Is Fibromyalgia Making You Crazy?
by Rodger Murphree, D.C., C.N.S.
Do you suffer from anxiety, fatigue, and chronic pain, yet are told you're crazy, lazy, or depressed by friends, family, and doctors who try to make you think your illness "is all in your head?" If so, you're not alone.
Though your distress certainly feels real, their accusations make you wonder. You do often lose your train of thought mid-sentence, have strange reactions to medications, and suffer with an assortment of health problems as all your labs return normal. Then there is insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, mitral valve prolapse, chronic sinusitis, tingling in the extremities, night sweats, chemical sensitivities, headaches, and reflux to name a few. Maybe you are crazy. You've been bounced from one doctor to another, had dozens of tests, taken numerous prescription drugs, which didn't help, and you get worse year after year. Anyone would be made crazy if they went days without sleep, had diffuse chronic pain, no energy, no answers, no life, and no hope.
The traditional drugs of choice for fibromyalgia include: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), antidepressants, anticonvulsant medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, and pain medications.While they may provide shortterm relief, their results are often fleeting and their side-effects detrimental. It's not unusual for fibromyalgia sufferers to take 12 or more prescription drugs, many of which contribute to their erratic behavior.
For example, the sleep drugs, Ambien and Lunesta, may cause short-term memory loss, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and depression. Tricyclic antidepressants, including Trazadone and Elavil, may cause earlymorning hangover, mental confusion, and lethargy. Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI) drugs may cause anxiety, depression, mental blunting, and lethargy. Klonopin and other benzodiazepines may cause depression, fatigue, and decreased mental function. All of these drugs are known to deplete at least one or more essential mood-dependant vitamins, minerals, or nutrients (B6, B12, CoQ10, folic acid, etc.). Individuals with fibromyalgia are also deficient in the brain chemicals, which help regulate mood and mental function.
Research shows that most fibromyalgia patients are deficient in serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These three neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are essential for optimal mood and mental function. Serotonin, also known as the "happy hormone", helps regulate mood, sleep, digestion, bowel movements, pain, and mental clarity. Individuals with fibromyalgia also have low levels of the amino acid, tryptophan, as well as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), necessary for the production of serotonin. L-phenylalanine-derived norepinephrine, when released in the brain, causes feelings of arousal, energy, drive, and ambition. It's no wonder you suffer with "fibro fog."
STRESS-COPING SAVINGS ACCOUNT
I like to use the analogy of being born with a stress-coping savings account. We have certain chemicals, vitamins, minerals, and hormones, like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and cortisol, that allow us to handle day-to-day stress. The more stress, the more withdrawals we make. Individuals with fibromyalgia make more withdrawals than deposits.
SSRIs like Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, and others don't make serotonin, they only help the brain hang onto and use serotonin more effectively. These drugs are essentially a highinterest loan. Those with fibromyalgia simply don't have serotonin to re-uptake. They've bankrupted their stress-coping savings account and depleted their serotonin long ago. These drugs usually only provide shortterm relief, while perpetuating their debt. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true nutritional protocols that can help put your stress-coping savings account back in the black.
REBUILDING YOUR NEUROTRANSMITTER ACCOUNTS
Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials show that patients with fibromyalgia experience benefits from increasing serotonin through 5-HTP replacement therapy:
Less tender points
Less morning stiffness
Improved mood in general, including in those with clinical depression
» S-ADENOSYL L-METHIONINE (SAMe)
SAMe increases the action of several neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, by binding these hormones to their cell receptors. However, patients with fibromyalgia can be deficient in this essential amino acid.
One study shows that patients taking SAMe for a period of six weeks had a 40% reduction in pain and 35% improvement in their depression.
A blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids comprise the necessary building blocks to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms. These include malic acid, sometimes known as the apple acid, which helps the body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP) more efficiently. ATP is the body's primary form of energy currency. Magnesium complexes with ATP become the main carrier of metabolic energy in the body and are essential for all biosynthetic processes in the body. Magnesium is also well regarded for its role in maintaining healthy mood, sleep patterns, and joint function. Amino acids are required for protein synthesis, which builds muscle, connective tissue, and other structures. Individuals with fibromyalgia have been shown to be deficient in several key amino acids, including methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine, and lysine—all of which must be supplemented to restore healthy levels. I have formulated a product that includes these critical nutrients and more, in a convenient, easy-to-remember "packet" system.
Please know that, while you might not feel you're the sharpest tool in the shed at the moment, you can replenish your brain chemicals, rebuild your stress-coping savings account, and even remember where you put your car keys … with the proper nutritional support.