Physical and Psychological Therapies
Diet (and supplements) plays a central role in your overall health, but don’t discount the power of a healing touch — or sound, or thought. Many physical therapies can get deep into your mind and body for intense and long-lasting relief, but you need to find the right treatments for your sets of symptoms.
Different therapies tend to target certain symptoms better than others, so you might consider tailoring your treatments to your biggest fibro challenges.
Muscle Pain and Tension
Massage is a natural antidote to muscle tension, and though it can help tame fibro symptoms your therapist will need to be careful not to aggravate tender tissue. Find a therapist who has experience with chronic pain — or better yet, fibromyalgia — and don’t be shy about communicating any painful sensations or falling comfort level every step of the way.
Acupuncture has gained ground as a leading treatment for chronic pain, and recent studies support that it is indeed more effective than a placebo. Moreover, there are very few possible side effects to treatment (as long as you work with a professional and accredited acupuncturist), so consider it as a complement to, or replacement for, massage.
Fatigue and Fibro Fog
It might seem counterintuitive, but exercise can be one of your most powerful tools to fight fatigue. It gets your metabolism going and your endorphins flowing, and the best part is the energizing effects last for hours after you finish.
The tricky part is knowing when to try to rev up your system, and when to allow for a rest. A big cup of coffee likely won’t cut it, but neither will consecutive naps throughout the day.
Instead, L-carnitine might work better, which can help with both sleep and cognitive functioning. There is also some evidence the gingko biloba herb can boost brain metabolism.
Depression and Anxiety
Supplements such as SAM-e and L-carnitine can add helpful compounds to your natural stores, and this boost can help improve your mood and encourage better sleep for a better emotional balance. In fact, even milder naturally-derived supplements like St. John’s wort have been shown to help people shift to a more positive outlook.
Serotonin supplements (like 5-HTP) and the SSRI class of antidepressants would appear to be good options, but recent research suggests that more serotonin could actually make things worse if you’re struggling with depression.
Your best bet to overcoming sleep problems? Improving your activity levels and getting a bit of outside help from mild sleep-promoting agents.
Make sure you exercise daily, even if it’s just some very gentle yoga on particularly painful days, and consider adding a melatonin supplement (with your doctor’s permission).
Relaxation therapies are other excellent approaches for better sleep: learning to calm your mind and control your breathing can lower your heart rate and set you up for a better night’s sleep. Daily meditation is a great place to start.
Proceeding With Caution
Alternative treatments have become so popular that a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has been introduced to investigate and assess them. There are now firm guidelines in place to protect your health and safety while you explore new treatment option, but remember that nothing is a replacement for the advice of a doctor, nutritionist, and other member of your healthcare team.