Author Archives: Michelle

Coffee For Chronic Fatigue – Is Caffeine Safe For Fibromyalgia?

Whether it’s a fancy Mocha Cappuccino with extra foam from Starbucks, a regular dark roast from Tim Horton’s or just a cup of instant from your own kitchen, we love our coffee! And why not? It tastes great, is fairly inexpensive and easily attainable.

Thanks to the caffeine content, it can also help get us get going in the morning and give us that extra mid-afternoon pick-me up. But is it a good idea to consume coffee for chronic fatigue. Is it safe for those who have fibromyalgia. And just how popular is this beverage anyway.

CBC released an article in September 2016 confirming that North America consumes a great deal. In fact, the United States ranked in the #9 spot and Canada came in at an astonishing #3, for the most coffee consumption out of 80 countries across the globe.

In case, you were wondering Netherlands takes the lead at #1 and Finland came in at #2. According to the Coffee Association of Canada, coffee is the most popular beverage among adult Canadians over age 16, even more than tap water! People in this country will drink an average of 3.0 cups of coffee per day. But is coffee, or more specifically caffeine good for us?

Health benefits and risks

Caffeine is classified as psychoactive or psychotropic drug, this is a chemical substance that can alter and change the brains function. The difference between this and most other psychoactive drugs is that this one is perfectly legal. And the most popular source of caffeine? Yup, you guessed it, the coffee bean!

Good news! Coffee has not been shown to cause or contribute to inflammation. In fact the antioxidants in coffee may have a positive affect on the immune system and chronic inflammation. Some studies show that coffee may actually protect against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease and type 2 diabetes. Because of the antioxidant content, it may even help prevent certain types of cancers, including liver cancer.

Too much caffeine, on the other hand, can also contribute to high blood sugar, jittery nerves, sleeplessness, high blood pressure and dehydration. The stimulant also has an effect on bone density in women which could lead to osteoporosis.

Many people also experience withdrawal symptoms after a short break from caffeine, which can include irritability, headache, fatigue and lack of energy. Unborn babies may also be at risk because caffeine crosses into the placenta. For this reason, pregnant women are urged not to consume more than one 12oz cup of coffee or 200 mg of caffeine per day.

Caffeine will increase athletic performance and endurance levels. These benefits however are mostly present in those that don’t consume caffeine on a regular basis. Once an individual develops a tolerance to a certain amount of caffeine, they will no longer experience the same increase in energy and concentration. For this reason, they will require higher and higher doses just to obtain the same effects as before.

To answer the previous health related questions, you can drink coffee for chronic fatigue, but if you are a regular coffee drinker, you won’t really notice the effects of the caffeine anyway. And while coffee may have some health benefits, too much caffeine is not healthy for anyone nor is it the ideal beverage for those with fibromyalgia.

What about weight loss?

You may have noticed that many over the counter weight loss supplements include caffeine among their list of ingredients. Caffeine suppresses the appetite, acts as a natural diuretic, (increasing water loss) can also potentially increase resting metabolic rate, and therefor contribute to some weight loss.

However, any weight loss attributed to the caffeine alone would be very minimal. It certainly would not be worth the risks involved, and can lead to over consumption. Many people also add cream and sugar to their coffee which of course adds more fat and sugar to their overall diet.

Show me the money!

Heath is most important, but many people don’t consider the amount of money they spend on coffee, so I thought it would be worth a quick mention in this article. The average price a person pays for a cup of coffee in Ottawa Ontario is $3.89. In some cities it’s more, in others it’s less, but this is about the mid-range. On the surface that one cup of coffee seems pretty cheap.

However, even if you purchase 3 cups (the average in Canada) per day, your spending approximately $350 a month or $4,200 a year on just coffee! With figures like this, it’s not hard to see why coffee is a 6.2 billion-dollar industry in Canada. This type of money could have been invested, or at least go towards a very nice vacation someplace warm. Thankfully though, 8 out of 10 cups of coffee are consumed at home which can save us a significant amount of money in the long run.

Make mine a decaf please

Personally, I don’t think I could never give up my coffee. I can remember times I’ve waited seemingly forever in a coffee shop drive through line up on my way to college or work on cold winter mornings before the sun was even up.

I’m sure that for some of us it’s even worth being a bit late to work for! I decided however switch to decaf a few years ago. It may seem silly to drink coffee without caffeine, when that’s the reason most people drink it in the first place. The truth is, I feel a lot better not having to depend on that caffeine boost all the time.

I also just love the flavor of the coffee, I sometimes even forget that I’m drinking decaf, because they taste pretty much the same. Besides, It wouldn’t take much for me to experience that extra caffeine jolt, from a real coffee in the future, if or when I should ever need it because I’m not drinking it on a regular basis. Remember that caffeine only really helps fight fatigue if you’re consuming it often and it is addictive.

If you would like to quit or decrease the amount of caffeine you consume, the best advice I can give you would be to do it gradually. Everybody’s body will react differently, but I’ve found that most people have an easier time with the dreaded withdrawal symptoms if they cut down slowly.

Keep in mind that you may be consuming other substances that contain caffeine without realizing it, such as chocolate or energy drinks. If you do decide to go decaf, chose a brand that is decaffeinated naturally, using the Swiss water process (SWP) which is a non-solvent method for decaffeinating un-roasted coffee beans. Why not give these organic, fair trade brands a try:

-Van Houtte organic decaf k-cups

-Mountain Gems organic decaf coffee

-Kicking Horse organic decaf coffee

Note: it is unlikely that any coffee is going to be 100% caffeine free and may still contain trace amounts of caffeine.

Other healthier options

If you have a hard time digesting milk or cream and you want a creamy coffee, you may want to try canned coconut milk as an alternative. Coconut milk is sugar free, but is still high in fat, so use sparingly.

If you currently use sugar in your coffee, you can try a small amount of pure vanilla extract instead of an artificial chemical sweetener. Cinnamon, which naturally promotes healthy glucose levels is wonderful in coffee, for a bit of sweetness. Stevia leaf extract may also be a healthier calorie free sugar substitute, look for it under the brand name ‘Truvia’.

Interesting fact:

Former Canadian NHL hockey player Tim Horton opened the first Tim Hortin’s shop in Hamilton Ontario in 1964. It is now the largest quick service restaurant chain, with over 3,692 locations all across Canada. It has literally become part of our Canadian heritage, like hockey and beer. These however are perhaps topics for future blog posts. In the meantime, I am going to take a much-needed coffee break, talk soon.

Please leave us some comments below. Let us know what you think of this article or give us some ideas for future articles on other fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue related topics. Thanks for your interest!

Fight Chronic Fatigue Naturally – Improve Your Night And Your Day

There are many ways to fight chronic fatigue naturally. The best way is simply to get more sleep. I know, not always that simple right. Many people experience chronic fatigue and unfortunately those who have fibromyalgia are usually all too familiar with this symptom. Still, for many people out there, it is difficult to find natural remedies and treatment options.

I personally suffer from insomnia, so I’ve done a fair bit of research on this topic over the years. Sleeping pills have been proven effective for many people, however, there are always side effects and the possibility of dependence. I am not suggesting you discount their use entirely, I would only like to mention some natural alternatives. Here you will find tips on how to get a better sleep at night and fight fatigue during the day.

 

The importance of sleep

Just like eating healthy and getting enough exercise, we also need the proper amount of sleep every night. Not getting enough can lead to weight gain, loss of concentration (fibro fog), increased inflammation, depression and increase your chances of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The two basic types of sleep are Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. There are three different stages of non-REM sleep.

Your body will first go through three stages of non-REM sleep, the last one being ‘deep sleep.’ During this deep sleep phase, everything slows down, your heart rate, your breathing, even your brain waves. It is difficult to wake someone when they are in deep sleep. During deep sleep, our body’s release human growth hormones and begin the healing process. Your body repairs muscle tissue, organs and the immune system.

