It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects almost 6 million or 1 in 50 people. Fibromyalgia is classically characterized by chronic pain, particularly muscle aches, fatigue, trouble sleeping, brain fog or cognitive impairment, depression, and painful tender points throughout the body. Conventional medicine has yet to uncover the cause of fibromyalgia and only offers to treat symptoms with painkillers and antidepressants.
Functional medicine, on the other hand, looks for the cause of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, treating the problem at the root level and healing the patient. As a functional medicine doctor, I have helped many patients recover from fibromyalgia. Below are the top ten causes of fibromyalgia that I see in my clinic.
10 causes of fibromyalgia
Gluten Intolerance : Popular in more than 55 diseases, gluten is often referred to as the “grand masquerade.” This is because most of the symptoms of gluten intolerance are not digestive, but rather neurological symptoms such as pain, cognitive disorders, sleep disorders, behavioral problems, fatigue and depression.
Candida Overgrowth : Candida is a fungus, or yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your gut. However, when overproduced, Candida breaks down the intestinal wall and enters the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body that cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, and pain. Virtually every patient I have with Fibromyalgia has Candida overgrowth.
Thyroid : More than half of people with thyroid problems have no idea they have one and 90% of them have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. It’s important for your doctor to check six different blood markers to measure your thyroid function. It is imperative that your doctor use the optimal values instead of the standard reference range when evaluating and diagnosing thyroid disorders. Getting my patient’s thyroid levels in an optimal range typically relieves their fatigue, brain fog, sleep disorders, and depression.
Vitamin Deficiencies: Magnesium, vitamin D, and B12 deficiencies are the most common vitamin I deficiencies seen in those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have had several patients who completely reversed their fibromyalgia symptoms with magnesium alone. The best way to measure magnesium is by red blood cell (RBC) magnesium levels, which can be tested in any conventional laboratory.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Leaky Gut : There are more bacteria inside us and then on top of us there are our own cells. When these bacteria become unbalanced through the use of antibiotics or a high-sugar diet, we can lose our ability to absorb and absorb nutrients, especially B12. Gluten can cause SIBO and leaky gut and SIBO and leaky gut can lead to gluten and other food intolerances. It’s a catch 22 and a vicious cycle. You need to fix the gut first in someone with fibromyalgia or a chronic illness.
Adrenal Fatigue : Adrenal Fatigue is a consequence of chronic stress, whether real or perceived. Chronic pain is an adrenal stressor, although usually not the first adrenal stressor. The initial stressor is usually something like food intolerance, candida, mercury poisoning, vitamin deficiencies, or mycotoxins. My goal is to support the adrenal glands with adaptogenic herbs while we seek and correct the source of the stress.
Mycotoxins : Mycotoxins are very toxic substances produced by poisonous molds. Only about 25% of the population carries the genes to be susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins. Traditional mold tests only test for mold spores and do not test for mycotoxins. I use a mycotoxin urine test in my clinic to determine if someone has been exposed to toxic mold.
Mercury Toxicity : I recommend all my patients to find a biological dentist and have their mercury amalgam fillings removed. Mercury is toxic to our bodies and can be a piece of the puzzle for those with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders and cancer. I then recommend heavy metal testing with a pre and post DMPS urine challenge test.
MTHFR mutations : This is a genetic test that you can get in any conventional laboratory. The more mutations you have on the MTHFR gene, the less able you are to methylate and detoxify toxins such as mercury and lead in particular. The more mutations you have on this gene, the higher your requirements for methyl-B6, methyl-B12, and folinic acid in order for your detoxification pathways to function properly.
Glutathione Deficiency : Glutathione, a molecule, is the most critical part of our body’s detoxification system. Glutathione is recycled in our bodies unless our toxic load gets too high or we have GSTM1 and GSTP1, the enzymes needed to recycle and produce glutathione. Taking glutathione or its precursors (NAC, alpha lipoic acid, milk thistle) often helps my patients dramatically with fatigue.
As you can see from the list above, many of these causes are interrelated and often there is no single cause of fibromyalgia or a chronic disease. It is a combination of several or possibly all of the above. Because finding the cause can be very complex, I recommend finding a working medical professional in your area to find the cause for you. You don’t have to suffer unnecessarily or mask your symptoms with painkillers and antidepressants. There are doctors like me who can help you!
dr Amy Myers, MD is a renowned leader in functional medicine. She has helped thousands of people around the world recover from chronic illnesses through her nutrition-based program, The Myers Way. Her book: The Autoimmune Solution was published by Harper.