active lifestyle are known to help strengthen the musculoskeletal system, thus reducing the accompanying symptoms of the disorder. Additionally, exercise has been shown to prevent the muscles from wasting, and this helps restore the normal functioning of the muscles. It is also important to mention that exercise increases the production of endorphins, commonly known as the ‘feel good’ hormones.
Endorphins are known to trigger the release of positive emotions, and this not only makes it possible for one to deal with the fatigue, it is also a great stress-buster. This is important largely because fibromyalgia has been linked to anxiety and depression. The general guide to using exercise as a natural remedy is to start gentle and steadily advance to slightly more intense routines. Use the tips below as a handy guide to treating fibromyalgia using exercise routines.
Tips when Exercising
- Start with gentle routines to avoid placing undue stress on the body. These routines include gardening, walking, jogging and water aerobics. For the most part, strengthening exercises are also beneficial for fibromyalgia patients.
- The duration of exercise varies from one person to another, but exercising for 20 minutes at the start is recommended. This way, as the intensity of the exercises increases, the time duration may also increase proportionately.
- Remember that if at any one time you feel that the routines are placing a strain on any set of muscles, it is recommended that you stop immediately.
- You may want to consult your physical therapist to help use the most effective exercise routines.
2. Massage Therapy:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Preferred massage oil and water bath.
In addition to regular exercising, massage is also known to help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. The most important thing when it comes to massaging is that the techniques used help relax the muscles while increasing the range of motion for the body’s joints. Massage also goes a long way in helping relieve stress that normally creeps up on people suffering from this disorder. Lastly, massage increases the body’s production of chemicals that help fight off the inflammation and this helps ease the discomfort.
It is important to mention at this point, that there exists a special type of massage technique specially designed for alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This technique is known as Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy (abbreviated MLDT). Just as the name suggests, this technique helps to drain the lymph system so that there is less pain and inflammation. It is recommended that for this technique, you see a massage therapist who is well experienced in the use of this technique for the natural treatment of fibromyalgia.
- As is typical of massage when used as therapy, the use of choice massage oils is recommended. Only the technique differs, making this a reliable remedy in the long run.
3. Epsom Salts:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Cups of Epsom salts and warm bathwater.
Epsom salts is one of the go-to remedies for the natural treatment of fibromyalgia. Epsom salts constitute Magnesium and sulfate, both compounds required for the optimal functioning of the muscles. Since this disorder affects the musculoskeletal system, Epsom salts can come in handy in helping restore the normal function of the muscles. Additionally, studies have linked an increased likelihood of fibromyalgia to low amounts of magnesium in the body. When added to the bathwater, the salts provide a soothing option that helps reduce pain and discomfort while allowing the overall relaxation of the body.
NOTE: You may want to seek medical advice if you suffer from a pre-exisiting condition as the increase in Magnesium and sulfate may cause complications.
- Place 2 cups of the Epsom salts in the bathtub and run the warm water. Warm water is used because it helps relax the muscles.
- Mix the two to completely dissolve the salts and then proceed to enjoy a full body soak for at least half an hour.
- Use this remedy at least once daily to get relief from fibromyalgia.
4. Increase Dietary Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Time Required: Varies depending on the source of the fatty acids.
What You Need: 2 Tablespoons of fish oil along increased intake of fatty fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of unsaturated fats that play a key role in keeping inflammation at bay in the body. This is particularly important because fibromyalgia is accompanied by intense pain and inflammation especially in the joints. Long-term intake of omega-3 fatty acids is helpful in preventing neuropathic pain. There are different sources of fatty acids, including fish oil supplements and cooked fatty fish. Note however, that fish oil supplements can easily cause complications for people taking blood-thinning medication. As such, increasing one’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids should be done in consultation with your doctor in case of any pre-existing conditions.
- Take 2 teaspoons of fish oil once daily.
- You may also add fatty fish to your diet as a great source of healthy fats. Some of the best options include wild salmon, sardines, tuna and anchovies.
- Other healthy sources include flaxseeds, walnuts and soybean oil.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: 2 Tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar (abbreviated ACV) is a handy remedy for the management of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Long used to reduce the inflammation in the different joints, ACV is an easy remedy to use. Other benefits of using ACV include easing bodily fatigue, balancing the pH levels in the body as well as eliminating oxidative stress that places a strain on the body cells. This ACV remedy is intended for oral use, and is best diluted to prevent irritation. Honey is an optional addition that acts as a natural sweetener.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and stir to dissolve.
- You may stir in some honey to sweeten the mixture.’
