Herbs and Supplements for Fibromyalgia
Because so many people are opposed to taking medications for their fibromyalgia (FMS), there are now many herbs and supplements that may show signs of improvement for fibromyalgia symptoms. However, not all herbs and supplements are good for patients and it is very important to discuss any herbs and other supplements with your doctor to rule out those with adverse effects or those that may interact with other medicines you may be one. Here are some of the most common herbs and supplements offered and that have shown benefit for patients with fibromyalgia.
Serotonin is a powerful brain chemical, and serotonin levels play a significant role in fibromyalgia pain. Serotonin levels are also associated with depression and sleep. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a building block of serotonin. 5-HTP may help to increase deep sleep and reduce pain in FMS patients. In one study, researchers reported that 5-HTP may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fibromyalgia pains. However, there are some contradictory studies that show no benefit with 5-HTP so the evidence is mixed. Most of the time, 5-HTP is well tolerated but this supplement has been associated with a serious condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Therefore, again, discuss this supplement with your doctor before starting supplementation.
Most patients with fibromyalgia have sleep problems and fatigue, and it’s thought that melatonin may help relieve these symptoms because melatonin is a natural hormone that’s sometimes used to induce drowsiness and improve sleep patterns. Some preliminary findings show that melatonin may be effective in treating fibromyalgia pain and it is available as an over-the-counter supplement.
Melatonin is generally regarded as safe with few to no side effects. Due to the risk of daytime sleepiness, though, anyone taking melatonin should use caution when driving until they know how it affects them.
St. John’s Wort
This herb is frequently used to combat depression. Since depression is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, St. John’s wort may help in that area. It is usually well tolerated. The most common side effects are stomach upset, skin reactions, and fatigue. St. John’s wort should not be mixed with antidepressants and can cause interactions with many types of drugs so check with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort or any supplement.
Researchers don’t know how SAM-e works in the body. Some feel this natural supplement increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain neurotransmitters. Although some researchers believe that SAM-e may alter mood and increase restful sleep, additional study is needed to confirm these findings. Current studies do not appear to show any benefit of SAM-e over a placebo in reducing the number of tender points or in alleviating depression with fibromyalgia.
L-carnitine may give some pain relief and treat other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia. In one study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of L-carnitine in patients with fibromyalgia. Results showed significantly greater symptom improvements in the group that took L-carnitine than in the group that took a placebo. These researchers concluded that L-carnitine may provide pain relief and improvement in the general and mental health of patients with fibromyalgia. However, more research is needed to confirm their research.
Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. They may assist with the breakdown and proper absorption of food and help improve digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, another common symptom of fibromyalgia.
There are other herbs and natural supplements that people have used to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. They include echinacea, black cohosh, cayenne, lavender, milk thistle, and B vitamins. On the other hand, there are no definitive studies on the usefulness of these natural substances. Therefore, again, always consult your doctor to determine which ones to try before beginning supplementation.
Brown Seaweed Extract
Research is proving that Brown Seaweed extract (a supplement) is proving highly successful in the fight against chronic pain. Studies have shown that taking Brown Seaweed extract can reduce joint pain and stiffness by as much as 52% and individuals notice these benefits within only one week of beginning treatment.
B- Complex Vitamins
All of the B- Complex vitamins (Folic Acid, Riboflavin, and Thiamine) can help to lessen inflammation that often causes the painful symptoms, these vitamins can also help to maintain muscle tone which is an added bonus to those with Fibromyalgia.