I am pleased to post today that I have not experienced any Fibromyalgia flare-ups for nearly 3 months now….I still experience an occasional joint pain here and there, sometimes have trouble sleeping, but nothing compared to how I felt 4 months ago.
Before I share how I did it, allow me to clarify one key point: I am not a salesperson, am not affiliated or associated in any way with any of the products or people listed below. I will gain absolutely nothing if you choose to follow the same path I did, other than the satisfaction of knowing that what worked for me had a positive effect on you. I can’t stress enough the importance of consulting your doctor before changing anything in your current daily routine. It is important for you, the reader, to understand that everyone reacts differently to different treatments, and results will vary.
Let’s recap the information on the previous posts:
Part I – Patricia Stephen’s theory and the importance of working with your doctor to identify hormonal imbalances
Part II –Start by making some modifications to your daily routine
Part III –Correcting the hormonal imbalances with natural therapies / herbal medicine
By working with my doctor and obtaining a thorough blood and hormone work-up, I was able to identify that my levels of magnesium, iron, serotonin, and dopamine where not appropriate. The next step in my journey was to understand the proper way to bring these to the right level and keep them balanced. This required a bit of trial and error and a lot of commitment on my part.
My doctor went back and forth between prescribing anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. I am not a doctor, but I do know these medications address different hormones (see part I of this post) and work differently. He decided to prescribe Zoloft, which I have not used yet. I also weaned off my Neurontin medication before starting all these changes. I wanted to be medication and supplement free to be able to make a clear distinction if and when results were achieved. I am in the process of being tested for ADD or ADHD, and am waiting for those results before I choose to get on formal prescription medication. At this time I am feeling great and don’t believe I need anything more.
As I’ve mentioned previously, this is my preferred route. I believe in alternative medicine and will always start trying natural remedies before resorting to chemical pills. This is just my preference; it does not have to be yours!
Magnesium– According to About.com: up to 90 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium from their diet alone. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include leg cramps, migraines, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, nausea and vomiting or high blood pressure. Magnesium contributes to bone health and is an electrolyte, so it reduces muscle spasms. The RDA of magnesium is 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men. Sources of magnesium include nuts such as almonds and cashews, kidney or pinto beans, and dairy such as reduced-fat yogurt or milk. I have noticed significant reduction in headaches and restless legs since I started taking magnesium tablets.
Iron – I have always had low iron levels, which could be a genetic condition. Iron is a key component in manufacturing hemoglobin, which allows the red cells to transport oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Iron deficiency symptoms include fatigue, irregular heartbeat, pale skin, dizziness, irritability, and cold hands or feet. Sources of iron in food are any type of red meat, spinach, eggs, beans and iron-fortified cereals, among others. Consuming foods high in vitamin C will increase the absorption of iron. When I am low in iron I can tell almost immediately. I feel very fatigued, overwhelmed, and sometimes dizzy. I keep myself and iron pills, recommended by my doctor, which also maintains my energy level up (something people living with FMS could definitely use)!
Serotonin – To see a description on serotonin and the impact on your body, read part I of this post. Serotonin deficiency can lead to depression. It also influences your social behavior and decreases the body’s sensitivity to light, among other symptoms. Tryptophan is the best way to increase serotonin levels. Foods high in tryptophan include avocadoes, chicken, cottage cheese, dark chocolate, eggs, oats, pork, turkey, wheat germ, and wild oats. Try to include at least one tryptophan-rich food at every meal, choosing organic foods whenever possible. B vitamins (especially B1, B3, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12), calcium, and magnesium, all of which are usually found in a good multivitamin/mineral formula are also helpful. Tryptophan and its precursor, 5-HTP (5-hydroxy tryptophan) can also be used, although both of these should ideally be taken under your doctor’s supervision.
Dopamine – To see a description on serotonin and the impact on your body, read part I of this post. It was not shocking for me to learn that exercise increases dopamine levels in the brain naturally. I noticed this as I run, my fibro fog tends to disappear! Meditation also releases dopamine from your brain. Lean proteins and vegetables can increase dopamine production, as well as black beans, chick peas, nuts and seeds. Taking L-tyrosine as a supplement will assist in increasing your dopamine level but again, make sure your doctor is aware and on-board!
I found this article on livestrong.com that has a good recipe for balancing the levels of serotonin and dopamine. Read here for more information.
Tips and Warnings
If you have a high stress lifestyle, poor dietary habits, drink alcohol or have addictions, medications and supplements tend to wear off over time. For lasting results, increase your hormone levels naturally through diet and lifestyle changes, and only use supplements or medications when necessary and approved by a physician.
I know I have provided you with a lot of information to digest here, but re-read the 3-part post when you have some quiet time, analyze what you read and make sure it makes sense to you. I recommend you have an honest chat with your doctor about my story before you give anything I try. Modifying your daily routine can prove to be very successful and if you so choose, you can stop there. Taking supplements and other medication might require more investigative work on your part and your doctor’s supervision.
Today I feel wonderful, and am looking forward to no more FMS flare-ups! I will keep you posted on my condition should anything change. For now, I am giving myself a big, fat KUDOS! for perseverance and commitment.
As always, please share what works for you. If you’re interested in more details, send me a msg or comment.
- Flare-up free for 3 months…my journey back to health! (nashuafibrosupport.wordpress.com)
- Dopamine Vs. Serotonin (hazima.wordpress.com)