Herbal Discussion: Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. "Tender points" refers to tenderness that occurs in precise, localized areas, particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. People with this syndrome may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and other symptoms.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, it's estimated that 3 million to 6 million Americans are living with this musculoskeletal disorder two thirds of them women, most of them white and most between 20 and 60 years old when first affected.
The Merck Manual defines Fibromyalgia as used to describe several related disorders. Various alternative terms for these disorders have been used, including generalized fibromyalgia, which is 7 times more common in women than in men, the pain and stiffness are widespread, occurring throughout the body. Primary fibromyalgia syndrome is the most common variation of generalized fibromyalgia; it usually occurs in young or middle-aged women who have no associated or contributing underlying disorder. Secondary fibromyalgia syndrome is a type of generalized fibromyalgia and refers to fibromyalgia symptoms in a person who has another underlying disorder that is causing the fibromyalgia symptoms, such as hypothyroidism. Other disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, may be associated with fibromyalgia, but may not be the underlying cause.
Localized fibromyalgia expresses as pain and stiffness occurring in a particular area, or at a few sites, such as the jaw, neck, and/or shoulder muscles. Localized fibromyalgia is somewhat more likely to occur in men, possibly because they are more likely to engage in more physically muscular activities in occupational or sports situations. Sometimes, localized fibromyalgia gradually spreads to become generalized fibromyalgia. Myofascial pain syndrome is a type of localized or regional fibromyalgia, which may occur in various sites and differentiated as temporomandibular type and myofascial pain syndrome. Previously, these disorders were collectively called fibrositis or fibromyositis syndromes, but because inflammation is not present, the "itis" suffix was dropped.
Often considered the "garbage pail diagnosis", the term fibromyalgia is used when doctors often do not know how to categorize or quantify these combinations of symptoms. There is no firm physical evidence of disease that can be detected by blood tests or X rays. Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia by testing 18 tender points, starting between the shoulders. People complain they are tender all over the body, but these areas, all where muscles attach to ligaments or bones, tend to have pain with just the pressure of a thumb.
Symptoms that seem to be associated with fibromyalgia include irritable bowel syndrome, headaches with facial pain, heightened sensitivity, chronic fatigue and insomnia. Anxiety is a common problem in fibromyalgia and contributes to pain, muscle tension, and irritability. It can make depression and insomnia worse.
The medicinal benefits of herbs have been recorded for centuries. Herbs were extensively used to cure practically every known illness and has been documented by Egyptian, Roman, Native American, Persians and Hebrews alike. Many herbs contain powerful ingredients that, if used correctly, can help heal the body. By using herbs in their complete form, the body's healing process utilizes a balance of the ingredients provided by nature.
Herbs and herbal formulas can be taken in a variety of ways.
*You may steep herbs as teas in order to release their healing properties.
* Herbal supplements in pills and capsules are another form. These are herbs ground into powder. Herbal formulas tend to be created for a single problem or nest of related problems and their specific pattern of disharmony.
* Tinctures. Herbal remedies are also prescribed in tincture form and are the previously fresh herb in well preserved, highly concentrated form. This liquid, as well as, concentrated forms of extracted herbs are preserved in their freshest form.
*Steam distillation or cold pressing results in herbs as essential oils.
* Plasters are ingredients such as oils, herbs and other pain relieving herbs combined into an easy to use stick on strip or patch.
* Poultice are macerated or chopped herbs that are placed directly on the skin and a hot, moist bandage is applied.
* Infusions are used when you are working with the most delicate part of the herb-the leaves flowers, fruits and seeds.
* Decoction is used to extract the tougher part of the herb-bark, berries and roots.
It is also important to note that since herbs contain active ingredients, be aware that some elements may interact negatively with prescribed medications! Therefore, your healthcare professional must be notified if you have any questions about safety. As a general rule: most of the bitter tasting herbs are medicinal herbs and the pleasant tasting herbs are less toxic and can be used more often. Also, some herbs in any form, should not be taken for more than seven days at a time. Others herbs are more beneficial with time. The fresh leaves, bark, and roots of herbs can be used in their natural form or can be found in dried form and used in capsules, tablets, tinctures, essential oils, powders, creams, lotions, and salves.
Herbal medicine is a wonderful solution for pain and pain management. Complications can arise when taking herbal medicine and allopathic drugs internally, which your doctor has prescribed. Great caution should be used especially if you are on blood thinners, diuretics or heart related medication. Consult your doctor with any questions you may have, before taking additional herbs or supplements, internally.
