Improve Fibromyalgia Now: How I Learnt the Tools to Halve My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What is the best way that exists to improve fibromyalgia? In this post, I share the best information that exists right now. I am keeping an eye on the research being done by Dr Jarred Younger and the Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Laboratory and I encourage you to as well. They are at the forefront of the research on fibromyalgia.

I believe that everybody can improve their quality of life. Whether you are suffering from chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia – I believe there are steps we can take to improve our symptoms. I am not sure about complete recovery, yet, but I have personally halved my pain and fatigue levels. I have also dramatically improved my sleep – I no longer spend hours trying to get to sleep, sleep in one hour blocks or spend hours awake in pain in the night. It is just far and away better than before.

improve fibromyalgia now

How did I achieve this?

By following the advice of the authors in the following two books. And by working away at lots of little steps every single day.

I also believe if we gave these books to people as soon as they were diagnosed and their doctors were willing to work with them through them, then they would not decline as far and would begin to improve sooner.

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links and I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The FibroManual by Dr Liptan

This book was written by a doctor who has fibromyalgia herself and has dedicated her career to treating it. In a recent interview I saw with her, she said she believes herself to be around 80% better to what she was (following her own advice) and even works full time as a practicing doctor in addition to a lot of advocacy work and blogging etc. She also believes we may have the tools for complete recovery available in the next ten years!

This book is also designed to take the back portion to see your doctor and help them treat you. Especially the sleep section.

From Fatigued to Fantastic by Dr Teitelbaum

Another doctor who has fibromyalgia and who has dedicated his career to helping patients with it. A holistic protocol that begins with sleep. If you Google his name, you will find a multitude of resources, including videos and interviews and an entire website.

Both of these books are multi-pronged attacks and deal with more than just band aids for pain and fatigue.

Even if you only found one nugget in these books, you would improve your quality of life. These books are packed full of useful things to enact.

If you are able to follow instructions and try things yourself – then you will surely see results.

Dr Liptan also gives further detail about nutritional changes in The Fibro Food Formula book – so check that out!

All of these areas take time and trial and error. If you want to DIY it, write out a big list of goals or things to try from these books and slowly working through it

If you want support, then you can get some coaching (with me or another health coach). They can help you break it down into manageable chunks.

My Hypothesis

I believe if I was handed one or both of these books at the beginning (and had a doctor who would help me with their parts) then I wouldn’t have gotten so sick and it wouldn’t have taken so long to get better. The cascade of physiological flow on effects wouldn’t have occurred.

To Do List

  • Read one or both of these books
  • Write out the main list of areas (sleep, pain, nutrition etc.)
  • Fill in ideas to try under each area, including what you need to ask your doctor for help with
  • Work on each part slowly
  • If you can, engage a coach to help you with this work – it’s complex and there’s a lot to it
  • You might like to look at my Fibromyalgia Framework Series for a quick start DIY guide
  • If you want help, accessible at your own pace with the benefit of the supportive group check out Mindfulness for the Chronic Life virtual wellness studio.
wellness for the chronic life

Do you think you can improve your quality of life? Have you done it? Followed one of these books, or another protocol? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Do you agree with my hypothesis? That we can improve fibromyalgia now by following one or both of these two books?

4 Healthy Eating Choices You Can Make Now with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Nutrition is important for optimal health. What “healthy eating” means exactly varies from person to person. I have been researching food as a gateway to good health recently and while I haven’t settled on a massive lifestyle change such as paleo or plant-based etc I have formulated the below four key healthy eating choices you can start enacting right now.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

four healthy eating habits you can start right now

Here’s the video about it

I still don’t believe in making food a battleground or making massive changes without a lot of preparation, but these things I have managed while nursing with three children five and under and chronic pain and fatigue.

