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.
What is the best way to get enough calcium, in your diet, when you don’t eat dairy?
Luckily it’s not that hard as there are plenty of great foods that are packed with calcium.
For men and women between 19 years of age and 50 (or 70 for men), the recommended dietary intake is 1000mg. For women over 50 and teenagers between 12 and 18 years it’s 1300mg.
Calcium is often adequately supplied by the diet, as it’s found in so many food sources, but it may cause deficiency symptoms because the body is actually lacking other synergistic nutrients such as vitamin D (increases calcium absorption and utilisation) and magnesium (also very important to have in the correct ratio with calcium to ewnsure calcium utilisation).
I usually recommend an hair, tissue, mineral test before supplementing with calcium, as excess calcium, that is out of solution and not doing it’s proper job, may cause other health problems such as heart and kidney issues.
Excessive caffeine, alcohol, salt, grains (due to phytates binding with calcium), lack of exercise and smoking can all reduce calcium in your bones.
List of non-dairy foods rich in calcium;
- Dark leafy greens
- Fish with bones such as sardines and tinned salmon
- Almonds and almond milk
- Seeds such as sesame, sunflowers and pepitas
- Dandelion root
- 1/3 cup millet, rinsed and drained in a fine mesh strainer
- 1/2 cup milk of choice (almond, coconut, oat or soy milk)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons raisins, optional
- Optional toppings: Pure maple syrup, honey, or sweetener of choice; sliced bananas, peaches, berries, or fruit of choice; nuts of choice, shredded coconut
- In a small saucepan, combine the millet through optional raisins and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook at a very low simmer for 20-25 minutes, without stirring, or until the liquid is absorbed and the millet is the consistency of oatmeal or cream of wheat.
- Remove from the heat, drizzle with maple syrup or desired sweetener, and add toppings of choice.
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- 3 large or 4 small beetroots, peeled and boiled until tender
- 2 bananas
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao or carob powder
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp. raw cacao nibs or 75% dark chocolate, chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
- 60ml melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp beetroot juice (made from cooked beetroot)
- A handful of fresh rose petals (pesticide free) to garnish
- Blend the beetroot in a food processor into a paste.
- Squeeze the paste through a sieve and collect 2 tbsp of your beetroot juice to set aside for the icing (you may have to add 1 tbsp water to this). Keep the paste in a bowl.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
- Stir in the cacao nibs, dark chocolate bits, or nuts if desired
- Pour into a well-greased pan about 20cm x 20cm
- Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes.
To make the icing:
- Mix the melted coconut oil and beetroot juice together.
- Roughly drizzle half of it onto the brownies.
- Sprinkle with rose petals.
- Drizzle over the rest of the icing.
- 1 cup very ripe avocado flesh;
- 1 banana;
- 1 egg;
- ½ cup raw cacao powder;
- 2 tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Raw cacao nibs or dark chocolate chunks, (if cacao is unavailable) to taste;
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- Preheat your oven to 180 C
- Combine the banana, avocado, and honey in a bowl.
- Mix everything until smooth using a hand mixer or a food processor.
- Add in the egg, baking soda, and cacao powder, and continue mixing until everything is well blended.
- Stir in the raw cacao nibs or dark chocolate chunks, if using.
- Drop spoonfuls of biscuit mix on a baking tray lined with baking paper. The dough will be very soft.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are warm and firm.
- ½ cup almond butter, pepita butter or peanut butter (or any nut butter would be scrumptious!)
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2½ medium, or 3 small bananas
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until it starts to look like a pudding!!
Add slices of your favourite fruits on top for added yumminess!!
Image courtesy of galzpaka at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup raw hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp.liquid Organic Coconut Oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic Salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 Tblsp. Maple Syrup or local honey (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet.
- Bake them for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Cool the seeds for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the seeds to a food processor.
- Let the processor run for about 4-5 minutes, until the seeds begin to butterize.
- Stop and scrape the sides down.
- Continue running for another 2-5 minutes until the seeds appear completely butterized, adding a bit of oil at this point, as needed.
- Pulse in additions (hemp seeds, salt, spices, sweetener), if desired. DON’T process these in, as they can cause seizing of the butter.
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- Has someone in your family had heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, or other cardiovascular conditions and you’re concerned what that means for you?
- Are you concerned about high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
- Do you worry about about the side effects of medications prescribed for blood pressure, high cholesterol, or insulin resistance?
- Has your doctor told you to lose weight and exercise more, yet you don’t know where to start?
Starting with Prevention
Preventing a problem is by far better than trying to undo the damage done by years of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Naturopathic medicine can really help to reduce risk factors for heart disease and give you some really beneficial skills to minimise your chances of developing cardiovascular problems.
There have been plenty of studies demonstrating how diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can prevent and treat the heart and cardiovascular system. Being simply told to “eat better and exercise more” by their doctors, with no support or strategies about what exactly that means, isn’t really going to help.
