ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fibromyalgia - A Natural Approach

Updated on April 2, 2012

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Symptoms and Causes

Fibromyalgia, often called fibrositis, is a condition in which muscle pain with no obvious cause is often combined with other, apparently unrelated, symptoms. It is distinct from muscular pain caused by injury, and also distinct from cramp.

Fibromyalgia is often associated with tendon and ligament pain which has no obvious cause; this is often worse when pressure is applied to the relevant area.

Fibromyalgia is also often associated with disturbed sleep patterns. This is partly due to constant low-level pain, but the sleep disturbances are often present even if the pain is not constant.

There is a known association between fibromyalgia and the rather controversial chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or M.E. One might say that the two conditions shade into each other; it is probably true that if the main symptom is pain then it’s called fibromyalgia, and if the main symptoms are chronic fatigue and flu-like symptoms then it is called M.E.

The causes of either problem are not known with certainty, but it is probable that the two problems have at least some causes in common, and these are set out below.

Metabolic Acidosis

Quite frequently, it is possible for the body’s normal acid/alkaline balance to be skewed slightly towards acidity. Causes of this include consumption of large amounts of red meat and other purine-containing foods, which are usually also high in protein. This leads to production of uric acid, which the body does not find it easy to get rid of. Alcoholic drinks, particularly strongly flavoured ones such as port and brandy, also lead to acid accumulation because the various impurities are metabolised to acidic substances. The reason why this causes a problem in this context is that it makes it easier for the lactic acid accumulation normal in heavy exercise to cause pain.

Auto-immune responses

This is probably the major cause of all the problems associated with fibromyalgia. There is a group of problems involving a faulty immune response which is attacking the body’s own tissues; they include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjorgren’s syndrome (which attacks the salivary and tear ducts causing dry mouth and eyes) and of course fibromyalgia. The causes of this sort of problem are somewhat controversial, but most complementary practitioners believe that this group of problems is caused by a long-term overstimulation of the immune system by incompletely digested food proteins (particularly those found in red meat and cows’ milk) getting into the bloodstream through an excessively porous intestinal wall. This is one reason why the pain of fibromyalgia is often associated with low-grade fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Mineral deficiencies

Proper muscle and nerve function is dependent on the balance between two pairs of minerals in the body; potassium/sodium and magnesium/calcium. Lack of potassium and/or magnesium can lead to a tendency to cramp, and to muscles that are always under low-level strain and are too tight to start with. Unfortunately, lack of these two minerals is fairly common because many people don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables (which contain potassium and magnesium) and many commonly consumed substances, such as caffeine and alcohol (both of which have diuretic properties) lead to excessive excretion of potassium and magnesium through the kidneys.

Food Intolerances

Some people have an intolerance to particular foods, the most common being cows’ milk. This is similar to but distinct from the well-known problem of food allergy – the two problems involve different parts of the immune system – but the result is an over-stimulated immune system, which leads to auto-immune problems as described above.

Low-Level Infections

This is where fibromyalgia links with M.E. Although it’s almost certainly more complicated than this, one theory about this problem is that an overstressed immune system (which may also be compromised by less-than-ideal nutrient levels and stress) finds it difficult to deal with weak viruses, mostly in the herpes group. There are dozens of herpes-class viruses (apart from the embarrassing one!) and they have a defence mechanism against the immune system that is rather unfortunate for the people hosting them. These viruses, when under attack from the immune system, hide in the nervous system, particularly the spine, where the immune system can’t get at them. (The immune system’s way of dealing with viruses is to kill the cells hosting them – which it can’t afford to do when those cells are irreplaceable nerves.)

When the immune system is compromised and/or busy dealing with something else, the viruses come back out and cause trouble. This is basically the reason why cold sores have the name they do, for example. The link with stress is that stress, particularly when prolonged, causes release of cortisol – one of whose effects is immune system suppression.

It’s probably true that most people host many different herpes-class viruses, which when they were contracted (usually very early in life) expressed themselves as barely noticeable mild flu symptoms. The approach, therefore, isn’t to avoid exposure, because it’s almost certainly far too late, but to keep these viruses in check by keeping the immune system in good order.


First of all, the title of this section should not be taken as meaning that a serious medical condition can be self-treated. If you are in any doubt, and especially if your health problem has not been professionally diagnosed, then the first step is to see a professional.

However, there are some effective steps you can take yourself to improve a fibromyalgia problem, and they are set out here:


The aim of dietary changes to help with fibromyalgia is twofold; to reduce acidity in the body and to reduce or eliminate the intake of foods that specifically make the problem worse. There is some overlap between the two requirements, in terms of the changes required. Specifically, it is necessary to increase intake of fruit and vegetables and reduce intake of grains, dairy products and red meat. The latter group are all acid-forming, and in addition some grains (particularly wheat) and both dairy products and red meat specifically make food intolerance problems worse. This only applies to cows’ milk dairy products, for most people.

Specific things to avoid or at least reduce in the diet are those that strain the immune system or deplete the body of nutrients or both; these include citrus fruit, sugar, caffeine and any artificial additives.

Also, improving the digestion and putting less strain on it are a good idea. Methods for this include eating smaller meals more often, and sometimes keeping starchy and protein foods apart can help; this approach is sometimes called the Hay system. There are digestive enzyme supplements available, and these can help too.

Nutritional Supplements


As previously discussed, lack of potassium and magnesium can lead to sore muscles. Therefore, adding these two minerals often helps muscular problems. Some other minerals also help in various other ways, so a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement along with extra potassium and magnesium could work even better.


This nutrient is needed in very large amounts for the maintenance of muscle tissue, and is also needed by the immune system and the lining of the intestines. Extra L-glutamine is therefore useful; because it is a component of all proteins a very large amount is needed to make much difference and this means using powdered L-glutamine (which doesn’t taste too bad!) in amounts of 10-15 grams per day is desirable.

Malic Acid

Malic acid, a natural substance used in many metabolic cycles in the body, has several functions. One is transport of minerals through the intestinal wall; another is production of ATP which is the energy currency of the body used in any processes that consume energy. Supplemental malic acid can therefore help mineral absorption and energy production in the muscles, both of which can help relieve the pain of fibromyalgia.

Immune Boosting Herbs

There are many herbs, notably cat’s claw and Siberian ginseng, which mildly boost the immune system. This can help when the problem is at least partly caused by virus infections, and a lot of them are anti-inflammatory as well; so this group of herbals can help fibromyalgia.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I've had symptoms of sore muscles and on fire sensation from a desk job of 25 years, 15 of which I've been treated for FMS and associated conditions. Periformis and tennis elbow surgeries provided temporary temporary relief. I appreciate the nutritional information to assist with many of the associated symptoms. Recent issues have caused me to search out this type of information. This is a very well written article -

      Thank you so much for the information.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      A very well written article on this painful and debilitating condition.

      Voted up and interesting.

      kind regards Peter

    • billabongbob profile image


      7 years ago from South Wales, UK

      I currently suffer from Fibromyalgia, having had ME a decade ago. It has been very difficult to deal with and has resulted in me being admitted to hospital many times.

      Having physical problems with no apparent cause is mentally debilitating. However there are many things that suffers can do to help themselves, as you've mentioned above.

      This is an excellent hub, well written and very informative. I shall be forwarding it to some of my colleges. Voted up, interesting and useful.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)