What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes a broad spectrum of symptoms.
- Memory issues, including brain fog
- Sleep problems, including poor sleep quality and restless legs
- Stiff joints, especially on waking
- Lower abdominal cramping,
- Numb or tingling extremities
- Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights and temperature changes
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Even though there is no definitive cause of Fibro, there are a number of potential possibilities such as;
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Chemical sensitivities or allergies
- Viruses including; Epstein-Barr, Ross River, influenza, hepatitis B & C, Herpes, Lyme
- Hormonal imbalances (such as hypothyroidism)
- Poor digestion
- Candida overgrowth
- Spinal misalignments
- Stress; physical or emotional
- Drugs; pharmaceutical and recreational
- Neurotransmitter deficiencies
- Being female (80 – 90 % of sufferers are women!)
- Family history
- Genetic defects including MTHFR
- Rheumatoid conditions such as; R.A and Lupus
- Excess blood vessels and extra nerve fibres known as Arteriole-Venule (AV) Shunts in the hands, legs and feet. AV shunts regulate body temperature and blood flow. In sufferers of fibro, there are not only up to 2-8 times more nerve fibres but the AV shunts are up to 4 times larger. This may be why fibro sufferers feel worse in the cold.
There is no definitive test for Fibromyalgia, but 100% of sufferers have pain at multiple sites (see diagram). Other specific symptoms for diagnosis include; 87% have general fatigue, 76% suffer from stiffness, 72% have sleep disorders, 62% feel they hurt everywhere, 60% feel anxiety and stress and 52% feel swelling in tissues.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia;
- Address previous virus issues.
- Remove any foods that may be causing sensitivities. If these are unknown, I recommend a hair analysis test by Naturopathic Services which tests for 500 foods and household items. For more information check out this article; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2016/11/23/nightshades-food-sensitivities-pain-autoimmune-disease-ibs-and-leaky-gut/
- Avoid foods that cause inflammation, check out this list; https://equilibriumnaturalhealth.com/2015/06/17/inflammation-and-how-foods-and-drinks-can-exacerbate-it-or-improve-it/
- Improve digestive function, particularly if there’s bloating and excess wind.
- Improve gut bacteria with a practitioner only brand probiotic.
- Repairing gut lining.
- Support liver function as well as adrenal function and work on stress reduction techniques.
- Natural supplements that may help to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. These will be assessed on an individual basis, but may include; Acetyl L-carnitine, magnesium, EFA’s, vitamin D, anti-inflammatories, herbs for pain and inflammatin and to address any virus infection.
- Address lifestyle changes such as; exercise, massage (including Lymphatic drainage as well as Remedial, depending on the individual), acupuncture.
- Dairy especially cow’s milk
- Grapes; wine (sorry!), sultanas,
- oranges and orange juice
- Kiwi fruit
- Soy sauce and Tamari
- Tomatoes, fresh, cooked and canned or in sauces
- Dark leafy greens (broccoli, spinach, kale, silverbeet, rocket, watercress, mesclun salad mix and wheatgrass juice.)
- Dried fruits
- Deli meats (bacon, ham, sausages, salami anythign made with preservatives, flavourings and nitrates)
- Corn and products containing corn
- Junk food such as lollies etc
For the first few weeks try to stick to the following list of allowable ingredients as much as possible.
List of allowable ingredients;
Garlic (not imported)
Fresh beetroot (not initially)
Meat should be as fresh as possible, it’s usually better to buy it from the butcher, rather than the cryovac packed meat in the supermarkets as this may be weeks old.
Organic or at least free range will be best. Don’t keep leftovers.
Avoid the skin on chicken and the fat on all meat. If buying mince, ask the butcher for preservative free.
Bone Broth (this is a link to the recipe, just leave out the apple cider vinegar, tomatoes, carrots, onions, bay leaf and thyme);
Fresh white fish such as
- small fillets of Barramundi
- herring (fresh, not preserved in a jar)
- lobster ($$!!)
Linseeds/flaxseeds Gluten free pasta
Biscuits or crackers;
- white beans such as cannelini or Lima
These can be canned or fresh and then soaked. Avoid kidney beans and broad beans
Carob powder or pieces
Flaxseed oil (refrigerated, organic, cold pressed, only used cold, never heated)
Real maple syrup (not maple flavour)
Start the day with warm water
Smoothies; have plain soy yoghurt with banana (not sugar bananas), red papaya (rather than pawpaw) and soy milky
Bircher muesli (grated or chopped pear rather than apple, no berries, dairy yoghurt or milk, dried fruit, no nuts or dessicated or shaved coconut)
Porridge (with allowable ingredients only);
Decaf coffee with soy milky or Rooibos tea
Salad; iceberg lettuce with celery, red or white cabbage, sliced celery, mung beans and spring onions.
Cooked peeled white potatoes with green beans, chokoes and chives on the top.
Finely sliced cabbage is nice mixed through mashed potato.
