This article was written for VitaSoul by Martina Suliman. She has previously written an excellent article on natural supplement and herbal medication suggestions during pregnancy illnesses, which you can read here Winter Wellness – Pregnancy Booster Basics.
Hi, my name is Martina and I am a former Fibromyalgia sufferer. The constant battle with this condition lead me to pursue my passion to become a Holistic Health Practitioner, so that I could help others manage their chronic conditions just like this “Phantom Disease”.
I am the founder and owner of Alterna Medica, a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach (FMCA) and a Traditional Naturopath and Clinical Herbalist (AHG) with a special interest in Dietary Supplement Science (Dip. D.S.S.). In my practice I use a sophisticated biofeedback machine to help analyse bodily systems to help pinpoint the root cause of health aliments, this is known as Quantum Diacom Biofeedback Therapy.
I have spent the past 10 years researching chronic painful conditions, as well as autoimmune disorders, so that I am able to diagnose and treat these conditions naturally. As most suffering with Fibromyalgia already know, this condition can be tricky to diagnose. It presents with a wide array of symptoms which leave many specialists puzzled. Fibromyalgia was only officially recognized as a chronic condition around 1987.
Why is this condition called a “Phantom Disease” you might ask? The symptoms of excruciating pain and illness can not be seen by others and you suffer alone, often questioning yourself.
To the outside world and many medical practitioners, a person with Fibromyalgia looks healthy, there is little to no visual aspects that point to the patients internal physical suffering.
What are the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia? How does it manifest itself?
- Tender points, sore joints, and chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain.
- Nerve pain (at the worst flare of my Fibromyalgia journey, I would experience pain on my skin from a gentle touch, showering or wearing clothes caused painful skin sensation which lead to depression and anxiety).
- Chronic fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome linked to Adrenal Fatigue.
- Frequent infections, constant flu like symptoms.
- Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD.
- Restless legs syndrome.
- Food sensitivities and allergies, sun sensitivity.
- Histamine intolerance, eczema, and skin rashes.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, spastic colon, SIBO.
- ADD, ADHD, brain fog, concentration issues, irritability.
- Hormonal imbalances, hot flushes, severe PMS.
- Thyroid malfunctioning.
So, what causes this condition?
Research is still inconclusive. It seems to run in families and some researchers believe Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune condition manifesting in our genes. A similar concept to cases with recurrence of trauma and abuse in family lines. It is more prevalent in Females than Males and affects mostly woman in their reproductive age.
Fibromyalgia is linked to other conditions in which symptoms overlap and are difficult to diagnose as laboratory tests often reveal no pathogenesis or other physiological changes. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Generalized Anxiety and Depression are often in question when taking patients health history. Suffering with one or more autoimmune conditions can predispose your to develop Fibromyalgia. Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Arthritis among others are often on the patients exhaustively long list of conditions and complaints.
It took several months of specialist’s consultations, multiple blood tests, scans, scopes and x-rays to figure out what was wrong with me. Each test result was met with huge disappointment, more depression and despair. There was nothing identifiable as a causative of my long list of symptoms. Some results came back as an autoimmunity without a specific name for the disorder. Words like Lupus, IBS, Yuppie Flu were among those mentioned to me.
“Dr. Pridgen saw a pattern emerge in his treatment of thousands of patients with chronic gastrointestinal issues that intrigued him. A patient would get better, but then experience a stressful event that would send him/her back into the soup. They would get better, but during the next relapse they would stay sick longer and their recovery period would be shorter. Eventually they would be sick all the time.”
I was given a long list of anti-inflammatory medication, side effect warnings and encouragement to take it easy, because it most probably would not go away. I was told to accept this chronic pain as my new normal.
That day, my life long research journey into Fibromyalgia started!
What does the research into chronic pain indicate?
Research shows that the root problem of this condition lies in the malfunction of the central nervous system, specifically speaking about how the brain and nerves process the pain.
The Gate Control Theory of Pain developed by Melzack and Wall (1965) teaches us that before pain signals are transmitted to our brain, same pain signals come across “nerve gates” that take control of whichever of those signals are allowed to pass to the brain.
