In This Issue:
~ Reader Feedback
~ 5 alternative medicine treatments that work
~ Can Alternative Therapies Enhance Conventional Medicine?
~ Could "alternative" therapies do more harm than good?
~ Complementary therapies may help your chronic pain: acupuncture, hypnosis, and other
alternative treatments may ease pain that doesn't respond to medical therapy, says an MGH
~ Fibromyalgia Patients: A Real Pain in the Muscles and Fibers
I have fibro and have had it for 5 yrs..What has been working for me of late is cutting
all sugars out of my diet and processed foods flour too..Also a increase in supplements
1000mg Vit D3,3600 mg Fish oil, 2600 mg flax seed oil ,calcium mag and zinc mixture 3
times a day ,1000 mg Vit C..I have been doing this for a month now and have noticed a huge
improvement. I have more energy and less pain..I still have to take my pain pills but I
feel better..This and alot of support from my family and friends helps so much...
Melinda in Portland Ore.
My doctor sent me to physical therapy for an evaluation but because fibromyalgia is so
wide spread they put me in the aquatics program. It is easier on your body and it does
work. I had to stop because of an operation and as the weeks went by my pain came back
little by little. I can't wait to get back to it. It may seem like your not doing much but
Debbie in Ohio
Works for me:
SAM'e (s-adenosyl-L-methionine - 400 mg 2x daily - better pain relief than anything else
heating pads (stick to low settings, or erythema ab igne - literally "redness from
fire" - can discolor your skin)
TheraCane (snorkel-shaped device that lets you reach around your back for self-massage of
muscles and trigger-points)
weekly trigger point massage and general deep tissue massage (counterintuitively, the more
it hurts during the massage, the better I am afterward);
just saying "NO" to people and activities and resting positions that hurt;
using unavoidable daily chores (work, driving, shopping, housecleaning, etc.) as my
exercise/physical therapy rather than trying to introduce new actitivies that my body is
not used to.
Has not worked for me - no pain relief:
Accupuncture (hurt a lot, made me sick to my stomach)
Aura Soma products (colored, scented oils, etc.)
Organic food diet
Raw food diet
Topical salicylate ointments
Anti-inflammatory pain killer pills, including natural supplements (non-clotting
nosebleeds result from the blood-thinning effect!)
Physical therapists (major disasater! work-hardening is exactly what I should NOT be
"Eat Right 4 Your Type" (a diet based on blood type)
Low carb diets
Low protein diets
Light Body (meditation/energy-work tapes)
Taiji (Tai Chi)
Magnetic mattress and chair pad (made me feel "wired" all the time - like an
overdose of caffiene; might be good for those struggling with lethargy, but not good for
relaxing one's muscles) RKNSRN
I was diagnosed by two different Rheumatologists with Fibromyalgia 12 years ago. I could
only work a few days a week, had many flareups and lost hours of work. Today I work 5+
days a week and walk 2 miles a day. My godsend of a doctor (Rheumatologist) put me on
Ambien for sleep, Immipramine and Ultram for pain. I still get the Fibromyalgia pain when
the borameter drops, but nothing like years ago. Hope this can help someone.
Shed any excess weight. Use the plan that suits you. Change your eating habits and
continue it for life. You will have more energy.
I removed gluten, additives and preservatives from my diet. I eliminated as much white
flour from my diet as I could. If I need to make something special. I use half white
gluten free flour and half brown rice flour. Cook from scratch using fresh foods. Buy
organic where you can afford it. Put ground flax seed on your cereal and in your baking.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegs. Limit meat intake to around 100grams per serving. Eat oily
fish at least once a week. Fresh if possible.
Reduce sugar consumption.
Made sure I eat an apple a day for the Malic acid content.
Gentle exercise despite the pain. Move it or lose it.
Made tomatos and potatos and all the deadly nightshade family an occasional treat.
No soda's diet or otherwise.
Limit coffee consumption - I have only one cup a day now very early in the morning. I
grind beans rather than buy the prepared coffee in a pack.
Keep hydrated - drink lots of water.
Avoid using harsh chemicals and weedkillers in your home. Limit the number of cleaners you
use and find natural ones to use. I use white vinegar and water for a lot of chores.
