5 Things That Have Reduced My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

5 Things That Have Reduced My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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Donna Gregory Burch

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.

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Authored by: Donna Gregory Burch

There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Mare at 2:47 pm

    Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with others, we are grateful! I tried LDN myself a few years back but sadly it only worked for a short couple of months with my body:-(
    Apparently it cannot work if one is battling any undiagnosed thus untreated, underlying infections (ie. candidiasis which is systemic candida, something I’ve long felt I likely suffer with, or SIBO, or lyme, etc etc etc., you get the picture)
    Folks should know too that if anyone is already taking CBD oil or vaping/smoking Mj, they cannot also take LDN as it’s an antagonist to these and any opiates (originally naltrexone was & still is today used in much higher doses (like 50-100 mg) to treat heroin overdose in hospital ERs so even at the low doses of LDN, it will cancel out th effects of CBD/Mj or any opiate drug).

  2. Joanna M at 8:00 am

    I’ve just started using the magnesium lotion a couple weeks….too soon to tell much just yet, but seems promising…

  3. Robin Jordan at 2:29 pm

    Donna, what dose of LDN do you take? I am still trying to find my right dose. It has worked well for pain and most of the fatigue. In doing my research since 1999 I found that taking two different kinds of magnesium work for me. That would be the malate and the glycanate. I did try the spray mag but it felt terrible after spraying on. I would love to try it now if its in lotion. I have not tried anything cannabis yet. I keep the hope that I can work again someday. It goes to your hair and would make you fail a drug test. Love your articles!

  4. Jean Price at 8:37 am

    Brandi…it’s okay to voice your struggles, so don’t be concerned about complaining…you’re just talking about the reality of your life and experience! Welcome to this site. The comments here may also help you find new strategies to help and also be a nonjugemental voice to support to you in extra tough times. Unfortunately, it’s harder to interact here with each other, but this is an information forum not designed for feedback from the site, even though you’ll see we followers communicate our feedback to the site in our comments and to others like I’m doing here. For me, it can be frustrating and even overwhelming to hear of so many people facing unfair treatment and health struggles, but you are definitely not alone. And sometimes we just have to boundary what we can take in. I hope you do find this site helpful, and there are many others also offering basically the same type of help through reporting policy information and running stories written by people in pain and professionals. There is some power in being informed and realizing you are not the problem, pain is! Your need for appropriate medical care to help treat it is not at all out of line….we all deserve that and yet often can’t find it. Hoping your experience here is positive. Glad you commented and you will most likely see others with the same issues….don’t forget it’s not complaining when you tell your story…and we benefit from it too! Blessings!

  5. Brandi Evans at 4:28 pm

    I just joined, and it’s comforting to know that I am not all alone with all my pain. My Dr is not helping, and just passes me on to another one of my Dr’s. Why do they even ask what your pain level is, if they aren’t going to do anything about it? I’m so frustrated!! Sorry to complain the whole time.

  6. Sally Mapes at 2:10 pm

    Hi Donna, great article. I also use magnesium but as a spray on oil but only when my muscles tighten into a spasm – I don’t like the smell or stickiness.
    I’m having a lot of success with a gluten free, potato free and low sugar diet. I also saw a naturopath last year who identified low thyroid, low iron stores and poor adrenal functions for which I take supplements and include iron rich foods, mostly from red meat, in my diet.
    I totally agree with Marty about exercise and have a set routine of stretches that get me going in the morning and I walk, very slowly, for at least 30 minutes every day. It took me a few years to build up to this.
    I also make sure I stimulate my mind through reading (I’m an A’ Level English Literature examiner), puzzles such as sudoku and crosswords and love the adult colouring books. The only pain killers I take now are paracetamol and ibrupofen, but not every day. These two things combined with improved sleep I’m sure have helped to reduce the fog.
    A very good friend gave me Paul McKenna’s book ‘Change Your Life in 7 Days’ which helped me to define my values, learn meditation and have achievable goals. I went on to use his ‘I Can Help You Sleep’ book which has improved my sleep so that I now only wake once or twice a night, although I still have some awareness of pain. This has helped me to wake up earlier in the mornings and therefore have a longer day with no siesta.
    Great to see so many individual approaches and a spirit of sharing. Good luck to all who suffer with whatever they try. Sally

  7. Joan Marc at 3:17 pm

    My wife suffered fibro from 5 years. She tried a lot of drugs and gluten-free diet, but only Paleo diet cured her (basically no sugar, no grains, no bread… only vegetables, fish, meat, fruits and so on). She couldn’t wake in the morning due to the pain, and now she practice crossfit 3 times a week. Give it a try for 30 days. It’s time enough to know if it works for you. Good luck.

  8. DFW Mom at 10:13 pm

    We also tried LDN a couple times. The biggest problem we had is that it disrupted sleep. The benefits were not significant enough to continue. I also read a case report about a person who had been on LDN for a fairly long term, who showed up in the ER and exhibited severe opioid resistance. That raised some concerns for me with regard to long term use, so we discontinued it.

  9. DFW Mom at 9:43 pm

    My daughter began to improve more after we discovered that she had MTHFR, which is a VERY common genetic mutation which very few doctors ever mention or test for. People with this mutation do not process certain b vitamins effectively. They can’t do a good job of attaching methyl groups. Therefore, they need a version of the B-vitamin which already has the methyl group attached (thus, the “m” in MTHFR). L-5-MTHF version of the b-vitamin is sold alone, but also often sold in combination with B12, because they are processed together in the body, so now my daughter takes a version of it called Active B12.. After finding this genetic mutation, we did a 23andMe profile to find out more about genetics, and ran reports on other sites (we found a list of sites that will run reports on 23andMe results like LiveWello, on the “stop the thyroid madness” website on the MTHFR page, and ran several of the reports.. We found that, in addition to some methylation problems, My daughter has problems with detox. So, she started taking NAC, which seems to help with detox. She also was having cravings for carrots and sweet potatoes, which led me to suspect a problem with vitamin A, so I searched to find out which gene affects vitamin a processing, and checked it on the 23andMe website, and lo and behold, we discovered a mutation in the gene which processes vitamin A, so she needs to take more vitamin A, because she can’t do a good job converting beta carotene. She judges whether she’s taking too much by assessing how badly it is drying out her skin.