It has often been observed that thoughts and emotions can have influence on pain perception. Simply said, if you expect something to hurt, it will be more painful. Pain can be more intense if you are angry, upset, stressed, frightened, or experienced an emotional or physical trauma during your life.
To facilitate the healing process, one shall address their emotional and psychological traumas with the help of alternative therapies and ancient medicine.
In my “Fibro” journey, Cranial Sacral Therapy allowed for release of deeply rooted traumas. I clearly remember my first treatment. Laying on the bed, being gently touched by a therapist seemed as “hocus-pocus” at first. But then a surge of emotions transformed into uncontrollable crying… When this was over, the pain was completely gone. It was only temporary, until my body relearned how to remain in a state of rest and digest. Some people can do this over days, while other’s take months. It all depends on how deeply rooted your emotional trauma is.
“Imagine an onion and it’s layers. Each treatment consists of one layer being peeled off; one negative emotion being released. Some onions can be huge like a watermelon.” – Martina Suliman
Once you are done dealing with emotional baggage, you are ready to up your game and investigate your physiology. Although laboratory tests may reveal nothing concerning, there is myriad of things that may be wrong on a physiological level.
Let us talk about digestive health first
Most Fibromyalgia patients have underlying digestive issues. Irritable bowel syndrome being one. This condition is classified as psychosomatic but Leaky Gut Syndrome, SIBO and food sensitivities are very real. Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease could be a root cause and even hidden pathogens.
“Dr. Pridgen, and other scientists, now believe that herpes viruses are the underlying cause of Fibromyalgia.”
Have you been told you are a hypochondriac? You may have been brushed off by many health care professionals that your problems are in your head. Well, they may be right, in a way…
Brain – Gut Axis is a term used to describe communication between central nervous system – your brain and the enteric system – your gut. Microbiome residing in your gut communicates with the microbiome in your brain. Yes, you have beneficial microbes in every single organ of your body. If this communication pathway is malfunctioning or overloaded by pathogens you can find yourself suffering with Brain-Gut Axis disorders. (IBS, Brain Fog, Fibromyalgia, ADD, ADHD, ASD, Dysautonomia, Chronic pain, Depression, Anxiety and more).
Remember your Sympathetic Nervous System is already in overdrive and you may be experiencing many sensitivities. Dysautonomia presents with myriad of uncomfortable symptoms like chronic vertigo, heat and cold intolerance, sun sensitivity, tachycardia, fatigue, brain fog and more.
Essential Oils, Nutraceuticals, Dietary Supplements and Herbals
These can be of immense benefit for those suffering from above mentioned conditions, but should always be done under the guidance of a medical professional.
Did you know that B Vitamins are crucial for proper cell and nervous system function? When we are low in B Vitamins our immune system becomes compromised and our cells cannot produce energy. Your cells Mitochondria may need some help!
Having adequate levels of B vitamins supports brain and endocrine health. If you read the previous blog by Lisa Vosloo – Adrenal Junkie, you will see how she delved into Adrenal fatigue, which often is one of the underlying conditions to Fibromyalgia.
Good Health B Stress Free is one of my favourite B Complex supplements. Alongside all the B’s this formula contains calming herbal extracts and adaptogens like lemon balm, liquorice, or passion flower. Lemon balm is not only a nervine but also an antiviral herb. It may assist with nervous disorders affecting the digestive system (IBS), but also lowers the viral load in the body.
Product featured: Good Health B Stress Free
As mentioned previously, “leaky gut syndrome” is a real “epidemic”. It can start at a young age but may only manifest itself later when we face stress of this fast-paced life. If you are not taking pre and pro biotic yet, it is a good time to start. Florish Spore Probiotic offers 5 strains of Bacillus Bacteria combined with fulvic acid which makes it the first South African spore probiotic. One of its long list of benefits is the reduction in chronic pain and management of gut disorders like IBS, Crohn’s, Coeliac or SIBO.