Remember that vivid dream you had the other night. This likely took place during REM sleep when most dreaming occurs. This is also when brain waves become more active, breathing and heartbeat increase and although eyelids remain closed, there is much rapid eye movement taking place. REM sleep usually occurs about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. REM sleep is important for memory storage, helping us learn throughout the day as well as overall cognitive functioning. ‘Restorative sleep’ consists of both REM and deep sleep. So, how much sleep do we require? Most individuals require at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

 

Too much pain

One of the many benefits of getting enough sleep is that your body and mind go through a repairing and healing process. This is something that those with fibromyalgia need more than anyone. However, it’s not always easy to obtain. Fibromyalgia patients often experience chronic pain which can negatively affect sleep. Without that restorative sleep, the symptoms of fatigue coupled with muscle, joint and tissue pain only get worse. Memory, stress levels and the ability to concentrate are also affected.

According to the National Sleep Foundation 65% of those with no pain reported good to very good sleep quality, while 45% with acute pain and only 37% with chronic pain reported the same. And those who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems that significantly affect their lives. Some suggest good sleep hygiene practices for a better night sleep. If pain worsens, however, or is greatly affecting your ability to fall asleep every night, you may need to speak with your doctor about other forms of pain management. For information on natural ways of reducing pain, visit by blog on Natural Fibromyalgia Pain Relief.

 

What is Sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is a set of habits you do every night that should eventually help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and ensure a better over all quality of sleep. Keep in mind, however that you may not see results immediately, the key is to do them every night. The good news is, good sleep hygiene can be very easy to practice and can make a real positive change, not only sleep and how you feel the next morning.

  • Be sure you are sleeping in a dark room, or use a sleep mask
  • Try ear plugs to block out any noise
  • Try to create a consistent sleep and wake up schedule
  • Exercise during the day may help you sleep but exercise too close to bed time may do the opposite.
  • Stay away from stimulants at night such as caffeine
  • Getting enough water during the day is important, but not too close to bed time. Too many trips to the bathroom can interfere with your sleep.
  • Try not to eat too much right before bed or consume things that will give you heart burn, bloat or indigestion.
  • Develop a bed time routine that works for you and stick to it night after night.

What about a melatonin supplement?

I hear many people talk about how they use melatonin for insomnia. This supplement is frequently marketed as a safe and natural sleep aid. But does it work? Actually the answer is no. Yes, our body’s naturally produce it, but that does not mean it is safe to take as a supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain and putting more of this hormone into your body can have dangerous effects. Experimenting with hormone therapy is not something I would take lightly.

Melatonin controls your circadian rhythms, which is your internal 24-hour clock. This is why your body will produce more melatonin later in the evening and at night in response to the increasing darkness. Still, it is not a sleep hormone and there is little to no evidence that it actually helps induce sleep or allows you to stay asleep longer.

Furthermore, your body already produces this hormone naturally. Increasing this amount may interfere with your body’s own ability to produce it in the future, causing more harm than good. If you still really want to give this a try, as least talk to a trusted health care professional first and take the minimum required dosage. Personally, I believe that there are a lot of other options out there that are far more effective and safer to use.

 

Tips for insomnia

Many people, including those who have fibromyalgia, also suffer from insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some people, the sleep hygiene habits mentioned above help, but there are also other things that may be worth a try.

A white noise machine. White noise machines are great for blocking out background noise and usually sound like static on a radio. The sounds on these machines vary though and usually come with alternative noises such as sounds of waves crashing against the shore, a camp fire or the sound of rain falling in a forest. The sound you choose simply depends on your preference. Music on the other hand does not drown out sounds as well, thus does not seem to produce the same effect.

The Dodow sleep Light. This sleep devise emits a blue light onto the ceiling. The idea is to breath in and out as the circle expands and shrinks, thus slowing your breathing. By slowing your breathing and giving you something to focus on other than the million other thoughts that may be going through your head at night, it’s easier to fall asleep. There are two settings to choose from; eight minutes and twenty minutes. Afterwards, the device will automatically shut itself off.

Herbal tea. Most of us know that chamomile tea has a tranquilizing effect and is very beneficial as a natural sleep aid. While this is true, chamomile can also do much more than that, such as lower anxiety, stress and reduce inflammation. It is very beneficial for everyone, but particularly for those with fibromyalgia. Other great herbal bedtime teas worth a try include: Valerian root, lavender and passionflower.

Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy may also help to reduce anxiety, stress and help induce sleep. You can try experimenting with different essential oils. A great way to use them is in a warm bath so you also get the benefit of the warm water to help relax and sooth sore muscles. Be sure to dilute the oils first in a carrier oil, especially when applying directly to skin. I use lavender often, it helps me fall asleep and it smells wonderful. Peppermint is great for awakening the senses first thing in the morning. For more great uses for essential oils visit my blog Fibromyalgia and Aromatherapy

 

Naturally boost energy and fight fatigue throughout the day

Energy snacks. Sometimes we may need a little pick me up in the form of a nourishing snack. The trick is to consume healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, fiber and very little sugar. Try some apple slices with cheese or peanut butter or a few almonds or sunflower seeds. Try to avoid soft drinks or snack bars that contain too much sugar, you will only experience a crash later and avoid caffeine after 2:00 pm as it may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.

Cold water. Your body subsists seven to nine hours every night without water and is releasing toxins while you sleep. The first thing you should do when you wake up is drink a big glass of water. While many suggest warm water because it’s better absorbed by the body, there is nothing like drinking super-chilled water to feel refreshed and awake. For extra detoxing benefits try adding a quarter of lemon to your glass or water bottle. When you hit that mid-day slump, simply splashing cold water on your face, may be enough help you feel more rejuvenated.

Ginseng. This product is natural and a great way to perk up mid-day, boost mental clarity and brain function. Some other great benefits to consuming ginseng include the following: stress reduction, weight loss, diabetes management, increase in sex drive, improves hair and skin, eases stomach upset and it has even been shown to help prevent cancer. What’s not to like! So, enjoy a cup of ginseng tea or talk to your doctor about adding a ginseng supplement to your diet.

Music. Listening to upbeat music throughout the day can not only help boost energy levels but can also improve your mood. Play your favorite music in the car on the way to work and if you can, during your breaks. Sometimes listening to soft classical music is a great to reduce stress and unwind after a busy day. Just play some tunes and enjoy!

Sunshine. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but sometimes we just don’t get enough sunlight. If you are not getting enough sunshine, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health including aiding in the body’s absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can also have a huge impact on our energy levels and mood.

The best part is, you don’t even require a lot of exposure to get the benefits, only 5 mins of sun exposure will do the trick. Try a light walk outside in the sun for the added exercise benefit, which is also a great energy booster. Avoid walking for too long outdoors if the weather is too hot or humid, however, as this can make you feel more tired. Because we obtain very little Vitamin D from our food, you may also want to consider asking your doc about a daily vitamin D supplement.

Power nap. Yep, if you are able to, there is nothing wrong with grabbing a quick power nap to boost your energy and fight fatigue. The trick is not to let yourself fall into deep sleep in order to avoid feel groggy when you wake up; after all the whole point is to feel refreshed and energized. Try to keep the nap to no more than 20 mins. Sleeping for too long during the day may also disrupt you sleep later that night.

 

Have a good night

The best way the fight chronic fatigue naturally is to find something that can help you get a better sleep, whether it’s something that addresses pain or insomnia. It may take some research and a discussion with a health care professional to find the right medication, supplement or treatment. For some it may be as simple as practicing good sleep hygiene every night and setting a routine, while others may require more.

Even so, we are all going to have days that require more effort to get up and going or something that gives us that little extra boost of energy mid-day. I hope this blog has given you some helpful suggestions on ways you can improve your sleep and fight chronic fatigue naturally throughout the day. Do you have any ideas? Has something worked for you in the past? Please feel free to leave comments in the section below, they are always welcome! And thanks for visiting!

Fibromyalgia Exercise Programs – My Top 3 Picks

Bellow, you will find my top three favorite fibromyalgia exercise programs. I have personally reviewed all of these e-book programs and will give you information, insight and of course my honest opinion and rating for each. The first two programs contain a nutritional element as well as other great information and the last one is a pilates program designed for those with back and joint pain. Each one is great, it basically just boils down to which one will best suit your needs.

#1 Get Your Health Back – Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Freedom

Type of program: Full diet and exercise program designed for those with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

Cost of program: $37.95

Format: e-book

Author: NA

Money back guarantee: yes

My rating: 9.5 out 10

The author prefers to remain nameless, as there are so many fake names out there on the internet anyway. I wasn’t too put off by this, but curious. I would have preferred a name to go with the program, but that’s just me. What I like is the fact that he points out right off the bat that his program is not super easy and that it will take some effort. In other words, it’s not a ‘get well quick’ system.

If however, the individual is willing to put forth the time and effort required, the results can be amazing. The claim is that you can fight fatigue, depression, anxiety, lose weight and basically get your health back. The program follows no specific time frame as everyone is different and recovers differently. Ultimately this will hold true no matter which exercise program you choose, still most people do notice a difference within the first 6 to 8 weeks or so.

A different approach

While I appreciate this honest approach to exercise and nutrition, I wanted to find out whether this program was all it appeared to be or simply too good to be true. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised! The information contained here is quite good, written by someone who actually suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue himself. The nutritional information is based on a gluten free paleo diet ( which I would recommend) and the exercises and stretches are easy enough for beginners to do.

I like the fact that Get Your Health Back covers more than exercise, although there is of course a comprehensive fitness component in it too. It is divided into 7 sections. In part 1, he discusses fatigue and pain management. In part 2, he talks about mental health, part 3 covers the importance of diet, part 4 is about fitness and exercise, which includes work out videos. Part 5 pertains to other symptoms, including headaches and IBS. Part 6 includes 369 recipes and part 7, a nutrition plan.

Saving you money

It can be difficult for some to find the right type of exercise or fibro friendly diet to follow and let’s face it, the cost of a personal trainer, health coach and nutritionist add up fast. This program is a bit more expensive than the rest on this review, but I do feel that you are getting a lot more in terms of information. It would also cost a lot more in the long run for those trips to the gym. This is great for those who are looking for a complete health system and don’t want to leave anything to chance.

You also receive bonus literature at no extra charge, which are: reducing blood sugar naturally, ways to stop sugar cravings (so important) immune system recovery, junk food destroyer and coconut miracle. There are over 700 pages available for easy download and it also comes with a 60 day risk free money back guarantee. All in all, I’d say it’s great value for the money. Click here if you would like to try it for 60 days risk free.

# 2 Fibromyalgia-Fitness – 12 Weeks to a Healthier You.

Type of program: Fitness workout program with nutritional component designed for those who have fibromyalgia.

Cost of program: $5.99 – $7.99

Format: e-book

Author: Eric Suarez

Money back guarantee: Yes

My rating: 9 out of 10

I recently came across this program specifically designed for those who would like to engage in more physical activity and have fibromyalgia, it’s called Fibromyalgia-Fitness by Eric Suarez. Eric Suarez is a certified personal trainer who has experience in training clients with fibromyalgia and helping them improve their symptoms through exercise and changes in diet.

After being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at a young age, (which has no cure, like fibromyalgia and can be very painful) he took a more natural, healthier approach to life. His program seems to be centered more on fitness, but still includes wonderful dietary suggestions (that I would also recommend as a health coach) , while the exercises are meant to be low impact and easy on the joints.

Program details

Eric Suez claims that his program can help you fight fatigue, chronic pain and improve your well-being through fitness and getting the body moving again safely. As a certified trainer myself, I can see how this can truly benefit people, especially those with fibromyalgia. The muscles and fascia need to be worked and stretched, otherwise they will not work as efficiently. The old saying is true “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

As I mentioned, the program centers around fitness for FMS, but it also offers some diet information and is designed for people who need some motivation to work out (we all do at times) by offering daily guidance. There is a 12 week or the latest version which is a 7 week program. I know that a lot can be accomplished in just a few weeks, but that does make it sound a little gimmicky to me. If it’s working for you don’t put a time limit on it! Still it costs less than a fast food meal and could help you get healthier.

Convenient and affordable

I also like the fact that the product is downloadable so one could start taking advantage of the information right away. It is also at a very good price point, so it is very affordable for the average consumer. If you are interested in a very reasonably priced, quality fitness routine and diet plan that you can do safely, in the comfort of your own home, risk free, then Click here  to give fibromyalgia- fitness a try!

# 3 Pilates – Relief For Back And Joint Pain

Type of program: Pilates workout and breathing techniques designed for those with joint and back pain.

Cost of program: $20.00

Format: e-book

Author: Jennifer Adolfs M.S.S

Money back guarantee: Yes

My rating: 9 out of 10

Although this particular program is not advertised for fibromyalgia specifically, I felt that Pilates – Relief For Back and Joint Pain still deserved a spot on this list. This may be the answer for those that are unsure if they can partake in a regular fitness program because of sever fibromyalgia or arthritic pain or because of a previous back, spine or neck injury. Pilates is less vigorous or strenuous, but don’t let that fool you. It can still provide a great workout and stretching for the muscles, joins and fascia that and can help strengthen the core as well as ease all over joint pain.

What is Pilates

Pilates follows specific exercises designed to strengthen and stabilize the core. It has also been shown to increase muscle tone and flexibility. I’m impressed with the program as it has a complete Pilates workout (plus a bonus) and offers beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The advanced level can still be performed by anyone, but this does give people a chance to ‘build up’, especially if they are new to exercise.

The instructor Jennifer Adolfs is an advanced mat and equipment certified Pilates instructor with over 16 years experience in the field. She also holds a certification through the American Council on Exercise (the same company I received my certification) as a Clinical Exercise Specialist. I also like the transparency here, if you are not satisfied with your purchase for whatever reason, there is a money back guarantee.

What you will learn

Through trial and error she has developed an extensive repertoire of exercises she finds most beneficial for bone and joint conditions. She will be sharing all this with you! Learn how to breathe properly, the 6 steps of Pilates and how to strengthen, tone and help your posture at any age! There are men and woman in their 90s doing Pilates. Although this program does not include nutrition info, (I have not deducted any points for that) it is certainly worth a look. If you are interested in this Pilates program, simply click Here, to try it out in your own home, risk free.

Let us know your thoughts

Exercise is so important for everyone, but particularly for those who suffer with fibromyalgia and other conditions with symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. If you have had a chance to try one of these fibromyalgia exercise programs out, let us know what you thought of any of the products mentioned, in the comments section below. We are also interested to know your thoughts on this review and if you found it helpful.

Thanks for visiting, and good luck on your exercise journey!

The Fibro Manual – Read My Book Review

Title: The Fibro Manual – A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor

Author: Ginevra Liptan, M.D.

Price: (paperback edition) $ 15.00 USD

Where you can purchase it: Amazon.com

About the Book and Author

This is one of the most comprehensive books I have ever read on the subject of fibromyalgia. It is written by a doctor who also suffers from fibromyalgia herself, so she is able to offer a unique perspective both as a patient and a physician. She discusses various different therapies from both alternative and conventional medicine.

What is great about this book is that there is information for your doctor as well. Because many doctors still have limited experience with fibromyalgia and how to treat it, effectively, this may be a huge help to them. Still, it’s also written in such a way that is easy to understand with a great deal of useful information.

Fibro Manual includes a section on medical marijuana

In The Fibro Manual you will learn about Dr. Liptan’s own journey with fibromyalgia, what fibromyalgia is…and isn’t, as well as ways to help your doctor help you. She also discusses ways to improve digestion, mood, energy production, sleep and offers insight on how to fight anxiety, fatigue and ‘fibrofog.’ Dr. Liptan touches on other important subjects as well, such as opiates and medical marijuana for pain relief along with other ways to reduce the three types of fibromyalgia pain.

What others thought of this book

I asked a couple of my friends who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia to read it,  in order to get their opinions as well. They were both impressed and said that it was very helpful. They both stated that they found the information current, relevant, informative and interesting. They also agreed that it would serve as a great tool for people who have a friend or relative that has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The Fibro Manual would offer them a better understanding of what that person is going through and how they can help.

They also mentioned that they would have no problem recommending this book to anyone suffering with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. This book also has some great reviews on amazon.com and amazon.ca, is one of their best selling books on the subject, and certainly the most comprehensive book about fibromyalgia on the market today.

Many fibromyalgia patients, educators and doctors alike, find it extremely useful. I have my own copy, that I keep for reference, but will be purchasing another one soon for my mother who suffers from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and IBS. One of the sections I found of particular interest in The Fibro Manual was (chapter 19) on pain hypersensitivity and ways to reduce it. In this section, the author acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits all approach to fibromyalgia pain.

She also points out that there is not just one type of fibromyalgia pain, but in fact three separate types of pain and each one has to be approached differently. Of course she does offer ways to treat all types in her book. The book teaches individuals the reason that pain has gone ‘haywire’ in their body and the role our body’s own flight or fight response, plays. She has really helped give me a better understanding on the entire subject.

Understand why you experience pain and fatigue.

Absolutely worth a read

One of the only things I would have liked to see more of in this book, is information regarding nutrition and exercise for fibromyalgia. On the other hand, I do realize that this is not really the point of the book and she does give some suggestions for therapeutic movement, health supplements and lifestyles improvements. This along with the fact that it does answer a great deal of questions about the disorder, make up for it. I do believe it is a valuable resource to have on any ones shelf.

whether you have fibromyalgia and would like a great reference book and plenty of  useful information, or you know someone who has fibromyalgia and want to lean more about the disorder, this book is definitely worth a read!

You can pick up your copy now at Amazon.com.  Let us know your thoughts on this book and whether you found it helpful in the comments section bellow. Thank you  for visiting!

 

Is Depression Worse In The Winter? – Managing Fibromyalgia And The Cold

When it’s that time of year again, you know, when the last few brightly coloured leaves have fallen off the trees; there is a light dusting of snow on the ground, we are getting out the heavier coats, and are busy getting ready for Christmas, which is just around the corner. This can be a very enjoyable time of year for most for of us. But is depression worse in the winter?

What happens when the excitement of the holidays has passed and all the wonderful associated festivities, the weather outside really does get frightful and even if you wanted to go outdoors, you know the sun won’t be out for long. Usually, at this point, many of us (at least the ones that live in the northern part of the continent) are now more than just a little fed up of winter. When people suffer from fibromyalgia, these depressive ‘winter blues’ type symptoms can be magnified.

Many people find it hard to work out or resist that second slice of pumking pie; after all, who wants to eat healthy or go to the gym when they are in hibernation mode. We find ourselves looking forward to Feb 2nd hoping with all our might, that the ground hog does not see his darn shadow, or we look for any other indication we can, that spring really is on its way. Many people refer to this as the dreaded ‘winter blues’, but the truth is, for Fibromyalgia patients… it can be much worst.

Feeling SAD

Many individuals experience what’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. SAD is a type of depression, and those that have it usually experience it at the same time each year. For most of those that suffer from SAD, the symptoms start in late fall and continue through the winter months, then go away by spring. It is estimated that around 20% of Americans suffer from SAD. Signs and symptoms may include some or all of the following:

  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Low sex drive
  • Irritability
  • General lack of interest in once enjoyed hobbies and activities.

Notice how many of these symptoms are similar to symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, you may still get the ‘blues’ during this time of year and not actually have SAD. For example, there are times when I should exercise and eat healthy, but when the weather is less than desirable, it’s so much easier to be lazy on the sofa with Netflix and a bowl of comfort food… come on, we’ve all been there right? The thing is, depression is already a common symptom of fibromyalgia, so finding way to combat the winter blues is a must. And yes, there is good news! Whether you’re sick or just sick of the weather, here are some things you can do that may help brighten up your mood.

Vitamin D can help

Vitamin D deficiency is actually more common then you may think, especially during the winter months. Those with fibromyalgia should be taking this wonderful supplement anyway because it plays such a big role in the function of the muscles and mitochondria. While you should of course get your doctors ‘okay’ first, supplementing with vitamin D may be a very good idea. Although our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when sunlight hits our skin, unfortunately, deficiencies can occur when there is not much sunlight.

Not getting enough of this important fat-soluble vitamin has been linked to mood changes, fatigue and depression even in those who are not normally depressed. For best results a try a combination of vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and Magnesium. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, be sure to consume it with healthy dietary fats for better absorption and ask a doctor for an ideal daily amount.

Try to get natural sunlight

While, not always easy to do especially during the winter months, try to get outdoors as much as you can during the day while there is still sunlight. On days off work, go for a walk or try taking up a new winter activity like skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, tobogganing, even ice fishing. Be sure to take it easy during flare-ups or when you are experiencing too much pain. Be sure not to over do it. My sister and I tried snow shoeing for the first time a couple of winters ago, we spent most our time falling, then laughing at each other so hard we’d fall again but it was a lot of fun!

Full spectrum light therapy

For those days we simply cannot get outside, the weather is simply too cold or your fighting FMS pain, there is always light therapy boxes and lamps. I actually use one that I can wear on my head like a cap, and it seems to work well for me. Another one that works extremely well is the Verilux Happylight Liberty 10,000 Lux Natural Spectrum Energy Lamp. I have purchased these as Christmas presents for people, whom I know suffer from the winter blues, and they absolutely love it.

Light therapy works by mimicking the suns natural rays. The occasional use of tanning beds during the winter have also been reported to help with winter related depression. If you decide to look into a tanning bed, remember the goal is not to achieve a tan; just like the natural sun, too much exposure can be dangerous. 6 minutes or so of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to exposed skin is usually all that is needed.

Educate yourself about SAD

There are many great books on SAD

The best way to learn more about this disorder, how you can manage it or what you can do to help others, is to get more information. A great resource that I recommend to my clients is Winter Blues by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. It is especially important to address the potential of SAD if you are currently living with fibromyalgia.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this post and if you or someone close to you suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, fibromyalgia or both and you would like to add something, please leave a comment. What I am dealing with at this moment is about 40 below weather and mounds of snow higher than my car. It Is no wonder why this can be a hard time of year to get through. Although many people suffer from this disorder, there are ways to beat it!

Hope you all have a pleasant ground hog day and all the best for the new year ahead!

Can Gluten Cause Fibromyalgia? – Should It Be Avoided?

Can gluten cause fibromyalgia? I’ve heard this question asked so many times and always wondered if there was any truth to it. More research is linking a connection between gluten and fibromyalgia and more doctors are responding to their patients’ FMS by prescribing a gluten free diet. Aside from the obvious carb count that many of us want to avoid, is eating a slice of whole wheat bread really that bad for you? The answer is yes, it can be. Okay, wait… hear me out before you think I’m trying to sabotage your chances of ever getting to enjoy a pizza again, or spaghetti and garlic bread with the family.

Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease

I know it’s a lot to take in, however there could be so many benefits worth considering, by going gluten free. Celiac is an autoimmune disease characterized by stomach upset, gas, bloating and cramps when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein that is found in many grains, including rye, barley and wheat. Many people who suffer with celiac as well as IBS also have fibromyalgia, and conversely, many people with FMS develop celiac and or IBS.

Approximately 3 million people in America suffer from celiac disease, but many more are likely living with celiac and are not even aware of it because diagnosis can be so difficult. Even if you do not suffer from celiac, you may have a gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity can be minor and for the most part, go unnoticed or automatically attributed to something else. Feelings of bloating and discomfort are often ignored. On the other hand, celiac disease is a severe sensitivity or intolerance to gluten.

How is gluten connected to fibromyalgia?

Gluten has been shown to cause inflammation in the body leading to many symptoms that are very similar to fibromyalgia which is an inflammatory disorder, including anxiety, whole body pain, sleep disturbances, fatigue, diarrhea, bloating, brain fog and cramps. There is much evidence that a non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be the cause of fibromyalgia, however, more research would need to be conducted before it is conclusive.

Still, whether gluten is actually the culprit or not, eliminating it from the diet can certainly help and has already helped many who suffer with FMS. It is no surprise that many people who suffer with fibromyalgia, including some of my own clients, have  noticed a significant reduction in their symptoms. In some cases they have even reported complete symptom relief after adopting a gluten free life style.

In one study conducted in 2014 involving 97 FMS patients with comorbid IBS showed “a slight but significant improvement in all symptoms” after following a gluten-free diet for one year. The study goes on to state: “our findings suggest that further studies of the subject are warranted.” There are more studies pointing to the effectiveness of going gluten-free, and I believe that they are absolutely warranted.

If you decide to try a gluten free diet, make sure to check product labels, here is a quick list of what to avoid:

  • Wheat (all forms)
  • Barley
  • Bulgar
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Couscous

Here are some of the many foods you can still enjoy:

  • Chickpea flour
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Cassava
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Tapioca
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Oats (note that oats are often processed in gluten-containing facilities and therefor cross contamination may have occurred.)

Some people notice even greater health benefits and a reduction in overall pain once they remove dairy from the diet as well. It is possible to have a sensitivity to lactose, the natural sugar contained in milk and other dairy products. Everyone can benefit from staying away from heavily processed food and trans-fats. If you see the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on an ingredients list, it contains trans-fat.

Sugar, another inflammatory threat.

Sugar has also been shown to cause inflammation, not to mention its connection with type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, tooth decay, heart attack, anxiety and what’s known as ‘sugar crashes.’ Much like gluten, sugar causes inflammation in the body that can worsen joint pain.

Artificial sugar substitutes such as Sucralose and Aspartame can also contribute to inflammation and pain. Try natural sweeteners like Stevia (Truvia). Check product labels for added sugar and be aware that sugar can also be disguised by other names as well, here is a quick list of what to lookout for:

  • Sucralose (sugar)
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Fructose
  • Molasses
  • Barley malt
  • Fruit juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Golden sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey

Going gluten-free is hard!

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not going to be easy. But it’s not extremely difficult either. I personally have been gluten free for about 3 years now, and it does get easier. Don’t get me wrong, I still mess up from time to time, but I avoid gluten whenever I can. Thankfully there are a lot more gluten free options these days, including gluten free pasta, pizza dough and bread.

Gluten free options are available

If you are going to opt for a gluten- free snack, however, make sure that it is not overly processed or full of chemicals etc. Try to purchase organic, GMO free products whenever possible or at least goods that contain simple, pronounceable ingredients. Please keep in mind that everyone is different, and some may experience relief almost immediately while for others it may take longer.

If you are unsure if you have a gluten sensitivity or are whether giving up gluten can help, my suggestion would be to commit to a gluten free and dairy free diet for 6 months. If at this point you are still not sure, try adding dairy back into your diet and see how your body reacts. Then slowly add gluten back into your diet to see how your body responds once it’s been away from it for so long. If you notice your symptoms coming back or worsening, there is a good chance you have a sensitivity to dairy, gluten or both.

The benefits

While there may be some sacrifice involved in making certain diet changes, including giving up gluten, many will attest to the fact that the benefits certainly outweigh the difficulty or inconvenience. If you feel that following a specific diet plan may help you, the paleo or ketogenic diet might be worth a try. Keep in mind, however, that while they are both low in carbs (sugar) they still both allow for dairy, should that be something you want to avoid. Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope it has helped. As always your questions and comments are always welcome.

Natural Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Many things can contribute to the already unbearable ‘all over pain’ of fibromyalgia. I thought I would list some natural treatments, that have worked for many people I know who suffer with this type of chronic pain every day. Medication can work and should not be discounted completely. Still, while there are many prescriptions your doctor can give you for pain, the side effects can often be problematic for some and even dangerous for others.

That is one of the main reasons why many people are now seeking natural fibromyalgia pain relief. In this post, the term ‘natural’ can include anything from supplements and exercises to avoiding certain foods. Please keep in mind however, that everyone is different and what might work for one person may not necessarily work as well for another.

It is also important to discuss any changes you want to make to your diet with your doctor first, as some natural supplements can interfere with certain medications you may be currently taking. Keep in mind that natural products and therapies sometimes take longer to work than medication. Some notice a drastic improvement right away while other FMS patients take considerably longer to reap the benefits… patience is always key.

What causes fibromyalgia pain

To address fibromyalgia pain properly, it is important to understand what causes it. When a person without FMS injures themselves, signals will travel from the injured site, up the spinal cord to the brain. Our brains interpret these signals as pain. The pain, however, will eventually go away when the injury heals. When someone has fibromyalgia, there doesn’t have to be an injury for them to feel pain.

FMS patients feel pain in places that shouldn’t be painful, the pain is usually wide spread and it never goes away. The chronic pain that most FMS patients suffer from is due to the brain’s neurons being in ‘overdrive’, constantly sending pain signals where there shouldn’t be much or any pain at all.

This results in a hypersensitive response to sometimes only a very little pressure on the body. The pain from seemingly small injuries is amplified and a what is known as central sensitization occurs. For this reason, those who suffer from FMS tend to have a much lower pain tolerance.

It is not so easy to treat fibromyalgia pain because there isn’t just one type of fibromyalgia pain. There are in fact three different types. Some may experience one type more than the other three, a combination, or all three types with the same severity. When it comes to treating pain, it may be beneficial to know which type of pain you’re treating.

According to Dr. Ginevra Liptan, M.D. author of The Fibro Manual, the three types of pain include: (1) the flu-like aching caused by high levels of chemicals in the blood stream, (2) muscle tenderness due to inflammation in the fascia and (3) all over body sensitivity from overly sensitive nerves. The latter can be the most difficult type of pain to treat. Click here if you would like to read my personal review on The Fibro Manual book.

Exercising and stretching

Yoga may be beneficial for fibromyalgia pain

Appropriate daily exercise training will aid in reducing the symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. Physical activity has also been shown to relieve anxiety, depression and improve mood. But can it help relieve pain. Stretching improves tight fascia, while exercising stimulates blood flow to the tissues and releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. It will also increase energy and promote better sleep.

So, the answer is yes! it can help reduce pain if done correctly. Our muscles are living tissue and if they are not used or stretched, they will eventually become short and stiff. Exercising may be the last thing those with fibromyalgia pain want to do, and that is understandable. However, this shortening and stiffening of the muscles can lead to more pain later on and the functioning of these muscles will progressively decline.

Having said all this, it is still important to talk to your doctor about physical activity first, and perhaps enlist the help of a qualified trainer, who has experience training those with fibromyalgia. Here are a few things that you should avoid doing no matter what:

  •  Insufficient stretching or warm up prior to exercise
  • Sudden forceful movements
  •  Jarring or bouncing movements
  • Using improper body mechanics
  • Repetitive motions
  • Exercising for too long or with too much intensity
  • Insufficient post workout cool-down

Swimming and under water aerobics have been shown to be a very beneficial exercise for fibromyalgia. Muscle movement is much slower under the water and there is much less stress on the joints. The water should be warm; this will help to sooth sore muscles and relax the body. Yoga is also enjoyed by many who suffer with fibromyalgia pain. As a trainer, we are taught that the trick with FMS clients is for them to focus on ‘health training’ instead of on ‘sports training.’

You should always keep in mind that it’s not about winning a race or how much you sweat in the gym. Exercising with this mind set can in fact defeat the purpose of exercising and cause injury, resulting in more pain. There is also no need to work out in a gym; working out at home can be just as beneficial. If you are new to exercise, the best way to start, is just by doing a few more regular daily activities at home.

Stress in a killer

Stress can be a huge factor for overall health, but especially for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Anxiety and stress affect the immune system in a big way and can exacerbate FMS symptoms, including pain. It is important to identify the stresses in your life and do whatever you can to at least minimize them if you cannot eliminate them completely.

Some find that meditation and or deep breathing, known as ‘belly breathing’ helps. You can experiment and try a few deep breathing exercises with some soothing music. Others have reported an improvement in stress, over-all muscle pain as well as the vague ‘flu-like pain’ from massage therapy.

A massage also allows the body to naturally release toxins. Make sure you opt for a lighter massage, however, and let the massage therapist know if or when you feel any pain or discomfort. Deep tissue massages are not recommended and be sure to drink plenty of filtered water afterwards.

Good nutrition is key

Whole foods are recommended for optimal health

While not everybody is the same, everyone benefits from a diet made up of whole, fresh organic foods. There may also be some benefits in supplementing with a multi-vitamin. Try to find a pharmaceutical grade vitamin complex from a brand that is GMO free and contains no added chemicals or sugar. Some people notice a reduction in fibromyalgia symptoms when they stop consuming dairy, with the exception of yogurt.

Some also notice less pain, flare-ups or stomach up-set when they completely remove gluten from their diet. Keep in mind, it takes some people at least 6 months of going gluten and dairy free for a noticeable difference. One of the most important things you can do, however, is drastically lower the amount of sugar you consume.

Be aware that excess sugar can be hidden in many grocery store items such as tomato sauce, veggie dips and yogurt. Read the labels. It is also extremely important to eliminate trans-fats and all processed foods from the diet. The body needs fiber, vitamins and nourishment and it’s hard to find that from something that comes out of a box.

Digestive enzymes, if taken right after meals, may aid with digestion and probiotics are needed to restore beneficial gut bacteria. Without this good bacteria, the bad bacteria take over, which can lead to gas, cramps, fatigue, bloating, weight gain, sugar cravings and many other symptoms. Many people with fibromyalgia already suffer with stomach problems, so a good probiotic is almost a must.

Artificial sweeteners and MSG (which are classified as excitotoxins) should be avoided at all costs! According to Dr. Ginevra Liptan, in addition to aspartame, almost all artificial sweeteners, including sucralose Splenda and saccharin Sweet’N Low, can actually increase fibromyalgia pain. If you are looking for a calorie free, non-sugar substitute, she suggests stevia. You may recognize Stevia by its commercial name ‘Truvia’. Stevia is natural and comes from the leaves of a plant.

Supplements that may work

L-Carnitine which is an amino acid that the body naturally produces, has been shown to lessen pain. It may also help with depression and fatigue. Turmeric extract is a natural anti-inflammatory, and many fibromyalgia patients report a reduction in pain after taking it for several weeks. Many individuals are also able to reduce their use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs) as a result.

Ginger and green tea may also help with inflammation and stomach up-set and in turn reduce discomfort and pain. Vitamin D is essential for improving mood but for pain as well since it plays such a big role in the function of the muscles and the mitochondria. It is best to consume this fat-soluble vitamin with healthy fats. Supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to reduce pain and fatigue. Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin it is best to take it with meals containing fat as well, for better absorption.

Omega-3 fish oil is often recommended for FMS patients by naturopathic doctors, dietitians and nutritionists to manage pain, including nerve pain, muscle pain and headaches. It has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression and brain fog associated with fibromyalgia. For more information on the benefits of omega-3 fish oil on fibromyalgia, click here.

In Canada, more evidence is supporting the use of cannabis for pain relief. In a large medical survey conducted in Arizona on the effects of cannabis on chronic pain, 77% of the fibromyalgia patients reported “a lot or almost complete overall relief. 94% of fibromyalgia patients also described their reduction in the usage of other medications as “a little or much less frequency.” Still, each State in the US have their own laws pertaining to medical marijuana and it’s uses.

Magnesium has been shown to aid in achieving deep sleep, something that those with FMS get very little of. When we are in this restful stage of deep sleep, our bodies, muscles and brains are finally able to repair themselves. Without it, feelings of exhaustion, pain and grogginess are heightened. Keep in mind, however, that some forms of magnesium are not well absorbed by the intestines.

This is especially true for magnesium oxide, so I wouldn’t recomend it. Magnesium glycinate and citrate seem to be the ones that are best absorbed by the body. Ask a doctor or integrative physician about a proper dosage for you. And be sure to let your doctor know before trying any of the supplements listed above. Because natural health supplements are not regulated by the FDA, quality can deffer from one product to the next. It is best to purchase a well-known brand, that adhere to strict quality standards.

We need more information

Fibromyalgia is still fairly new and more information is required to gain a better understanding regarding its causes and cure. We need to keep discussing this topic. With more information, we will no doubt have more knowledge on natural fibromyalgia pain relief as well. In the meantime it is always a great idea to join a fibromyalgia support group, discussing these symptoms with others that are going through the same thing can be very helpful. Others may have suggestions for pain relief you may never have thought of.

I hope this post has been helpful. If you have any questions, please let us know. If you know of any methods for natural pain relief that has worked for you, and you believe it could be beneficial to others, we would love to hear your suggestions. Please let us know what has helped you ease or manage chronic pain in the comments section below, as well as your thoughts on this article. Thanks for visiting!

Fibromyalgia and Aromatherapy – The Best Essential Oils to Use

There is so much information I could write when it comes to the discussion of fibromyalgia and aromatherapy, and I tried to cover as much as I could in this blog post. I’m sure you have a favorite scent. Maybe it’s the fresh aroma of cucumber? Or the sweet smell of vanilla, perhaps? Not only do we love beautiful scents, but certain odors can even bring back memories and emotions. Ever smell fresh baked cookies, for example and suddenly find yourself reminiscing about a time spent at grandma’s house when you were a child?

This recollection of certain odors is a phenomenon known as olfactory memory, aptly named after the olfactory bulb which runs from the nose to the brain and is closely connected to the hippocampus and amygdala which are strongly linked to emotion and memory. In fact according to an article in Psychology Today, a number of behavioural studies have demonstrated that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories and are better at inducing the feeling of “being brought back in time” than images. But there is a lot more to aromatherapy then just inhaling pleasant scents and it may help to know a little about what aromatherapy is before knowing how it can be used to help improve fibromyalgia symptoms.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy consists of the application of essential oils. Essential oils are volatile plant oils that can be extracted from the seeds, leaves, bark or stems of a plant. They have concentrated aromas and are designed to help prevent and treat various ailments and disease and promote overall health and well being. Aromatherapy takes a holistic approach to healing the body than more conventional treatments you may see today. Holistic refers to treating the whole person (body, mind and spirit) rather than just the symptoms of illness.

How Does Aromatherapy Work?

Its always best first to meet with a credible aromatherapist who is trained in the art and science of aromatherapy. There are different ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. When breathing these oils into our lungs, they can offer very positive psychological as well as physical benefits. Many people for example inhale eucalyptus for relief from congestion when they have a sinus cold. Fibromyalgia patients often suffer with depression and this may be a great for lifting one’s mood.

When applied topically, they are quickly absorbed into the skin and enter the bloodstream; afterwards they are carried throughout the entire body. Undiluted essential oils however, are very concentrated and powerful and should never be applied directly to the skin. Essential oils are usually diluted in a carrier first such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or other cold pressed vegetable oil before being applied to the skin.

Add aromatherapy oils to your bath water and relax

Essential oil can also be added to bath water for a relaxing spa-like experience at home. One of the best way to use these oils though, is in combination with massage therapy, If this is not too painful. This way you get to enjoy the many health and relaxation benefits of both the message and the oil. Essential oils can also be used around the home to make the air smell beautiful and inviting, or in dresser drawers to help linen and clothes smell fresh and clean longer.

Because of the recent increase in popularity of essential oils, there is always new information coming out online about different ways to use them, including ingestion. Some believe, for example grape fruit oil in water will help with weight loss or peppermint oil in water to aid indigestion, a common fibromyalgia complaint. This however is not recommended by most professionals in the field. If you are interested in taking essential oils by mouth, you should always first consult a physician.

When used correctly and safely, these essential oils can be great for relaxation and helping minimize some of the worse symptoms of fibromyalgia. They are useful in alleviating stress, help sore achy muscles or naturally induce sleep. When absorbed by the skin some of them can also help with circulation and encourage the body to release toxins. Almost all essential oils have antiseptic properties as well and have the ability to fight against infections, fungi, bacteria, parasites, yeast and even viruses. It’s easy to see why aromatherapy is one of the most popular complementary therapies used today.

