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Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Supplements May Offer New Cure for Fibromyalgia
A new study has indicated that vitamin B12 and folic acid could be the best treatment for managing fibromyalgia pain. Read more below.
A new study conducted by Gothenburg University in Sweden in 2015 has found that vitamin B12 and folic acid (vitamin B9) may be beneficial in alleviating some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders.
Fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue disorders are characterized by extreme fatigue, unspecified pain, joint and muscle pain, headaches, memory problems, insomnia, and enlarged lymph nodes. In most cases, the disorder can affect day to day life and activities. Women are typically affected with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome more than men, but researchers are not sure why this is.
Researchers have known for several years that a variety of nutritional supplements can help reduce some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This new study specifically examined the potential effects of vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 on individuals suffering from chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia. Read more about the connection below.
The study researchers wanted to study the effects of these B vitamins on individuals with chronic pain disorders because previous studies have shown that vitamin B12 and folic acid are important vitamins that boost overall health and immune system function. Previous studies on fibromyalgia and chronic pain disorders have found that patients who receive frequent vitamin B12 injections and oral supplements of folic acid had reduced symptoms of pain.
In this study, the researchers examined 38 patients with chronic pain (some had fibromyalgia, some didn’t) and have them B12 injections once a week for between 6 weeks and 12 years combined with a supplement of folic acid. The patients were then grouped into “good” patients and “mild” patients. Good patients were usually individuals who had had higher and longer doses of vitamin B12 and folic acid.
Most of the good patients were able to navigate their symptoms without the use of strong medication. In the mild group, 70 percent of the patients had to use analgesics to manage their day-to-day pain. The study authors also found that responders in the Good group were also often on thyroid hormone treatment, which suggests that a sluggish thyroid may contribute to symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Due to these findings, the study authors determined that a combination of vitamin B12, folic acid, and improvement in thyroid function may be enough to significantly reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia in many patients.
The study authors found that vitamin B12 and folic acid are important nutrients for fibromyalgia patients. However, these two vitamins are not the only supplements that can have a positive effect on reducing the pain of fibromyalgia. Other studies have indicated that the following supplements may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Magnesium is a vital nutrient, yet many American adults are deficient in this mineral. According to a study from 1999 published in Manipulative Physiology, individuals who complain of muscle soreness and unexplained pain are often low in magnesium. Supplementing with additional magnesium could relieve some of the pain associated with fibromyalgia.
When cruciferous vegetables are cooked, ascorbigen is released. This helps provide optimal function for the liver. In a study from 2000 published in the Alternative Medical review, when patients with chronic pain supplemented with 100 mg of ascorbigen powder and 400 mg of broccoli powder for 1 month, their symptoms were significantly reduced.
Ginger, like many other yellow herbs, is an inflammation fighter. If inflammation is to blame for pain, supplementing with ginger can help relieve symptoms. A study from 1992 published in Medical Hypotheses found that individuals who took dried ginger for several weeks had a reduction in muscle pain.
A clinical trial conducted in 1992 and published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that after supplementing with 5-HTP for 90 days, about 50 percent of study participants showed improvements in pain level, quality of sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and tender points. A follow-up study found that 5-HTP was more effective in treating pain that placebo.
Malic acid is an essential chemical that helps the body absorb other nutrients. This is important for individuals with fibromyalgia, who may have trouble absorbing nutrients from regular sources. A study conducted in 1995 and published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that when study participants supplemented with a combination of magnesium and malic acid for six months, they had reduced pain without any side effects.
The 2015 study also found a surprising link between a sluggish thyroid and fibromyalgia pain. Other studies have also found a link between a lack of thyroid hormones and chronic pain. So, what causes a low production of thyroid hormones?
According to research, a lack of thyroid hormones can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Many of the same vitamin deficiencies that can lead to chronic pain can also cause the thyroid to slow down. Chronic inflammation (from an inflaming diet and obesity) can reduce the production of thyroid hormones. Additionally, vitamin and mineral deficiencies (particularly iodine, iron, and magnesium) can also cause the thyroid to slow.
If you have fibromyalgia, you may also want to check your nutrient levels and thyroid hormone levels before treating the condition with painkillers. It may be possible to reverse, or at lease reduce, your pain symptoms significantly with a more natural approach. If you suspect low thyroid hormone levels, get your levels tested by your doctor. If your thyroid hormones are low, you can try to boost them naturally by adding more vitamins and minerals to your diet and reducing inflammation (by losing weight and avoiding junk food), or you can take artificial thyroid hormones until pain levels start to become manageable again.
Symptoms of a sluggish thyroid and low thyroid hormone levels include fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, cognitive problems, weakness, depression, sensitivity to cold, reduced heart rate, and numbness in the hands. Many of these same symptoms overlap with symptoms of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain disorders. This makes it even more important to check thyroid hormone levels if you have fibromyalgia to ensure it isn’t the thyroid causing your pain.
In addition to regulating hormones and getting enough nutrient intake, research suggests that the following treatments can be beneficial in managing the pain of fibromyalgia:
Exercise can help boost the body’s tolerance for pain and can provide chemicals that relieve pain and stiffness. Stretching, low-impact exercise may have the most beneficial effect for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Some studies have indicated that massage can help ease the pain of fibromyalgia during an active pain attack. Try rubbing painful areas with a tennis ball using firm pressure.
Heat is a natural pain reliever. Place a heating pad on any painful area, or try taking a warm bath or shower when pain strikes.
Focused relaxing can help prevent some of the insomnia associated with fibromyalgia. Try to set a strict wake/sleep schedule and spend a few minutes before bed engaging in relaxing, sleep-inducing activities such as listening to peaceful music, taking a relaxing bath, drinking a warm beverage, and turning the lights down low.
Vitamin D helps boost the immune system and may help fight off some of the autoimmune disorder symptoms of fibromyalgia. Not only does vitamin D boost the immune system, sunlight has a positive effect on mood as well. As little as 10 minutes in full sunlight a day can provide enough vitamin D to boost the immune system and overall mood.
The 2015 study indicates that in many cases, it could be a vitamin deficiency or hormone imbalance that leads to fibromyalgia pain and other chronic pain. This is good news for individuals with fibromyalgia as it indicates that fibromyalgia may not be a chronic condition for everyone.
Although fibromyalgia is triggered by a variety of symptoms (including past trauma, viral infections, or abuse), if it is caused by a mineral or vitamin deficiency, re-balancing these nutrients and hormones could significantly reduce pain and suffering from the condition. Adding additional nutrients and balancing the hormones may also benefit fibromyalgia patients who suffer from a different cause of the condition.
Hair calcium and magnesium levels in patients: a case center study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999
The Use of Ascorbigen: A Preliminary Trial. Altern Med Rev 2000
Magnesium deficit in a sample of the Belgian population presenting with fatigue. Magnes Res 1997
5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan: a 90-day open study.J Int Med Res. 1992 All the clinical parameters studied were significantly improved by treatment with 5-HTP. J Int Med Res. 1990
Magnesium therapy in musculoskeletal pain- retrospective review of clinical results. MagnesTrace Elem 1990
Srivastava KC and Mustafa T. Med Hypotheses 1992
Wikner J et al. Nocturnal melatonin secretion. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1998
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