Supplement Options for Fibromyalgia
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that involves widespread muscle pain (myalgias) and joint pain (arthralgias). Fibromyalgia is thought to be due to central sensitization, which causes chronic pain and pain amplification due to a dysfunction in the way the brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals.
Certain supplements may help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia; however, it is important to consult a health care provider before trying any type of supplement. Some supplements that may be help include the following:
- 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and increases the hormone serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to contribute to fibromyalgia. In addition to pain, 5-HTP may improve depression, anxiety and insomnia symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. It is important to note that taking 5-HTP with antidepressants or any serotonin-related medications may lead to serotonin syndrome, a potentially dangerous condition caused by excess levels of serotonin in the body.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant found in every cell in the body. It’s also found in brewer’s yeast, spinach, or red and organ meats. It may help protect the brain and nerve tissue from damage caused by free radicals. ALA may reduce diabetic nerve pain, and a trial study is currently underway to determine its potential for reducing fibromyalgia pain.
- Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce fibromyalgia pain.
- Magnesium is a mineral found in leafy greens, seeds, and wheat bran. It is also available as a supplement. Women with fibromyalgia often have low levels of magnesium. Supplementing with magnesium may help relax muscles, helping to ease the pain of fibromyalgia. Magnesium may also reduce the number of “tender points.”
- Melatonin is a supplement used to induce drowsiness and help regulate sleep patterns. Supplementing with melatonin may help reduce the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Melatonin has few side effects; however, caution should be used when driving.
- SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) helps produce and breakdown serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters. SAMe can help regulate mood and may benefit those with fibromyalgia by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine.
- St. John’s Wort is a supplement used to treat depression. Depression can perpetuate fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes. Common side effects include fatigue, upset stomach, and skin reactions. It is important to consult a health care professional before taking St. John’s wort as it interacts with several medications and supplements.
- Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body during sun exposure. Low levels of vitamin D are common, particularly in the winter, and are associated with fatigue and chronic pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia.