Recovery Factors: My Favourite Supplement for Fibromyalgia

Recovery Factors is my favourite supplement for fibromyalgia.

Amino acid supplementation for fibromyalgia appears to be a useful treatment option.

I had only ever thought of one at a time, 5HTP for sleep, lysine for cold sores, acetyl l carinitine etc.

At the end of 2019 Dr Teitelbaum offered an opportunity to try a supplement that he and a fellow doctor had been finding helpful with their fibromyalgia patients.

As one of the lucky participants I received my bottles and started the trial eagerly.

I noticed that the ingredients label listed iron and an extensive list of amino acids.

Recovery factors supplement for fibromyalgia

Being an avid learner – I set about researching and found some interesting information.

“Patients with sleep disorders demonstrate a nutritional deficiency of tryptophan, choline and GABA. Fibromyalgia patients also have reduced blood levels of serotonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan.
A double-blind, randomized trial compared an amino acid based medical food with trazodone to study sleep latency and parasympathetic autonomic nervous system improvement in sleeping hours. The results showed improved sleep quality without morning grogginess along with improved nighttime parasympathetic activity with the use of the medical food.” http://www.archivesofmedicine.com/medicine/nutritional-management-of-fibromyalgia.php?aid=9131

We know sleep is huge in fibromyalgia. It is a massive perpetuating factor.

Amino acids can help everything, “From treating sleep disorders and energy deficits to nervous system and methylation factors that support proper neutralizing and elimination of toxins within the body.” https://www.living-smarter-with-fibromyalgia.com/treatment-for-fibromyalgia-amino-acids.html

An old article from Dr Teitelbaum states, “I recommend supplementation with all of the amino acids as opposed to using a single one by itself, as these supplies overall nutritional support and are less likely to cause a relative deficiency of other amino acids.” https://www.vitality101.com/health-a-z/Cfs_fm-amino_acids_low_in_fibromyalgia

recovery factors supplement for fibromyalgia

My experiment with Recovery Factors

The first few nights I took the full dose as recommended and slept like I was heavily sedated. When I woke my neck was very sore from the immobility and I had a severe headache.

After struggling through a few days feeling more and more lethargic, I emailed Dr Teitelbaum’s office asking if I should decrease the dose. Dr T himself replied that I should, and take the dose that works for me.

I reduced to half and continued to sleep better but less heavily. I noticed less gut issues, slightly less pain and some more energy.

The bottles lasted me longer due to my dosage, wanting to prolong it even more I dropped to two pills at bedtime only. I continued to sleep better.

March 2020 I ran out and then the lockdown happened in New Zealand. I ended up with no supplement, no physiotherapy, a lot of stress, no childcare and a new job. My sleep deteriorated. The migraines, of which I’d had two the previous month and one a year prior, escalated.

In June my doctor and I agreed I’d go back on Amitriptyline for a time and I’d order the recovery factors supplement which was now for sale.

July Update

My bottle arrived in much quicker timing than I expected, with the pandemic slowing things down and it already taking longer to get to New Zealand. So I was very happy.

When I began again, I started at two tablets per night, I take it right before bedtime, which is contrary to the dosing recommendations. But, as I found with low dose naltrexone, dosing is individual.

Between the tiny dose of Amitriptyline and Recovery Factors I am now sleeping again! I am even getting between 10-18% of deep sleep most of the time. Deep sleep is a big issue in fibromyalgia. And for this reason alone the nearly $100 NZD for the bottle and the delivery is worth every single cent. As I take three tablets a day a bottle lasts me about 2.5 months – so it is only around $40 a month. The value of a good quality multivitamin that does so much more than a multi can do.

In addition, for the first time in many years I have nearly optimal iron levels without iron injections. This is important for me as I tend to live at the very bottom of a very big range and I feel the effects (I get lethargic, fatigued and dizzy).

You can check out the Recovery Factors site, research and grab a bottle here.

Do always remember to check for interactions. My doctor deemed the doses of Recovery Factors and Amitriptyline suitable for me. You need to check your doses with your doctor.

What Life is Like for me Now

Recovery Factors helps me with sleep. The sleep leads to less pain and fatigue. Which in turn leads to better enjoyment of life, more ability to do what I want to do (higher functionality) and better sleep. It’s like a reversal of the vicious cycle of fibromyalgia. I am not healed, but I am doing more of what I want with less pain and fatigue.

I have managed to stop taking amitriptyline again and am taking three tablets of Recovery Factors at bedtime. This is great for me as I prefer not to be reliant on too much. My sleep is trying to normalise again after the amitriptyline.

I am currently working part-time, managing this blog, the Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio, and my three small children. In terms of exercise, I am walking around 10,000 steps each day, have worked up from 15 minutes per walks to around 40 minutes several times a week. I am only hampered by weather and needing help with the wee ones when we are out. It’s nothing short of breath taking.

