Causes of Fibromyalgia (Source: RemedyFind Columnist and FMS Host - Dominie Soo Bush) What causes fibromyalgia (FMS)? The answer is…nobody really knows, but there are a LOT of theories, which we will explore in this article (Part 1 of 2). If you have fibromyalgia, then you know the miserable, life-wrecking symptoms of widespread body pain, muscle stiffness, insomnia, fatigue, depression, cognitive problems (fibro fog), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and possibly other unpleasant things to deal with on an everyday basis. Medical researchers theorize that fibromyalgia may be caused by genetics, food additives (such as excitotoxins), mercury poisoning from dental fillings, neurochemical imbalances caused by diet or stress, viral infections, sleep disorders, toxicity, accidents, hormone imbalances, vaccinations, hypothalamus malfunction, surgery, severe emotional or physical trauma, yeast overgrowth (candidiasis) or nutritional deficiencies. I will attempt to briefly explain some of these below. YEAST Yeast (candida albicans) overgrowth can cause symptoms suspiciously similar to fibromyalgia. These include muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, insomnia, bowel dysfunction, a weakened immune system, etc. If you crave sugar or carbohydrates, or have been taking antibiotics, you may have a yeast problem. MYCOPLASMA Mycoplasma are extremely small bacteria that are as tiny as viruses but that have some features of bacterial germs. When a genetically predisposed person goes through severe stress or trauma--physical, mental or emotional--this alters their immune response and allows mycoplasma to do their dirty work in many parts of the body, including vital areas of the brain, such as the hypothalamus, the gland that controls various body functions such as sleep, temperature regulation, endocrine (hormonal) system, etc. EXCITOTOXINS Some people find relief by eliminating all excitotoxins from their diet--monosodium glutamate (MSG or Accent), aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal), hydrolyzed protein, etc. Symptoms may worsen initially as the body begins detoxifying, but some people become pain free with this method. Excitotoxins are used in nearly all processed foods. These substances are called "excitotoxins" because they excite the neurons in the brain, causing them to fire so rapidly that they can die. Once these cells are gone, they cannot be regrown (it's like poking your eye out!). PHOSPHATES Dr. Paul St. Amand, who pioneered the use of guaifenesin for fibromyalgia, theorizes that people with FMS/CFS have a genetic defect that prevents their kidneys from excreting phosphates. As phosphates build up, the body stores them in the bones, and then eventually the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The excess phosphates hinder the cells’ ability to produce energy (ATP) and causes the muscles to go into spasm. Eventually, lumps and bumps form in the muscles. Guaifenesin, an expectorant, works by helping the kidneys to excrete phosphates, thereby restoring normal cell functioning in the brain, muscles, tendons, etc.. ACIDOSIS There’s a thought-provoking article by Dr. Majid Ali in which he says: "I call oxidosis (too much oxidation), dysoxygenosis (abnormal oxygen metabolism), and acidosis (too much acidity) the three furies of fibromyalgia... The fibro furies are unleashed by the gods of sugar, antibiotics, and pesticides industries...and of industrial pollutants, toxic metals, synthetic hormones, and radiation.” OXIDATIVE DAMAGE The Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain reported a study in 1997, which showed evidence of oxidative ("free radical") damage in people with FMS. SLEEP DISORDERS People who volunteered for sleep deprivation experiments actually developed symptoms similar to fibromyalgia! MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY Researchers say that most people with FMS are deficient in magnesium, the mineral that helps muscles relax. COMPUTERS The flickering light of my computer screen used to bring on a rapid worsening of my fibromyalgia! I have bright lighting in the room to offset this effect. Perhaps certain spectrums of light are harmful to people who are more light sensitive than others. Full spectrum lighting could be a good investment. Research is being done on the effect of light on the pineal gland--the gland which produces melatonin necessary for sleep. Flickering light has been proven to cause changes in the EEG patterns in the brain. Researchers are experimenting with flickering light therapy to help fibromyalgia patients by restructuring EEG patterns! IMMUNE SYSTEM Some researchers believe