Fibromyalgia is a very common problem presenting itself as pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments, joints and connective tissue. Patients experience muscular pain that is similar to what results from injury or muscle overuse. You can feel like you’ve been beaten up or lifted heavy weights when you’ve done no such thing.
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DR CABOT: My name is Dr Sandra Cabot and I’m joined by Margaret Jasinska, who’s a naturopath.
MARGARET: Hi, Dr Cabot. Great to be with you for another podcast.
DR CABOT: Yes, it is. And fibromyalgia is definitely a good subject to podcast about because it’s so common. And people get very confused about what it really is. And they often confuse it with arthritis, which it’s not. So, fibromyalgia is where it aches all over. Your muscles are sore, your ligaments, your tendons, in other words, your connective tissues. And you feel like somebody’s punched you up or you’ve had an accident, but nothing’s happened. In reality, you shouldn’t be sore. So, it’s due to inflammation in the muscles and the connective tissues.
Arthritis is different because the pain is just in the joints, the bony joints which move. So, fibromyalgia is all over. And sometimes you can think you’ve got arthritis because the tendons around the joints can be sore. But we can do a nuclear bone scan and that will show up where the inflammation is. It’s only a small amount of radiation, but a nuclear bone scan will show up if the inflammation is in the tendons, in the joints or in the muscles. And sometimes you can just pick it by pressing on trigger points and the patient will go “Ouch!”. And they’ve got trigger points everywhere in their neck, the shoulders, their back because there’s inflammation in so many different areas where the tendons join the muscles and the bones.
It’s very, very common, Margaret, isn’t it?
MARGARET: Yes, it is. And it’s far more common in women than it is in men. And it’s also quite common in women after menopause because of declining hormone levels. And we also see fibromyalgia in a lot of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Really, nearly every chronic fatigue syndrome patient has some degree of fibromyalgia. And also, in patients with autoimmune disease because they have high levels of inflammation in their body. And also, fibromyalgia tends to go along with sleep disturbances, as well. So, people who have broken, light, unrefreshing sleep are more at risk of fibromyalgia.
DR CABOT: Yeah. And it’s not much fun. You think, “Why am I sore all over?” and there’s no reason for it, but it’s inflammation. And another thing that can cause it is bad bacteria in your small intestine, Margaret.
MARGARET: That’s right. So, there’s quite a lot of research linking small intestinal bacterial overgrowth with fibromyalgia. And there is some information on that topic on our Liverdoctor.com website, because there have been clinical trials where patients with fibromyalgia were given a breath test. So, it’s a hydrogen or lactulose breath test to see if there is an overgrowth of the wrong bacteria in the small intestine. And in some of the clinical trials, 100% of the patients with fibromyalgia did have the bacterial overgrowth. So, we abbreviate that to SIBO.
And so why does the wrong bacteria in the small intestine cause fibromyalgia? Well, the lining of the small intestine is thin and delicate. It’s not equipped to handle a large volume of bacteria. So, if you do have bacterial overgrowth there, it will inflame your gut lining, make it leaky, so make it excessively permeable. So therefore, too much waste from your small intestine can get into your bloodstream. And that raises the level of inflammation in your bloodstream.
Also, the waste products that the bacteria secrete, they’re called endotoxins. If they get into your bloodstream, well really, if they just pass the gut lining, then the immune cells that live in your gut lining react and produce high levels of inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor, various inflammatory chemicals, which can make you feel sore all over or your particular areas, whether it’s your arms, your shoulders, your neck. For some patients, it’s in their legs.
DR CABOT: Yeah. And you definitely need to look at your diet. Because if you’ve got overgrowth of bad bacteria in your small bowel, which is your ilium and your jejunum, duodenum area, then your diet is all wrong. You’re probably eating way too much sugar and not enough salads and fruit, and you really need to look at that. And sometimes even going on a raw juice fast for three or four days or a bone broth fast can starve those bad bacteria. And people will say, “Gee, the pain’s gone!”
