Aches, Pains, and Fatigue of Fibromyalgia Could be Related to Viruses

Dr. Nirala Jacobi

Nirala Jacobi, ND, joined the Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic in 1998 after completing a BS in human health sciences and a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. Jacobi is a primary-care physician with expertise in women’s health and chronic illness. Her specialties include botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine and nutrition.

Q: I would like to know if there is anything in naturopathic medicine that will help my fibromyalgia.

A: Fibromyalgia is a condition primarily characterized by musculoskeletal pain with specific tender points, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Other symptoms often include poor memory and concentration, headaches, depression and digestive symptoms. Many patients are frustrated because their lab results will be completely normal, yet they feel terrible.

Some studies show that viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, which causes mono, or some hepatitis viruses are, in many cases, at least partially to blame for the relentless aches, pains and fatigue. More often than not, it is a multifactorial disease; in other words, there are often stressors to the body which take their toll and overwhelm the body to such an extent it seems impossible to recover. Let’s look at some of these stressors in more detail.

Immunosuppression. We often hear from fibromyalgia patients that they get “every cold that comes around.” A suppressed immune system is a welcome mat for infections such as viral illnesses and fungal infections. Immuno-supporting herbs include astragalus, raw garlic and echinacea. We will often also suggest supplementations such as vitamin C, zinc and selenium, which has antiviral properties.

Liver detoxification. Various environmental overexposures to chemicals in the forms of pollution, pesticide and herbicide residues on foods, paints, gasoline fumes and dry cleaning chemicals can overwhelm the liver’s detoxification system as well as decrease certain immune functions. Overexposed people tend to be chemically sensitive, and walking down a detergent aisle in the supermarket can cause profound symptoms. We often suggest a detoxification regime that may include adhering to a particular diet, supplements that support the detoxification pathways in the liver, sweating in a sauna or steam bath, gentle exercise and colonics.

Stress-related adrenal dysfunction. The adrenal glands are, among other things, responsible for secretion of stress hormones and cortisol. Excess stress can tax this system. The result can cause decreased cortisol production, which can lead to blood sugar imbalances and insomnia. Many times the person will feel “wired but tired,” another clue the adrenal glands have been overextended.

These cases call for nutritive herbs such as avena (oatstraw) or glycerrhiza (licorice) as well as B vitamins, especially B5 (pantothenic acid) as it is closely linked to energy production by the body.

Digestive dysfunction. If you have ever gone to a naturopathic doctor, you have heard how important the digestive system to the whole body. We liken it to the root of the tree. If the root is sick, how can the tree be healthy? In many chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia, the digestive tract has been compromised by overconsumption of refined carbohydrates coupled with high antibiotic use. This can create “dysbiosis” – overgrowth of opportunistic organisms and a decrease in beneficial bacteria. Symptoms of massive digestive fungal overgrowth can mimic those of fibromyalgia and include chronic sinusitis, fatigue and “brain fog.” Using anti-fungals and replacing beneficial bacteria, as well as avoiding refined carbohydrates, can be effective.

Underlying thyroid disorder. If you have fatigue, bowel problems and depression and you have not been to a physician, we suggest you get a proper diagnosis. Thyroid dysfunction can be related to these symptoms and is easily treated.

Fibromyalgia is a complex illness that continues to be on the rise. The suggestions in this article are part of a more comprehensive approach to the treatment of a chronic disease.

Source: The Billings Gazette (Montana). Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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