Do remember this is all in conjunction with my whole of life protocol. Pacing, low dose naltrexone, healthy eating, yoga, meditation and reducing stress as possible.

Have you tried Recovery Factors? Please tell us how it goes for you.

Wavelife Energy Cell Review: Did it Help?

When I was given the opportunity to try the Wavelife Energy Cell I jumped. It is a safe, natural way to relieve pain.

I was gifted the Wavelife Energy Cell through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions shared in this post are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

wavelife energy cell review

The Energy Cell is based on over thirty years of research and development in co-operation with over 2,800 clinics in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It uses frequency waves. Their website explains it this way, “The energy cell is made possible by a patented EMF material, that can retain and emit Vital Fields with extraordinary durability
(> 6months), thereby allowing the benefits of a proven energy medicine discipline to be accessible to everyone and anyone experiencing pain.” https://wavelife.com/vital-fields/

I don’t pretend to understand this stuff but I do have an open mind at this point. Especially for natural options.

The types of pain listed on their website doesn’t include fibromyalgia. Other reviews (as linked below) say it helped with arthritis pain.

What the Wavelife Energy Cell Helps with

  • Headache
  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle sprain or tension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Post-surgical pains
  • Upper back pain
  • Post-trauma pain
  • It MAY help with migraine (it didn’t for me)

More pain relief articles:

Yoga for Neck Headaches

My top inexpensive items for fibromyalgia

Myofascial pain syndrome

My favourite five pain relief options

My Wavelife Energy Cell

It took some time to arrive due to the lock down but once I received it I found my Wavelife Cell (pictured), instruction booklet and box of 10 adhesive patches.

I preferred to use some soft bandage tape I had in the first aid kit than the stickier patches included so I felt like I had the choice of moving it around easily. You could try kinesio tape too.

You can place this on your upper spine, centre of your chest or foot for systemic pain. I tried all three. You can also try it on areas of localised pain.

wavelife energy cell up close

It is super easy to use and you don’t have to worry about interactions as its completely natural.

Unfortunately having it attached to my upper spine made it difficult to use my heat pack- something I use on my neck frequently.

On my foot it was irritating – I am a bit sensitive to things on my feet.

The lower back position seemed to help the pain associated with hormonal lower back pain (menstrual pains which I experience for much of the month).

So would I buy the WaveLife?

Unlikely, but then it doesn’t specifically state fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome and it didn’t help me with these so the rest is just gravy. Delicious but not something I’d spend money on.

But as we know what works for one doesn’t work for another, so here are some other chronic bloggers who reviewed it too – and some had good relief…

Wavelife Energy Cell Review – because if Donna has written about something I want to read it

The Spoonie Mummy’s Review – recommended for rheumatoid arthritis

Looking for the Light’s Review this person experienced great relief

The Winding Willow’s Review – this person experienced modest improvement

Click here to read WaveLife testimonials from experts and professionals

Would you like to try it?

If you would like to give it a go you can get yours here. They do offer a 30-day no questions asked return policy, if for whatever reason our product did not meet your expectations. So it is a win-win!

Shop WAVELife pain-free Energy Cell

Please note this is an affiliate link, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I hope this helped.

Do let us know your experience with it!

wavelife energy cell, did it help me

What Treatments Help Me with Fibromyalgia: As Tested During Lock-down

Here I share eight treatments that help me with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. There is nothing like a challenge for a treatment that we think helps to ensure it works. The pandemic has been a good time to test all of my coping mechanisms.

Being at home with three small, high energy boys, much of the time alone, while trying to work 20 hours and manage my health has been a massive challenge.

But here’s the thing. Despite my neck and back being harder to manage -average pain levels went from mild to moderate – I had only one neck migraine attack and that was the first weekend. So what treatments help? What have I been doing?

what treatments help me with fibromyalgia during the lockdown

Here are the treatments that help me the most

Electric heat pad

This has been my best purchase of 2020. Instead of dragging myself out of bed, standing in front of the microwave for the heat pack to warm and then trying to get it in the right spot – I just press a button and have whole back and neck warmth. It’s been the best help.

Physiotherapy

I knew this helped my neck but man it helps my back too. After more than two months without being able to see my physio my entire back and neck were flaring. I also had trigger points in my chest, arms and legs. The acupuncture needles in the neck, shoulders and upper back had flow on effects. So did the ultrasound the physio did on the middle and lower back while the needles were in the top. That feeling of all my back ribs forming a cage on my back muscles and drawing tighter came back. My lower back, glutes and upper legs were tight. Surprisingly, my neck coped alright without the needles. I thought this was a guaranteed truth. So this was a mixed finding and I’m not sure what to do with this.

what treatments are helping me most with fibromyalgia

Self-trigger point work

Following from the above point, my self-trigger point work helped me manage so much better than I thought. With the additional computer work with my new job I was needing to manage trigger points in my SCM. This one I tilt my head to the side and rub down, pressuring trigger point I find on that tight wire like muscle. My upper trapezius trigger poibts required a lot of work between my hands and theracane massager.

