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Herbs for Fibromyalgia

Using herbs to treat fibromyalgia is only one part of a thorough natural treatment plan. Since fibromyalgia is such a complex disease, herbs should be used as dietary supplements in support of a multi- pronged natural healing protocol.
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Herbalists, naturopathic doctors, and even medical science recognize the healing benefits of herbs for fibromyalgia. Using herbs to treat fibromyalgia naturally may be among the safest options available.

While pharmaceutical treatment options are prescribed for fibromyalgia syndrome, it is still such a complex and often mysterious disease, that doctors often treat the disease in a “hit or miss” fashion.

Once a doctor prescribes even one drug, the patient must deal with not only the original symptoms, but new side effects from the drug.

Unfortunately, many herbalists treat herbs as if they were drugs rather than dietary supplements. They listen to the long list of symptoms, and “prescribe” herbs for fibromyalgia based on each symptom.

Rather than seeking the root cause of the disease, herbal treatment of fibromyalgia can be “hit or miss,“ too.

Fortunately, medical science is waking up to the use of herbs as legitimate healing tools, especially in Europe. The scientific community is also currently pouring massive resources into finding treatment options for fibromyalgia, which was once considered the “garbage can” disease.

Herbal treatment for fibromyalgia with clinical support

Listed below are the herbs that have been scientifically proven, without a doubt, to be beneficial as an herbal treatment for fibromyalgia.

St. John’s Wort

The Journal of Dietary Supplements published an article in 1999 showing the benefit of St. John’s Wort for fibromyalgia.

The article noted the many clinical studies showing the benefits of St. John’s Wort for the treatment of depression, bit pointed out that the herb also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Specifically mentioned in the medical report was the use of St. John’s Wort to help reduce inflammation in fibromyalgia. Supporting evidence included both in vitro (test tube) and in vivo (animal and human) studies.

St. John's wort is often used as a muscle relaxer and mild mood booster. Doctors do not recommend taking St. John's wort in addition to antidepressants.

Ginkgo Biloba

An open, uncontrolled pilot study was conducted in 2002 with the intent to discover if fibromyalgia patients responded well to a therapy using CoQ10 in combination with a ginko biloba extract.

There is anecdotal evidence in support of this therapy, so the researchers want to test the therapy in order to make first hand observations.

Participants in the study filled out a questionnaire, then started on a program of 200mg CoQ10 and 200mg ginko biloba extract daily for eighty- four days. Quality of life was assessed using a statistical measurement tool at four, eight, and twelve weeks into the study.

At the end of the study, assessment scores were much higher than at the beginning of the study. Also, self- assessments indicated that 64% of the fibromyalgia patients felt better, while only 9% of the participants reported feeling worse. A placebo- controlled study was recommended.

In 2009, the Journal of Women’s Health reported a telephone survey asking women who had fibromyalgia what drugs and supplements they were taking for their symptoms. The most common herb for fibromyalgia reported was ginko.

Unfortunately, the result of this particular study was that neither drugs nor supplements seemed to help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms.

Chlorella

The medical journal Phytotherapy Research published a study performed in 2000 by the Departments of Anatomy and Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA citing the benefits of chlorella for fibromyalgia.

In this study, fibromyalgia patients took two commercially available chlorella products daily for two months. Assessments were made at the beginning of the study, at one month, and at two months.

There was a 22% decrease in pain symptoms at the end of two months, with no detectable side effects from taking chlorella.

While not every patient in the study noticed a change after taking chlorella, there was enough of a significant difference in some patients that a double- blind, placebo- controlled clinical study was recommended.

Skullcap, Valerian, and Passionflower

The Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology published a paper in 201 entitled, “Diagnosis and treatment of chronic insomnia,” by Sahoo Saddichha.

The paper went into great detail, describing the signs of chronic insomnia, a list of probable causes, and a sizeable list of both pharmaceutical and alternative treatments for chronic insomnia.

One of the medical conditions listed for which chronic insomnia is a problem was fibromyalgia syndrome. Some of the alternative treatments recommended for chronic insomnia were the herbs skullcap, valerian, and passionflower.

Special mention was made about valerian, in that it takes at least two weeks for valerian to start working. However, the herb does have a sedative effect and is very well- tolerated.

Green Tea (Camelia sinensis)

Penn State Hershey’s Hershey Medical Center recommends that fibromyalgia patients should drink caffeine- free green tea made from the herb Camelia sinensis regularly. Green tea offers an abundance of antioxidants to help boost the immune system.

Green tea is not only effective for boosting the immune system, but it also contains compounds that make you less likely to get sick, keep you hydrated, boost your brain power to prevent brain fog, kills bacteria, and has been linked with prolonged life in long-term users.

Cat’s Claw

Hershey Medical Center also recommends cat’s claw as an herb for fibromyalgia. Cat’s claw is a fungicide, boosts the immune system, and helps reduce inflammation. Cat's claw's biggest benefits are in reducing pain and inflammation commonly associated with fibromyalgia. Additionally, Cat's claw has been linked with the ability to boost the overall immune system and relieve chronic pain while healing existing aches and pains.

Bromelain

Bromelain is pineapple juice extract. Contained in the juice of a pineapple are two digestive enzymes which help thin the blood in a fashion similar to the drugs aspirin and Coumadin, helps reduce pain and inflammation, and may help slow tumor cell growth.

Bromelain extracts are available in capsule form and bromelain is commonly added to fibromyalgia remedies and formulas in combination with other vitamins and minerals commonly used to relieve the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Turmeric

Turmeric acts in a similar way to bromelain. Turmeric is an anti- inflammatory herb for fibromyalgia, as well as a pain reducer and blood thinner. Turmeric is one of the most widely studied herbs used to fight inflammation. For fibromyalgia sufferers, turmeric manages to help regulate the autoimmune system. If your fibromyalgia is triggered by a sensitive immune system response, turmeric can help reduce inflammation and encourages your body to respond normally to pain, rather than over react as is the typical case in fibromyalgia.

It is the ingredient curcumin that provides the health benefits of turmeric. Curcium can fight inflammation, heal free radical damage, improves brain function and reduces your chances of getting a brain disease, and most importantly for fibromyalgia patients, it is known to boost mental health and fight depression. Since depression is often a side effect of fibromyalgia, a curcumin supplement can be a helpful tool in reducing your chances of getting depressed.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola is an antioxidant, an immune system booster, and helps to reduce stress. The biggest benefit of this herb for fibromyalgia is in its ability to reduce the stress response of the body. Some researchers have theorized that there is a connection between stress and the immune response. If the body is constantly stressed, it is more likely to read a certain sensory input as "pain," leading to greater fibromyalgia symptoms.

Another key benefit of rhodiola in fibromyalgia is its ability to soothe the nervous system. A common side effect of fibromyalgia is depression, anxiety, and other mental strain. rhodiola is credited with the ability to counteract some forms of depression and anxiety, which makes it key in reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

The final benefit of rhodiola for fibromyalgia patients is its ability to boost physical endurance. The constant pain of fibromyalgia takes a toll on the human body, and the ability to endure more pain and physical trials makes the pain of fibromyalgia fade over time. Supplementing with rhodiola can benefit the body in multiple ways, including making it possible to endure the more unsavory symptoms of the condition.

Cayenne

Cayenne, or capsicum, is often recommended as an herb for fibromyalgia in “icy heat” creams or ointments because it stimulates blood circulation to painful and inflamed areas of the body. cayenne has so many healing benefits that entire books have been written about it.

Whether used internally or externally, cayenne is credited with the ability to reduce inflammation and joint pain in individuals with fibromyalgia. The ingredient that makes cayenne spicy, called capsaicin, is the compound that can improve joint pain and reduce swelling and stiffness and overall pain in fibromyalgia patients.

Grape seed extract

Grape seed extract is an extract pulled from grape seeds, as the name suggests. Grape seeds contain anti inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients that work together to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. This combination effect often helps inhibit the inflammatory response, which is often linked with causing greater pain and soreness in individuals with fibromyalgia. Taking grape seed extract supplements can provide a positive boost against fibromyalgia pain.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a calming herb commonly added to nighttime tea blends. This is because chamomile contains agents that boost restful sleep and reduce anxiety. For fibromyalgia patients who often suffer from insomnia, chamomile can provide soothing, natural relief without any side effects. Chamomile is also credited with lessening anxiety, boosting the immune system, and fighting minor aches and pains.