For those who suffer skin problems use hypoallergenic shower gels and elimate soap. Buy
soap powders for sensitive skin.
I have a huge reduction in muscle pain, less fatigue, and my irritable bowel symptoms have
gone. I have a much better quality of life than I had five years ago when I first began
this regime. I believe fibromyalgia symptoms can be relieved. I documented my regime for
my doctor and I know of at least one other patient personally who has benefited from my
experience. I did lots of research eliminating one symptom at a time and did not treat the
disease as one entity. I believe you have to treat each symptom.
I have not had to take pain killers for a long time if I do get sore I use heat and a
natural rub called Antiflamme. My sleeping pattern is better since I began my new
lifestyle. It is a lifestyle. This is not a cure but a means to live life as best as you
can as a fibromyalgia patient.
I was very sad when I tried to share my experience with other patients in an online forum
I had belonged to for some years and got thrown out of the forum for daring to suggest
there was hope and you can improve your quality of life. Sure it takes effort and
discipline but its worth it!
Hope this is of assistance
I have found the most relief from massage therapy.
I was in Lyrica test group and took 100mg 3 times a day for about a year after completion
of study, but did not like the foggy feeling and certainly was not happy with the weight
gain so physician switched to Cymbalta 60 mg which seems to help over-all symptoms and
pain. However, for pure enjoyment and relaxation, massage works best for me. Tried
acupuncture, but while it brought some relief, did not help that much.
I would have to say by far the most effective alternative suppliment i
take is D-Ribose.I simply would not be able to function let alone keep
working without it.I take it in powder form that i buy in bulk
online(Its much cheaper than pills),I take 2-3 tsp a day in water.The
biggest change is my energy level,without it i'd be confined to
bed!But its not just energy it also helps with my stiffness/pain and
fibro fog levels too.Even my husband has tried it for energy and he
does not have fibro.
I also take magnesium and malic acid pills for the stiffness,5-htp and
valerian for sleeping and B-12 for when i need extra energy for
something but its the D-ribose that has been the most obvious help for
I found two somewhat unorthodox treatments to have some positive effect on the FMS that
The first is osteopathic manipulative medicine, both the type developed in the 19th
Century by Dr. A.T. Still and cranial osteopathy developed at the Upplanger Institute.
The second was cognitive behavioural therapy, which did nothing for the symptoms
themselves, but helped me get over the why me and poor me questions and complaining.
Father Daniel Beegan
I have had fibromyalgia going on nine years, and for me it seems to be progressive. I have
not been able to work for a little over two years; I was a senior health care executive
with a six-figure income. What I have found works for me is a good long cry, about 15
minutes or so. I just let it all out, along with some screaming, cursing, and saying
whatever it is I need to say, no matter how irrational or crazy it may be.
Afterwards, I feel much better its cathartic, purifying, and cleansing for
me. The emotions are raw, almost primitive, and have to be let out, so I do. I do this
alone, while my wife is not at home, because I think it would terrify her if she heard me,
and I would not want to subject her to that. She is a wonderfully caring, understanding
soul mate who I love deeply and completely. Dont get me wrong I take my
medications (10) faithfully, get as much exercise as I am able, and hold on to a lot of
hope that someday, somehow, this horrible disease will be eradicated. But letting out all
of my frustrations, despair, hurt, pain, etc. with a good long cry works for me.
I have found that exercising in a pool of 94 degrees for 40 minutes a day twice a week
works wonders. The water alleviates all of your pain while in there and you are able to
some good aerobic exercising with ou the pain but all the gain. I have now just started
water jogging, you wear a belt so that you literally are running in the water with out
touching the bottom, This also provides then some good cardio workouts.
What works for me is accupuncture. While I was doing this it really helped with the pain.
I got some relief with fatigue, but I think that when your pain levels are more tolerable,
you're not so tired. I stoped while waiting to get another appointment with my physical
medicine doctor who prescribes the accupuncture for insurance payment. I really felt lousy
again waiting in transition.
Anohter thing that works is learning to say NO. It is sometime hard and or impossible, but
try it; it really helps.
Stopain Spray gives good tempory relief too. I know it's a name brand, but I did not know
how to explain it otherwise.
