By Donna Gregory Burch
I bet that headline caught your attention. I know it did because I’ve read my share of these types of articles over the years, hoping one of my fellow fibromyalgia warriors finally figured out a way to bring my suffering to an end.
But if you have fibromyalgia, then you know it is the ficklest of conditions. What works for one of us does not necessarily work for others. We have three FDA-approved drugs on the market, and yet none of them work more than half of the time. No one even knows what causes fibromyalgia, much less how to get rid of it.
So we are left to cobble together our own treatment plans, rejoicing for small victories when a particular drug, supplement or dietary change seems to help.
We are all on our own paths of managing this brutal condition, but I do think it’s valuable for us to share what has helped our symptoms and what hasn’t. That way, we can all learn from one another.
So, today I’m sharing a few things that have helped reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms, in hopes that this information might help others. I want to be clear: None of these are cures, and they won’t take away all of the pain, fatigue and other symptoms. They’re just tools that I’ve found helpful in my own treatment plan, and maybe you will, too.
- Magnesium supplements – When I was first diagnosed, I spent hours online, trying to figure out the best ways to treat fibromyalgia. Magnesium came up over and over in my searches because it’s one of the most researched supplements in fibromyalgia. I take magnesium malate every day, and it seems to mitigate the all-over achiness that we all associate with fibromyalgia. It’s also supposed to help with sleep, so I take it at bedtime.
- Magnesium lotion – My fibro pain tends to get worse as the day progresses, so it can be brutal by bedtime. On my worst days, I always slather my entire body in magnesium lotion before going to bed. It usually takes the edge off enough for me to fall asleep. Until recently, I used Morton Epsom lotion, but the company just discontinued it. When my supply runs out, I’ll be shopping for an alternative on Amazon.
- CBD oil – Without question, CBD oil has been one of the most helpful things in treating my pain. There are two different kinds: hemp-based CBD, which is sold online, and cannabis-based CBD, which is sold by dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal. When I’ve interviewed cannabis experts, they all tell me that cannabis-based CBD is the most potent form because it contains so many valuable cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. The hemp CBD sold online is not regulated, so buyers have no way of knowing whether the product is safe or if it even contains CBD at all. There’s also debate over whether hemp CBD is even legal. (The DEA says no.) I’m currently gathering my medical records to apply for my medical marijuana license. I’m anxious to try cannabis-based CBD to see if it works even better than the hemp version.
- D-ribose – In two studies conducted by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, supplementing with d-ribose improved the energy levels of fibromyalgia and ME/CFS sufferers by up to 61 percent. I’ve had good results when using Teitelbaum’s d-ribose protocol. It dramatically cut down my afternoon napping and gave me an extra boost to get through the end of the day. I no longer take d-ribose because my doctor has switched me to a new supplement protocol for mood/energy, but it worked so well that I still mention it to others. Note: D-ribose may affect blood sugar levels, so diabetics will want to research it carefully.
- Low-dose naltrexone – When I was first diagnosed, I tried a string of different pharmaceuticals, and I couldn’t take any of them. Either the side effects were too severe, or they just didn’t work. During a desperate Google search one day, I stumbled upon an online survey that showed low-dose naltrexone (LDN) was the most effective treatment for fibromyalgia. In two small Stanford University studies, LDN was found to be more effective than any of the three fibro drugs approved by the FDA. It’s the only pharmaceutical that’s helped relieve my pain, and best of all, it has a low side effect profile. A growing number of fibromyalgia sufferers have found LDN to be helpful in decreasing pain and fatigue.
These are just a few things I’ve found helpful since my diagnosis. What helps to reduce your symptoms? Share in the comments below!
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. 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.