MARGARET: Yes, that’s right. Yes, and also people with fibromyalgia are… Look, there’s an association with irritable bowel syndrome, as well. And when their gut is playing up, their fibromyalgia symptoms can become a lot worse. So, there’s definitely a strong relationship there. And when it comes to healing the gut, well, you know, that’s a huge topic we could be here all day.
DR CABOT: Well, I’ve got a book. It’s called “Healthy Bowel Healthy Body – A to Z to heal your gut”. So, it’s a good book. And it’s new in the United States. But it’s been in Australia for several months. And really, it’s very important to heal your gut, if you have fibromyalgia. And you can use natural antibiotics too to get rid of this overgrowth of bad bacteria. And describe some of the essential oils that are in the Bacto Clear capsules.
MARGARET: Yes. So those Bacto Clear capsules are enterically coated. And so, they contain essential oils from oregano and thyme and clove. And they also contain the herbal extract berberine. And so, they basically act like a disinfectant for your gut. So, they don’t dissolve until they get into your small intestine. And they kill the wrong bacteria and whether you’ve got yeast, fungal Candida overgrowth. So, the Bacto Clear capsules are wonderful for symptoms like bloating and gas and discomfort. But also, they’re working on the underlying cause of fibromyalgia by addressing the bacterial overgrowth.
DR CABOT: Yes. And try just having juices for one or two days or bone broth for several days. And that can starve the bad bacteria, too. They need a lot of sugar.
Now, another thing that I have found over the years that can really help fibromyalgia is vitamin D. Now, vitamin D is not really a vitamin. It’s a hormone, but it was mislabelled a vitamin, before we understood that it had a very similar structure to other steroid hormones. And a lot of people are low in vitamin D. More than 50%, for sure.
MARGARET: Oh, nearly all of my patients are. It’s rare I meet someone who isn’t. And look, here in Sydney, we’ve just had winter. And so nearly everyone is low in vitamin D, because the sun just isn’t strong enough in most parts of Australia. But the northern hemisphere is coming into winter now. So, for most of you, unless you’re taking a supplement, you’re probably not going to have sufficient levels of vitamin D in your blood.
DR CABOT: Yes, especially if you’re working indoors or you use sunblock. And when you go outside for a walk, you’re covered up. So, you’re going to be vitamin D deficient.
Now, we can measure that with a blood test, and the normal range is too wide. In Australia, it’s 55 to 300, which is ridiculous. And some people will not get rid of the aches and pains until you get their blood vitamin D level up above average. You need to get it right up there and they need to stay on the vitamin D. They’re often told, “Well, just take it for a few months. Oh yeah, your vitamin D is normal now. You don’t need to stay on it.”
MARGARET: Yes, I find it ridiculous that so many of my patients, that’s what their doctor has told them. And I say to the patient, “Well, you’re deficient again!”
DR CABOT: Of course, you need to stay on it. And you can have a vitamin D injection of 600,000 units. We give that to people who are severely deficient and often within a week, their rates and pains are gone. The good old vitamin D is a painkiller.
MARGARET: Yes, absolutely! It really reduces inflammation. It has steroid-like properties and steroids reduce inflammation in the body.
DR CABOT: Yeah. And shaped like a steroid hormone, but without the side effects. And the other thing, you can take it orally as a spray or capsules. And generally, if you’re deficient, you’ll need 5000 international units daily with food because it’s a fat-soluble substance and it needs fat in the food to be absorbed from the gut into your bloodstream. So, vitamin D is a good pain killer. People don’t know that.
And so are some other hormones. And Margaret mentioned that fibromyalgia is more common in women, particularly as they age and they lose their sex hormones. And this is very, very true. And another thing that’s not commonly known is that testosterone is a good painkiller.
MARGARET: Yes, the male hormone testosterone, which women also produce. Don’t they, Dr Cabot?