Diann Earnest Yucaipa, CA
I have been drinking a juice that contains the freeze dried acai berry, along with a
combination of other fruits that are very high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
This juice has been an absolute life saver for me. While it has not made all my symptoms
disappear, what it has done is reduce the pain and fatigue, extend the length of time
between flares, and best of all, it seems to have cleared up my fibro-fog almost
completely! I have spoken to other people with FMS who also drink the juice, and many of
them report some health benefits from the juice. But all of us agree that the juice just
plain tastes good. I wont go back to my morning orange juice even if I didnt
get the health benefits.
5 alternative medicine treatments that work By Elizabeth Cohen CNN
Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Medical News correspondent Elizabeth Cohen
that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Dr. Andrew Weil wasn't sure exactly how he hurt his knee; all he
knew was that it was painful. But instead of turning to cortisone shots or heavy doses of
pain medication, Weil turned to the ancient Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture.
"It worked -- my knee felt much better," says Weil.
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on alternative medicine, everything from
chiropractic care to hypnosis.
Weil says alternative medicine can work wonders -- acupuncture, certain herbs, guided
For example, Dr. Brian Berman, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the
University of Maryland School of Medicine, has done a series of studies showing
acupuncture's benefits for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Extensive studies have also been done on mind-body approaches such as guided imagery, and
on some herbs, including St. John's wort.
But on the other hand, there also is a lot of quackery out there, Weil says. "I've
seen it all, [including] products that claim to increase sexual vigor, cure cancer and
allay financial anxiety."
So how do you know what works and what doesn't when it comes to alternative medicine? Just
a decade ago, there weren't many well-done, independent studies on herbs, acupuncture,
massage or hypnosis, so patients didn't have many facts to guide them.
But in 1999, eight academic medical centers, including Harvard, Duke and Stanford, banded
together with the purpose of encouraging research and education on alternative medicine.
Eight years later, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine has
38 member universities, and has gathered evidence about what practices have solid science
Here, from experts at five of those universities, are five alternative medicine practices
that are among the most promising because they have solid science behind them.
1. Acupuncture for pain
Hands, down, this was the No. 1 recommendation from our panel of experts. They also
recommended acupuncture for other problems, including nausea after surgery and
2.Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for PMS
When pre-menstrual syndrome rears its ugly head, gynecologist Dr. Tracy Gaudet encourages
her patients to take these dietary supplements. "They can have a huge impact on
moodiness, bloating, and on heavy periods," says Gaudet, who's the executive director
of Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University Medical School.
3. St. John's Wort for depression
The studies are a bit mixed on this one, but our panel of experts agreed this herb -- once
thought to rid the body of evil spirits - is definitely promising. "It's worth a try
for mild to moderate depression," says Weil, founder and director of the Program in
Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. "Remember it will take six to
eight weeks to see an effect." Remember, too, that St. John's wort can interfere with
some medicines; the University of Maryland Medical Center has a list.
4. Guided imagery for pain and anxiety
"Go to your happy place" has become a cliché, but our experts say it really
works. The technique, of course, is more complicated than that. "In guided imagery we
invite you to relax and focus on breathing and transport you mentally to a different
place," says Mary Jo Kreitzer, Ph.D., R.N., founder and director of the Center for
Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
There's a guided imagery demo at the University of Minnesota's Web site.
5. Glucosamine for joint pain
"It's safe, and it looks like it's effective," says Dr. Frederick Hecht,
director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of
California, San Francisco. "It may be the first thing that actually reverses
cartilage loss in osteoarthritis."
All our experts warn that since alternative medicine is financially lucrative, a lot of
charlatans have gotten into the business. They have these tips for being a savvy shopper:
1. Look for "USP" or "NSF" on the labels
"The biggest mistake people make is they don't get a good product," says Dr.
Mary Hardy, medical director of the Sims/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. She
says the stamp of approval from the United States Pharmacopoeia or NSF International, two
groups with independent verification programs, means what's on the label is in the
2. Find a good practitioner
Make sure the alternative medicine practitioner you're going to is actually trained to
practice alternative medicine. One place to start is the Consortium for Academic Health
Centers for Integrative Medicine
3. Be wary of crazy claims
"Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is," says Weil.