- Drink this mixture at least twice daily to lower the inflammation and provide much needed pain-relief.
6. Raw Ginger:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Fresh ginger slices, a cup of water, 1 tablespoon of raw honey and a strainer.
Raw ginger is an excellent natural pain reliever, thanks to the presence of gingerols in this raw herb. Gingerols are, by nature, potent anti-inflammatory compounds that are effective in managing pain and inflammation. When taken to provide relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia, the ginger eases the tension in the muscles and across the joints as well. Prepare this simple but powerful cup of tea by following the directions indicated below.
- Place the fresh ginger slices (preferably cut thinly) in the cup of water and then bring the mixture to boil.
- After five minutes, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Pass the tea through a strainer to remove the slices and then proceed to stir in the honey.
- Take this tea thrice daily to manage the symptoms of this disorder.
- You may opt for ginger tablets, but it is imperative to consult your doctor for the proper dosage particularly if you have another underlying condition for which you are taking medication.
7. Homemade Cayenne Pepper Mixture:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper (powder), 5 tablespoons of olive oil, a warm bath and cotton wool.
Cayenne pepper is rich in a compound known as capsaicin, and this is what is responsible for the herb’s healing properties. Capsaicin is a potent anti-inflammatory that is especially effective when used in topical form. Cayenne pepper is also recommended because it helps ensure the proper circulation of blood to the aching joints. Prepare this simply homemade remedy that requires cayenne pepper and olive oil.
- Warm the olive oil for about 15 minutes to allow easy application. You need to use a water bath for this and avoid direct heating to preserve the oil’s integrity.
- Once the oil is hot (but not too hot that it burns), add in the cayenne pepper and mix the two well.
- When the cayenne pepper is well dispersed in the oil, take a piece of the cotton wool and dip it in the mixture.
- Apply and massage a generous amount of the cayenne-oil mixture to the aching joints and leave on for an hour or so.
- Rinse off the oil using warm water.
- Alternatively, use store-bought capsaicin cream (usually indicated in % form, the amount of capsaicin present) and follow these directions from step 4.
NOTE: The most important thing when using this remedy is not to apply the cream on broken skin as this will cause intense inflammation where the soft tissue is exposed.
8. Meditation Techniques and Yoga:
Time Required: Varies from one person to another.
What You Need: A comfortable and quiet place to meditate and perform yoga routines.
Relaxation techniques come in handy in the management of fibromyalgia symptoms. This is because these techniques not only allow the muscles to relax, they also help get rid of the fatigue and stiffness, usually with the added benefit of helping improve one’s memory. Yoga is key to improving mindfulness, and this is very important for fibromyalgia patients who suffer from poor memory. Overall, relaxation, meditation and yoga have been known to have great benefits in the long-term.
- For each of the relaxation techniques and meditation, the golden rule is in starting small and then gradually increasing the amount of time spent. For someone who has never tried meditation, 40 minutes may sound like a stretch, but with practice, it gets easier, and the benefits are great for the body.
- It also helps to accompany these exercises with deep breathing for a calmer and more relaxed feeling.
9. Additional Tips to Help Manage the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia:
- Getting enough sleep is paramount to easing the fatigue that accompanies this disorder. While this may not come easy for those suffering from fibromyalgia, there are simple tips to help get a good night’s sleep. Create a consistent night-time routine; this means going to bed and waking at the same time daily, even on weekends and holidays. This works because it helps the body adjust quickly without sudden changes in one’s sleep patterns. In addition, steer clear of caffeinated beverages in the late evening and keep the bedroom quiet and dark – conducive for sleeping.
- Consider going gluten/dairy free. For many people, the presence of gluten (a type of protein found in grains such as wheat) and dairy products in the diet has been linked to increased inflammation. While this transition may take some time to settle in, the benefits thereof help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia with relative ease. In line with this, consider replacing the gluten and dairy with anti-inflammatory foods such as broccoli, green tea, red onion and fish oil.
- Overall, a healthy balanced diet helps address nutritional deficiencies which are often linked to the prevalence of fibromyalgia.
- It may also help to make changes at the workplace to prevent burnout and fatigue. Whether this means cutting down the number of hours or making the switch to a job that is less demanding, the bottom line is that doing so should ease the exhaustion and fatigue to make this disorder easier to manage.
Research is still ongoing to determine the precise cause of fibromyalgia as well as to understand the pain and how it affects specific cells in the body. The home remedies mentioned above go a long way in helping manage this disorder. In case you have any concerns, or experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.