Echinacea

Echinacea is an herb that is thought to have immune-boosting abilities. The herb can help regulate the immune system and will support the effects of other herbs in the treatment and pain management of fibromyalgia.

Ginseng

Ginseng is an herb that boosts energy and relieves stress. Ginseng is powerful when taken by fibromyalgia patients because it can fight daytime lethargy while relieving stress and promoting healthy sleep at night. Ginseng can help counteract insomnia when taken in the day, preventing daytime drowsiness while helping to reset the biological clock that tells your body to produce sleep hormones at night.

Kava kava

Many individuals who have fibromyalgia also suffer from nervousness and anxiety. Kava kava is an herb that is specifically targeted at reducing anxiety. There have been side effects credited to this herb, so it is best to take it only as a temporary measure and only under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

Lavender

Lavender is a calming, soothing herb that can fight insomnia and boost depression. Individuals with fibromyalgia can take lavender either internally or externally to counteract some of the mental problems associated with fibromyalgia. Lavender has no known side effects and can safely be used for years to treat minor insomnia and depression.

Willow Bark

Willow bark contains salicin acid, the compound in Aspirin. Willow bark has mild pain-relieving properties when consumed in capsule or liquid form. Willow bark is a natural pain relieving compound that has fewer side effects than the stronger form sold over-the-counter. Adding willow bark to a tea at night could provide enough pain relief for fibromyalgia patients to reduce insomnia and night waking.

Prickly Ash

Prickly ash is another extract of tree bark used for mild pain relieve. It is commonly used to treat joint pain, muscle pain, and other minor aches and pains. The extract can be used in capsule or liquid form to soothe the everyday aches and pains that fibromyalgia patients face.

Dogwood

Dogwood is an herbal extract that shows promise for fibromyalgia patients. Dogwood is credited with the ability to reduce minor aches and pains, particularly in the muscles. Additionally, dogwood is also anti-inflammatory, which may help reduce the overactive immune response in patients with fibromyalgia, lessening painful flare-ups.

Herbal treatments for fibromyalgia with traditional herbalist support

While most herbalists will agree that the herbs listed above can be useful in the treatment of fibromyalgia, responsible herbalists would most likely be the first to say that using herbs for fibromyalgia is only one portion of a thorough treatment plan.

Start with a great nutritional program and juices

The most important part of a treatment plan for fibromyalgia is a fantastic nutritional program.

In order to get enough quality nutrition into a body that is much compromised from massive amounts of toxins, juicing a large volume of fresh vegetables and fruits is highly encouraged. Herbalists would insist on fresh juices every day as a part of a fibromyalgia healing protocol.

Remove toxins with a activated charcoal poultice

Since fibromyalgia patients often have intestinal issues, Candida yeast infections, and possibly parasite infestations in their large intestines, getting the digestive system to operate smoothly is the second step.

Juices are used along with cleansing herbs so the body does not have to work so hard to digest large amounts of food as it releases toxins quickly from the body.

If a fibromyalgia sufferer has Irritable Bowel Syndrome associated with fibromyalgia, the colon is already overactive. Rather than using herbs to stimulate bowel activity, toxins may be drawn out of the body through the skin using an activated charcoal poultice.

An activated charcoal poultice can be made at home using ground flax seed or slippery elm inner bark mixed together with activated charcoal in distilled water. This is boiled until the poultice becomes the consistency of toothpaste.

The poultice is then spread on to a cheesecloth or clean dish towel, covered with another cheese cloth or dish towel, and covered with plastic wrap.

The person places the activated charcoal poultice on the abdomen over the liver on the right side of the body at bedtime, and either wraps plastic wrap, an “ace” bandage, or surgical tape around the waist to secure the poultice in place for sleeping.

If convenient, the poultice may be worn during the daytime, as well.

Activated charcoal acts like a magnet to draw toxins away from the colon and liver. It is so effective, it can become quite warm to the touch.

Add colon cleansing herbs

There are two parts to an effective colon cleanse. The first part stimulates the colon to move, so that it can remove toxins through fecal waste material. The second part draws out accumulated old waste material from the crevices and bowel pockets along the entire intestinal tract.

If the person with fibromyalgia has an overactive colon, then the two parts of the colon cleansing herbs can be started at the same time. The two formulas work in tandem to slow down “hot” bowels and form solid bowel movements.