And once you do start on your journey with alternative medicine, here's a piece of advice:
Take it slow. Alternative medicine works, but sometimes not as quickly as taking a drug.
"I tell people it's going to take a while," says Hardy. "I tell them to do
a six- to eight-week trial, or even 12 weeks."
Can Alternative Therapies Enhance Conventional Medicine?
By Deepak Chopra, M.D.
The great promise of mind-body medicine will never be fulfilled as long as the treatments
are unpredictable. This has been a major stumbling block in the West, ever since the
original excitement over acupuncture in the '70s and Ayurveda in the '80s. Patients who
have been helped sing the praises of alternative medicine while official clinical trials
don't satisfy the skeptics.
In the East it is more easily accepted that each patient is unique, and therefore one
cannot expect that the same therapy will lead to the same results in
everybody. One sees this in the placebo effect, also. You can give inert sugar pills to
cure pain, and the pain will go away in some patients but not others.
To a Western-trained physician, this lack of reliability undermines the treatment's
credibility. Medical schools teach their students to expect a shot of penicillin or an
appendectomy to lead to a cure as reliably for patient A as for patient B. In practice
there is no such thing as complete reliability, however, and one must consider how many
patients die on the operating table or suffer extreme side effects from drugs.
There is also the problem that drugs become less effective over time - the phenomenon
known as tachyphylaxis - and that "super germs" develop in hospitals, causing a
serious rise in illness and death caused by the treatment - a phenomenon known as
In response to the growing resistance of microbes to standard antibiotics, drug companies
promise to develop new alternatives as the germs learn to beat the old drugs, but unless
there's big money in it, the pharmaceutical research isn't undertaken with any great
enthusiasm or speed. Hence the vicious circle of ineffective drugs, smarter germs, and
rising drug prices that plagues American medicine.
That's one reason, among many, why mind-body medicine poses a brighter future than the
proponents of standard drugs and surgery are willing to concede. (The fact that the
average American over 70 takes seven prescription drugs a day must make anyone pause.)
The public already trusts alternative medicine far more than the official voices who warn
against it year after year. One reads of the dire effects of vitamin A poisoning, for
example, when in reality the number of megavitamin overdoes in this country is minuscule
compared to the thousands of people who get sick and die from hospital infections.
It's like condemning nutmeg as a hallucinogen while and ignoring the crash of five jumbo
jets. The New England Journal of Medicine has been much less sympathetic to alternative
medicine than the leading British journal, The Lancet, which ran a 2005 article on the
effectiveness of homeopathy in treating and preventing colds and flu.
Almost immediately The Lancet ran a counter article bolstering the conventional view that
homeopathy isn't effective. This represents the usual confusion. Adherents to alternative
medicine clash with the establishment, both sides pointing to their own research, but both
sides also having to admit that definitive results never seem to settle their disputes.
I've come to feel that the argument will never be settled until we accept a fact of
nature: everyone has a unique response to disease. No single treatment can be expected to
cure or prevent illness with complete reliability, and even if Western medicine is right
to claim that a drug like penicillin works more often than any alternative, Eastern
medicine can point to drug intolerance, side effects, and expense as considerable
drawbacks. (Not to mention the exponential risks that often mount when pharmaceuticals are
mixed with one another, or with alcohol consumption.)
Therefore, each of us needs to consider our own bodies, our own life history, and our own
susceptibility. Mainstream medicine constantly tries to sell its one-size-fits-all
position, and it shouldn't. For decades all patients with high blood pressure were put on
reduced salt diets that they found hard to tolerate, despite the fact that over 80 percent
of people are not salt sensitive and can eat as much salt as they want.
Over that same period, low-cholesterol diets were pushed for all patients at risk for
premature heart attacks, even though the connection between the cholesterol you eat and
the cholesterol in your blood varies widely. To claim that there was a simple correlation
was bad science.
Meanwhile, the strong correlation between heart attacks and psychological stress was
pursued with much less enthusiasm, if at all. Today, of course, newer and better drugs are
meant to solve all problems. What, then, can you and I do to offset the unpredictable
nature of healing? The answer doesn't lie in a simplistic choice between drugs and surgery
all the time or none of the time. We have to envision a new future for the body, and with
that in hand, intelligent choices can be made from both sides of the medical menu,
mainstream and alternative.