Regular dynamic stretches

These have been the best learning ever. After years of static stretching doing little for my neck, my dynamic stretches for my neck are so useful for keeping those neck trigger points in check. It also helped me notice where the trigger points are restricting range of movement so I can tackle them first.

Yoga, meditation and breathing (three treatments that help in one)

When we first went into lock-down my chest was constantly heavy and tight – not from being sick, from the anxiety of the situation. Take the ability to plan from a person who uses strict planning to survive and you get the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. My breathing practices got me through this.

Each day, after lunch, I have done my guided meditation. I have had about 45 minutes of decent rest and relaxation. It has helped a ton. It is my favourite tool.

My yoga practice hasn’t really looked like a class. It’s looked like cat and cow whenever I need it and some puppy thrown in for some upper body tightness. It’s looked like doing downward dog, cat and cow and forward bend with an 18 month old climbing under me. I have used these tools and used them well.

If you want to look at yoga for fibromyalgia with me, then come and join this free workshop.

Avoiding white flour

Oh how this is something that works for my tummy. In the beginning of lockdown here we were limited to two breads per shop and there was no flour. So I found a 20kg bag of white flour. And proceeded to bake to my son’s heart’s content. And ended up with a very bloated sore tummy. I stopped eating it and was fine again!

Gentle walking

We have managed to start taking a walk everyday. It feels so good to be able to. I feel strong and so happy to now walk for 30-45 minutes. With no hangover pain (stretching afterward). It helps to be outside and to move these muscles and gentle walking has always been soothing to my upper body trigger points (don’t ask me how).

Sleep

I have always said sleep is king and I will continue to do so. We cannot be well and continuously sleep poorly. My sleep hygiene routines, walks, yoga, meditation, breathing, low dose naltrexone and magnesium all help me sleep. Even when my neck is interrupting me multiple times a night I am sleeping in blocks of a few hours which makes all the difference.

You will note that many of these are reactionary to trigger points – the trigger points are related to mechanical things like using the computer but they are also worsened by things like the central nervous system flaring (hello stress). Many of these also target more than one symptom, I am nothing if not efficient, which is why I adore yoga and sleep.

Share with us- what treatments help you? What have you confirmed over this time?

We talk about all of these things and more in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team and you’re spot is waiting for you now. Come and join us! You can even grab the first two weeks on me.

information tools support

Breathing, the Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

Breathing. It’s not sexy. It’s super subtle. Everyone does it every day. But we need to do it better. Optimal respiration can help us to calm the central nervous system and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia better.

So many people do it incorrectly. Not breathing fully, chest or mouth breathing and more.

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

Correct breathing is vital so that we can take the benefits it offers.

breathing well saves energy, improves energy, reduces pain and tension, helps us to activate the "rest and digest" response and more

Breathing well:

  • Saves energy
  • Improves energy
  • Reduces pain and tension
  • Helps us activate the “rest and digest” mode or the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Improves digestion
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Decreases stress
  • Improves cognitive function
https://youtu.be/9_AUMn8Cnrg

It can help respiratory issues, back and chest pain

“One of the benefits of breathing deeply is that it helps to release tension in the diaphragm and primary breathing muscles, relieving many long-term respiratory issues such as asthma and breathlessness. It opens up the chest, releasing tension from the intercostal muscles and around the scapula, erector spinae and trapezius muscles, allowing for a more relaxed posture.” From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

It helps us activate the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us to calm down

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, scared or in pain. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress. Please note I am not saying it can cure anxiety or depression – I am saying it can help (as an adjunct to treatment with your medical team).

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, in pain or scared. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress

Would you like a free, simple mindfulness challenge to fit it into your daily life? Sign up here.

It improves the cardiovascular system

“Deep diaphragmatic breathing tones, massages and increases circulation to the heart, liver, brain and reproductive organs. In one study of heart attack patients, 100% of the patients were chest breathers whose breathing involved very little diaphragm or belly expansion. Another study found that patients who survived a heart attack and who adopted an exercise regime and breath training afterward experienced a 50% reduction in their risk factor of another heart attack over the following 5 years.”

From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

What does this mean for fibromyalgia?

All of the benefits that optimal respiration offers us are essential for people with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. We need to save energy, get more energy, reduce pain and tension, activate the rest and digest mode and all of the rest of the benefits mentioned earlier.

It is also easy to learn. And practice. Below we will talk about what breathing well is and my easiest recommendation for breathing. I have a couple of breathing practices for you on YouTube. But you will get a whole heap of breathing support in Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. Starting with Breathing 101 module, continuing with pretty much every single yoga and meditation practice focusing on the breath. Breath is central to yoga.

inhale, feel the air fill your lungs and expand your abdomen. Exhale slowly. Breathing practice from melissavsfibromyalgia.com

So what is breathing well?         