Arnica Suave utilizes the rich pain-relieving power of the arnica plant in a special massage-in suave.
Boswellia has unique anti-inflammatory action, much like the conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used by many for inflammatory conditions. Unlike NSAIDs, however, long-term use of boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach.
Bromelain is a plant-enzyme. Bromelain is not actually a single substance, but a group of protein-digesting enzymes found in pineapple juice and in the stem of pineapple plants. Local swelling is the releasing of histamines in a localized area causes the vasodilation and increased permeability of blood vessels. Bromelain has an anti-inflammatory effect and is a very effective treatment for fibromyalgia. It is recommend taking 200 to 400 milligrams three times a day on an empty stomach at least ninety minutes before or three hours after eating. Discontinue use if you develop any itching or rash.
Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin) A cream containing small amounts of Capsaicin can help relieve pain when rubbed onto muscle pain and arthritic joints, according to the results of a double blind study. It does this by depleting the nerves of a pain-mediating neurotransmitter known as substance P. Although application of capsaicin cream may initially cause a burning feeling, the burning will lessen with each application and soon disappear for most people. A cream containing 0.025 - 0.075% of capsaicin can be applied to the affected joints three to five times a day.
Devils Claw: An analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Dosage: one to two grams, three times daily.
Ginger: An anti-inflammatory. Ginger has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory. Taking 6ï¿½50 grams of fresh or powdered ginger per day indicated that ginger might be helpful. Suggested Dosage: 0.5 to 1 mg of powdered ginger daily
Ginger Tea: Add one grated teaspoon of fresh ginger to a cup of hot water. Take two times daily.
Glucosamine sulfate (GS), a nutrient derived from sea shells, contains a building block needed for the repair of joint cartilage. GS has significantly reduced symptoms of osteoarthritis. All published clinical investigations on the effects of GS in people with osteoarthritis report statistically significant improvement. Most research trials use 500 mg GS taken three times per day. Benefits from GS generally become evident after three to eight weeks of treatment. Avoid if you have any allergic reactions to shell fish.
Glucosamine stimulates the production of the specific elements of cartilage and protects them. It helps your body repair worn cartilage, reduce pain and improve function. Chondroitin attracts fluids into proteoglycans, the molecules dispersed through out the cartilage that give the tissue its shock-absorber quality, and protects the cartilage against breakdown. These are substances the body already produces for itself in small amounts.
Glucosamine is found in almost all tissue; it has a role in the repair and maintenance of joint cartilage. Chondroitin sulfate is a major component of cartilage and is thought to inhibit the enzymes that contribute to the breakdown of cartilage.
S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) possesses anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and tissue-healing properties that may help protect the health of joints.SAM-e is derived from methionine, an essential amino acid; it may promote cartilage formation and repair. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are usually sold together. In clinical studies, the supplements had to be taken for several weeks before providing any pain relief. Don't forget the truly natural and proven methods for battling osteoarthritis, lose excess weight and exercise.
Licorice root: An anti-inflammatory. Long-term use can elevate blood pressure and increase potassium loss. Dosage: one-eighth to one-quarter teaspoon of a 5: 1 solid extract up to three times daily.
Turmeric: An effective anti-inflammatory. Dosage: 400 mg three times daily; take on an empty stomach and combine with 1,000 mg of bromelain
White Willow Bark: Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. White Willow bark has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Extracts providing 60-120 mg salicin per day are approved for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Although the analgesic actions of willow are typically slow-acting, they last longer than aspirin.
Zeel Homeopathic Ointment: Zeel is particularly effective in relieving symptoms associated with degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis and spondylarthritis. For the temporarily relief of joint pain, improving joint function and stimulating normal cartilage performance. Zeel is made up of a combination of 15 all-natural active ingredients intended to provide relief of arthritic symptoms and support healthy connective tissue function. Zeel, developed by renowned German physician/researcher Dr. H. H. Reckeweg, is used worldwide and remains at the forefront of homeopathic medicine. In a drug-monitoring study of 100 patients treated for osteoarthritis of the knee, Zeel (injectable solution) was found to be highly effective (very good or good assessment) in 70% of cases. Significant symptom relief occurred in 76% of patients after only six injections.1 Additionally, a double-blind, randomized clinical study - one utilizing the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index - found a 10-week treatment of Zeel tablets for osteoarthritis of the knee equally effective to diclofenac, a commonly prescribed drug for treating osteoarthritis.2 Zeel Clinical Studies.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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