So here are my eating healthy eating changes you can make right now:

  1. Lots of fruit and vegetables.
    I am aiming for eight servings a day with most from a colourful array of vegetables.
    What are my secret weapons? Soups and smoothies. I have used my Nutribullet to make many types of smoothies with a mix of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and dairy free milk. I also make my dairy free milk using it! You can get your own Nutribullet here, I’m obsessed with mine!

2. Hydration – in the book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Hydration they suggest many conditions are caused by dehydration. I am aiming for more hydrating drinks and less caffeine.
How? My first drink is water with some lemon. Then I’ll have my coffee with a piece of toast.  At morning tea I have a coffee with fluffy milk and some cinnamon. Then the rest of the day I only drink water.

3. Less grains – there’s a lot of discussion around grain. Having done a gluten-free trial a few years ago I know I am not allergic or intolerant but I am keen to reduce my reliance on grain based carbohydrates. By prioritising vegetables and fruits I have managed to de-prioritize grains. When I have them they are wholegrain and well soaked.

4. Avoid what you are intolerant to
If you suspect something doesn’t agree with you, avoid it for 30 days then add back in. Eliminating lactose has helped me a lot. If you suspect there are many issues in your diet and these four things are not helping then you might consider doing the Whole30 elimination diet or a similar idea. They remove the most common intolerances and then you add them back in one at a time to challenge them. This way you can eat what works for you.

Checking your intolerances

You can also check for intolerances with testing. IntoleranceLab provides Food Sensitivity Testing and is a quick start way to identify your intolerances. You just send them a sample of your hair. I have not used this lab personally because I am in New Zealand, but I have done intolerance testing using my hair and it was surprising what came up. I vaguely knew at the time that dairy was not good for me and that bananas were difficult to tolerate – and my test confirmed it. Simple!

So these are my four tips you can work on right now. I am actually finding subtle benefit from my changes. I am less bloated and uncomfortable and I am noticing that I am experiencing less reactive hypoglycemia (physical reaction to hunger such as dizziness and being hangry.) I am also able to eat slightly less often than I used to, which is a relief as I am over figuring out what to eat all the time!

What would your tips be? What have you worked on and found made a difference?


Want some help with your journey?

Come and join the conversation at Melissa (you) vs Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

Pathways Pain Relief Application

I have seen these pain relief apps and been curious for a while. The basis of science and the mind-body connection as a way to help treat chronic pain resonates strongly with me.

When I was offered the opportunity to review the Pathways Pain Relief App, I jumped! I am beginning a one year trial now in exchange for my honest review. I will keep you updated.

Pathways pain relief app

A bit about Pathways Pain Relief App:

It is designed for those of us with chronic pain – pain that has lasted more than three months, for which little helps. It provides an interactive journey through educational sessions in pain science, meditation and mindfulness and more.

What can Pathways help with?

According to their website any pain of a chronic nature (lasting three months). This includes fibromyalgia.

What can you expect from the app?

“We take patients on an interactive journey that starts with pain science education. Understanding that pain is much more complex (and interesting!) than a signal from damaged tissues, is an important step towards turning down the volume on pain.
We then move onto breaking any behaviours that could be keeping your pain system in high-alert. We also cover physical therapy, guided imagery, visulization and mindfulness exercises, hundreds of meditations and more.
Our sessions are audio based and between 2 and 20 minutes long.”

My take at the beginning of my journey with it

As a busy mama of three children five and under I don’t have the time for full on programme. I do have time for 2-20 minute audio sessions to be completed on my own schedule. In addition there really is nothing to lose, this is all natural and is bound to have relaxation benefits if nothing else. And we can all benefit from relaxing more.

The first thing I went through was the collection of meditations, there is a great selection for pain, relaxation, sleep and more. So that is a great resource.

I am looking forward to reporting back on my progress.

Please note: I never make things look like a cure all – there is no such thing. This could be one part of your fibromyalgia puzzle.

If you want to download it and have a look at the free content before purchasing, you can find more information here.

Have you tried the Pathways app? Or one similar? I’d love to hear your experience.