Could "alternative" therapies do more harm than good? Experts caution that
supplementation could be dangerous
There's no shortage of "alternative" treatment options available today, but some
therapies are not only unproven--they're also potentially dangerous. Physicians warn that
while the makers of dietary supplements may claim to offer "natural" treatments,
any pill you take can act like a drug and therefore carries a risk of adverse events and
drug interactions. On top of that, there is no guarantee that these supplements even work.
As we grow older, it's normal for the levels of certain chemicals and hormones--such as
testosterone--to decline, but taking a pill to replace what you've lost isn't always the
safest solution. "The blood level of a substance declines with age, but returning it
to 'youthful' levels doesn't necessary help and may actually cause harm," says
Rosanne Leipzig, MD, PhD, professor and vice chairman of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School
For example, postmenopausal women do not produce as much estrogen as they used to and, as
a result, they can experience bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
However, while estrogen-replacement therapy can alleviate these symptoms, it also can
increase the risk of breast cancer and blood clots.
The dangers of dietary supplements. The same problems surround the use of dietary
supplements. There is no proof that using supplements to replace what you've lost is safe
and effective. For example, the antioxidant selenium tends to decrease as we age, but
recent studies have shown that taking selenium supplements could actually increase the
risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, a lot of the claims made about dietary
supplements have not been scientifically proven.
"Clearly, further studies have to be done before we can make a decision about whether
or not a particular supplement is safe," Dr. Leipzig says. "We really have no
way of knowing the effects on people without seeing the results of large, randomized,
Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements are not currently monitored to make sure
that what is stated on the label is actually what is in each pill. "Because dietary
supplements are not FDA-approved, anything can be in the bottle," Dr. Leipzig warns.
"So you end up paying good money and you don't really know what you're getting."
There is also the risk of interaction between dietary supplements and other drugs you may
be taking. For example, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and garlic should not be taken with
blood-thinners because they increase the risk of bleeding. It's important to consult with
your doctor to decide if the potential for benefit outweighs the potential for harm.
Truly "natural" therapy. Although aging is a natural process and many people
want to live as long as possible, most people don't want to look or feel older.
"There are lots of things you can do instead of taking dietary supplements to help
prolong your life and ensure maximum health," advises Dr. Leipzig. "The four
most important things are to always wear your seat belt, quit smoking, maintain a healthy
weight, and exercise regularly."
Dr. Leipzig acknowledges that some dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and
chondroitin for arthritis pain, do show promise, but at this point, it's too early to tell
which therapies are both effective and safe. You can find more high quality information
about alternative medicine at www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/ booths/altmed.html and
COPYRIGHT 2007 Belvoir Media Group, LLC
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning
Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies
*Note This book is a bit pricey for most of us, but most libraries should be able
to get a copy for you.
Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies
Mitchell Bebel Stargrove, ND, LAc; Jonathan Treasure, MA, MNIMH, RH (AHG); Dwight L.
Use of nutritional and herbal products is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United
States. As more people take nutritional supplements and herbal medicines, a growing
concern among alternative and conventional practitioners is potential drug/herb and
drug/nutrient interactions. Consequently, this book--Herb, Nutrient, and Drug
Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies (HNDI)--comes at an
The authors have performed the Herculean task of creating, from a vast collection of
references, a detailed guide to potential interactions of the most commonly encountered
herbs and nutrients with common prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Published in January 2008, HNDI consists of 70 monographs--30 herbs (from Aloe to Vitex)
and 40 nutrients (subcategorized as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and nutraceuticals
Each monograph starts with a quick, at-a-glance summary table identifying the particular
drug/ drug class, a brief mechanism of interaction, and a recommended course of action.
The body of the monograph supplies the reader with detailed information outlined by the
* Herb/Nutrient Description: General background about the herb/nutrient (e.g., common
species, country of origin, parts used, chemical formula, etc.)
* Herb/Nutrient in Clinical Practice: Historical and contemporary indications for usage,
key chemical constituents, and dosage ranges
* Interactions Review: General information regarding interactions with drugs
* Herb-Drug/Nutrient-Drug Interactions: More detailed information about herb/nutrient and
specific drugs or drug categories
* Theoretical, Speculative, and Preliminary Interactions Research, Including Overstated
There is a system of symbols throughout the book to aid the reader in determining the
level of clinical significance of the herb- or nutrient-drug interaction, type and
clinical significance of the interaction, and strength and quality of the source evidence.
