Hot Topics & Readers’ Notes – 2-13-13

Morgan Freeman Talks About His FM

It was recently announced that the much-beloved actor Morgan Freeman has fibromyalgia.  For a glimpse into Freeman’s life and to learn a little bit about how fibromyalgia has affected his life read “The Morgan Freeman Story” in the August 2012 issue of Esquire magazine by Tom Chiarella.  Chiarella interviews Freeman at his estate in Charleston, Mississippi.  The article is four pages long (online) and is well worth reading––particularly if your a fan of Morgan Freeman––but if you’d like to skip to the part about his fibromyalgia, it starts about half-way down the second page.  


Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in FM

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors.  It acts on certain types of nerve cells, enabling them to grow and survive.  It is primarily located in the central nervous system, where it acts on cells in the brain and the eye.

BDNF has been known to play a role in fibromyalgia.  Researchers in Indonesia sought to find out specifically whether serum levels of BDNF are related to symptoms of depression and anxiety in FM patients.  They found that it did correlate with the intensity of depressive symptoms but it did not correlate with anxiety symptoms.  You can read the abstract of this study HERE

Factors Enabling Women with FM to Work

Swedish researchers interviewed 27 women with fibromyalgia who were gainfully employed.  They identified four factors that contributed to the women’s ability to continue working.  The women:

  • found both individual and social meaning in work.

  • had individual strategies to cope with their symptoms at work.

  • had a favorable physical and psychosocial work environment

  • had social support outside work––both private and societal supports.

The researchers concluded, “These working women with FM had developed advanced well-functioning strategies to enhance their work ability. The development of such strategies should be supported by health-care professionals as well as employers to promote sustainable work in women with FM.” You can read the abstract of this study HERE.


FM and Canadian Worker Compensation

A Canadian study looked at how workplace injuries may be implicated in the causation of fibromyalgia, hence linking FM to compensation. They examined the appeals by workers directed to an appeals tribunal for causation of FM following soft-tissue injury sustained in the workplace.  The researchers found that the tribunal accepted 67% of the appeals in which it was being claimed that the work injury aggravated preexisting FM, and 59% of the claims for new-onset FM.  You can read the abstract of this study HERE.


Psychoeducation Beneficial for FM Patients

Researchers from Spain and the UK worked together to determine the effectiveness of adding psychoeducational treatment implemented in general practice to usual care for patients with fibromyalgia (FM).  The psychoeducation consisted of five sessions of education about the illness plus 4 sessions of autogenic relaxation.  This was in addition to usual care provided by a multidisciplinary group in general practice.  At the end of a year, patients who received psychoeducation showed greater improvement in:

  • global functional status,

  • physical functioning,

  • days feeling well,

  • pain,

  • morning fatigue,

  • stiffness,

  • and depression.

The researchers concluded that adding psychoeducation to usual medical care was effective for patients as well as being cost-effective from a health care and societal perspective. You can read the abstract of this study HERE.


 Whole-Body Hyperthermia for FM

German researchers evaluated whether mild water-filtered near infrared whole body hyperthermia [exposing body tissue to higher temperatures] in patients with fibromyalgia produces a benefit when used in addition to standard multimodal rehabilitation treatment.  The found that adding mild water-filtered near infrared whole body hyperthermia once a week was very effective with respect to pain reduction and affective sense of pain.  In addition, hyperthermia once a week tended to result in better outcomes regarding fibromyalgia-related quality of life and depression.  You can read the abstract of this study HERE.


SAD? Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you find yourself feeling more moody and depressed during the winter months? If so, you’re not alone. As winter approaches and the hours of daylight get shorter, there is a corresponding increase in the incidence of depression and moodiness.??Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often called the “winter blues,” is a type of depression that recurs about the same time every year. It often begins in the fall, continues throughout the winter, and may even last into early spring.  Learn more about SAD and some tools that may help you cope with it HERE.


Are New FM Drugs Cost Effective?

The use of the new central-acting drugs (NCADs) for fibromyalgia (Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella) has quadrupled in the last decade but researchers were not sure the drugs are effective enough to be worth their high prices, particularly when compared to other analgesics that are much less expensive.  Follwing an 11-year longitudinal study of FM outcomes, they conculded, “There is a changing pattern of drug treatment in fibromyalgia, consisting mostly of decreased NSAID and amitriptyline use and an increase in NCAD. Drug costs are substantially higher because of NCAD use, but we found no evidence of clinical benefit for NCAD compared with prior therapy.”  You can read an article about these findings HERE and find the abstract HERE.  


Can Raw Foods Help CFS and FM Symptoms?

In a segment of The Organic View Radio Show, host, June Stoyer talks to Marie-Claire Hermans, who claims to have recovered from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome by eating a diet of organic raw foods.  In the interview, Hermans tells her story and shares how she learned about the organic raw diet that has made such a big difference in her life.  You can listen to the interview HERE.


Diet vs. Exercise: Which is More Important for Weight Loss?

A 2011 survey found that, “Among Americans who report trying to lose or maintain weight, 70% believe both physical activity and monitoring food and beverage consumption are equally important in weight management.” Nineteen percent thought that exercise was more important, while only 11% said they felt diet was key.  According to Michael Greger, MD of, most of them were wrong.  Watch Dr. Greger’s video in which he discusses why what we eat has a greater impact on weight loss and weight maintenance than how much we exercise.

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