The unpleasant symptoms in case of fibromyalgia significantly disrupt the quality of life, so phytotherapists, or fitotherapists, recommend the use of products based on spices and healing herbs.
You may be suffering from fibromyalgia, If you literally feel pain everywhere in your body. The disease is manifested by long-term pains felt in the muscles and in the joints, sensitivity in certain points in the body, as well as by considerable tiredness and languor.
This disease has been known for a century and a half, but initially it was regarded as a mental illness. Only fifteen years ago, it was finally recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nowadays, although it is hard to be diagnosed, its occurrence is more common than ever. Usually, it occurs after the 40th year and it affects women in more than 90% of the cases. Its intensity can be influenced by many factors, such as insomnia, stress, weather, physical inactivity. This disease may last for years and in some cases it can last for a lifetime.
As previously mentioned, this disease is very difficult to be diagnosed. This is mostly due to the fact that the symptoms of this syndrome coincide with the ones of many other diseases.
Most often, fibromyalgia is characterized by increased sensitivity to pressure in characteristic anatomical regions in the body, chronic widespread pain or prickling, tingling sensation in the muscles and in the bones, tiredness and exhaustion.
People suffering from it regularly experience morning stiffness that lasts more than an hour, as well as swelling of the joints and the soft tissues on the palms and on the feet, even though there’s no actual swelling. These patients also lack quality sleep, so they wake up in the morning feeling even more tired than they were before they went to sleep.
The constant pains, tiredness, and exhaustion influence their work efficiency and thus reduce it, so patients feel sick and depressed. Women suffering from fibromyalgia experience menstrual pains as well.
Among other symptoms, people with this disease often suffer from headaches and migraine. Other symptoms linked to the disease are: tingling sensation everywhere in the body, dry lips, stiffness in the neck, constipation, diarrhea and bloating, vertigos, anxiety, problems with the jaw joint, and others.
Reasons for its occurence
The exact culprits for the occurrence of fibromyalgia are still unknown, but its target groups are specified. Fybromyalgia usually occurs in women, especially during menopause, people who have low tolerance of pain, depressive ones and those who suffer from other psychic disorders, then people who are very sensitive, anxious people, as well as those who have experienced injury in the neck area of the spine.
There are some doubts that fibromyalgia can be caused by an unidentified viral infection, however. Several studies have shown that , in patients who are believed to suffer from this disease, certain components of the immune system behave abnormally.
In particular, there are indications that some changes have taken place in the immune system. This leads to the belief that there may be a troublesome fight of the organism against the infectious agent. Consequently, the strengthening of the immunity may be a very important factor in the soothing process of the fibromyalgia symptoms.
What makes fibromyalgia hard to be diagnosed is the fact that blood analyses and x-ray imaging in patients are completely neat and there’s no other method of diagnosis that can determine the presence of the disease, therefore, the clinical finding is the only means of its diagnosis.
As a result, some particular instructions for diagnosing this disease have been established. As these instructions say, the patient has to be experiencing pains and stabbing at least in 11 of the 17 standard painful points in the body.
The pangs have to be present for at least several adjacent months, and their intensity may vary. These painful points are located in the knees, ankles, hips, the upper part of the chest, upper and lower back, elbows, wrists jaws, neck.
There are some cases in which the right diagnosis is established by using the method of elimination, and these are quite common. It functions by eliminating the existence of other diseases that can provide the exact clinical picture.
Unfortunately, doctors rarely take this medical condition seriously, mostly due to lack of knowledge about it, because all the medical analyses indicate that there are no health problems.
Thus, the patient’s condition is believed to be invented by himself. Nevertheless, the pangs that patients experience are real and the symptoms are not derived from “their mind”, even in cases when fibromyalgia is caused by long-term stress.
The treatment of this disease requires a multidisciplinary approach, done by a team of doctors of different specialties, including a rheumatologist, physiatrist, neurologist and if needed, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.
If practiced separately, they do not give results, that’s why all methods of treatment should be combined- therapy with medications and physical therapy.
Physical treatments for muscle relaxation are compulsory, such as laser therapy, magnetic therapy, as well as interferential and ultrasound therapies. In addition, medications that are usually used in the treatment of this disease include painkillers, antidepressants, and sleeping pills.
Furthermore, other favorable means in addition to the treatment of the disease include body massages, warm baths or pools, acupressure, acupuncture, and behavioral therapy provided by a psychotherapist.
Phytotherapists also believe that particular types of herbs may help soothe the symptoms of fibromyalgia, since their properties soothe pains and relax the muscles. These include: calendula, willow, thyme, horsetail, ginger, and blessed thistle.
An essential part of the treatment is changing the way of thinking on patients, their lifestyle, their diet, and to help them incorporate regular physical activities in their daily schedule, which will be adapted to their abilities.
Changes in food and diet
In cases of fibromyalgia, doctors also recommend that patients eliminate all types of industrial food from the diet, such as soft drinks, sweets, processed meat products, canned food, artificial sauces and spreads and similar products.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can be soothed by the consumption of food rich in magnesium, among which are nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and green salad, wheat germs, brewer’s yeast, fish, beans and lentils, and other such products.