    I am sharing this because I believe that Fibro happens when a person reaches a “critical mass” in disruptions in the methylation or detox cycles, but people can have breaks at different places in that cycle. We found that investigating my daughter’s DNA helped us to find where the breaks were, and what kind of supplements could be most useful in patching it up.

    Another thing that really helps her is fish oil. Again, she gets cravings for it, now, if she doesn’t take it. We prefer Krill, but it’s expensive. I believe the Krill helps the brain to recover, helps to reduce brain fog, and also helps to thin the blood, because there are indications of circulation problems in fibromyalgia.

    Another thing that really helps is a B-complex.

    At night, after a hard day, she takes Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement which is taken as a hot drink, and Perque, a C vitamin supplement as a hot drink. It has become a nighttime ritual.

    The supplements make a big difference in energy and brain fog. If she doesn’t take them, her symptoms get worse, and she gets cravings for them.

    We find that it helps to take a supplement for several weeks before assessing i’s effects. It takes time, sometimes, once a supplement repairs a piece of the cycle, for the cycle to operate more efficiently for several days or weeks, and the body to start growing stronger as a result. It doesn’t happen overnight.

    We are very interested in Qercetin, which we will be trying next. I have a friend with vasculitis, who has discovered she can control her flares with Qercetin and the vitamin C supplement Perque that I mentioned earlier.

    I wish everyone luck in their search for a solution.

  10. Stephen Rodrigues, MD at 2:52 pm

    If you go way back about a 100 years you will find more options.
    Then you will understand by default:
    All pain problems must have a located somewhere in the body.
    The most common primary location of the pain we all feel is located in most of our muscles.
    Muscle will demand healing and will yell and scream until they receive their deserved and proper care.

    Muscles can only heal by the natural forces from within the true healer of diseases. -Hippocrates-modified

    The simple conclusion drawn from the archive of medicine:
    Pain in the body will respond to physical therapy which will remove the pain and restore the patient back to a normal state of well-being. Pain + physical therapy = eradication of pain.

    The most common cause of aches, pains and stiffness in the body is life and living.
    The most common primary location of the pain in the body is in the muscular system.
    The exact pathology of the pain we feel is scattered and deeply embedded in the cellular structures of the muscles.
    The exact locations of the muscle pain pathology is infinitely spread out throughout the muscular system of the body; in the primary involved muscles along with the secondary and distant muscles.
    The only anti-pathology for this category of muscle derived pain comes within the disciplines of hands-on physical therapy.
    Hands-on physical therapy is any discipline which massage, knead, unwind, pull, stretches all the involved muscles.
    Hands-on PT is the only “medicine” which will allow the muscles to automatically and innately restore.
    Hands-on PT must be applied in a customized and personalized manner exactly where the patient indicates, in the amounts, frequency and intensity as ordered by the patient.

    Acupuncture, dry needling and trigger point therapy w and without needle are the safe and most restorative forms of needle PT.

  11. margie sanders at 5:19 pm

    i also use a lot of magnesium and also take a lot of eptson salt baths-thank you for sharing!

  12. Cindy Rodrigues at 2:07 pm

    What Cbd oil is it ? What magnesium oil is it ? You say there is fake stuff then what brand is good ?

  13. Jamie at 1:02 pm

    Treating the trigger points of Chronic Myofascial Pain daily. It is a peripheral pain generator.

  14. Jeannie McQueen at 10:02 am

    Donna hi thanks so much for all this great information there’s so much and it’s so scared I was wondering if I might ask you said you stopped d-ribose recently and you are on to something else may I ask what it is and any help I so hope so for you and I wanted to speak with my dr about it thank you have a great day
    Jeannie q

  15. Jeremy Goodwin, MS, MD at 9:56 am

    Dear Donna,
    Having worked with possibly a thousand or two sufferers of adult and pediatric FMS, I have found that everyone differs with respect to cause, presentation and management. The therapeutic approaches vary widely and in my experience go beyond medications. Many do not have access to the possibilities out there whether ‘eastern’ or ‘western’. But all that you write is fair game and well stated.

    Thank you for providing some with ideas that may help at least some of that with which they struggle every day.

  16. Jean Price at 6:14 am

    Donna…your well written accounts of therapies you’ve tried will doubtless give others some ideas to check out. When we deal with an array of illnesses defying a narrow group of specific symptoms where each person varies and even the days can vary symptoms, it can be very frustrating to find a mix of therapies which work well and work all the time. Many aren’t able to research thoroughly so your article is helpful to those people and also to those who may never have heard of a particular treatment! Good job…and I for one would hope to see more of these types of articles, sharing treatment experiences and the hope that comes from having options to try! Thanks!

  17. marty at 3:16 am

    Thank you for writing this and encouraging people to do more themselves to live with Fibro. It’s the only way to really deal with it. Drugs aren’t the answer obviously. Staying mobile is one of the biggest things. To those who think rest is being in bed all the time, well frankly you are only hurting yourself and your body. I too use magnesium and in the past few months have started CBD oral spray. Seems to help with anxiety and depression for me. A lot of my Chiropractor’s patients swear by the salve so I am going to try some of that. It’s up to us as individuals to keep searching and trying different things if we want to live a semi normal life.