Using your nose and not your mouth, filling your abdomen and not your chest. Taking the time to focus on it each day. Focusing on it is actually the simplest meditation you can do!

What is my easiest recommendation for breathing?

Inhale for four, pause for two, out for six. Adapting the numbers to what works for you, focusing on making the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. For example inhale for three, pause for two, out for four.

In the video below I share this simple practice

Look at breathing and other yoga tools to help you in this free challenge

Pacing with Fibromyalgia Part Two

Pacing is a key concept for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue-based illnesses. We hear about it all the time. But how do we actually take it and use it in our daily lives to help us to improve our quality of life? A member of the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team asked me to put this together, so here it is.

Pacing with Fibromyalgia Training Video Part Two

https://youtu.be/saN-FjyyLu8

In this second part of the pacing training series we talk about how pacing can look practically in your life – the different parts of your life you can use it. From work hours, to exercise, to managing your energy across the day. We also talk about the difference this has made for me.

In this talk we are going to talk look at what my pacing includes (all of the things you
can consider and use the idea for). What the point of it is.
As we said in the first talk, pacing is a broad tool that we can apply every day.
It applies to the whole of life balance, how many hours total we work/volunteer etc. It
applies to how we manage our activities during the day. How we approach exercise etc.

What is this all in service of? What is my main aim?

As much symptom reduction as possible!
My biggest aim in life, besides being a good mama and helping as many people as I can
with my work, is the least pain and fatigue possible.

What has pacing done for me?

  • Sleep better, the less overtired I am the better I sleep. If I’ve had my rest breaks, relaxed in the evening and gone to bed at a decent time I sleep much better than if I don’t. Fun fact: I sleep the worst on days when I haven’t rested and go to bed late, that sleep reverse psychology doesn’t work here!
  • Reduced pain – by taking my rest breaks and adhering to my framework I experience less pain. Especially by limiting computer time.
  • Less brain fog and overwhelm.
  • More enjoyment.
  • Better quality of life.

Part three where we get really practical and make your plans, is available only for the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team. The membership team already has access to the three videos, three audio versions, the downloadable PDF toolkit and three templates.

pacing toolkit

Check out my previous posts on pacing

A confession on pacing and boundaries

Patigue and Energy – the Fibromyalgia Framework series

The perils of pacing

Do you want some help with the rest portion of your pacing? Join us for the free workshop all about the a super restful type of yoga. 

What is the membership team?

It is an affordable way to get support, resources and practical tools to save you time, energy and money. There is a wealth of information in the resources library and in the exclusive group we go in-depth and work together on our journey. It also supports me to enable making these resources (over 200 blog posts, over 100 videos and more) Join us today to grab your spot.

pacing for fibromyalgia

Pacing for Fibromyalgia Part One

Pacing is a key concept for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue-based illnesses. We hear about it all the time. But how do we actually take it and use it in our daily lives to help us to improve our quality of life? A member of the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership team asked me to put this together, so here it is.

The Pacing for Fibromyalgia Training Video Part One

We we talk about what pacing is and why we should be doing it.

Pacing is a crucial concept to get when living with constant pain and fatigue. Finding and utilising the energy envelope we have can help us to avoid unnecessary higher levels of pain and fatigue.

Almost every man and his dog who write about managing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome recommend it, and they are right, but what on earth does it mean? How does it have practical applications in our life?

I’m a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies (it’s Vin Diesel for me all the way, just FYI) and they live their lives a quarter mile at a time. As a New Zealander I can’t properly visualise what that means (we talk kilometres) but as a chronic illness fighter I get living a moment at a time.

When I get up I am generally coping until baby’s nap so I can meditate. Yoga nidra guided meditation is my best bet for true rest and relaxation. After that I’m coping until bedtime. Those are the markers that frame my day.

Pacing means aligning what we do with our energy and symptom levels.

Homework

➢ Write down what you do each day and track your pain and fatigue levels – look
for the patterns over a two week period.
➢ If you have a pedometer or Fitbit or other kind of activity tracker that can be
useful for helping you to find your ideal energy envelope.
➢ Listen to what your body is telling you. Grab an empty piece of paper and a pen
and free write about your ideal day, see what your intuition is telling you.

Links mentioned:

The CFIDS rating scale so you can find out where you are on the scale

Their free activity tracker to help you get started tracking your baseline

Pacing is a valuable tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue but what on earth does it mean in practical terms? We find out over this three video training series. Parts one and two are coming right here. Part three is only available to the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership team for access.

Check out my previous posts on pacing

A confession on pacing and boundaries

Fatigue and Energy – the Fibromyalgia Framework series

The perils of pacing



What is the membership team?