You should also consume food rich in calcium and vitamin C.
Moreover, fibromyalgia symptoms can also be reduced by the intake of foods rich with selenium. These include Brazil nuts, apples, oranges, garlic, onion, and cabbage, among others.
Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia are strongly recommended to quit smoking and reduce the intake of drinks rich in caffeine.
Cayenne, hot peppers, is successful in the treatments of arthritis, in a form of topical cream. This same cream can also be of great benefit in the case of fibromyalgia, since the capsaicin, a substance that gives the hot taste to chili peppers, has the ability to soothe pain. These capsaicin properties have been proved by the studies conducted on patients suffering from fibromyalgia.
This capsaicin cream can be bought prepared in pharmacies, or you can prepare a massage oil by yourself, at home. Add 50 g of dry chili peppers to 500 ml of sunflower oil to make a warming oil for your painful muscles.
This oil can cause blisters in some patients, so make sure you apply a small amount of this oily concoction to a tiny area of your skin in order to test your reaction to it.
Pain relief: Cayenne appears to act by lowering the concentration of substance P, the primary chemical used by nerve cells to transmit pain signals. Its extracts are an important part of herbal treatment for fibromyalgia, arthritis, muscle pain, and the nerve pain caused by shingles and sciatica.
Its results are noticed after its regular use over a period of at least a few weeks. The analgesic nature of cayenne is due to the salicylates it contains, which are natural aspirin- like compounds.
Moreover, balms, oils and creams on cayenne pepper base are rubefacients, which means it warms the body by quickly dilating small capillaries, and increasing circulation, which reddens, but does not burn the skin.
This increased circulation is the hallmark of cayenne’s effect on the body, it stimulates the heart, and the lungs as well as increasing blood circulation and warmth throughout the whole system.
Cardiovascular Health: These hot peppers are considered to be a valuable heart tonic. Cayenne contains capsicum which reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cayenne also keeps the blood flowing smoothly through veins and arteries and increases circulation. It is high in antioxidants as well, which again speaks about its cardiovascular benefits.
Psoriasis Treatment: The most potent constituent of cayenne, Capsaicin, possesses powerful properties which are proven to be beneficial in psoriasis treatments. A 1999 study findings showed that capsaicin treatment caused a marked decrease in psoriasis activity and decreased formation of new skin plaques.
During the treatment, cayenne often causes burning sensations, but these are normal and are reduced with regular use. Always prefer the OTC products which menthol, since they relieve the itching.
In Diet: Cayenne pepper boosts your metabolism and induces the body to lose more weight and burn fat more quickly. Cayenne, along with other peppers strengthen digestion and lessen the change of bacterial infections from unsanitary food and water.
Cayenne peppers are also favorable in cases of gas and bloating resulting from consumption of heavy, greasy foods. Eating more hot spicy foods will help decrease appetite and increase satiety, so you are inclined to eat less. Seasoning with pepper lessens the need for salt and fat in cooking.
The website “My Fibromyalgia Diet” published the following overview which tells about the benefits of the use of cayenne in patients suffering from fibromyalgia:
“Hot, stimulating Cayenne peppers are like a jump start to a cold car engine on a frosty morning. It brings welcome life into sore muscles and get your heart beating faster, increasing the flow of blood all through the body. The heat of cayenne warms stiff arthritic joints and relaxes away low back pain.
The longer you use it, the better it works. Cayenne works very well for me, I use it every day, sometimes twice a day, for arthritis stiffness, sore muscles, and low back pain. Cayenne infused oil does not burn my skin as much as capsaicin creams.
Cayenne salves and oils are my first recommendation to anyone who has problems with pain, however cayenne has many other varied uses that make it one of the most powerful remedies in your kitchen medicine cabinet.
Other natural alternatives for fibromyalgia treatments include:
Thyme Tea and Warm Bath
Take 2 tablespoons of thyme and pour 5 dl of hot water over it. Leave it aside to steep for half an hour. Afterwards, strain the tea and drink it during the day.
Another use of thyme which may be useful is the following:
Pour 1 l of boiled water over 50 g of thyme. Allow it to steep for an hour and then strain the tea and add it to the water in which you are going to have a bath. Spend about 15-20 minutes in the bath.
Turmeric can be successfully used instead of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, without any side-effects. This superb herb contains curcumin, which is a powerful means against pains and rheumatic inflammations. In fact, it has been discovered that this substance contains pain relievers that stop the neurotransmitter substance P from sending its pain signals to the brain. The usual dose of curcumin is 400-600 mg, three times a day.
Evening Primrose Oil
This beneficial herb is often part of the therapy for rheumatoid arthritis or inflammation of the soft tissues of joints, due to its potent anti-inflammatory effects. In cases of fibromyalgia, it can also soothe pains in joints to a certain extent. Patients are recommended to massage the painful areas with evening primrose oil twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
Consume the following drink three times a day: Add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder to a glass of warm water and mix it well.
Willow Bark Tea Against Pains
Willow bark decreases the intensity of pain thanks to the salicin it contains, which is a chemical that acts similarly as aspirin. For its preparation, boil 2 g of willow bark in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Consume 2-3 cups of the tea a day.