One of the things the You vs Fibromyalgia free micro course will take you through is pain relief. Sign up to my newsletter and receive access to this and more free resources.

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

I’m over these poisons that are marketed as the only thing to help those of us with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia. I am also over the demonization of the use of pain relief to survive. Some medicines are definitely necessary, I’m not anti medicine, I’m pro natural remedies for fibromyalgia first. Whatever is used, I am pro managing pain as well as possible so that we can thrive not just survive.

Yoga and meditation have been my mainstays for a long time. I’ve paid $60 a fortnight for physiotherapy for a long time because I’d rather skimp and take that than utilise the heavily subsidised medicine I’d have to take instead.

natural remedies for fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For the last few months I’ve been researching a lot of natural options including essential oils, herbs, supplements and other options. You will also notice that my book has more chapters about natural/non medicinal options as I am a big believe in things you can administer yourself whenever you need.


Some recent posts about natural remedies for fibromyalgia:
Essential Oils and a Pain Cream I’ve Been Loving
Natural Pain Relief Options – Herbs for Teas or Infusions
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain 
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy


Here’s a round up of the natural remedies for fibromyalgia I’ve been using

Free report: Essential Oils for Natural Health sign up here and find it in the free Resources page

Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia

Lavender – multi use for pain, relaxation, insomnia and more. I use it as is with coconut oil or in the bath.
Chamomile – calming and said to help with insomnia, I adore it.
Peppermint – this is handy with coconut oil for spasms.
Pain cream from Bunguin Babies– this has become my go-to for first-line pain. I use it at bedtime and throughout the day. This is not an affiliate link, I use it and love it and a fellow fibromyalgia mom blogger makes it herself.

Copaiba essential oil has been such a great find and I write more extensively about that here. I use it in a roller ball bottle with frankincense for my neck.

Herbs for Fibromyalgia

I learnt about thyme, borage, lemon balm and others but since finding out I was pregnant I couldn’t use these. They are still on my radar!

Supplements for Fibromyalgia

Magnesium oil – I apply this nightly to my calves for the nutritional deficiency of magnesium that is prevalent these days and in pregnancy to avoid calf cramps.

MSM – this is my favourite for wrist and hand joint pain. It’s said to be good for other things too. See my post here.

I have previously tried and liked Curamin which uses a blend of ingredients included curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric. I wrote about it here.

CBD Oil – On my Wish List for the Future (as soon as it’s legalised here)

In New Zealand a committee is considering legalising CBD oil. They recently shot down the application to make medical marijuana available to those with chronic pain, which was disappointing. The research is positive. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. The side effects are negligible! See this post from Counting My Spoons about MMJ and CBD for more information. I would use it for sleep, pain and fatigue. If it worked, the combination of this and LDN would surely get me off the amitriptyline – and after more than ten years, that would be a massive win.

As you may have noticed, I don’t stop researching so more will need to be added to this list as time goes on. Though, my personal experiments are stalled while I am pregnant and then nursing. Look out for the pregnancy edition of this post.


For more information

Click here to sign up for the free You vs Fibromyalgia introductory micro course! It is six lessons to help you jump start your fight against chronic pain and fatigue.

My Daily Log, Why I Track Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Keeping an eye on our health through a daily log and maximising the many choices we make each day can have tremendous impact on our quality of life. I firmly believe that we have the power to impact our life, dramatically, with each little choice.

How Keeping a Daily Log Helps me Manage the Fibromyalgia

Succinctly, Why Do I Keep a Daily Log?

Aka what are the benefits?

  • Knowing the longer term patterns
  • Ensuring the things I am trying are working
  • Knowing what doesn’t help
  • To help me communicate with my medical team

In short, to help me target my treatments (so I don’t waste money on the things that don’t work) to improve as much as possible.

What I Track in my Daily Log

Tracking experiments – like diets, new supplements or medicines and the like – are a good time to take note of what is going on. You want to be sure things are tracking upwards.