Although the symbols are intended to be helpful, they can be somewhat confusing. For
instance, the same symbol is used more than once to describe different and, at one point,
The authors have compiled a substantial amount of information into one text. And therein
lies the value of this book--pertinent drug interaction data for numerous herbs and
nutrients in a single reference.
Elsevier Mosby, St Louis, MO 63146
ISBN-13: 978-0-323-02964-3; Softcover; 932 pages; $88.95
Book Review by Mario Roxas, ND
Complementary therapies may help your chronic pain: acupuncture, hypnosis, and other
alternative treatments may ease pain that doesn't respond to medical therapy, says an MGH
When traditional medical treatment fails to ease your chronic pain, consider trying a
complementary therapy. There are a number of non-medical treatments with established
safety records--such as hypnosis, massage, acupuncture, mind-body techniques, and
psychological counseling--that have been shown to relieve pain in some patients.
For example, researchers have found that a form of interpersonal therapy called cognitive
behavioral therapy (CBT)--which helps people replace
unhealthy beliefs and behaviors with more positive ones--may be associated with
significant pain reduction in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who do not
respond to medications and dietary changes. A study reported in the August 2007 issue of
Gastroenterology revealed that subjects with IBS showed significant improvements in
symptoms of pain and bloating after participating in a program of once-a-week CBT sessions
for 10 weeks, or four months of once-a-month CBT combined with a regimen of relaxation and
problem-solving exercises at home.
"If standard medical treatment doesn't work, it's a good idea to look elsewhere for
help," says Randy L. Gollub, MD, PhD, Associate Director of the Psychiatric
Neuroimaging Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Complementary
medicine can sometimes bring relief of pain where traditional medicine cannot. It's always
best to check with a doctor before choosing a complementary therapy; as long as your
doctor has no objections, it may be worth a try."
There are many categories of pain, Dr. Gollub explains, and some of these may not respond
to standard treatment.
"Some types of pain are caused by ongoing physiological or mechanical processes that
can be identified, such as pain following an injury or arising from a specific
disorder," she says. "These types of pain are addressable by medical
"But other types of pain--such as pain that lingers after physical injury has healed
or fibromyalgia (a disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain)--are not yet well
understood. Such conditions are associated with pathological processes that often fail to
respond to our best treatment efforts. In these cases it makes sense to consider exploring
complementary treatments to see if any can help bring relief."
Although complementary treatments may not work in all cases and scientific data to support
the use of some therapies may not be extensive, the principal therapies have minimal side
effects and are safe for most individuals. Among the most promising therapies are:
* Psychological counseling: Seeing a mental health professional for treatment of anxiety
disorders and mood disorders such as depression can help reduce levels of perceived pain.
It also may help individuals with chronic pain to learn relaxation techniques, stress
reduction, and other effective strategies for coping with pain.
* Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese form of medicine can be very effective in relieving
pain from conditions such as arthritis, headaches and aches in muscles and connective
tissues. Therapy consists of inserting slender needles through the skin, muscles and
connective tissues at any of nearly 1,000 points along energy channels (meridians) to
remove blockages and achieve energy balance. The procedure, which itself is essentially
pain-free, is thought to cause the release of natural painkillers called endorphins.
* Massage: There are more than 80 types of massage therapy, which involves manipulating
muscles and other soft tissues of the body to improve circulation and flexibility, reduce
stress and promote relaxation, among other benefits. Massage has been shown to effectively
relieve musculoskeletal pain in some individuals. In one group of subjects with low back
pain who underwent 10 weeks of massage treatment, benefits from massage were still evident
a year after treatment.
* Hypnosis: Individuals who undergo hypnosis are induced to enter a state of deep
relaxation called a "trance," during which concentration is focused and
awareness of external noises and activity is diminished. In this state, the hypnotized
person is open to suggestions from a health practitioner that may lead to changes in
thoughts, perceptions, behavior, or sensations. Imaging studies have shown the technique
can reduce activity in brain regions responsible for pain perception.