My Top 3 Favorite Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia And Why

Lavender Oil (Lavendula angustifolia)

Lavender comes from a herb, is one of the most versatile oils and has a wonderfully soothing scent. Lavender oil should only be applied topically or inhaled and never ingested. Lavender essential oil can help with many fibromyalgia related health complaints, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, headaches, sinus congestion, backaches, joint pain and can relax sore muscles.

It can also be used as an insect repellent, treat hair loss, laryngitis and improve blood circulation. It is commonly used as a fragrance in soaps, perfumes, deodorants, lotions and other pharmaceutical products. Lavender is not recommended however for diabetics and/or pregnant or breastfeeding woman.

Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus Globulus)

Eucalyptus is extracted from the dry leaves of the eucalyptus tree. When taken by mouth, eucalyptus oil can be used as an expectorant to loosen coughs. The vapor can also be inhaled and used to treat sinus pain and congestion, inflammation, respiratory infections and when gargled, may help to reduce dental plaque. The antiseptic properties of eucalyptus also make it great for applying to wounds, burns and acne.

For fibromyalgia patients who suffer from aches and pains, you can add eucalyptus oil to bathwater for a wonderful aroma and for massage to help with sore tense muscles as well as arthritic pain. You will find eucalyptus in many household items, including toothpaste, mouthwash, cough drops, lozenges and beauty products. Eucalyptus oil should always be diluted in a carrier before it’s used and should not be taken by mouth unless under a doctor’s supervision. This oil should never be used by young children, and avoid it if you are pregnant or nursing a baby.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata)

Ylang ylang is pronounced ee-lang ee-lang, comes from a flower and has a delicate floral fragrance. Ylang ylang is probably best known for it’s “mood lifting” antidepressant qualities. Not only can it fight depression when breathed in, it also promotes a feeling of relaxation, soothes anxiety and melts away stress. This can be a very helpful and powerful tool for people who have fibromyalgia.

This essential oil has also been known to increase libido, decrease blood pressure, strengthen the nervous system and even has the ability to prevent and cure certain types of infections. What’s not to like about it right? Because of its beautiful aroma, this essential oil is use in many perfumes, lotions cosmetics and bath products as well. Like most essential oils, you should avoid it if pregnant or nursing. Ylang ylang is also wonderful when combined with sandalwood, grape fruit and lavender oil. Is it any wonder why this wonderful, versatile oil is becoming so popular with aromatherapists these days?

Don’t Forget About These Other Great Oils.

Of course there are many more great essential oils to explore. Essential oils that are known for their amazing antibacterial properties include peppermint, lemongrass, bergamot, oregano, thyme, clove, basil, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, cinnamon and tea tree oil.

For relaxation and stress relief, you can try lavender, tangerine, orange, ylang ylang, rose, geranium, frankincense, bergamot, spearmint, sweet marjoram or calary sage.

If you want to feel more energized in the morning, or anytime, particularly if you are a little under the weather that day try one or more of these: grapefruit, lemon, clove, basil, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, lavandin, and rosemary.

If what you are looking for is a good nights sleep, you may want to use vetiver, lavender, ylang ylang, sandalwood, marjoram, jasmine, cedar wood, roman chamomile or bergamot. Essential oils are often great combined with other essential oils as well.

Is Therapeutic Grade Oil Superior?

Many companies use the terms “therapeutic grade” or “aromatherapy grade” or “grade A” however these terms hold very little significance. Unfortunately there is no governmental agency/organization in the US or Canada that certifies or grades essential oils. You will find that most, if not all companies that sell essential oils claim that theirs is “therapeutic grade” or something similar, but a grading system simply does not exist.

Just because a company claims their product is of a certain quality or grade does not necessarily mean the company cannot be trusted either, it’s just not a good indication as to the quality of the oil. Your best bet is to talk to an aromatherapist, herbalist or other expert first and find out what they recommend. You may also want to visit the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy at naha.org and the Canadian Foundation of Aromatherapists at cfacanada.com for more information on aromatherapy, education and/or how to find a qualified aromatherapist in your area.

Give It A Try!

I hope this blog on fibromyalgia and aromatherapy has inspired you enough to give essential oils a try. Perhaps at the very least it has given you a somewhat better understanding of what aromatherapy is and all the wonderful potential benefits of essential oils. Aromatherapy is still fairly new and sometimes misunderstood. However, It has been growing tremendously in popularity over the last few years. I have no doubt, this is partly due to the fact that individuals are starting to give alternative therapies in general more consideration. But also because people especially those with fibromyalgia are discovering the many health and relaxation benefits of essential oils and how it can potentially improve many of their symptoms…naturally.

Fish Oil For Fibromyalgia – Can It Really Help Me?

I’m sure most of you have heard of the many health benefits of adding fish oil to your diet, for a number of reasons. Well, it can also be great to use fish oil for fibromyalgia in the form of omega-3. Although omega-6 and 9 are also important, most nutrition experts will not argue the importance of omega-3 over the other two, especially the DHA content.

We see omega-3 supplements on the shelves of pharmacies, grocery and health food stores. But what is omega-3 exactly, and how can it be helpful to those living with fibromyalgia? Read on, because these are the questions I’m hoping to answer along with how you can get some more omega-3 into your diet!

What is it?

Grilled salmon, an omega-3 super food.

Unlike other fats we consume, our bodies cannot produce a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 (linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). Because our bodies can’t produce them, these fats, are known as essential fatty acids, and there for must be obtained from our diet. Omega 6 is easier to find from most of the foods we consume already in our typical North American diets. However, we seem to have a much harder time getting enough omega-3.

Omega-3 fatty acids come in three forms: ALA (alpha -linolenic) EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docasahexanoic acid). Research shows more reasons for consuming EPA then ALA. There is no doubt however, that the most compelling research shows the many benefits of sufficient DHA intake, even more so then ALA or even EPA.

What can it do for me?

Omega-3 is excellent for your heart. Omega-3 reduces blood clotting, dilates blood vessels, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and helps reduce blood pressure. EPA has been linked with reducing inflammation which can help with rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain (a common fibromyalgia symptom) asthma and even heighten the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that, under the care of a physician, individuals with elevated triglycerides take 2 to 4 grams EPA+DHA supplement.

Omega-3 is great for children and babies. Studies show that DHA may actually help reduce the effects of ADHD in children, improve their mental skills, concentration, and ability to remember and retain more information. This can be especially important for children who are living with fibromyalgia. A developing fetus also requires omega-3 for proper growth and development, particularly concerning the eyes and brain. Pregnant women with FMS should be sure to get enough, especially during the second and third trimesters.

Omega-3 is good for the skin. A bonus! Omega-3 can help those who suffer from psoriasis and other skin conditions! According to well-known dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D. Omega -3 fatty acids are particularly good at targeting leukotrienes, chemicals that are provoked by the presence of free radicals and are known to promote allergies and skin disorders.

Omega-3 can help relieve pain! Omega-3 fish oil has actually been shown to relive symptoms in inflammatory diseases. Many studies have linked a decrease in joint pain or need for inflammatory drugs in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. It also increases endocannabinoids which are the body’s natural anti-inflammatories, thus could be a reason why many who take it experience less pain. For more information on natural ways to reduce pain click here.

Omega-3 is really good for your brain. Omega-3 can also help fibromyalgia patients who suffer with depression, anxiety and fatigue. Although more research needs to be done, there is also evidence that shows these fatty acids may even help protect against dementia, help improve short term memory loss, reduce the risk of mental illness and improve overall cognitive function, no more ‘fibrofog.’

This is fascinating! According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter M.D. not only is DHA helpful for prevention, it can also help reduce and even repair cognitive decline! These are some of the many reasons why nutritionists and dietitians recommend fish oil for fibromyalgia! It is not recommended however, that anyone use omega-3 as the only treatment for any of the disorders mentioned above. Still, there are so many reasons for including it into your diet every day.

Where can I find it?