Even though I’m not actively logging my Low Dose Naltrexone experiment any longer (please see my Etsy store for my How to Choose a Treatment Option with template for experiments), I keep track of a few key details.

Namely: Sleep hours and quality, three key symptoms (neck, back and fatigue), medicine/supplements, exercise and self-care.

By jotting down quick notes each day, I can see patterns arise and continue the good ones and work on the bad ones.

I believe self-efficacy is vital in managing pervasive symptoms like pain and fatigue. I also believe we are our own best advocate. And with brain fog as a likely issue, we need to write things down. This also helps us when we are seeking help from our health professionals.

What are our Options for Daily Tracking?

You can scribble notes in a journal, make a bullet journal or try a template.

I created several templates for my Etsy shop, variations of what I use myself: apricot two to a page, a daily log with food trackerapricot full page, log with weekly chart, with additional symptoms and a notes section.

You can print them out and put them in a pretty binder or punch a hole and tie ribbon. Or the apricot ones will fit in an existing A5 planner. They are all designed to be flexible – print to the ratio that suits, A4, A5 or letter size. Full colour or greyscale.

You might also like to look into bullet journals. I find the setting up of the sections a bit too time consuming, but if you are creative and enjoy doing that – a simple Google search will equip you with ideas – and there are a lot.

I created a health and habits bullet style tracker as well – this gives you the space to track the things that matter to you in addition to those simple healthy habits to help us in our wellness journey. You can cut them out and paste them into your bullet diary too. The thing I love about this is that you can track more than just symptoms so easily.

Some of the healthy habits you could track include:

  • Water intake
  • Fruit and vegetable intake
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Rest
  • Taking breaks
  • Getting to bed at your designated time
  • Self-massage

daily bullet journal

However you choose to do it, I would encourage you to keep track of your key symptoms in order to help you manage this beast.

More about fighting Fibromyalgia:

What Works Now 2019
Free Printables from Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Book
Simple, sustainable changes workbook – including the four weeks healthy habit challenge
Spoonie Gifts – Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary? What to get a Friend with Fibromyalgia
My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

My Video: How Tracking Symptoms Helps me Fight Fibromyalgia

I’d love to hear if you track your health and how it works for you.


If you’d like more information:

join the list

My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

It’s been a year since my giant experiment with low dose naltrexone (LDN) for fibromyalgia and chronic pain/chronic fatigue/insomnia. What a year it has been.
 See my post LDN, Fibromyalgia and Me for my last update. Also see Low Dose Naltrexone: An Experiment my first post introducing the experiment.
How Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Changed My Life

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How Low Dose Naltrexone works in a nutshell

It works in the endocannabinoid system – it temporarily blocks the receptors encouraging the body to make more endorphins. There’s research and explanations in my introductory post here and in the chapter about LDN in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia. I also created a printable of the LDN chapter from my book with research list so that you can do some research and take it to your doctor in my Etsy shop here.
What I love most about this medicine is that it is not a typical medicine and does not have any of the nasty side effects that most medicines prescribed for Fibromyalgia have. The worst I experienced was vivid dreams when I was titrating up to find my ideal dose. It essentially tricks the body into producing more endorphins, there is research theorizing that people with Fibromyalgia suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency. I believe it took nine months for me to see effect because my body was slowly healing from a deep sleep deprivation behind the scenes. This leads me to believe that LDN may be the only way to address an insufficiency that currently has no other satisfactory treatment option. I certainly prefer it to pain killers that have many negative effects and few positive ones.
There is also plenty of research and patient evidence available – groups on Facebook about LDN and the LDN research trust have a wealth of knowledge.

