Herbal Help for Fibromyalgia

You can find natural relief from this complex, mystifying disease.

| May/June 2003

  • Female fibromyalgia patients outnumber men by seven to one.

  • Mix turmeric powder into a spoonful of honey to make the herb more palatable.

Kay was only 59, but she felt as though her life might as well be over. Though she had sought help from numerous medical specialists, she had been in chronic daily pain for several years. Eventually, in 1991, after extensive tests through the University of Washington and the Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Resorting to antidepressants as her mood spiraled downward, Kay tried many different drugs to attack her symptoms. “Neither my primary physician nor a rheumatologist had been able to offer much besides pain and sleep drugs and a cortisone shot in the shoulder,” she told me. Kay’s shoulder pain was so severe that bending down to grasp a pebble and tossing it away would leave her in intense pain for a day.

Kay also had pervasive fatigue and seriously disturbed sleep, dizziness, allergies, depression, bowel problems and shortness of breath. She had become resigned to her fate. Finally, in a last desperate search for results, Kay came to see me.

She began a rebuilding program of herbs and vitamins and made improvements to her diet. And at long last, things began to change. Within two weeks, she was feeling a little better. Her breathing was easier and her pain was lessening. Her other symptoms began to respond, too, and she experienced strengthening and flexibility of her muscles, good digestion, better sleep and regrowth of her hair and nails, which had been damaged by the illness. After six months of consistent effort and carefully selected herbs, she was pain-free for the first time in many years.

Learning About Fibromyalgia

Dubbed fibrositis in 1904, the condition was originally believed to be caused by inflammation of the connective tissues. By 1943 the Mayo Clinic listed fibrositis as the most prevalent type of acute and chronic rheumatism. Even so, the disease was largely ignored. The syndrome was a slippery collection of seemingly unconnected problems, and widespread acceptance of the legitimacy of the diagnosis in mainstream practice was slow in coming.

In the mid-1980s, joint specialists began to turn their attention to the syndrome. Eventually, the mainstream medical community began to take notice, and diagnostic standards for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) were established. The current name reflects today’s understanding that it is not inflammation in the tissues that is the problem, but unaccountable pain (myo means muscle; algia means pain).

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