You may not realise that the wrong diet (and specifically, the wrong diet for your particular blood type), stress and lifestyle have a huge impact on heart health.The right type of food can make such a difference to reducing blood pressure and inflammation which is one of the main causes of heart disease, hypertension and high (oxidised) cholesterol.
Effective Natural Solutions
In addition to diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, there are many specific nutritional supplements or herbal medicines that can be beneficial for heart health. These supplements can help reduce the side-effects of your current medication, and can help you reach your heart health goals.
At Equilibrium Natural Health all the products available, including “Practitioner Only Prescribing” products, have been researched to ensure they have the right amount of each of the ingredients, as well as the most absorbable variety of each ingredient, so that you can be assured that what you think you are taking, is actually what you are taking.
Common heart health conditions helped by naturopathic medicine:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Metabolic Syndrome / Insulin Resistance / Pre-Diabetes
- Heart arrhythmias, palpitations
- Peripheral arterial disease, venous insufficiency
Heart Healthy Foods to include regularly in your diet;
- Foods rich in potassium are good for reducing blood pressure. These include bananas (don’t over do these as they’re high in fructose), potatoes, yoghurt, avocado, fish, mushrooms, mixed leafy greens and spinach are high in potassium.
- Beetroot is also fantastic for reducing blood pressure. If you have a juicer, juice these daily and drink plenty of the juice as well as eating the vegetable either grated raw (really nice with grated carrot in salads) or boiled and sliced. Throw some in the oven (skins on) next time your baking something. Once cooled they’re so easy to peel and can be used chopped up in a salad or reheated with other roasted veg for a really tasty lunch.
- Colourful fruits especially kiwifruit, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches and nectarines.
- Oats (soaked overnight for porridge or Bircher muesli is best), pulses (especially white beans), quinoa, kale, celery, capsicum, sweet potato and broccoli are all good for helping reduce blood pressure.
- Garlic can reduce blood pressure by up to 4mg/Hg which is the same as blood medication. Beetroot can do the same. Onions and leeks are also good, just not as effective.
- Reduce grains (as they’re pro-inflammatory) and refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and regular bread. Try zucchini pasta as an alternative. Much lower in calories than regular pasta, it reduces inflammation and adds more nutrients and all important soluble fibre.
- Chia seeds, psyllium husks and linseeds are good sources of fibre and other nutrients (omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds).
- Nuts and seeds
- Fresh food, prepared from scratch, minimise packaged foods that contain a multitude of flavourings, preservatives and salt.
- Avoid foods that are labelled as “low fat” as they’ll be higher in sugar
- Foods labelled as “low or no sugar” usually have artificial sweeteners added instead.
- Green tea
- A glass of red wine (but any more will have the opposite effect and avoid if you have high histamine levels)
Supplements that help;
- Magnesium supplementation can change the shape and condition of heart valves.
- B vitamins can help rebuild the heart.
- CoQ10 can re-energise every cell in the heart and can literally remould the size and shape of the heart after the onset of congestive heart failure.
- The use of Omega-3 fatty acids can help in reversing heart damage caused by NEFAs (non-esterified fatty acids) caused by an imbalance of omega 6: omega 3 faty acids.
- N-Acetylcysteine (also known as NAC) prevents damage from oxidised LDL cholesterol, increases nitric oxide (which opens up the blood vessels for improved blood flow), lowers homocysteine levels (raised homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease as it damages arteries, causing hardening of the arteries and blood clots.
- Digestive enzymes can provide nutritional support for your body as it works to clean out the coronary arteries and repair damage to epicardial tissue surrounding the heart.
- The use of heavy metal chelators such as coriander and chlorella can reduce the risk of an acute coronary event.
- Regular supplementation of a tonic made with Motherwort, garlic, Ginkgo, cayenne and Hawthorne berry can rebuild the strength of the heart.
- Proper dental care and the use of avocado oil, coconut oil and enzymes can reduce the incidence of periodontal disease, which reduces the chances of an acute coronary event.
- Regular use of immune stimulators and anti-virals such as garlic decreases the risk of most inflammatory heart disease and the incidence of viral and bacterial infections that can adversely affect the heart.
- Regular exercise can strengthen the heart and improve its efficiency even in your eighth and ninth decade of life.
Other things to do to help your heart;
- Dealing with any insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome and imbalanced blood sugar levels is critical for heart health
- Pilates is a great form of exercise for visceral fat around the middle. Other forms of exercise are also good to help reduce abdominal weight and at the same time all exercise will help improve and stabilise blood pressure.
- Vitamin D status is important for heart health. Vitamin D is important to reduce inflammation and minimises calcification (which stiffens) the arterial walls, and did you know that those deficient in vitamin D have a higher risk of cancer?
- Krill oil, fish oil and fatty fish consumption are really important for heart health due to the omega 3 fatty acids by lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
- Deal with stress with yoga, meditation or abdominal breathing techniques. Another effective stress reducer is; Meridian tapping or EFT. Psych K is a great technique that can address subconscious issues that may be causing ongoing stress, that just won’t go away.