So here are the five benefits I have noted from LDN:

Five ways LDN is changing my life

Benefit One Sleep

What it’s helped me with – first and foremost is sleep. For the ten years or so prior to LDN I had not slept in more than one hour blocks, that’s rarely completing a whole sleep cycle, therefore my body was in chronic deep sleep deprivation. Since LDN, I can sleep in two, three, four or even five hour blocks! I am so grateful for this, I can’t even tell you. I believe this is what has created the other benefits.
Please do note that I still have to take amitriptyline to get to sleep and enact my sleep hygiene list daily.

Benefit Two Pain

Since about nine months into treatment I have noticed a reduction in neck pain. Neck pain has been a 24/7 issue for over 10 years. In 2017, while starting LDN, I learnt that my neck issue is actually myofascial pain syndrome. After throwing the severe, recurring “muscle knots” (trigger points) into the fibro basket, I finally had an answer. The physiotherapist has been helping me to work on these trigger points through intramuscular needling  (gently inserting a tiny needle into the trigger point and letting it relax a little) and neck mobilisations. This and the sleep (potentially reducing the fibromyalgia worsening the issue) has helped. My pain levels were 6-8/10 with severe headaches (with dizziness and nausea) daily back in 2010 before I started this journey. Just prior to LDN they were approximately 4-6/10 with occasional severe headaches. In early 2018, after one year on LDN, the average is 3-4/10 with the occasional spike to 5/6 with a bad headache and it’s usually when I’ve overdone it.
I wrote the LDN mini eBook with the research summary, my experience, notes on pregnancy with a handy list of research you can take to your doctor if you’re considering trying low dose naltrexone. 
low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia

Benefit Three Emotional

If you haven’t lived with pain that interrupts sleep, interferes with daily life all day, every day for over a decade or been unable to sleep for more than an hour at a time for about the same length of time – it’ll be hard to convey the depth of impact on my emotional well-being.
Not fighting to sleep at 3am, not swapping pillows, getting my heat pack, applying pain cream and basically not sleeping due to unrelenting pain is huge for me.
My quality if life is so much better. I never let myself lose hope, but it was dwindling. This was a necessary win.

Benefit Four Stamina

Slowly my stamina increased. Activities that used to wipe me out can be tolerated for longer. I can exercise slightly more. I can do slightly more.
Having had a baby with reflux, I feel I coped exceptionally well and that is down to LDN. The demands on a mama of two is much higher than a mama with one! It’s been a busy year.

Benefit Five Fatigue

Fatigue is the second of my two worst symptoms (neck pain being the first). Yes, that’s “is” not “was”. It’s improved but I still have a limited energy envelope. I can get through the day on a 15 minute meditation and a brief sit down with the heat pack. I still can’t physically stay up past 9pm and that’s a fair trade off to me.

A Note on Pregnancy

I did some research around the use of LDN in pregnancy for my book and found a fertility doctor who has been using it for years and it’s had benefits for mama and baby.
There isn’t a lot of literature around medicine use in pregnancy, but I took what I had and presented my choice to stay on it to my doctor. We decided for my context it was worth continuing. But that is individual and you need to take the research to your doctor if you are considering taking it during pregnancy – know your stuff in case your doctor doesn’t, they’ll hopefully appreciate the information.

Conclusion

LDN is not a miracle medicine nor standalone treatment option for me, but it is changing my life and I’m so thankful.

For more information join my newsletter list and get access to the You vs Fibromyalgia micro course and more printables, reports and workshops.

What I’d Start with upon Diagnosis with Fibromyalgia (If I got a Do-Over)

Getting diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and living with the effects of chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia is difficult. This is why I decided to write my journey and everything I do to cope with the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Fatigue and Insomnia.

Author’s Note: This article appeared first on The Mighty.

What I'd start with upon diagnosis

Here’s an excerpt from my book about what I’d do upon diagnosis, if I had a do-over.

When you are first diagnosed with a chronic illness such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, your brain has rather a lot to process. If you’re buried too deep in pain and fatigue, the enormity of the challenge may not hit you immediately.