If the person with fibromyalgia is constipated, then an herbalist would most likely start the person on the first formula for two weeks to establish healthy daily bowel habits. In fact, a person should experience a bowel movement within an hour of eating any meal to be truly healthy.

Once a person has established a healthy elimination pattern, then an herbalist would put him or her on the second formula. This formula would then begin drawing very old, accumulated bowel waste out of the body.

Recommended below are herbs for stimulating the colon to move. Each herb has a specific function, such as a laxative, an antimicrobial, an herb to control or stop any possible bleeding, and a soothing and calming herb to reduce inflammation.

Herbs to Stimulate the Colon
  • Aloe vera
  • Senna leaf
  • Cascara sagrada
  • Barberry root
  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper

 


The second part of an effective colon cleanse is a liquid shake that is consumed orally. This shake contains herbs that draw out old toxins, acting as a gentle scrub brush, a sponge, and a magnet to really clean out old toxic residue from the entire colon.

Herbs to Draw Toxins Out of the Colon
  • Flax seeds
  • Apple pectin
  • Bentonite clay
  • Slippery elm
  • Activated charcoal
  • Marshmallow root
  • Psyllium husks
  • Fennel seeds

Coffee, but not to drink

Many people do not know that coffee is a pain killer and that herbalists sometimes use it for that. Coffee is also a mild bowel stimulant and can be a liver cleanser if used as a coffee enema.

Herbalists use green or gold roast coffee for enemas, because this coffee has higher caffeine content than the commercial beverage.

Dr. Max Gerson recommended up to four enemas a day for pain relief and waste removal for his cancer patients. For fibromyalgia, starting with one coffee enema daily may be sufficient.

Castor oil packs

When the fibromyalgia patient is not wearing an activated charcoal poultice around his or her waist, a castor oil pack should be worn.

Although scientists admit they do not understand how castor oil works, new research indicates that it is a prostaglandin receptor. It is well known as a laxative, but scientists now know that castor oil also helps blood clot and actually changes the structure of neurons.

This has great potential for fibromyalgia sufferers.

Herbs to cleanse the liver

Once the colon is functioning properly, the other elimination organs and blood can be detoxified.

Many reputable herbalists believe that fibromyalgia involves a toxic buildup in the liver, which has become congested. The liver must be cleansed in order for fibromyalgia symptoms to be relieved.

The liver turns nutrition into energy, so if both the gastrointestinal tract and the liver are compromised, it is not surprising that a person with fibromyalgia would have little energy.

For the liver and gallbladder, tinctures can be made from the following herbs: milk thistle, dandelion, Oregon grape root, gentian root, wormwood, chaparral, black walnut hull, ginger root, garlic, fennel seed, and artichoke heart.

Milk thistle contains many plant phytochemicals which heal and protect the liver. It also strengthens the walls of each liver cell, protecting them from free radical damage.

Black walnut hulls, garlic, and wormwood kill parasites that enter the body by a variety of means.

This blend of herbs, according to traditional literature and anecdotal evidence, to lower cholesterol, relieve constipation, and rid the body of alcohol and other environmental toxins.

A fragrant detox tea can be made from dandelion root, burdock root, cardamom seed, ginger root, pau d’arco, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, licorice, juniper berries, black peppercorns, uva ursi, horsetail, parsley, and orange peels.

Ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and black pepper are more than just wonderfully scented culinary spices. They are also classic digestive herbs. They relieve the intestines of gas, bloating, cramps, and upset stomach, plus stimulate the digestive juices.

Cardamon, dandelion, burdock and orange peels stimulate the liver to make more bile.

Dandelion, burdock, horsetail and parsley are diuretics, which help the body to remove toxins through the kidneys.

Uva ursi and juniper berries are kidney disinfectants.

Pau d’arco is a classic immune booster, and licorice is a soothing herb.

Herbs to cleanse the kidneys

Along with uva ursi, juniper berries, horsetail, and parsley, there are more useful herbs to help cleanse the kidneys and help them function more efficiently.

A kidney support tea can be made by blending the above herbs along with corn silk, goldenrod, hydrangea root, gravel root, marshmallow root, orange peels, and peppermint leaves.