* Mind-body techniques: Significant pain reduction may be achieved in some people by
harnessing the power of the mind to address bodily pain. Mind-body practices include
techniques such as guided imagery (in which pleasing mental images are used as a
distraction from pain and a means of promoting relaxation), meditation, progressive muscle
relaxation, and yoga. They are thought to stimulate the brain's production of endorphins.
* Neurofeedback: Research has shown that chronic pain can be reduced by training the brain
to function within certain brain wave frequencies. A patient is connected by sensors
attached at the ear and scalp to a computer graphic display that represents his or her
brain waves. Patients are trained to modify their brain waves to achieve specific changes
in the display while they watch. To decrease chronic pain, patients learn to decrease
activity in a region of the brain believed to process the perception and regulation of
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Follow these suggestions offered by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative
medicine (NCCAM) when you look for complementary medicine health care:
* Gather information about the type of therapy you are considering from sources such as
professional organizations, academic Web sites, and publications.
* Check with your insurance company to determine whether the therapy you are interested in
* Discuss the therapy with your primary health care provider and ask for a referral. If
your doctor cannot recommend someone, seek a referral from a professional organization.
* When considering a complementary therapy practitioner, ask about the person's training,
credentials, and experience.
Fibromyalgia Patients: A Real Pain in the Muscles and Fibers
Dynamic Chiropractic, Jun 3, 2008 Bomar, John R.
They usually come in "hurting all over." They often are depressed, discouraged
and not sleeping well. They frequently arise stiff and sore in the morning, feeling
fatigued. They have suffered bouts of irritable bowel symptoms. They appear anxious and
feel chronically "burned out."
According to the American Academy of Rheumatology (ACR), 3 million to 6 million Americans
suffer from some form of the disorder fibromyalgia. A majority of them are women of
childbearing age. However, fibromyalgia also can affect children, the elderly and men.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle, ligament and tendon pain, chronic
fatigue and multiple areas of trigger-point tenderness. The condition was recognized in
previous generations, but was known by other names such as muscular rheumatism, fibrocitis
and tension myalgia.
Allopathic medicine does not recognize a cause for fibromyalgia. Current thinking centers
on internal imbalances that cause an increase in sensitivity to pain signals. Sleep
disturbance, past injury, infection, metabolic muscle changes, hormonal imbalance and
stress are other considerations in the etiology of fibromyalgia. Interestingly for
chiropractors, abnormalities of sympathetic nervous system function also have been
postulated as a factor in its etiology.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult, as it can mimic many other disorders. The ACR
has established the criteria of at least three months of chronic widespread pain and
tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific trigger-point sites.
Medical treatment involves recommendations for aerobic exercise such as swimming and
walking, heat and massage treatments, antidepressant and analgesic/muscle relaxant
medications, sleep aids, physical therapy and relaxation techniques of guided imagery.
Many physicians also recommend stress-management strategies, improved diet and a healthier
Many in the alternative health care community see systemic toxicity as a fundamental
consideration in fibromyalgia. They believe physiological disturbances from impaired
heart, liver, lung and kidney function are at the root of the problem. As we know, the
liver and kidneys are the primary detoxifiers of the body. Thus, systemic toxicity
(autointoxication) can be the end result of impaired function in these organs.
As specialists in neuromusculoskeletal disorders, we can forget that life itself, as we
know it, is basically an electromagnetic phenomenon. In the East, they describe this
essential internal energy reserve as qi. Some even see the liver and kidneys as akin to
batteries of the body, with the liver serving as the positive pole and the kidneys as the
negative. When these organs are deficient in functioning, the body's "battery"
is said to be run down. Chronic fatigue, low vitality and organic depression are the
result, features common in fibromyalgia patients.
Just as the internal composition of a regular battery can influence its charge, the inner
atmosphere of the human body can influence its vitality and strength. Scientific evidence
increasingly points to the fact that, for maximum health and wellness, we should be
primarily vegetarians, with fruits and vegetables making up the great majority (70 percent
to 80 percent) of consumed food. Good-quality grains, nuts and oils, dairy and lean meats
should make up the other 20 percent to 30 percent. This has an anti-inflammatory effect
and creates an alkalized internal atmosphere, which also produces the health benefit of
discouraging reproduction of most pH-dependent human pathogens that are acid-loving.