It is an affordable way to get support, resources and practical tools to save you time, energy and money. There is a wealth of information in the resources library and in the exclusive group we go in-depth and work together on our journey. It also supports me to enable making these resources (over 200 blog posts, over 100 videos and more) Join us today to grab your spot.



pacing for fibromyalgia, the concept of pacing transcends those big boundaries like how many hours we "work" but it is an important place to start

Resources for the Home-Bound

Being home-bound is not unusual for many chronic illness fighters. But being absolutely unable to leave the house is new for most of us.

So in this post I am going to compile a list of things that you might like to do while you are home-bound. As new ideas come my way, I will add to it.

Please remember, that even if you are busy with small children or working, as I am (both), you still deserve to take time out for your own self-care.

home-bound resources list

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

Recipes/Healthy Eating

Would a massive list of low histamine recipes help with some ideas for cooking and baking? I have you covered with this list from Through the Fibro Fog.

Learning

Would you like to do some learning while you are at home?

Find 54 free online courses here from the best colleges in the US.

Alison -Their About page says, “We believe that free education, more than anything, has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives.” And living with chronic illness is definitely a barrier to further learning.

I have my eye on a few of their free courses for some future up-skilling. With options for 2-3 hour certificates or pathways for diplomas there is a lot to search through. Subjects range from touch typing to French to graphic design to project management.

Udemy is also a great option.

Coursera.org is another online learning platform.

You can also teach yourself some skills from YouTube videos. Think about what you have been meaning to learn about it likely exists there.

Movement

Would you like to keep moving, within the bounds of your current physical ability? I have you totally covered here.

My free yoga for fibromyalgia challenge is here. Give five yoga tools a go in your own time to see how you can incorporate them into your life in as little as five minutes a day.

If you would like my entire repository of online, on-demand yoga, breathing and meditation classes and courses then you are welcome to come and join Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. I have been building this for several months now.

You could walk one mile in your lounge with Leslie Sansone. I love her videos. When I was struggling to do any movement when heavily pregnant with severe pelvis issues I did some gentle walking with these videos.

Restorative Yoga class designed especially for fibromyalgia.

Entertainment

Netflix. Hulu. YouTube. Basically any television service provider.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited offers a month free

  • Colouring
  • Reading
  • Puzzles
  • Games

Business

If you have a home business or would like to create one then you could start reading up now.

Here is a post I wrote about Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

Jenna from the Bloglancer has two ebooks you might like to check out. The Blog Growth Toolkit and Blog to Business: Your Pitching Toolkit.

Self-Care

  • Take a bath
  • Do some yoga
  • Snuggle with your significant other/pet/child
  • Call a friend
  • Meditate
  • Make a list of your pain management options so you can use them as needed without floundering about forgetting what helps
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Breathing practice

Do you have any more tips?? Please comment below!

Could you please help me out? Share this post?

Hello friend, are you new here? I am Melissa a mama, fibro fighter and yoga coach. Join the newsletter list for updates, my free resources library and check out the archives – there are over 200 articles here to help you. My free course You vs Fibromyalgia is also here.

restorative yoga for the chronic life
Join us for the free workshop all about the super gentle type of yoga that I am super in love with!

How Micro Yoga Helps Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Plus Your Toolkit

Micro yoga is such a good tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue. The benefits of yoga are continually being proven in research, especially for chronic symptoms. I want to share what micro yoga is, how micro yoga helps me as a mama with chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia and tiny children and how you can use the tools too.

how micro yoga can help chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia

What is micro yoga?

It is simply yoga that is not a traditional length or what we typically (in the west) think of as “yoga”.

I literally do 5-30 minute snippets at a time. As a person with chronic symptoms I find it much better to do 10 minutes regularly than one hour once a week.

I’d take it one step further and call my yoga super accessible micro yoga. When done right, yoga is super accessible for us and what we need.

What does this look like?

  • Five minutes of asana (stretches) when I am getting dressed.
  • A random pose to help my back when it is feeling tight during the day.
  • Five minutes of breathing when I am feeling overwhelmed.
  • 30 minute meditation after lunch.
  • 10 minute body scan relaxation before bed.
  • A restorative yoga pose on my bed during a flare.

How can we use it?

Micro yoga can be one or two poses that you use as needed. Or a more formal practice on the mat for 5-45 minutes. It could even be a breathing break or rest guided meditation.

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

Rachel Scott is a yoga teacher who gets it. In her book Little Book of Yoga Practices: Daily Relaxation, One Asana at a Time (2019) she talks about micro practice:

“By weaving micro practices into your everyday life, you will:
Cultivate a consistent yoga routine that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule
Have the tools to reset your mood and energy with just a few breaths
Feel empowered by the quality of your self-care
Recognize that small acts can make a major difference in your physical and
mental health.”

I use micro yoga as part of my toolkit for managing pain and fatigue.

