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Brainstem Treatment of Fibromyalgia & Migraines that Works

Updated on February 3, 2015
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

In 1987, the American Medical Association recognized Fibromyalgia, or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), as a true physical illness and major cause of disability. A person with FMS will have pain above and below the waist and on both sides of the body—changing its location from day to day—that has lasted for three months or more.

My Own Case of FMS

I have been suffering from FMS for over 30 years, which began after an auto accident. My pain level would often vary between an 8 and 10, with 0 being no pain at all and 10 being very severe pain. It would be worse in the morning and after lunch I would have to rest for an hour or two. By early evening I was completely exhausted. Any type of bending or sitting or reaching or physical work would aggravate my condition. The pain stemmed from the neck and then radiated into the shoulders and down into my arms. My lower back pain would radiate down my legs. When under severe stress, I would experience severe migraine headaches. All of these symptoms left me unable to sleep much, resulting in a sharp drop in my energy level.

Fibromyalgia - the invisible illness

Numerous chiropractors have treated me over several decades and I have been on special nutritional diets requiring me to eliminate specific foods in order to try to alleviate some of my pain. One chiropractor told me he could no longer be of help as I had a soft-tissue problem; not skeletal. So I resigned myself to trying many different types of supplements. The most relief was provided some by taking ibuprofen, large doses of magnesium and an amino acid supplement (that I explain in another article). Though this brought my severe pain down some, my condition continued to worsen.

When my current chiropractor examined me several months ago, x-rays showed marked decay of my lower lumbar vertebra and the same in my low cervical—my neck. I had very little ability to pivot or turn those areas of the spine to the left or right, and both had lost the normal natural arching curve.

Kentucky Gov. Beshear's May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Proclamation

Symptoms of FMS


Pain throughout the entire body—the most prominent symptom of FMS—is not caused by inflammation. Taking arthritis medication will not help. One day it is in the shoulder, but tomorrow it may be in a foot, or is even gone. It is like a charley horse you have in your leg but that is all over your body. The body is literally knot-filled.

Sleep deprivation and fatigue

Most people with FMS experience moderate to severe fatigue and it does not merely leave one tired, but often in a state of exhaustion—the kind that results from the flu or lack of sleep—and usually results in chronic fatigue. At times, the fatigue is more of a problem than the pain. The person may also suffer from mental fatigue, in which they feel they are in a type of “brain fog,” often called fibrofog.


Migraine headaches are of two categories; classical and common. The classical migraine will have an aura of flashes of light, squiggly lines or a halo effect. The intense pain of either type feels like a spike being driven through the head.


Sensitivity to bright sunlight, loud or high-pitched noises and odors; like it can be hard having the drapes suddenly opened or to listening to a child scream. They experience increased warmth, increased sweating and cannot stand heat or humidity. The skin and circulation can be sensitive to temperature changes, resulting in change in skin color. They may shake uncontrollably when it's cold. They don't tolerate cold, either. The ‘internal thermostat’ is broken.

Irregular heart rate

Heart palpitations,arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rate


Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which includes abdominal pain, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea

Frequency of urination

The person is unable to completely void the urine, both increasing the frequency of the urge and bacterial or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

An FMS person may be fat or skinny. Either way, it is not by choice. Their appestat is broken—the area in the brain that is believed to regulate appetite and food intake.

Over-firing of the Brainstem

Chiropractor neurologists, like Dr. Michael Johnson, report that in every case of FMS they have treated they find a high output of the upper brainstem, the mesencephalon. All these symptoms listed above that FMS patients experience are classic signs that the upper brainstem is over-firing. The system that should normally slow down the upper brainstem fails to do so.

Upper Brainstem is the widest section of the part in red

by Life Science Databases
by Life Science Databases | Source

Peace & Calming is a gentle, fragrant blend of five oils specially designed for diffusing; Tangerine (Citrus nobilis), orange (Citrus sinensis), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), patchouly (Pogostemon cablin) and blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum). It promotes relaxation and a deep sense of peace, helping to calm tensions and uplift spirits. Within 10 minutes of application, my fibrofog starts clearing!

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most versatile of all essential oils. It has been clinically evaluated for its relaxing effects. The fragrance is calming, relaxing and balancing -- physically and emotionally. (It may be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations.)