Home made hash browns are good too.
Same as lunch.
Keep a food diary while you’re on the restricted 2 or so weeks and then when you are re-introducing foods. Don’t start re-introducing foods until your eczema has cleared up.
The hypothalamus produces vasopressin and corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The hypothalamus is also responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm, internal temperature and energy levels.
Vasopressin and CRH are peptides that stimulate the pituitary gland (known as the master gland of the body) to produce and release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The pituitary gland is also responsible for producing and releasing other vital hormones such as; growth hormone, anti-diuretic hormone and luteinizing hormone.
ACTH in turn stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol which is the hormone that releases glucose into your bloodstream which is preparing your body for the high-energy ‘fight-or-flight’ response that it is expecting. Your adrenals also release adrenaline, which raises your heart rate and increases your blood pressure, all physiological responses in preparation for ‘fight or flight’. Other physiological effects of ‘fight or flight’ include; diverting blood from your gastro-intestinal tract and brain to your hands and feet, suppressing your immune system and increasing your blood’s clotting ability.
Normally, when enough hormones have been produced, a message is sent back to the hypothalamus and pituitary to stop producing more hormones.
The more stress the body is exposed to, the less effective the negative feedback loop becomes.The adrenal glands start to show signs of overuse such as the feeling of wired but tired. The glands themselves may be starting to thicken as a way of attempting to produce more hormones. The adrenal glands are still pumping out cortisol and adrenaline, but they’re struggling. Becoming more reliant on coffee to get you up and going or staying awake later in the day is a classic sign that your adrenal glands are starting to suffer.
After repeated, ongoing exposure to stress, the return negative feedback loop, doesn’t swtich off the hormone release from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, yet the adrenal glands are really struggling to produce hormones and other hormones such as pregnenolone (precursor to sex hormones as well as cortisol), DHEA and testosterone are affected. Pregnenolone is stolen for the production of cortisol at the expense of producing sex hormones. The rest of the endocrine system start to try to compensate for the weakened adrenals, but this only leads to lower hormone and neurotransmitter levels elsewhere. Typical symptoms, at this stage, may include ongoing fatigue, a lack of motivation, lowered immune system (and therefore more risk of infections) and a lower sex drive. The adrenal glands may be starting to shrivel. This stage can go on for several months or even years.
If stress continues, unabated, you will enter the final stage of adrenal fatigue, known as adrenal burnout. The body simply runs out of ways to manufacture stress hormones, and cortisol levels finally begin to drop. Now, the levels of both the sex hormones and the stress hormones are low. Levels of neurotransmitters are often also low. You may suffer from extreme fatigue continuously as well as a total lack of sex drive, irritability, depression, anxiety, weight loss, complete lack of motivation and apathy in hobbies and interests that previously brought joy. By this stage, the lack of hormones has major implications for almost every part of the body. Recovering from this stage needs considerable time, patience and often a total change in diet and lifestyle.
If you feel you’re suffering from any of these stages of adrenal fatigue, please come and see me, it’s much easier to resolve in the earlier stages than putting off until you’ve reached burnout.
Do you struggle with food sensitivities, allergies, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease or leaky gut syndrome? There is a real possibility that certain vegetables may be exacerbating your symptoms.
So what are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshade vegetables are members of the Solanaceae family and are completely healthy for most people, but for some they may cause immune reactions similar to wheat or dairy. They include;
- Potatoes (NOT sweet potatoes)
- Capsicum (including peppers such as; chilli and cayenne)
- Goji berries
- Eggplant (aubergine)
- Pimentos (in olives)
- Nicotine in tobacco
- Withania aka Ashwaganda (herb)
Symptoms of Nightshade sensitivity;
Not everyone has a problem with nightshades, but for those with leaky gut, auto-immune conditions, IBS and other gut-related issues, there may be signs of intolerance such as;
- joint pain, particulalry bad for those with Osteo or Rheumatoid arthritis
- digestive issues; nausea, bloating, flatulence, constipation, anaemia and poor food absorption
- itching or reddening of the skin,
- emotional reactions; depression, anxiety
What to do if you suspect an issue?
If you suffer from an autoimmune disease (especially rheumatoid arthritis or anything else that causes joint pain and inflammation), totally eliminating nightshade vegetables for one month, would be a good idea.
If you only suspect a slight sensitivity, it might be enough just to reduce the nightshade content of their diet, or reducing the levels of the worst offending chemicals by;
- Peeling potatoes (as the alkaloids are mostly found in the skin)
- Avoiding green and raw tomatoes and green and/or sprouting potatoes (unripe and raw nightshades are higher in alkaloids)
Why do they cause problems in some people?
Most of the evidence is anecdotal and although there’s no accepted proof, there are a number of theories, including;
- Vitamin D form in Nightshades;
The very potent form of vitamin D3 found in nightshades may prevent proper calcium metabolism, causing calcium to be deposited in soft tissues and not in our bones. Excess calcium in soft tissues causes a stiffening and tightening of soft tissues and joints. It can also form bone spurs.