You, like me, may have been diagnosed after a long battle in which you have learnt to push through and assimilate the challenges into your life. Potentially making yourself even worse. Or you may have been struck down, as if by a lightning bolt of pain and fatigue.

Here are a few key things that we need to do when we’re diagnosed, or ready to process:

Research

You are your advocate, medical coordinator, cheerleader and guru. You need to guide your doctor. You need to track your progress. Get a book, or open a digital file and write it up. Keep articles that you come across. Because when you’re ready you need to experiment. Your doctor can only take you so far, if they want to come on this journey with you at all.

My course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge is a good start. This is a FREE five lesson eCourse to help you fight Fibromyalgia. Sign up here. This is what I wish had existed when I was diagnosed.

Experiment

There are many types of treatments: medicines, supplements, alternative options, physical therapies and diets. We all have different chemical make ups, different genetics, and different triggers. This means we need to find our lifestyle that gets us as pain free and awake as possible. The complexity of this is huge, especially when you take in the fact that synergies, mixtures of multiple things, may be the solution. Your body may need a mixture of medicines, supplements, physical work and mental work.

Hit Your Lifestyle

You can’t keep going in the same way. That way didn’t work. Try to journal it out or talk it out, or whatever you do to think things through. You need to rebuild your lifestyle. Find what works for you, what your passions are (the non-negotiables of your life) and go from there. I spent a long time dreaming of working slightly less hours so that I could rest more and try to recover – and reducing my work hours was only the beginning of my journey to better wellness.

Find Your People

If there’s no one in real life, find a virtual community. You need to be exposed to new ideas and you need to be able to ask questions. There are many people struggling along with chronic illnesses sharing their journey. Just try to keep it positive. Most people would have brushes with depression/sadness when they’re in daily pain and exhaustion. Having a search through the articles written by other people with chronic illness on places like The Mighty is a good start.


For more information:

This post is available as a PDF printable in my free Resources page.

Free eCourse sign up you vs fibromyalgia

 

2017 – Melissa vs Fibromyalgia in Review

What a year! My second baby has been in this first year, learning to roll, crawl and, now, trying to walk. My first has been in this third year, learning and growing so fast.

I’m in a period of healing, that phase where you feel like things could get better. The low dose naltrexone (LDN) seems to be helping with stamina, pain and fatigue. I’m not sure how far it will go, but I am grateful for a renewed sense of hope.

Despite extended sleep deprivation due to the baby with reflux, I have coped excessively well. I’ve also had a separate health issue that drained on me for more than two months and I managed to cope and keep going forward despite it.

New Medicine

I began low dose naltrexone in April. After nine months and many dose varieties, I am holding at 4mg with improved stamina, slightly reduced fatigue and a slight difference in pain levels. I look forward to further improvements.

Supplements

MSM supplement has been a useful addition to my arsenal. It is supposed to help with muscle, tendon and ligament pain in addition to healing the gut.

Magnesium oil right before bed around my neck and shoulders. I’ve taken magnesium for a long time, and it’s nice to not have to take it in tablet form.

Moringa powder provides 18/20 amino acids in addition to being a good source of iron and other nutrients. I am not very good at remembering to take it as it’s best taken with juice or in a smoothie – I dislike juice and I usually share smoothies within my three year old.

Exercise

After dealing with symphisis pubis disorder for several months after having Wyatt last December, I am pleased to be walking 20-30 minutes a few times a week (it’s a time thing with two small children, I’d love to do it more). I’m also back to my sun salutation sequence whenever I can.

Work

I’m looking at going back to work and am trying to find something that won’t demand too many hours, too much energy. I am looking forward to it.

A life goal
I accomplished a life goal when I published my book Fibro Mama: Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. Since I was a young teenager, I have loved writing. When I wrote my life goal list up in my early twenties (doesn’t everyone do this, write it up physically?), publishing a book was on there. As I researched and shared my journey with pregnancy for the past four years, my mission became to help even one person not feel so alone in this vulnerable time. Now that I’ve felt some concrete results of the past several of real work on my health – I’ve compiled a large list of things I do to manage my illness, and I will be writing about this in a book due out early next year, Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue & Insomnia 

 

It’s very exciting, I’m so glad to be able to share this journey with you.