Where do we learn it?

Rachel’s cute book has some great micro practices to try. I was given a complimentary copy by the author. I also got a copy of her latest book Yoga to Stay Young: Simple Poses to Keep You Flexible, Strong and Pain-Free – which I absolutely adore. Both are great guidebooks to keep on hand.

You might like the targeted stretches section starting pg 65. The best part of The Little Book of Yoga Practices is the succinctly described pose section. You can see what resonates and try one or two at a time.

The one minute miracles section is a gold mine! Pg 82

Rachel might not specialise in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue but her books are great resources when you are trying to build a micro yoga practice. And the size of The Little Book of Yoga Practices means it isn’t going to be hard on the old brain fog to get through, it is succinct and easy to follow.

Your Toolkit

Join the free workshop Yoga for Fibromyalgia where I we talk through the myths, the benefits, my favourite poses and more.

Would you like to try a relaxing pose right now? Here you go…

Legs on the cushions is a super accessible pose with a short guided relaxation you can do this on your bed!!

Would you like access to premium information, tools, support AND a yoga library designed especially for fibromyalgia? Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team is ready for you. Join us today to grab your spot.

The Central Nervous System, Restorative Yoga and Fibromyalgia

Let’s chat central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview)

Having lived it for over 15 years, I would be inclined to agree.

Check out the video of my live training

It is not the sole problem, but it certainly causes physiological flow on effects, even after we have learned to calm it down again.

Like perhaps a switch gets flipped in our brain from some kind of trauma – an illness, childbirth, experiencing abuse of some kind, experiencing a natural disaster etc. and then it is very hard to turn it off.

the central nervous system, fibromyalgia and restorative yoga

The simplest way to put it

Simply put – we are too often in “fight or flight” mode and struggle to active the “rest and digest” mode.

Fight or flight is that response we have to stressful stimuli – a bear chasing us? Energy is diverted to the functions that are needed to fly, or run really fast! We experience that belly full of butterflies on crack, feel shaky, anxious and fearful.

The rest and digest response is that delicious restful feeling when we are totally relaxed – like during a good, gentle massage.

When you have a central nervous system over activation it is like you are stuck in the fight or flight mode. A chronic, low level anxiety that persists that you live with for so long you might not recognize it as anxiety – because you try to adapt.

This causes real problems in the body. If our energy is constantly diverted to scanning for threats and getting to run or protect ourselves, how can we have energy for normal functions? Digestion itself takes a lot of energy. Then being unable to drop into deep sleep because our brain is watching for threats, even more energy is drained. It is a big, vicious cycle.

What are some of the symptoms of a central nervous system over activity?

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Breathlessness
  • Inability to relax
  • Poor digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy

What are the benefits of a balanced central nervous system?

  • Better sleep
  • Less pain
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Good digestion
  • Heal well
  • Have enough energy
  • Less brain fog

Yes please to all of these!!

So, how can we treat an over activated central nervous system?

  • Rest
  • Sleep (easier said than done, I know)
  • Gentle breathing
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Restorative yoga
  • Removal of perpetuating factors

It’s not a quick fix…

From personal experience, I can tell you it is not a quick fix either. I have meditated, done yoga, worked on sleep, removed myself from perpetuating factors (as best as I can) and it is still a work in progress.

And – although my central nervous system is MUCH calmer, I am not magically healed. But with my whole of life plan in place, including a heavy amount of the above treatments, I am feeling much better.

For a long time meditation was my thing, particularly yoga Nidra guided meditation, because I needed the profound rest it offered immediately.

Gentle breathing was a great tool to reduce some of the constant tension in my chest, shoulders and neck. It is also fantastic at helping to calm the central nervous system when it gets flared again.

Right now, though, my jam is restorative yoga.

Why? Because it is a little less passive and easier to access for those who find it difficult to just sit still and breathe.

What are the benefits of restorative yoga?

  • Enhances flexibility
  • Total relaxation of body and mind
  • Improves capacity for healing
  • Balances the central nervous system
  • Helps us tune into our body
the central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia

What is restorative yoga?

Well this is a big question. Because a lot of people get it confused with yin yoga.

Restorative yoga is a passive practice that utilises props (cushions, bolsters, blocks etc.) to achieve total support. Yin yoga also holds poses for longer than other yoga traditions, around five minutes or so, but it is looking for deep sensation and it is energetically more strenuous (while still being relatively gentle).

In a restorative yoga class you will have your props around you, it will be a calm atmosphere and you will like only do a few poses. There may or may not be calming music and essential oils.

Would you like to learn restorative yoga with me?