- Alkaloids and Lectins
Alkaloids include; solanine (found in potatoes, especially green ones), nicotine (in varying amounts depending on the vegetable) and capsaicin (the chemical that gives chilli’s their heat).
These alkaloids work in the plant as a natural pesticide against bugs and mould that would otherwise attack the plant.
Although these compounds are toxic to pests, they’re are mostly tolerated by humans, particularly those with a healthy gut. Compromised gut health, especially in those suffering from an auto-immune condition, may start to notice a problem with them. Some of those alkaloids will stimulate an over-reaction of the immune system, definitely something to be avoided in those suffering from auto-immunity!
Another risk of these alkaloids, is that they may be damaging and irritating the cells lining the intestinal tract. This may exacerbate leaky gut which again triggers an autoimmune reaction as unprocessed proteins and toxins are able to leak through the lining of the gut wall into our bloodstream and therefore causes our bodies to attack them.
Lectins may also be part of the problem. Although all foods contain lectins; a lot of lectins are completely harmless, but there are others that irritate the gut. The lectins in nightshades may also be gut irritants in those that are sensitive which may set off the same leaky gut reaction as alkaloids.
- Toxic or Beneficial?
Remeber, problems from these compounds will only arise in people who are sensitive to nightshades.
Those who have no issues with them, really shouldn’t stop eating them as there are considerable health benefits. For example, capsaicin in capsicums and chilli’s trigger a beneficial anti-inflammatory reaction in those that can tolerate it.
Like anything, what may be harmful in one person, may actually be beneficial in another!
What are xeno-oestrogens?
Xeno-oestrogens are synthetic, man-made compounds that mimic the action of naturally occurring oestrogen produced in our cells and can alter hormonal balance and activity.
Xeno-oestrogens are exacerbating any oestrogen related condition. This can be a serious problem for anyone with pre-existing oestrogen dominance (very common for a lot of women these days) and related conditions such as;
- uterine fibroid tumors,
- fibrocystic breasts,
- breast cancer,
- glandular dysfunction,
- male infertility,
- hair loss,
- weight gain,
Some of the problems xeno-oestrogens are associated with include;
- mimicking the natural hormones in our bodies, such as oestrogens
- blocking production of our natural hormones, such as androgens (male hormones), thyroid hormone, and progesterone
- altering the way in which natural hormones are produced, eliminated or metabolised
- modifying the number of hormone receptors we have and thus the amount of hormonal signaling in our bodies
- stimulating the release of hormones or other natural substances that affect the balance of our hormones in our bodies
- girls and boys are reaching puberty too early as a result of these disrupters.
- hormonal stimuli that contributes to inappropriate growth of mammary tissue cells, resulting in a problem society is calling “man boobs.”
Here is a list of some of the chemicals that are xenoestrogens:
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) (sunscreen lotions)
- Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)
- Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)
Industrial products and Plastics:
- Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)
- Phthalates (plasticizers)
- DEHP (plasticizer for PVC)
- Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3
- Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)
- Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)
- Propyl gallate (anti-oxidant)
- Pentachlorophenol (general biocide and wood preservative)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls / PCBs (in electrical oils, lubricants, adhesives, paints)
- Atrazine (weed killer)
- DDT (insecticide, banned)
- Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (one of the breakdown products of DDT)
- Dieldrin (insecticide)
- Endosulfan (insecticide)
- Heptachlor (insecticide)
- Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies)
- Methoxychlor (insecticide)
- Nonylphenol and derivatives (industrial surfactants; emulsifiers for emulsion polymerization; laboratory detergents; pesticides)
- Chlorine and chlorine by-products
- Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)
- Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)
- Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents)
How to reduce your exposure to xeno-oestrogens;
- Avoid all pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
- Choose organic, locally-grown and in-season foods.
- Wash and peel non-organic fruits and vegetables.
- Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products to avoid hormones and pesticides.
- Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible.
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
- Avoid the use of plastic wrap to cover food for storing or microwaving.
- Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.
- Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun.
- If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away.
- Don’t refill plastic water bottles.
- Avoid freezing water in plastic bottles to drink later.
- Open the windows in your car to remove xeno-oestrogens released from the plastic on the dashboard etc, before turning on the circulating air-conditioning.
Home and Household Products
- Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products.
- Choose chlorine-free products and unbleached paper products (i.e. tampons, menstrual pads, toilet paper, paper towel, coffee filters).
- Use a chlorine filter on shower heads and filter drinking water
- Open windows and avoid being in the house (as much as possible) for a few days after it’s been painted.
Health and Beauty Products
- Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and oestrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride.
- Minimize your exposure to nail polish and nail polish removers.
- Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.
- Use chemical free soaps and toothpastes.
- Read the labels on condoms and diaphragm gels.
At the Office
- Be aware of noxious gas such as from copiers and printers, carpets, fibreboards, and at the petrol station.