I hope you have a restful and lovely Christmas holiday period and a happy New Year.

To stay up to date and receive access to my free resource page – sign up here.

 

Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Fibromyalgia & Me

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)Low dose naltrexone came on my radar last year and after consuming all of the research and anecdotal evidence about its impact on Fibromyalgia, I earmarked it for my major experiment post-baby (I had baby W last December).

Donna Gregory Birch, a well-known Fibromyalgia writer who explains how LDN works: “in low doses (typically 1-4.5 mg), naltrexone enhances the body’s immune system by boosting the production of endorphins, which in turn promotes healing and lessens inflammation.

Research has been showing promising results. Dr Jared Younger started with a tiny study and found positive results, approximately 65% of patients experienced clinically significant results. He’s doing a bigger study this year.

As a member of an active group about what works for Fibromyalgia and two groups about low dose naltrexone on Facebook, I have seen many testimonies from people with Fibromyalgia experiencing changes due to LDN ranging from mildly beneficial to miraculous. There are also those for whom it does not work or they do not try it for long enough – this is not a quick fix for most.

Further information on how LDN works is well explained in this article, which includes many links to research.

If I could experience a 30% (this is considered clinically significant and therefore as success) decrease in pain and fatigue, my life would change! I could be a mama, a wife, do my work and have some form of a life outside that and not pay with such significant levels of pain, fatigue and other side effects of the Fibromyalgia.

I can only share research and what works or doesn’t work for me. We are all unique and react differently. If you’re interested in LDN then read the research/information and then discuss it with your doctor.

My updates

Low Dose Naltrexone: An Experiment
Low Dose Naltrexone: Update 16 Weeks

Now

I have been reluctant to post this update, I was waiting for something solidly quantifiable but in lieu of that I’ll give you my anecdotal evidence that it is working.

Around 8 months ago I began taking low dose naltrexone and have slowly titrated up to a dose of 4 milligrams. It took me about six months to get to 4 milligrams as previously my body couldn’t cope with that level, I experienced vivid dreams and flare ups of ulcers and cold sores each time I tried to titrate up too fast. I may try 4.5 milligrams later on.

 

For now the effects that I have noticed are:

slightly more stamina
slightly better sleep
slightly less fatigue and
slightly less neck pain – from an average (which changes over a day as well as the week) of 4-7/10 down to about 3-5/10

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while would know that my neck is the area I struggle with the most. With that a little more in check, the fatigue is a close second.

I don’t think my functionality has increased however the quality of my life while performing all that I do has increased. When I do overdo it or have a bad night’s sleep the pain will increase. The heatpack is still my best friend, the computer is still my neck’s nemesis and I can’t hold it for too long in one position – but it’s better than before.

I still have hope that as we edge toward the one year anniversary that I’ll experience more miraculous effects. For now it is definitely worth the $30 a month I pay for the perscription.

This combined with meditation and gentle exercise, paying attention to what I eat and trying to limit stress have been the best things I could do. I hope that when I start working I will be able to maintain half-time hours and not return too much closer to the previous pain levels.

I’d love to hear your experiences with LDN. I’ll write an update when we get closer to a year.


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Graphic Printable Pain Relief with TemplatesLow Dose Naltrexone is one of many ways that I manage pain. This printable contains the chapter of the same name from my book along with some templates for making your own plans. I created this series for those of us who are not able to consume an entire book right now, or who want to work on one thing at a time.

MSM Supplement for Fibromyalgia: A Review

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a useful supplement to consider for fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue. It has a wealth of support behind it and I have personally found benefit from it. I share all of this below.

MSM for fibromyalgia

Some of the links are affiliate links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend what I believe in.