Over-firing of the brainstem down the spinal cord causes a release of chemicals into the bloodstream that stimulates pain fibers. This is why the person feels pain all over; in the left leg one day, in the right shoulder the next, and mid-back pain with a headache the day after that.

Sleep deprivation and fatigue
The upper brainstem also controls sleep patterns; you are awake when it is firing at a very high rate and you are asleep when it is firing at a very low rate. When the upper brainstem is over-firing, this will happen even in the middle of the night when normally it should be firing the least, waking the sufferer at times with a migraine.

In a person with a migraine, like those with FMS, the system that should normally slow down the upper brainstem fails to do so. The upper brainstem then fires at a very high rate.

Nerves that are based in the upper brainstem allow the pupil to constrict but when the nerve is not firing properly, the pupil dilates and the person is then sensitive to light.

Irregular heart rate
The abnormal or over-firing of the upper brainstem can cause a change in the heart rate, resulting in heart palpitations. Generally, a decreased firing of the right brain can increase the heart rate, and a decreased of firing of the left brain can cause arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rate.

Light sensitivity, increased warmth or sweating, inability to sleep, increased heart rate, IBS and UTI, etc. are all classic signs along with pain and fatigue that the upper brainstem is overfiring and not slowed down in the normal way.

New Research

New research shows that a major cause of FMS is an electrical imbalance between the two sides of the brain. This is actually called the Functional Disconnection Syndrome (or F.D.S.). The brain and nervous system has become sensitized, resulting in producing more pain than normal.

Our brain and nervous system need two things:

  1. Fuel —The brain of an FMS sufferer also needs the fuel of blood sugar, or glucose, and oxygen. Glucose comes from the foods we eat, but needs to be without blood sugar swings or excessive blood sugar. Over-eating of sugar and high carbohydrate foods makes too much cortisol, resulting in the fibrofog. When glucose and insulin become too high it’s toxic to your nerves and actually destroys them.

  2. Activation—The brain is a bunch of muscles. They all have different jobs. If they’re not activated and stimulated, they get weak. Part of the problem in FMS is that parts of the brain have become weak. The weak area needs to be stimulated so the whole brain works normally.

Activation and Oxygen for the brain

The chiropractor neurologist can slow the upper brainstem output. Often the spinal adjustments are done gently and only on the side of the spine and neck opposite of the weak side of the brain to stimulate brain function. Once this happens, the migraine headaches disappear and other FMS symptoms diminish, to which I can personally testify!

Oxygen intake is increased with a properly aligned spine and glucose is managed through diet. I find, also, that when I sense a migraine coming on I can concentrate on deep breathing for several minutes and avoid such flare ups.

To find a chiropractor neurologist near you, go to the Chiropractor Neurology Board website. Dr. Johnson says in his book to make sure the chiropractor neurologist you choose is “Carrick-trained.”

© 2011 Deidre Shelden


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    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      5 years ago from Texas, USA

      brakel2, Sure is encouraging to have your affirming comment on quality during the low traffic time!

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Mrs Dee. I am sorry you have this disease but proud of your pro activity. The physician's comments add interest to the site. You presented your information in a well organized manner. Thanks for sharing. Pinned and tweeted.

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Dr. Johnson, It is an honor to have your comment. Thank you very much for letting me and other readers know about your free book that covers the metabolic side of FM! I will definitely go study it! God bless you.

    • profile image

      Dr. Michael L. Johnson 

      5 years ago

      In addition to my first book, "What Do You Do When the Medications Don't Work?," I have recently completed my new book on fibromyalgia, "You Can Beat Fibromyalgia...Naturally!" It is available for FREE at until June 30, 2013. In my first book, I covered the neurological aspect of fibromyalgia and in my new book, I cover the metabolic side. --Dr. J

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      So glad you found this hub, JLSB, as a fellow fibro-mite! Yes, that is the way of it--trying different things to find what works. And I've not heard of anyone with FMS long-term being completely cured. I will look out for what you write about FMS and learn from you, too.

    • JLSB profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a very helpful hub for those of us who have Fibromyalgia. I have found that you just have to try different things to find out what works for you. I am always looking for new things to look in to. Thanks for you info. Keep up the good work.

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      So glad you found this informative, fellow fibro-mite, wendi_w. Yes, it has been confusing for me a long time, too. Thanks for your encouragement. May you find information that helps increase control of your symptoms. It is not easy, I know.