Salmon on a cracker

OK, so we know that omega-3 is super good for our heart, skin, brain, eyes and overall health, but where do we find it? Fish of course! Fish seem to offer the most omega-3, I guess it’s true what they say about fish being brain food! ALA is the type of omega -3 mostly found in plants, nuts and seeds. You can find it in walnuts, vegetable oils and soybeans. You can find EPA and DHA omega-3 naturally in egg yolk, cold water fish and shellfish. The top 10 fish that contain the highest omega-3 content are as follows:

-Salmon
-Mackerel
-Albacore tuna
-Blue fin tuna
-Sable fish
-Sardines
-Herring
-Anchovies
-Shad
-Trout

Salmon is an excellent, and perhaps the best source of these fatty acids. Of all the species of salmon, sockeye is superior. Note that farm raised salmon will contain much less omega-3 than wild salmon, and a lot more fat. Look for the words “wild” or “Alaskan.” Canned salmon is also usually wild. A package that indicates the fish is “Atlantic” usually is just another way of saying farm raised.

Eggs are a good source of omega-3.

What about omega-3 fish oil supplements?

Although nothing compares to the real thing, omega-3 supplements are always good to give you that extra boost. Some people also don’t like the taste of fish, so this would be a good substitute. Of course, as with any supplements, you should consult your physician prior to making any changes in your health regimen.

Omega-3 is available in capsule or liquid form. The major difference between the two is perhaps sugar and other ingredients in the liquid version, to make it more palatable. Liquid omega-3 supplements tend to have a shorter shelf life and may need to be kept in the refrigerator.

Beware, not all supplements are created equally. When purchasing a supplement, whether it’s liquid or capsule, be sure to look for omega-3 from marine sources (unless you are a vegetarian or vegan). You should also check the label for the exact amount of EPA and DHA each capsule contains, to be sure you are getting your money’s worth.

Although there is no established Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), a daily dose of at least 600mg of DHA for adults is recommended by most experts, including well-known cardiologist Dr. Oz M.D. Be sure the supplement is verified by an independent third party for having high purity standards. Look for products that are free from artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners and GMO’s.

We are not getting enough!

There are so many health benefits to taking fish oil for fibromyalgia. Potentially easing the FMS related symptoms of joint pain, depression and memory loss are just the beginning. But there are also many reasons why fish oil is beneficial for everyone and why DHA in particular is so important for our overall health. The problem is most of us simply don’t get enough of this powerful, essential fatty acid. So, why not try to incorporate more omega-3 fish oil into your diet today so you can immediately start reaping the incredible rewards!

Do I Have Fibromyalgia? – Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

Many people are still unaware of some the many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Others may feel they have every symptom in the book. The problem is, many of the symptoms associated with FMS are fairly general, common and not specific to this disorder, and therefor can easily be attributed to something different.

This is one of the main reason why this disorder is often miss-diagnosed or can often go undiagnosed for many years. Is it any wonder why many people ask “do I have fibromyalgia?” But before we address that question, lets take a quick look at what fibromyalgia is.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

If you looked up the root Latin word for fibromyalgia, (“pronounced “fie-bro-my-al-jia”) it actually translates to “condition of connective tissue fibers and muscle pain.”

“Fibro” (Connective tissue fibers)
“My” (Muscle)
“Al” (Pain)
“Gia” (Condition of)

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome (not a disease) caused by abnormalities in how the brain processes pain. The result is a heightened response to pain when pressure is applied and an overall feeling of pain throughout the body. It is often referred to as a chronic pain condition.

Although neither progressive, degenerative or dangerous, the symptoms associated with FMS can be extremely challenging to live with. The frustrating symptoms characteristic of fibromyalgia are experienced by approximately 10-11 million Americans and up to 8% of the population. Twice as many women are effected than men. The exact cause of the disorder is unknown and as you may have guessed there is still no known cure.

Common Symptoms

Because the onset of symptoms are so gradual, many patients who suffer from FMS have a hard time pinpointing the single factor that started their condition. While fibromyalgia is usually characterized by widespread pain throughout the body, there are other symptoms to watch out for.

Cognitive Function Memory loss. Memory loss, affecting both short and long term memory, diminished attention span and problems concentrating are often reported. Many will also experience “brain fog” or “fibro fog” as it is sometimes referred to. About 58% of fibromyalgia patents also suffer from migraine and non-migraine headaches.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms.

Depression. Depression, which is classified as a mental disorder could be a symptom of fibromyalgia. This can affect a person self-esteem, cause mood swings or severely low moods and can even cause physical pain. Individuals may feel isolated, lonely, sad, sluggish and lose interest in hobbies they once found enjoyable.

Restless Leg Syndrome. This is often characterized by an unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling in the legs. It is also sometimes described as a painful, tingling or aching sensation. Moving the legs seems to temporarily relive the discomfort, hence the name restless leg syndrome. Although less common, some experience these sensations in their arms as well.

Fatigue. Almost all fibromyalgia patients report extreme fatigue and a loss of energy. This is sometimes severe enough to affect a person ability to person normal day to day activities. Quality of sleep is also affected and the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, fibromyalgia patients receive a night. For this reason, allowing yourself the right amount of time at night to get enough deep restorative sleep is a must for those who have fibromyalgia.

Other Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Other very common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Aches and pain
  • Increased menstrual pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Multiple tender points
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness, pain and numbness
  • Anxiety

Unfortunately many individuals living with fibromyalgia also suffer from other pain based medical conditions, including:

  • Intestinal cystitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Heartburn
  • Benign joint hyper mobility syndrome

What Is The Diagnosis? – Do I Have Fibromyalgia?

While that is an important question, I’m afraid the answer may not be so simple. As stated before, it is very difficult to determine if these or some of these symptoms are in fact related to fibromyalgia syndrome. Even physicians have a difficult time diagnosing this disorder. There is no specific routine test for diagnosing fibromyalgia and many people have lab tests come back completely negative.

In 1990 criteria to define fibromyalgia were established by the America College of Rheumatology. It states that for a proper diagnosis, one must have had widespread musculoskeletal pain for longer than three consecutive months, along with pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender point sites. Tender point sites include the base of the neck, upper chest, upper back, shoulders and hips. In the end, these, and the symptoms mentioned above will be the determining factors of whether you have fibromyalgia.

Be aware that the term “tender points” is often confused with the term “trigger points” and vise versa. Trigger points radiate pain tingling or numbness. Tender points also respond to pressure but do not refer pain to other areas of the body. Still, many people with fibromyalgia experience pain at different locations of the body as well as these tender point sites. On the other hand there are many who experience pain at some or most of these sites, but do not have fibromyalgia.

What Can I Do About It?

Fibromyalgia is still considered a fairly new condition and many more studies and a lot more research have to be done. The chronic pain and other uncomfortable symptoms are very real, and while there is no cure, treatments to help manage these symptoms do exist.

If you have FMS, regular exercise has been shown to help lessen pain, improve sleep, reduce stress and symptoms of depression. For many, physical activity has also helped with cognitive function and memory problems. Aerobic exercise and exercises that focus on stress reduction and a mind-body connection like yoga and ti chi have been reported to be very beneficial.

Swimming, a great low impact fibromyalgia exercise.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as meditation can also be wonderful tools in reducing stress and anxiety. Allow for a minimum of 8 consecutive hours of sleep and be aware of good sleep hygiene practices. Many individuals who are living with fibromyalgia improve their symptoms when they eat more nutritious foods or follow a specific “fibromyalgia diet.”

It Is Always Better To Know

If you think you or a loved one may have fibromyalgia, the first step is to talk to your doctor. Many people don’t understand what fibromyalgia sufferers go through or much about the disorder in general. Some are afraid to ask the dreaded question “do I have fibromyalgia?” Perhaps because they are afraid that their doctor may end up giving them a positive diagnosis. Please don’t let this be you.

An estimated 75% of those who suffer with this disorder, go undiagnosed. There are plenty of great resources and a lot of help out there and no one should have to suffer in silence. So, while it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, I believe It is definitely better to know the answer.