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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 diet might be worth a try, it is fairly low carb, gluten and dairy free. The ketogenic diet is a great choice for avoiding sugar as it is extremely low carb. Keep in mind, however that most keto diets still allow for both gluten and dairy, should that be something you want to avoid. Of course you should always check with your Doc first, especially if you are a diabetic.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope it has helped. As always your questions and comments are more than 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.

Pain Relief devices

Sometimes it’s worth looking into a pain relief device like the Solio Alfa Plus. This device uses three types of energy Infra red, Bi-polar radiofrequency and LLLT to help bring relief to sore muscles, stiff joints and improve blood circulation. It is safe to use on any part of the body, FDA approved, available without a prescription and many people have noticed an improvement after their first use.

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 be worth a try

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.

Medical marijuana. In the US and Canada more and 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 and each province in Canada have their own laws pertaining to medical marijuana and it’s uses. For more information on medical marijuana for pain click here.

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 and the Canadian Foundation of Aromatherapists at 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:

-Albacore tuna
-Blue fin tuna
-Sable fish

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.

Here is a short list of my favorite omega 3 supplements

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.

About Michelle

Hello, my name is Michelle and welcome to my health posts on fibromyalgia. Here, you will find a site dedicated to helping those who are living with or know someone who is living with fibromyalgia.

My Story

I worked for several years as a personal support worker for the elderly, while maintaining a carrier as a personal fitness trainer. A few years ago, I decided to increase my knowledge in this area and become a certified health coach as well.

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me if there were certain exercises they could do to improve their fibromyalgia symptoms. Some would ask about whether they should avoid certain types of food or if there were natural ways to reduce pain, etc.

I had received some education and training in this area, but I had to admit, it wasn’t a topic I found a lot of information on. Even during my placement, I noticed it wasn’t something that was often talked about. I had a particularly difficult time finding information about natural ways to relieve pain and fatigue and other fibromyalgia related symptoms.

I wanted to offer my clients more. Later some of my friends and family members, including my own mother, were diagnosed with this condition. At this point, I wanted to know more.

You’re not alone

Many people, especially women, are affected by this painful condition. Many even suffer in silence for many years without a diagnosis, or the symptoms they are experiencing are  misdiagnosed as something other than fibromyalgia .

It is a good idea to talk to your doctor, nutritionist and/or a dietician about fibromyalgia. But it certainly helps to have more information from those that are going through it themselves. I wanted to be their voice. I know my mother and many other friends and family of mine wish they had more resources available to them when they were first diagnosed.

With this in mind, I decided to review some books on the subject, take specialty training and extra courses in this area along with some pretty intense research. I also asked numerous questions to those who are living with fibromyalgia about their own experiences to learn what has helped them.

I love to offer encouraging words of support as well and encourage others to do the same. If you have information about something that has helped you, a supplement, an exercise, a food or just want to offer kind words, please do! You are more than welcome to leave comments below.

The goal of this website

The goal of is to provide honest information and health tips that benefit everyone, but with a focus on fibromyalgia related topics. I wanted to make sure that they are relevant, current and informative. Of course, I am not a doctor and the information I provide are my opinions only and therefore is never meant to replace medical advice from a qualified physician. With this in mind, you should also talk to your doctor before trying any new exercises, supplements or before making any changes in your current diet.

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I hope you take just a few minutes to read some of the information here. Please let me know of some topic ideas you would like to see, if they are not already covered. If you know someone who is living with fibromyalgia, please let them know about this website. No one should ever have to go through anything like this alone!

If you ever need any help or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,