    • wendi_w profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest

      Very well written article and very informative , I am a sufferer of fibromylagia as well and find so much of the information confusing and misleading. Diagnosed about 8 yrs ago I am still struggling to control the symptoms. Great job, voted up

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great to get your take on this, T_K, as a fellow fibromite! Thanks for much for your comment. How glucose affects FMS was new to me to when I read it in Johnson's book, or at least is the first explanation that made some sense.

    • Theresa_Kennedy profile image

      Theresa Kennedy 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Excellent information! This is the first time I've read about the glucose factor, and realized I need to study up on that. Great list of and explanation of FMS symptoms and what it feels like. By the way, it's great to meet another "fibro-mite"!

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 

      7 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Thanks for hitting me up MS. Dee. I haven't been spending as much time reading on hubpages as I'd like recently. I love to hear the research. Will definitely look into this a little more.

      I love that we're creating an information-rich environment here on hubpages that will help to increase FMS awareness! So glad to be a part of it.

      Thought I should let you know, your website link isn't working.

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Wow, very good, SuperheroSales! So sorry for your and your sister's chronic conditions. Yes, there is more and more new information these days.

    • SuperheroSales profile image


      7 years ago

      I really appreciate you writing this article. My sister suffers from fibromyalgia and I'm always looking for ways to help her. I suffer from chronic pain myself and I know how awful it can be. You hang in there and keep us updated as you find out new information. I'll follow you in order to keep up on any news you find. :)

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Oh, thanks so much for your read and comment on this RH! Very interesting thoughts here from you to digest :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Up and awesome Ms. Dee! That makes so much sense too - when the brain is firing faster you would get more like the alpha waves (awake) so that would explain the trigger for wake. The electrical current through the entire nervous system would have to move faster - I'm not positive - I'm extrapolating but I think it makes so much sense. When it slows and you have the fatigue - I suppose it would be sensical that the entire "electrical" system (which truly does hold a current) would slow? Very inteteresting info here:) thank you!

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      marcoujor, guess what! I learned in an article here on HubPages that I really should get off the Prozac. How about that! Thanks for making my day - again :)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Ms Dee,

      Oh wow, even better...!! This is a reminder that times change and treatments change. Prozac is so "not right" and how fabulous that you/ your medical team are current/ reading about what does work! Of course, dietary changes are slow... just like with diabetes and cardiac conditions. But you are working on it. I still think you are just amazing-- and a MBTI guru to boot!!

      You go girl...!! Love, Maria

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      I certainly hope she finds it helpful, Tina. I recommend the book, too, as it has been a big help to me. Thank you for your comment and vote.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      A very good article with so much information! This disease is a mystery to many people and a struggle for those who suffer from it. I will show this article to my sister who has FMS! Thanks for sharing this excellent hub! Rated up


    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      marcoujor, wow, you made my day! :) I'm so thankful for the internet which makes the finding of so much information so much more doable. Yes, it is a live-long condition. I'm so glad though that it can be well managed. I'm still working on improving my diet, but am glad to have just gotten off years of Prozac, which doctors back-when thought was of help to FMS.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Ms Dee,

      I am so impressed with the presentation of this information, which will be a great service and resource to so many.

      I also commend you for being so positive with this chronic illness. You are remarkably informed. You are active in both traditional and holistic interventions/ realizing that this is a lifelong condition. And you are doing great-- what a wonderful role model!

      Voted UP & USEFUL & AWESOME & BEAUTIFUL! Thank you, mar.

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Good to have your read and comment, Betty! Yes, there have been stages when it was an "awake nightmare." I'm excited that the mystery of what is behind it all is fading and more and more is known now so tremendous help is now possible. It takes a while though to spread this new research information, though.

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 

      7 years ago

      Ms Dee, I'm so sorry you've been suffering with this miserable condition. It sounds like an awake nightmare! But I'm glad you've gotten some relief. Thanks for sharing your experience, so the rest of us know where to go for help if the need ever arises.

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      So glad for your read, lifegate. You never know when you'll know someone who has it and have a chance to minister to them--particularly an understanding :)

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Ms Dee

      Thanks for all the good information. I really never knew much about FMS before!

    • CreatePerfection profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Colorado

      Hello Ms Dee,

      This is a very excellent article. Thanks so much for the information. This is a condition that affects many people.




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