Fibromyalgia causes chronic pain in the ligaments, muscles and tendons combined with fatigue and tenderness all over the body. There is no specific cause for this condition but those who suffer from fibromyalgia could suffer from a malfunctioning of the pain preceptors in the body that makes them very sensitive to pain. Sleep problems, genetics, injury or infection, rheumatic diseases may also cause fibromyalgia.
Some symptoms of fibromyalgia are irritable bowel syndrome, pain and stiffness, depression, dizziness, anxiety, memory lapses, fatigue etc. Although debilitating, fibromyalgia is not life threatening or degenerative and can be managed with medication and self care. Drug therapies, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, Ayurvedic treatment using herbs, exercise, chiropractic treatment, massage, acupuncture or mind-body therapies are some ways to manage fibromyalgia.
Turmeric for Fibromyalgia
If you have read other articles on my portal or know about turmeric even a little bit you will already know that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and this could benefit patients with fibromyalgia since one cause of this condition is rheumatic diseases.
It is thus not surprising that in a preliminary study of 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that taking a dosage of 1200mg/day curcumin supplements for 2 weeks improved symptoms of joint swelling, morning stiffness and walking time. This was comparable to taking 300mg daily of a NSAID for the same period without the side effects.
It has been suggested that a combination of turmeric and ginger taken regularly could benefits fibromyalgia patients. There are many home remedies that could help treat fibromyalgia. Patients get little relief from conventional drugs like NSAIDs, besides these drugs causing many adverse effects. Alternative treatment using herbs like turmeric could provide relief and are safe to use for long periods. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, offers very effective anti-inflammatory benefits that are well documented. This could benefit treatment of fibromyalgia too.
Curcumin has antioxidant properties that could neutralize free radicals that cause damage to healthy cells. Free radicals are said to damage joints and cause inflammation in patients with arthritis. Using the recommended turmeric dosage does provide relief for patients with rheumatoid arthritis that are similar to phenylbutazone. Hence, similar symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia like morning stiffness, reducing swelling of joints and increasing walking time could improve when curcumin supplements are used. Using curcumin daily in foods as a spice can also offer various health benefits for patients with arthritic symptoms.
Laboratory animals fed a diet including curcumin for 5 weeks showed an improvement in their immune functioning. Symptoms such as stiffness and joint pain are common to patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia. In fact, fibromyalgia could occur in those with rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic arthritic symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis are rarely relieved with common NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen. More powerful NSAIDs can relieve these symptoms but can cause side effects.
The benefits of curcumin in human studies are still not very well researched, but this is not surprising because western world has started looking at turmeric seriously not so long ago. Hence, although it is known to reduce the risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease, colitis, ulcers, cataracts, arthritis, and more, extensive scientific studies are required to substantiate these claims in concrete manner. This is not to say turmeric does not provide benefits, it is just to say we do not understand it fully. But if we take knowledge of thousands of years of ancient medicine science such as Ayurveda, then we know through experience that turmeric indeed has amazing health benefits.
Turmeric has been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a non-toxic treatment for arthritis that does not cause too many side effects. Standardized curcumin extract of 300mg thrice daily is the recommended dosage for inflammation. This could be used to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia. Curcumin is a blood thinner and can increase effectiveness of certain medications like aspirin and Coumadin. Sometimes curcumin is combined with Bromelain to increase its anti-inflammatory effectiveness and absorption rates.
For osteoarthritis, the dosage is 500mg twice daily. This dosage is for Meriva, Indena a specific turmeric extract. Curcumin supplements can be bought without a prescription. Sometimes these supplements also contain piperine – a chemical compound that is said to improve bioavailability of turmeric by slowing down its metabolism. Piperine does interact with drugs, so check this before taking curcumin supplements that include it.
When used in appropriate dosages, turmeric is safe for adults. Used in excess – e.g. 1500mg twice daily – could cause side effects like indigestion, dizziness, diarrhea or nausea. Since turmeric supplements could cause menstrual bleeding or stimulate the uterus, it is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Those who suffer from gall bladder problems need to undergo surgery or are taking anti-coagulant or diabetic medications must avoid taking turmeric supplements.