Join me in this free workshop to learn what restorative yoga is, how it can benefit us, try a restorative pose (the one that made me fall in love with restorative yoga) and more.

restorative yoga for the chronic life workshop

Sources

In this post I have taken my combined knowledge and written it up as you see. For some sources and further reading see below…

https://irenelyon.com/2018/09/30/9-benefits-nervoussystem-regulated/

https://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/08/20/yoga-after-50-yin-restorative/

https://chopra.com/articles/10-benefits-of-restorative-yoga

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/why-restorative-yoga-is-the-most-advanced-practice

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/why-restorative-yoga

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia: An Interview with Doctor Ginevra Liptan Fibromyalgia Specialist

Pregnancy and fibromyalgia is one of those weird information voids. Having been pregnant three times, and gathering all of the (limited) research together as best as I can for the past several years, something was still lacking. This blog post is the gold mine I was missing. A doctor who has fibromyalgia and has experienced pregnancy herself!

I am so thankful to be able to share this interview with Doctor Ginevra Liptan, a fibromyalgia specialist, who has fibromyalgia. I love her work and have followed it for a long time, so I was super excited when I got up the courage to ask her to do an interview for this blog and she said yes.

pregnancy and fibromyalgia interview with a fibromyalgia specialist

About Dr Liptan

Ginevra Liptan, M.D. is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, board-certified in internal medicine, and trained in functional medicine, a holistic approach that blends both western and alternative medicine. After developing fibromyalgia as a medical student, Dr. Liptan spent many years using herself as guinea pig to find successful treatments, and has fine-tuned her approach by treating thousands of patients. 

She’s one of the few clinical specialists in the world to focus solely on fibromyalgia, and directs The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor and The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-Life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief.

In your experience, do you believe fertility is an issue for those with fibromyalgia?

Clinically my patients with fibromyalgia do seem to have more fertility issues, and I think there are a few reasons for this 1) higher levels of inflammation 2) hormone alterations caused by the chronic fight-or flight response and 3) myofascial restrictions around the uterus and fallopian tubes. All of these factors can have a negative influence on fertility.

However one study from Turkey found no difference in pregnancy or birth rates in women with fibromyalgia compared to healthy women Most of my patients have ultimately conceived even if the road to conception was a bit bumpier or longer.

Most of my patients have ultimately conceived even if the road to conception was a bit bumpier or longer.

Do you have recommendations for women prior to trying to conceive with fibromyalgia?

I encourage my patients to boost their nutritional status as much as they can prior to conception, as growing a fetus takes a lot of nutrients! In particular I recommend checking iron, B12, Vit. D levels and supplementing to ensure these nutrients are all at optimal levels.

And while you are doing bloodwork I also check for the MTHFR genetic mutation. This sounds scary, but it simply reflects how efficiently your body can activate and use folic acid. If you have this mutation you can counteract the inefficiency by simply supplementing with an already activated form of folic acid called methylfolate or L-5-MTHF. Both Thorne Research and Pure Encapsulations, my two favorite supplement companies, offer great prenatal vitamins with this form of folic acid. 

To optimize fertility in fibromyalgia we need to reverse the three inhibiting factors I mentioned. First reduce inflammation by making dietary changes to avoid triggering foods, or adding a medication like low dose naltrexone (see below). Lowering inflammation can improve hormone balance, as can supporting our adrenals, because any component of adrenal burnout will drag down all the other hormone systems. Learn more about treating adrenal burnout in my blog.

 Finally myofascial release therapy (www.myofascialrelease.com) can break up the myofascial restrictions around the uterus and fallopian tubes. 

Do you have any general recommendations for women during pregnancy with fibromyalgia?

The most common question I get asked is “ Are my fibromyalgia symptoms going to get worse during pregnancy?”  and what I tell patients is most most often the answer is yes. In fact in a study of 26 women with fibromyalgia who had a total of 40 pregnancies, all except one women described a worsening of their symptoms during pregnancy, with the third trimester being the worst.  The good news is that none of these women reported fibromyalgia having a negative outcome on their pregnancy outcome or on the health of the baby.

I personally found my fibromyalgia symptoms were worse during pregnancy. I do have some patients- especially those with both fibromyalgia and an inflammatory/autoimmune illness like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, that feel much better during pregnancy. Pregnancy does alter immune system functioning in a way that can give a temporary remission for autoimmune illnesses.

As far as managing symptoms during pregnancy, fatigue, low back and pelvic pain are common in most pregnant women. In fact one study found that 26% of healthy pregnant without fibromyalgia had widespread pain and fatigue severe enough to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia!

Another study found that 60% of healthy pregnant women reported fatigue during the last trimester and 75% complained of disturbed sleep.

So the addition of even more fatigue and pain due to pregnancy can be extremely challenging when added on to what someone with fibromyalgia is already dealing with. It is especially hard because in pregnancy our pain management toolbox shrinks due to medication safety concerns.

This is where the importance of self-care comes in– saying “no” and protecting your time, pacing activities and taking good care of your muscles with gentle stretching and movement. Gentle prenatal yoga- whether in classes or videos at home- and myofascial release self-treatment can be a life-saver for lowering back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. 