that the root of the fibromyalgia problem lies in the immune system. A few years ago, I received shocking information about the role of mycoplasmas (mutated viruses and bacteria) and biological warfare as a possible cause of the worldwide epidemic of fibromyalgia. This intrigued me, because I have heard from thousands of people all over the world who have fibromyalgia. The symptoms are identical despite varying ethnic backgrounds, cultures, diets, and lifestyles. LACK OF EXERCISE It has always irked me when doctors said I needed to exercise more, because in the early days of my FMS, exercise of any kind worsened my pain and caused severe flares that would last for weeks or even months. People who don't have FMS can't understand this, because exercise makes them feel good! BRAIN MALFUNCTION A recent study found diminished blood flow to parts of the brain in people with fibromyalgia and an increase in the chemical that helps transmit pain signals (called "substance P"). PARASITES Symptoms of human worm infestations (yuck!!) are very similar to fibromyalgia. Parasites can invade our bodies through food or from having pets in our homes. Parasites are a constant drain on the immune system. There's a controversial book by Hulda Clark called "The Cure for All Diseases" in which she makes a very good argument for parasites being at the root of most illnesses, including fibromyalgia. MENTAL ILLNESS I am strongly opposed to the idea that FMS is “all in your head.” However, anything that brings a smile to your face or uplifts your spirits is good for you, such as reading inspirational or humorous books, dwelling on positive things, watching TV programs that make you laugh, singing joyful songs, etc. Dr. Norman Cousins, in his now classic book, “Anatomy of an Illness”, tells how watching funny movies helped him recover from a degenerative disease. DAMAGE TO RED BLOOD CELLS Several clinical studies have revealed damage and irregularities in the shape of the red blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. This causes blockages in the blood flow through the capillaries, resulting in insufficient oxygen getting to the muscles and tissues, hence the pain and fatigue. One researcher is trying to get this blood test approved internationally. It could become a much-needed diagnostic tool. HYPOTHALAMUS OVER-ACTIVATION Many years ago, my sister-in-law, who has a Ph.D. in virology, told me that all of my symptoms were coming from the hypothalamus gland in the brain. This didn't mean anything to me at the time. Now fibromyalgia research is beginning to focus on the role of the hypothalamus. The problem is called ‘hypothalamitis’ – over-activation of the hypothalamus area in the central nervous system. The hypothalamus is situated in the mid-brain, from which it controls practically every organ in the body, mainly through the endocrine system. It influences the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system. The hypothalamus controls energy levels, sleep cycle, muscular function, circulation, temperature, the gut, and defense against infection. MALABSORPTION Some researchers say that people with FMS need twice the amount of nutrients that others do, because of excess mucous that builds up in the body, interfering with absorption. NECK INJURIES Neck injuries often seem to precipitate fibromyalgia. I myself have been in a several car accidents, suffering whiplash. My neck still causes me trouble from time to time, so I see my chiropractor every 2-3 months to stay in alignment. SUGAR INTOLERANCE A friend with fibromyalgia told me that her doctor believes she is "fructose intolerant." She has been avoiding sugar and fructose and her FMS pain has subsided. Sugar is disguised in our foods as sucrose, corn syrup, etc. Even fruits and fruit juices contain a lot of sugar. HORMONE INSTABILITY Hormone imbalances are frequently found in women with fibromyalgia--PMS, endometriosis, mood swings, etc. INFLAMMATION Most doctors do not think fibromyalgia is an inflammatory disorder, but I have always maintained that it feels like one. Lately I've been hearing reports that FMS may be an inflammatory condition caused by mycoplasmas--mutated bacteria and viruses that invade certain glands of the brain and even organs of the body. Whatever the causes of fibromyalgia are, the bottom line is that we all want our lives and functionality back! There are many helpful fibromyalgia sites online. Hopefully medical researchers will discover not only the cause of fibromyalgia but also the cure! Part 2 of this discussion will be in the next newsletter. I have many more interesting thoughts to share with you on the causes of fibromyalgia!