MSM is an organic sulfur-containing compound that is meant to help with pain in the tendons, ligaments and muscles. It is also said to help with energy, post-exertion malaise, and for cellular energy (to support mitochondria). In New Zealand it is one of those nutrients the soil is now depleted of.

The benefits of MSM

Dr Axe outlines six benefits of taking MSM, including joint pain, digestive problems and muscle pain and spasms (a biggie for me):

“Research suggests that MSM can act like a natural analgesic, helping prevent and treat muscle aches and pains, throbbing and swelling while improving range of motion and mobility.”

The article goes on to state that, “MSM also restores the flexibility and permeability of cell walls within muscles, which means nutrients can pass through the tissues more easily, facilitating repair work faster and removing lactic acid, which causes that “burning feeling” following exercise.” This is great for people with Fibromyalgia, who often feel greater post-exercise pain – I often get severe pain in my lower body for up to three days post exercise, if I have overdone it.

An article on the Shawn Stevenson Health Show website includes detoxification and increasing energy as other benefits of MSM:

“Digestion is the biggest energy requirement of the body (Approximately 70-80% of your energy is spent on digestion each day). MSM increases the absorption of nutrients so that the energy expenditure on digestion is vastly reduced.”

Which is good news for a person like me who doesn’t tend to take the nutrients from food efficiently, using iron as an example, despite a healthy level of iron rich foods I cannot keep my iron levels up without regular injections. Also, any efficiency in energy is a bonus for people with limited energy levels.

MSM and mitochondria

This article on Prohealth.com states a couple of extra benefits:

“Preventing and reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases by supporting reduction of chronic inflammation.” and supporting “Your body’s electron transport system, as part of iron/sulfur proteins in mitochondria, the energy factories of your cells.”

This is important as there is a lot of noise about supporting our mitochondria. Ari Whitten believes mitochondria are the key to overcoming chronic fatigue. He has a fantastic free masterclass that I highly recommend signing up for. It is a little information-dense so take your time with it. While COq10, D-ribose, PQQ and many other energy enhancing supplements are usually recommended (and are not cheap) – MSM is often left out.

Below I share how MSM helps me.

MSM and me

I began taking MSM (this is what I used) in July 2017 as this was when I began to suspect the pain in my neck was actually Myofacial Pain Syndrome – painful, severe trigger points that recur no matter the treatment. Trigger points are usually considered separate to Fibromyalgia but there are some doctors who believe them to be part of it (like Dr Liptan).

See my giant introductory post about Myofascial Pain Syndrome here.

After a Google search for potential side effects, potential benefits and checking any interactions with my current medicines (amitriptyline and low dose naltrexone) – I decided to try it.

It took about six weeks to build up in my system. At this point I noticed a slight reduction in pain, perhaps one pain point on average in my neck, which is actually a big deal for me. This helped reduce the number of severe headaches and I didn’t have any other pain relief for several weeks.

I began with tablets, they were big! I had to take one tablet two times a day, and it was difficult swallowing them. So when I finished the bottle, I ordered a powdered version. During the wait the symptoms returned. It took another few weeks to feel the benefit of the powder. It is much less of a burden to take the powder, half a teaspoon dissolved in a cup of water (which I skull) is really easy for me.

A minor medical event, separate to the Fibromyalgia occurred in August which set me back. But I am going to keep the low dose naltrexone and MSM going for the year’s experiment and I have just added moringa powder (which I will report on later) – moringa is a good source of protein and amino acids, as well as iron and magnesium which is said to work well with the MSM.

2019 Update

After finding the mitochondria research trail again as my third baby began nursing less and less (making me feel more comfortable adding in some natural supplements) I began taking MSM again. It makes sense to me to help support the many mitochondria with my energy crisis. I will let you know how it goes after several weeks.

I’d love to hear your experience with MSM, please share in the comments.

Grab your MSM powder here (do always check for interactions with your medicines and supplements and check with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing):


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