Are your food recommendations (from The Fibro Food Formula book) any different during pregnancy and nursing?

Generally my food recommendations are the same during pregnancy such as eating frequent protein and trying to avoid foods that you know you don’t tolerate still apply. But pregnancy is also not a time to try any strict diets or major dietary changes and due to nausea you may need to eat more carbs compared to protein. And pregnancy food cravings can be fierce. So my recommend is to eat what makes your pregnant body feel good. And if the baby demands donuts, eat the donuts!

Do you have any experience using low dose naltrexone during pregnancy? Do you have any resources/tips/ideas around this?

Side note: I (Melissa) personally used LDN in my third pregnancy and it was such a better experience for me (my first two dramatically worsened my pain and fatigue levels) and I am coping with the first year better than before and have managed to breastfeed successfully where I couldn’t maintain supply previously. I could never find any place to share my experience (like a register) or others experiences. I based my choice off Dr Phil Boyle’s work

Among practitioners that prescribe LDN it is considered safe in pregnancy, and in fact is used as a treatment for fertility. As you mentioned, anecdotally Dr. Phil Boyle has found LDN safe in his clinical practice.

There haven’t been any studies looking at LDN in pregnancy. In animal studies for naltrexone, the safety data is conflicting, with some showing that naltrexone had negative effects on growth and behavior and others showing positive effects.

The few human studies we do have looked at outcome of pregnancies in women taking higher doses of naltrexone as treatment for opioid abuse. These studies showed slightly higher rate of pregnancy complications, but the dosage of naltrexone is important to keep in mind.

We know that low-dose naltrexone has very different physiologic effects on the body than high doses so can’t assume that LDN would have the same effects in pregnancy as full dose. Also the patient populations in these studies have a history of drug abuse which puts them at a higher risk of pregnancy complications and poor prenatal care.

fertility, pregnancy, delivery and nursing with fibromyalgia

Have you come across any good guidelines for delivery/labor with fibromyalgia?

I have not found any good guidelines, but here is what I usually tell patients- and I admit it may be biased by my own experience, which is to have a low threshold to get an epidural. In fibromyalgia we experience so much pain over our lifetime, if there is a chance to experience a pain-free delivery, then I say go for it.

Of course, many women with fibromyalgia have natural labors with no epidural and do beautifully. Our bodies really are built to do this! But I personally had a brutal pregnancy with severe hyperemesis gravidarum with daily nausea and vomiting for 9 months that required multiple hospitalizations. So when it came time for delivery I happily got an epidural and had an enjoyable and pain-free birth. But of course, epidurals have risks so this is a very individual decision

In fibromyalgia we experience so much pain over our lifetime, if there is a chance to experience a pain-free delivery, then I say go for it.

In your work have you found nursing to be difficult for people with fibromyalgia? Do you have any tips? 

I do see nursing being an issue for women with fibromyalgia. For some women the challenge is milk production. I think the chronic fight or flight response we experience in fibromyalgia affects the hormones of lactation.

The other issue is pain caused by awkward or prolonged positioning associated with nursing. One study examined this issue and in interviews with 9 women with fibromyalgia found frequent reports of fatigue and pain interfering with the breastfeeding process and concerns about insufficient milk supply.

I initially had no issues with milk supply but at 3 months I had to go back to a very stressful hospital rotation and my milk supply dried up really quickly and I was not successful at pumping and had to quickly transition my daughter to formula.

Want to read more about breastfeeding with fibromyalgia? Check out this post.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say about women either trying to conceive, pregnancy, nursing or parenting with fibromyalgia? 

Well the other question I get asked the most is whether having fibromyalgia increases the risk of birth defects. The short answer is no it does not.

The longer answer is that having fibromyalgia does slightly increase risk of intrauterine growth restriction and smaller birth weight babies. This is likely due to the effects of the overactive fight or flight (stress response) as it is also seen in women with pregnancies experiencing external stressors such as war, poverty and intimate partner violence. But in those cases also see higher rates of preterm or early delivery, and that is not seen in women with fibromyalgia.

Well the other question I get asked the most is whether having fibromyalgia increases the risk of birth defects. The short answer is no it does not.

Dr Liptan has two highly recommended books that you might like to check out

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

The FibroManual – this is my go-to, I recommend it to everyone with fibromyalgia!

The Fibro Food Formula – the best book about nutrition and fibromyalgia, it takes into account how hard it is to enact some of the general recommendations out there and helps us to make the best choices possible.

If you want an actual book about pregnancy and fibromyalgia, mine is only one of two existing!

Thanks for reading this post. Please feel free to share it with those who need to read it. Let’s close this knowledge gap!

If you want community to do considering, trying to conceive, pregnancy, nursing and parenting with fibromyalgia – come and join our team over in the Facebook group.