Product featured: Florish Spore Probiotic
Diverse gut microbial colonization is necessary for healthy functioning of not only digestive and immune system but neurological too. Adding in Pure Herbal Remedies IBS Formula to your daily regimen can promote digestion, absorption, and assimilation of micro and macro nutrients. This formulation contains chamomile, peppermint, slippery elm and calamus among other herbal digestive aids.
Product featured: Pure Herbal Remedies IBS Formula
Your body is in a constant effort of sustaining life and maintaining of homeostasis. For these processes it requires raw material in form of vitamins, minerals, and other dietary compounds. Most of this material can be obtained from a well-balanced anti-inflammatory diet but oftentimes more needs to be supplemented. After years of insult on our bodies, due to poor food choices, unhealthy lifestyle habits or general toxic loads, we become malnourished on a cellular level. A well-balanced multivitamin and multi-mineral dietary supplement can offer support when body cannot manufacture these components. Mineralife Daily Multiple has been my go-to supplement for many years. Food based with added fulvic acid for enhanced absorption, these essential nutrients boost cellular energy and promote cell repair.
Product featured: Mineralife Daily Multiple
As a Fibromyalgia sufferer, do not forget to up your Magnesium too. It is needed for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. At times of stress our bodies waste large amounts of this micronutrients, thus it needs to be adequately supplemented. Studies revealed low levels of Magnesium in Fibromyalgia patients, which improved chronic symptoms after supplementation. It helped to reduce pain and fatigue specifically. Coyne Biomax Magnesium combines magnesium citrate and liposomes with added probiotic cultures. This formulation is gentle on your tummy and highly absorbable.
Product featured: Coyne Biomax Magnesium
And now to my Magic 4: CoQ10, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and Omega-3
It took me several months to come up with a dietary supplemental plan that worked magic on my Fibromyalgia.
I was severely depleted in Vitamin D, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. Everyone is different and therefore you should have your levels tested before you start supplementing over and above recommended dosage. Personally, I took 3000 mg of DHA (Docosahexaebnoic Acid) daily for almost 2 years. This is the fatty acid found in Omega 3 supplements. Make sure you buy “the right stuff” as some Omega 3 products have low DHA levels.
Lipolife Liposomal CoQ10 and Liposomal Vitamin C offer antioxidant protection and mitochondrial support to boost that exhausted cellular machinery. Your mitochondria need coenzyme’s, mainly Coenzyme Q10. It is like a lubricant for rusted cells, speeds up the cellular function. If you cannot make energy at a cellular level, how can you operate the complex human body?!
Product featured: Lipolife Liposomal CoQ10
As I mentioned above, pathogens, particularly viruses could be the cause of our chronic illness. Viruses are proteins, sophisticated ones. They can infiltrate our DNA and replicate within. Viruses particularly love nerve cells and can cause myriad of neurological symptoms.
“Herpes and other viruses that attack the nervous system may thrive by disrupting cell function in order to hijack a neuron’s internal transportation network and spread to other cells.”
As you may know, antibiotics do not kill them, and your immune system tends to forget about them as they cleverly hide within the cells. So how does one deal with this viral problem? Boost your immunity, take cell protective antiviral herbals and proteolytic enzymes.
Serrapeptase is one type of proteolytic enzyme that mops up protein deposits and other debris that cause inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is at the root of every single disease. This enzyme can successfully break down protein envelopes of viruses and colony of opportunistic bacteria. DNA Biopharm Serra-Fast contains high quality Serrapeptase and includes a blend of MSM, Curcumin and Brahmi for enhanced anti – inflammatory protection.
Product featured: DNA Biopharm Serra-Fast
Last but not the least, I would like to mention my absolute love and passion for ancient medicine – Essential Oils. Use of therapeutic grade essential oils has immense effect on quality of life and improved cognitive function of patients suffering with Fibromyalgia.
Through olfactory system, essential oils help balance autonomics and calm down overactive sympathetic nervous system. All you need to do is – relax, inhale, exhale… put one drop of Wild Orange, Lavender, Frankincense or any other uplifting oil to your palms, make a cup with your hands, close your eyes and BREATHE… It feels good right?
Remember, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel! You WILL reach the end of it and start a new journey…
Yours in health & love,
Martina Suliman (Alterna Medica)