Today it seems as though more and more people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In fact, over 6 million Americans are suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms and most of them are woman. Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain in certain points in the body and is accompanied by fatigue. Unfortunately, most patients with fibromyalgia suffer with more than just pain and fatigue. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have:
- Brain fog
- Sleep disorders
- Memory issues
- Mood issues
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event (1).
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There are several theories about the causes of fibromyalgia from hormonal disturbances to stress to genetics. While there is no clear consensus about what causes fibromyalgia, most researchers believe fibromyalgia results not from a single event but from a combination of many physical and emotional stressors. Some have speculated that lower levels of a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin leads to lowered pain thresholds or an increased sensitivity to pain (2).
While I do believe that it may be from a series of different underlying causes, I believe that the most important place to look is in the gut. Here is what research showed in 3 different studies:
- 100% of fibromyalgia patients studied at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found they had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) (3)
- 70% of fibromyalgia patients had leaky gut (4)
- A correlation between the gut flora and fibromyalgia (5)
So does fibromyalgia cause gut infections or do gut infections cause fibromyalgia? A study done giving half the patients treatment for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and the other half a placebo, showed improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms in the group that received SIBO treatment and no improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms in the group that did not receive the SIBO treatment (6)(7).
While there is neither a definitive nor singular cause for fibromyalgia, it has also been linked to (8):
- Chemical sensitivities
- Food sensitivities
- Spinal misalignments
- Poor digestion
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
If leaky gut, SIBO, or any other type of gut infection are in fact one of the underlying causes of your fibromyalgia it is very important to find a functional medicine practitioner that can diagnose and treat this for you properly. Treating gut infections can greatly reduce and possibly eliminate, fibromyalgia symptoms. Other treatment options include:
- Get tested for and eliminating food sensitivities (different from food allergies)
- Eliminate foods like gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, pasteurized dairy that is not grass-fed, and caffeine from your diet
- Eat plenty of fermentable fiber like sweet potatoes, yucca etc. and fermentable foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc.
- Try mindfulness meditation to manage stress and relax the body
- Get plenty of sleep (about 8 hours)
- Consider taking a curcumin supplement which is known to reduce inflammation in the body
- Add ginger to food for it’s anti-inflammatory properties