I have written a lot about the recent Fibro flare I have been in. Let me say that I have been doing a lot of thinking about various “natural” ways that I can help myself feel better. This entry will be about a number of those ways. Just like anything even these things can “hurt” you if you overdo them. I think it’s also important to understand that these tips can be helpful to everyone whether they have Fibro or any other illness or not. So I will cover 4 areas: vitamins/supplements, exercise/stretching, massage and hot soaks.
Several years ago I went to a friend of ours who is a nutritionist. He tested every chemical/mineral level in my body to find what areas I needed balanced. He gave me a list of about 30 vitamins/supplements that I needed to take. Honestly, within an hour of taking my first dose I was out of bed, where I had been for a year. It was amazing. I no longer take ALL of those but I do still take a couple of them. After researching a number of articles I learned that those of us with Fibro often have low levels of Vitamin D and Magnesium.
Insufficient magnesium affects the nervous system by causing nerves to fire too easily. Noises sound excessively loud, lights seem too bright, emotional reactions are exaggerated, and the brain is over-stimulated, oftentimes resulting in insomnia. These symptoms are commonly found in Fibromyalgia patients.
A deficiency in magnesium causes an increase in a body chemical called substance P, which is responsible for pain perception. In other words, you will experience more pain if you don’t have enough magnesium. Fibromyalgia sufferers have on average three times more substance P than normal.
That was eye-opening to me. There is something to be said for vitamins and minerals. The other deficit so common in those of us with Fibro is Vitamin D. God intended our bodies to be balanced. So, it’s natural for our bodies to respond to ineffecencies.
In the study, which was published in the journal Pain Medicine, researchers found that patients who required narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, were taking nearly twice as much of the pain medication as those who had adequate levels of vitamin D. These patients also reported they had worse physical functioning and viewed their overall health as worse than patients with adequate levels of the nutrient.
“This is an important finding as we continue to investigate the causes of chronic pain,” says Michael Turner, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Mayo Clinic and lead author of the study. “Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength. Conversely, deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning. By recognizing it, physicians can significantly improve their patients’ pain, function and quality of life.”
There are hundreds of articles out there that support deficiencies in these as significant factors in not only pain associated with Fibro but many other conditions as well.
Another serious area of help to us is what your doctor will tell you on every single visit. I think they have a button they push to say it in response to everything anyone has. They say “you need to exercise more”. Yawwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnn Tell us something we don’t know! Our nation is the most obese nation in the world. However, in the area of those with Fibro and nearly every other medical problems the doctors are right. Shhhhhh – don’t tell them I agree with them.
Those of us with Fibro can’t quite exercise like the average person next door. We have to find the right balance between just enough and too much. As you might know I attempted a regular exercise program with a personal trainer at a local gym this summer. To this day I am convinced that is what threw me into this MONTHS long flare. It became clear to me that I overdid it. I have been paying for it ever since. Last summer I embarked on an exercise/diet program that worked perfectly for me. It consisted of walking daily and stretching. Ahhhhhh – it felt so good. Oxygen was flowing through my body, my muscles were relaxing, toxins were flushing. BINGO! That was the magic combo.
There has been a lot in the news lately about whether or not Christians should participate in Yoga. Whether you refer to it as Yoga or stretching, the stretching is the key. It is just the greatest thing you can do for yourself. And it just plain makes you feel good. Let it be known that when I say I am doing Yoga what I am actually doing is various stretches on the floor that are beneficial in making my fibro-wracked body healthier – whether I have a Yoga DVD in or am just in the floor alone in the quiet. It’s healthy and that is what matters. If you have a personal conviction against Yoga that is fine Just plop down and do your own version of stretching. You’re doing it for your body and that’s what it’s for no matter what you call it.
How Does Stretching Benefit Fibromyalgia Sufferers?
Stretching is one of the best forms of exercise that someone with fibromyalgia can do. But maybe you need some reasons to stretch to get you motivated. Here are some of the many benefits of basic stretches:
- Stretches help to elongate your muscles, helping to release stiffness and pain.
- Simple stretching exercises increase your flexibility, allowing you to get the full range of motion in all of your joints. This will help with your daily activities, including shopping, driving, cleaning, and cooking.
- Stretching will provide you with some much-needed time to relax, practice meditation, or just get reacquainted with yourself.
- If you suffer from disordered sleeping, a daily stretching routine may help you to fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night.
Other natural methods that have helped me also include massage. Oh my word! Don’t you just love it when someone rubs your shoulders. Realizing that toxins build up in our muscles massaging them seems natural to release them. Often you will hear someone talk about the knots they often get in their muscles. Massaging those out releases the toxins that have built up and relaxes the muscle. Here is a great explanation of how it helps.
It is theorized that massage therapy actually enhances the production of certain pain blockers, including endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These hormones work to counteract pain signals conducted by the brain, and this would explain why massage offers such dramatic pain relief.
Benefits of Massage Therapy For Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Massage therapy is actually one of the most beneficial treatments for fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. In fact, in a survey completed by fibromyalgia sufferers, massage therapy was rated the best fibromyalgia treatment option by an overwhelming margin. Massage therapy benefits include:
- increased blood circulation to the muscles, allowing for faster muscle repair
- increased flexibility
- increased range of motion
- decreased stress and depression
- reduced pain
- reduced stiffness
- improved sleep patterns
In a 1996 study, fibromyalgia sufferers reported a 38% decrease in pain symptoms after receiving just ten, 30 minute massage sessions. They also reported a significant decrease in their sleep difficulties: they began sleeping for longer periods at a time and were disturbed less by sleep disorders.
Finally, just a nice hot herbal bath often does the trick for me. A lot of people will use alcohol in their hot bath. I have an amazing product that I use for pain relief. I recommend it highly. If you suffer from aches or pains a nice long soak in a hot bath or a hot-tub eases the pain in a relaxing way for me. I’ve also found that it is easier to stretch after a hot bath as well. Just a little secret.
At any rate, the point is that there are a lot of things one can do – apart from pharmaceuticals to help yourself if you suffer not only with Fibromyalgia but just about any other ailment as well. It just takes a little trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try something. It just might surprise you and work. Think how much better you’ll feel. And if it doesn’t work then you can just scratch it off the list for you.
I just finished “stretching” before writing this. Now I think it’s time for a dose of natural Vitamin D and a little exercise. “FAITH, IT’S TIME FOR A WALK!”