Friday, May 22, 2015

Holistic Approaches to Fibromyalgia

Recently I was asked to speak for a local support group for people who suffer from Fibromyalgia.  I think they have the best name---Fibro Fight Club!-- and are led by a passionate lady who has lived with this condition for many years.

Very welcoming and warm, these souls have suffered for many years from pain, emotional fluctuations, and stress.  One of the hardest parts of working with someone with Fibromyalgia is that each person presents different symptoms, and these symptoms can change by the hour.  It has made many doctors throw their hands up, and can lead to a feelings of helplessness for those who suffer from it.

While individualized care is really essential for anyone suffering from Fibromyalgia, there are certain treatments that can be effective.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Herbal Allies

Joint & Muscle Pain
  • Cayenne and Menthol Oil: reduces intensity of pain signals
  • Lavender Oil: Reduces inflammation and increases emotional well-being
  • Ginger Baths: Ginger boosts the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of other herbs and mobilizes the body's own healing agents to ease the pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis.
  • Willow Bark Tea: provides the equivalent of a low aspirin dose, without the stomach upset that aspirin can cause. It can take a few weeks to build up in your system before you notice a difference.

Mind/Body Connection

  • Depression: Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort, Milky Oats, Rhodiola 
  • Chronic Fatigue: Ginseng, Eleuthro, Ashwagandha, Bitters
  • Insomnia: Chamomile, Passionflower, Lavender, Skullcap
  • Stress Management: All of the above!
  • Use a few herbs for a variety of symptoms

Dietary Support
  • High nutrients, proper diet
  • Magnesium rich foods: Leafy greens, seeds and nuts, fish, avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, yogurt.  Oat straw and Nettle Infusions.
  • Healthy oils: Flax oil, fish oil, fatty fish such as trout, cod, halibut, mackerel and salmon, nuts, whole grains
  • High Fiber: need to trap toxins and move them out of the body. 
  • Avoid Processed Foods: dairy products, meat, and margarine
  • Reduce: Hot (spicy) and fried foods; processed sugar; very bitter and astringent foods like brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. Excessive black tea, coffee, alcohol, yogurt, chocolate, cocoa.
  • Hydrate! 8 glasses of water, fresh juices and herbal teas to flush out toxins
  • Investigate: gluten sensitivity

  • Proper exercise and stress management: Yoga, journaling, walking, fresh air, friends and family, community support

Considering your own unique constitution can also be very helpful with this condition.  Called Doshas in Ayurvedic Medicine, it can help us approach the disease from a more individualized perspective.  You can take an online quiz here to find out what your own unique constitution is.

If you or someone you love is suffering from Fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about trying some of these techniques to find a little respite.

Be Well!

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT


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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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