Fibromyalgia is an insidious condition that affects about 10 million people in the U.S. It’s characterized by symptoms such as depression, chronic fatigue, sleep problems, and excruciating muscular pains. People who suffer from fibromyalgia are usually given antidepressants, pain medication, and try to learn to manage their severe symptoms. The most insidious thing about fibromyalgia is that its diagnosis tells only about the symptoms of the disease, not the underlying causes. This means that a diagnosis is not an answer to your problems.
However, functional medicine is looking for the underlying factors that cause chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. Functional medicine is also called “systems medicine” since it looks at all the different systems in your body and how they are interconnected. Let’s review possible factors of fibromyalgia that may help understand the mechanism of the disease:
We are exposed to toxins every day. They are found in the air, food, cleaning and beauty products. Toxins come at us from everything. Our bodies are able to deal with a certain level of toxins. But toxic overload is another potential risk factor for fibromyalgia. Therefore, we need to improve the body’s ability to get rid of toxins.
Weakened detoxification pathways and genetic defects can make it hard for some people to reduce toxic overload. To improve detox pathways, it’s important to boost liver function by getting enough protein, vitamin A, B2, B3, C, E, folate, iron, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
Mycotoxins are produced by molds and can overload your detoxification pathways. You can do a urine mycotoxin test to determine if you’ve been exposed to toxic molds. Mercury is also toxic to your body and can be one piece to the puzzle for people suffering from fibromyalgia, therefore if you have mercury fillings, talk to your dentist.
2. Gut Issues
The gastrointestinal system plays a huge role in maintaining immune homeostasis. When gut bacteria is thrown off balance, it can wreak havoc and cause fibromyalgia symptoms. Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia have unnoticed gut problems like:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Chronic yeast or fungal infections (candida overgrowth)
- Food intolerances
- Bacterial infections or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Gluten has been related to more than 55 conditions and is often called the “big masquerader.” Most gluten intolerance symptoms are not related to the digestive system but to the nervous system. For example, gluten intolerance is characterized by frequent pains, cognitive impairment, sleep problems, behavioral issues, chronic fatigue, and even depression.
The endocrine system is another part of your body that plays a big role in immune function. When hormone levels are imbalanced they may cause fibromyalgia symptoms. Thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, DHEA levels, estrogen and testosterone spikes are some of the pieces of the puzzle to understanding fibromyalgia.
4. Glutathione Deficiency
As mentioned above, poor detoxification can cause many problems including fibromyalgia. Glutathione is the most critical part of our body’s detox system. If you lack glutathione or enzymes GSTM1 and GSTP1 that are needed to recycle and produce glutathione, you can experience toxic overload. Taking glutathione supplements are extremely helpful in fighting fatigue.
5. Nutrient Deficiency
Getting the right amount of nutrients is vital for our overall health. Your nutrient levels can be an important part of understanding fibromyalgia. Lack of magnesium, vitamin D, selenium, and glutathione are all potential factors in the development of fibromyalgia symptoms. Many people suffering from fibromyalgia are deficient in magnesium, vitamin D and B12. Also, many patients reversed fibromyalgia by taking a magnesium supplement alone.
6. MTHFR mutations
MTHFR mutation makes you less able to methylate and detoxify toxins like mercury and lead. The more mutations you have at this gene the higher your needs for methyl-B6, methyl-B12 and folinic acid to maintain proper detoxification pathways of your body.