By Donna Gregory Burch.
In 2016, I shared a few of my favorite things for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. That article is still one of the most popular ones on my blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. A lot has happened in two years, so I think it’s time to publish an updated list.
Below are some of my current favorites for managing and healing from fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme. I’d love to read about what’s helping you in the comments section!
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for working with a qualified medical professional. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and discuss their findings with their medical providers.
#1 – Whole foods diet
What I eat makes a HUGE difference in how I feel physically and mentally. I don’t follow any particular diet, but if I was pressed I would say it’s closest to the paleo diet. I avoid gluten, dairy, soy, genetically-modified corn, processed sugar, most processed foods, most fast food, soda, artificial sweeteners and food additives like MSG.
(Read more: How going gluten free may help with fibromyalgia)
If you follow a standard American diet, you’re probably wondering, “What the heck do you eat?” My diet is comprised of mostly whole foods: meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit. I do still eat some starches like white potatoes and rice, which would be a big no-no for someone who is strict paleo.
I eat clean probably 90 percent of the time. I do still allow myself a cheat meal here and there – usually when I eat out at a restaurant – but I pay for it with increased digestive issues, pain, fatigue and brain fog for a few days when I do so. It’s not that eating clean makes me feel so much better. It’s that I feel so much worse when I don’t!
(For those interested in trying an elimination diet, I would research the Whole 30 diet.)
#2 – Banderol and samento
Shortly after writing my 2016 favorites article, I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and several co-infections. My doctors at the time indicated my fibromyalgia symptoms are likely caused by these infections, and my condition should improve as they are treated.
I take A LOT of herbs and supplements, but banderol and samento – the two primary herbal tinctures from the Cowden protocol for Lyme disease – are the two that have made the biggest difference in my symptoms. These tinctures do a fantastic job of killing and suppressing the infections in my body. Since starting them last year, I have much less chronic pain and fewer overactive bladder symptoms. I know it’s the banderol and samento that’s helping with these symptoms because I’ve stopped using them a couple of times, and my symptoms rage back to life.
My fibro readers are probably thinking, “Well, that’s great, but I don’t have Lyme, so how is banderol and samento going to help me?” First, I would say many of my fellow fibro warriors likely DO have undiagnosed chronic Lyme and don’t know it. The testing sucks! It only catches around half of Lyme cases, so if you tested negative in the past, you may still have it!
(Read more: Are your fibromyalgia symptoms due to Lyme disease?)
Second, there’s more and more research to suggest fibromyalgia may be caused by a malfunctioning immune system. Lyme and other co-infections are known to compromise the immune system, so if you think infections could be a piece of the puzzle for you, I would encourage you to research banderol and samento and see if they might be beneficial for your situation.
(Money-saving tip: NutraMedix increased their tincture prices earlier this year. As an alternative, I’ve been using the otoba bark and uncarine max tinctures from MyHerbs.net. They seem to work just as well at a lower cost. The only drawback is a stronger alcohol taste.)
#3 – ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops
I included both oral magnesium and topical magnesium in my 2016 favorites article. I still use each of these almost daily because magnesium has so many benefits. Earlier this year, my current Lyme doctor suggested adding ConcenTrace Mineral Drops to my regime because I suspect I gave myself a nutrient deficiency from lack of appetite and the overuse of cholestyramine as a binder.
Magnesium is the main ingredient in ConcenTrace, but it also includes more than 70 other trace minerals. Due to industrialized farming, it’s hard to absorb these important minerals from food alone so using a liquid supplement like ConcenTrace is an easy way to improve overall nutrition.
I wish I had added ConcenTrace Mineral Drops to my protocol sooner because this stuff has so many benefits! I’ve only been using it for about a month, but here’s what I’ve noticed so far: Less soreness/achiness throughout my body, less leg/foot pain, less dizziness and lightheadedness upon standing, fewer foot cramps and my hair isn’t falling out in clumps anymore!
#4 – Coffee enemas
I wrote an entire article about the wonderfulness of coffee enemas last January, so I won’t go into all of the details here, but coffee enemas have been an absolute game changer for me. They have been great for lowering pain and inflammation, boosting energy and increasing my ability to focus.
While I realize coffee enemas aren’t for everyone, they can be helpful for those who are open to trying unconventional therapies.
#5 – Medical marijuana
I saved medical marijuana for last because I know not everyone has access to it. I included hemp CBD oil in my 2016 favorites list. Hemp CBD is an alternative for those who live in states where medical marijuana is not available.
(Read more: How to choose hemp CBD oil)
In fall 2016, I was approved for the medical marijuana program in my state. I’m probably a little different from most medical marijuana users in that I primarily use it for sleep and bedtime pain relief. I initially experimented with using CBD-rich strains for daytime pain relief, but I was never able to find a product that relieved pain without making me feel loopy.
I use two forms of cannabis at bedtime. First, I vape the dry herb to help me relax so I can fall asleep. My favorite strain is MK Ultra. The vaping wears off in about an hour, so I also take either Rick Simpson Oil or cooking hash orally to help me stay asleep.
I sometimes read about cannabis users who say it completely took their pain away. That hasn’t been my experience, but it does muffle the pain so I don’t feel it as much. For me, the real benefit has been in how it’s deepened and prolonged my sleep. When I started using cannabis, I woke up every hour or two, and then struggled to fall back to sleep. Now I average one wakeup a night. I’ll take that improvement any day!
(Read more: Best cannabis strains for fibromyalgia)
(Read more: Best cannabis strains for sleep and insomnia)
So now it’s your turn: What reduces your symptoms of fibromyalgia and/or chronic Lyme? Share in the comments!
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.