DR CABOT: Yes, they do. Women produce testosterone in their adrenals, their fat and their ovaries. And it’s very, very important hormone for energy, but also to control inflammation. So, if we have someone who’s got lots of general aches and pains, let’s say that the chest wall is sore, where the ribs join the breastbone, their back’s aching, their hips are aching, their muscles are aching. They may be very low in testosterone, and we can supplement the testosterone in the form of a cream. There are testosterone injections and implants available, but they’re quite strong, and you might end up with a deep, sexy voice and a hairy chin that you didn’t anticipate and didn’t want. So, I use the testosterone creams and that can produce a worthwhile pain-relieving effect.
I always remember one patient from years ago. Patients teach you so much. But this lady, she was a postmenopausal in her 50s and she had really bad chest wall pain and back pain in the thoracic area, not lower back pain. It was a thoracic spinal pain for years and years and took a lot of painkillers. And I did some testing on her. She was very low in testosterone and she was really in a lot of pain. So, I gave her an injection and within a week she was pain free.
DR CABOT: Yeah, dramatic! So, there’s lots of influences on the inflammation that causes the pain of fibromyalgia. From your gut to your hormones, your vitamin D levels to hidden infections. And so, no wonder people struggle to get help.
MARGARET: That’s right. Because there are so many factors that can cause fibromyalgia. And the mix will be unique in each individual.
DR CABOT: Yeah. And people will try one thing. They might try an anti-inflammatory drug or some doctors understand vitamin D. They might try vitamin D supplement, but they only get partial relief because they’re not aware that the gut is so important and they have an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Or that they’re low in testosterone. Or that they need a lot more vitamin D than what they have been told.
Another thing that’s important to try, if you have fibromyalgia, is a good magnesium supplement because there’s always a lot of inflammation in the muscles. And magnesium definitely improves the muscle health and function. So, a good magnesium supplement is essential.
MARGARET: Yes. And it really helps repair muscle damage. And so, people who do a lot of exercise, if you take magnesium, it reduces muscle pain afterwards. And also just with fibromyalgia, the effects of the high levels of inflammatory chemicals can cause inflammation in your muscles. So, magnesium helps to repair your muscles and then give you symptom relief.
DR CABOT: Yes. And raw juicing. Try some raw juicing. I’ve got a book called “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life”. But a good pain-relieving juice would be, say, some citrus. Whether it be a combination of orange, lime, lemon, some ginger, some mint, some parsley, and have a big glass of that. And often your pain will be 50% less within half an hour.
MARGARET: Yeah, that’s right. People do find that the juice of the anti-inflammatory effects work really quickly.
DR CABOT: Yeah. They work quickly because you’ve just extracted the highly concentrated antioxidants and pigments from the produce you’ve juiced. And stir some magnesium powder in and you get a double whammy and that headache and the fibromyalgia much less. And you can face the day feeling happy again without popping too many painkillers. Because the painkillers make you tired.
MARGARET: Yeah, absolutely. And they can affect the liver, as well.
DR CABOT: That’s right. Absolutely! Our poor liver, overworked liver. What we always say is, “Love your liver and live longer”.
So, we’ve been talking about fibromyalgia, which is a painful condition. And for more in-depth information, you can go to the home page on Liverdoctor.com and download our free e-book on “Natural Pain Relieving Remedies”. It’s a very good book. It’s very comprehensive.
MARGARET: Yes. It’s a really big book and it’s free. There’s so much great information in it.
DR CABOT: Yeah. And great diagrams. Yeah, it’s a great book. A lot of references too, so it’s scientific. So, a free e-book on pain. And it’s so important to get pain under control, because once you get onto heavy painkillers, it’s hard to get off. It really is. But still, you can. But you’ve got to know about these other strategies. Otherwise, you won’t get off them.
So, thanks for listening. And we look forward to joining you again soon.
MARGARET: Thank you! Bye bye!
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