Case study: Fibromyalgia
By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Victoria is a 46 year old lady who came to see me seeking help for fatigue, excess weight and fibromyalgia. Her biggest concern was the fibromyalgia.
Victoria mostly experienced it in her neck, across her shoulder blades and both arms. She often woke with a painful neck, and from there, the pain spread across her upper body throughout the rest of the day. Sometimes when she got out of bed to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night, she got a sharp stabbing pain along one side of her neck that took her breath away.
As is typical with fibromyalgia, Victoria also experienced fatigue throughout the day. This made it difficult to carry out her job, which involved writing lengthy documents. Victoria said she regularly had a foggy head and found it so hard to get going in the mornings. This led to quite a lot of stress because her job was full of tight deadlines.
Another common feature of fibromyalgia is poor quality sleep and unrefreshing sleep. Victoria would wake briefly several times throughout the night and rarely woke feeling refreshed in the mornings. This made her depressed and she often dreaded going to work.
Nutrient deficiencies are extremely common among my patients with fibromyalgia; even the ones who eat healthy home prepared meals. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can worsen inflammation and pain in the body. Inflammation can lead to fatigue, low mood or anxiety.
My recommendations for my patient
- I asked Victoria to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. This involved removing foods that raise inflammation in the body – sugar, gluten-containing grains, dairy products and food additives. Victoria already ate fairly well, but she did snack on biscuits most days in the afternoons when she felt stressed and overwhelmed by her workload. She also ate oats in the mornings for breakfast. Many people can tolerate oats, but they gave her mild heartburn, which is a sign they were not appropriate for her body. I asked Victoria to follow the eating plan in our book called Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- As is the case with most of my patients, Victoria didn’t have enough vitamin D in her blood when I looked at her blood test results. This can worsen pain and fatigue. Vitamin D can be obtained from sunshine or by taking a supplement.
- Good quality sleep is so critical to overall health and emotional wellbeing. The chronic sleep deprivation was greatly reducing Victoria’s quality of life and she realised she had developed a temper and was snappy with her husband. I asked Victoria to take one teaspoon of Magnesium Ultra Potent powder at bedtime.
- Selenium is a mineral with anti inflammatory properties and it may reduce mild muscle inflammation. I asked Victoria to take one Selenium Ultra Potent capsule daily.
- Gentle exercise is so important for reducing the pain and stiffness of fibromyalgia. Often when you’re feeling sore and exhausted, exercising is the last thing you feel like doing. However, getting some movement helps to improve the overall prognosis of fibromyalgia.