Systemic toxicity demands that primary attention be given to the basic processes of
adequate hydration and increased eliminations. My personal observation is that very few
patients consume sufficient water for bodily needs, which is estimated to be at least 64
ounces (eight glasses) daily. They tend to try and substitute colas, teas and coffee, all
of which are diuretic, resulting in little or no net fluid gain. Almost all human
biochemical processes require hydrogen. Without sufficient hydration, these processes
slow, contributing to fatigue and accentuating the accumulation of metabolic wastes.
Under- or frank dehydration also slows bowel motility, which contributes to reabsorption
of toxic waste into the general circulation. "Water is medicine" is my advice to
these patients, along with a cleansing diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Enemas and
laxatives also might be useful in internal cleansing, especially if a patient has been
constipated. For the most severe cases of long-standing autointoxication, I recommend
patients consider a series of colonic irrigations.
Manual therapy (spinal adjustment and massage) will prove very beneficial to most
sufferers of fibromyalgia. Spinal biomechanical lesions and nerve "impingements"
almost always reflexly stimulate some degree of associated regional muscular spasm, which
leads to a relative ischemia and toxemia in and around the tissue. Chronic, longstanding
myospasm creates adhesions, scarring and fibrosis.
In applying any form of manual therapy to those with fibromyalgia, one should take great
care in the early stages. Since these patients have heightened sensitization to pain,
overly aggressive, hamfisted approaches to treatment often will backfire, creating such
additional suffering pain as to lose a patient. In the early days, many osteopaths and
chiropractors recommended sustained anti-inflammatory measures such as repetitive cold
packs and a series of hands-on massages before even attempting spinal manipulation for
those with severe pain syndromes.
In recommending dietary changes to patients, I have found it beneficial to discuss the
"opportunity of illness." While this sounds counterintuitive, I explain that the
reason for the pain signal is to alert them to the underlying condition that needs to be
changed for the better. I believe most frank pathology is the result of long-term
imbalance in normal physiology, often caused by errors in diet and lifestyle and
exacerbated by past injury or chronic inflammation.
Some form of moderate exercise such as walking or swimming is essential to recovery from
fibromyalgia. Also frequently beneficial is the discipline of yoga-type stretching. Being
out in the open as much as possible while exercising has been shown to be superior to time
spent inside on the treadmill. Both walking and swimming mobilize needed lymphatic flow in
the body. Arm swings pump this "dirty seawater" back into the veins under the
clavicle, where it eventually is cleansed. Of course, the skin and lungs play an important
role in metabolic waste elimination as well, so heating a well-hydrated body (hot baths,
sauna) to create increased heart rate, perspiration and aerobic breathing also is
Finally, "the mind is the builder, or the mind is the slayer" is a
wellrecognized axiom that acknowledges the health or disease effect of attitude and
emotion. Fear-filled, angry folk who habitually engage in what motivational speaker Zig
Ziglar called "stinking thinking," eventually pay a price in their body's lack
of wellness. Taking in lots of information that creates distress and inner turmoil, while
feeling completely helpless to improve the situation, is what Hans Selye (who coined the
term stress) called "pathologically alarming" to us human animals. Conversely,
time spent in reading and positive thought of our highest purposes and ideals can
contribute substantially to the healing process.
Fibromyalgia can be healed and left behind in a person's life experience. Recognizing its
multi-faceted causes and taking a comprehensive approach to its treatment is essential to
success in your efforts as true healer.
BY JOHN R. BOMAR, DC
DR. JOHN R. BOMAR is a 1978 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. A past board
member of the Arkansas Chiropractic Association and the Arkansas Chiropractic Educational
Society, he maintains private practices in Arkadelphia and hot Springs, Ark. He can be
contacted at johnrbomar@ hotsprings.net.
Obligatory Disclaimer: The FMS Community does not endorse the use, or non-use of any
alternative therapy and/or supplement. Our role is to gather, check and pass on medical
information our readers may find useful in planning their health care routine. As always,
consult with your health care team before adding new treatments to your routine.
FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically
authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to
advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy,
scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of
any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In
accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed
without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included
information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go
beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.