According to traditional herbal literature, these herbs are diuretic, meaning the increase the flow of urine. They are also antiseptic, killing undesirable microbes located in the kidneys. In addition, some of the herbs dissolve kidney stones.

Kelp for iodine

Since brain and hormone function are involved in the total fibromyalgia picture, iodine is suggested by several herbalists and alternative health care providers.

Iodine deficiency affects over two billion people and is believed to be the leading cause of intellectual disabilities, according to the New York Times.

Iodine improves thyroid function and helps to regulate hormones.

Kelp and other sea vegetables are the highest available source of plant iodine. Care must be taken to only consume kelp from cold waters, such as off the coast of Iceland or Norway. This is because much of the Earth’s ocean waters have become polluted.

Anyone with a serious medical condition such as fibromyalgia needs the highest quality of herbs possible.

Echinacea for immune support

Echinacea, although there is no clinical support specific to fibromyalgia, may be the one herb no person should be without.

Medical studies abound on the benefits of echinacea, especially in the treatment of upper respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu. Even famous medical journals such as Lancet give credence to echinacea’s  immune- building properties.

Herbs for fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome of disease symptoms. Medical scientists are still putting the pieces together.

Most recently, neurologists at Harvard Medical School have been able to see how the brain of a fibromyalgia patient misfires, creating larger than life pain signals through the central and sympathetic nerve systems.

Fibromyalgia patients suffer from fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, gastrointestinal issues, mood swings, hormone issues, migraine headaches, vision problems, and of course, riddling pain and tenderness all over their bodies.

There are herbs to treat these fibromyalgia symptoms, but there is no clear clinical evidence that these herbs work specifically to meet the needs of the fibromyalgia patient. Plus, herbs to relieve fatigue may counteract those used to relieve pain.

Fibromyalgia creates an interesting puzzle for herbal and medical practitioners alike.

Medical science has just discovered that fibromyalgia is rooted in a brain and nervous system malfunction, and includes neurotransmitters, brain chemicals, and hormones which affect mood.

Herbs for brain function, nerve function, and hormone function should be included in an herbal fibromyalgia protocol. Gastrointestinal issues related to fibromyalgia are addressed above.

Herbs for the brain

Herbs for the brain work by dissolving “brain fog,” stimulate circulation, increase oxygen to the brain, and have a side benefit of improving eyesight and hearing. These herbs are listed below:

 

Ginko biloba not only delivers oxygen to the blood, it also helps to improve memory and to create a positive mindset and mood.

Rosemary and kola nut are brain stimulants.

Cayenne is added to increase blood flow to the skull.

Herbs for the nerves

Nervine herbs either stimulate the nerves or sedate them. Both are beneficial in their own ways, but the fibromyalgia patient needs to calm their nerves and the messages they send down.

Calming herbs and herbs for sleeping are listed below:

Herbs to Calm Nerves and Support Sleep
  • Valerian root
  • Lobelia
  • Passionflower
  • Hops
  • Skullcap
  • Wild yam
  • Blue cohash
  • Black cohash

Herbs Can Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain

Conventional medicine has come up with no suitable treatment or cure for fibromyalgia specifically. Instead, nearly all treatments focus on pain management. Occasionally, a doctor will also prescribe an antidepressant or other medication to boost mental health and fight insomnia.

Individuals with fibromyalgia are commonly left to their own devices in the pursuit of pain management. Herbal supplements have been shown to have positive effects in fibromyalgia patients.

The treatments and herbs listed above can all work together to lessen symptoms, reduce fibromyalgia pain, and make fibromyalgia outbreaks occur less often. In general, fibromyalgia patients report positive results when adding additional herbs and supplements targeted to reduce fibromyalgia pain to their daily routine.

Sources


University of Maryland Medical Center. com, “Herbs and Supplements or Fibromyalgia”

Pubmed. gov, Journal of Dietary Supplements. 2009;6(1):28-32. “Inhibitory Effects of St. John's Wort on Inflammation: Ignored Potential of a Popular Herb.” Olajide OA.

Pubmed. gov, Journal of International Medical Research. 2002 Mar-Apr;30(2):195-9. “An open, pilot study to evaluate the potential benefits of coenzyme Q10 combined with Ginkgo biloba extract in fibromyalgia syndrome.” Lister RE.

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