Is this unexplained illness affecting you?

The Good Life Letter

20th November  2009

  • The BIG problem with fibromyalgia...

  • 5 remedies for you to try

It must have been pretty easy to have been a doctor a few centuries ago...

So easy that I think even I could have qualified.

Because no matter what the complaint, there were very few proven remedies available to ye
Olde Worlde GPS...

"Verily doctor my back doth kill me!"

"Hmmmm... I'll write you out a prescription for leeches. Use four a day, with mead."

"Doctor, mine stomach doth make the most devilish noises."

"Hmmmm... leeches I think. Every morning, before Ye Olde Breakfast TV."

"Doctor, my leg hath gone green."

"Green you say? Nurse, pass me the saw!"

Of course there were home-spun remedies and treatments that were passed down from generation to generation (and we STILL use some of these today - well, us Good Lifers do), but the more official, mainstream medicine tried to corner and ailment and EXPLAIN it away, the more they seemed to be left stuck for answers.

And even though giant strides have been made in scientifically-proved treatments and medicines, especially in the 20th century, there are still dozens of ailments and illnesses that leave mainstream medicine baffled.

M.E. is the one that gets the most headlines. But there's another ailment that affects a huge number of people in this country.

I can't find a official number of sufferers, but various reports suggest that as little as 1% and as many as 7% of the population suffer from this ailment.

Yet it seems that certain factions in mainstream medicine are happy to 'get out the leeches' and file this ailment away under 'not urgent'...

The BIG problem with fibromyalgia...

Fibromyalgia is not life threatening.

It's not contagious.

And even now it's not well understood.

Basically, because this problem is not a major killer or hitting the headlines, it seems like it's a second-class ailment.

But the symptoms can cause sufferers years and years of pain...

The muscles fibres can feel like they're on fire, joints can feel inflamed, it can hurt when you touch things, and much like a lot of unexplained illnesses, you can suffer from severe fatigue.

And that's not all...

Sleep can be disturbed, and you can suffer from a lack of mental sharpness, or 'brain fog' as it's cutely called.

And you can guess what the mainstream reaction to this is can't you...?

If there's a problem with mental sharpness and alertness - then it's a mental problem.

Basically, it's all in the mind.

That theory is supported by fact that traumatic events can often trigger fibromyalgia... car accidents, major surgery, even recovering from another major illness can all start it off.

And so, because fibromyalgia is not well understood, many doctors believe the cause is psychosomatic.

That's not to say they don't treat the symptoms seriously - they're all too real and no doctor wants to see their patients suffering.

But the minute something is unexplained, it tends to be thrown in the health lost property box, and patients can be left no alternative but to find their own remedies.

Now, at present, there aren't that many options available.

Some sufferers use anti-inflamatories such as ibuprofen to ease the pain. Others use antidepressants such as amitriptyline and trazodone to help them sleep.

But these are man-made baddies, and in the case of anti-depressants and 'hypnotics' (basically sleeping pills), they can lead to addiction.

So I've been looking for natural remedies that might help. And this is what I've found:

5 remedies for you to try

- Applying heat to the areas affected can sometimes help ease pain - but this is only temporary. Try using a flannel soaked in boiling water (as hot as you can stand).

- Using a chiropractioner helps many people. Find one in your area through this NHS directory: 

- Use diet and overall wellbeing to fight the problem. This is something I bang on and on about, but I really believelooking after yourself (both physically and mentally) can help combat a whole host of ailments - so why should fibromyalgia be any different? Eat fresh, LOCAL foods, try and sleep at regular times (even if you don't feel like it), get walking and get your heart pumping... these are the basics for overall good health.

- Gingko Biloba - I've mentioned this tons of times too, but I'm always happy to give something this good more publicity. Ginkgo leaves contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids, and has been used for centuries to sharpen the memory and help fight vertigo and dizziness.

- Magnesium -  I've seen a lot of reports that magnesium and malic acid (a fruit acid found naturally in apples) are useful weapons in the fight against fibromyalgia, but there's something you should know about this possible remedy that is not always shouted about...

In a double-blind study, a group of 24 sufferers were either given a dose of  magnesium (50 mg three times a day) and malic acid (200 mg three times a day), or were given a placebo.  And after 4 weeks, the effect of each 'remedy' was the SAME, which suggests that magnesium and malic acid do nothing to relieve symptoms.

And that could have been that. However, the researchers pressed on, and continued to give the same group larger doses of magnesium and malic acid for 6 months (against some still on a placebo).

Plus, they did something else that was interesting...

They told each patient whether they were taking a placebo or a real remedy.
The result...?

The sufferers who took the magnesium/malic acid combination reported a significant drop in pain compared to the placebo group.

What I don't get is why didn't the researchers re-run the test at the initial levels of magnesium/malic acid? That would have pinpointed whether the effects of the remedy were imagined or real.

I guess I could be nitpicking. Basically, sufferers felt better after taking the larger dose - and whether that was an imagined relief or a real relief might not really matter.

BUT - before you go galloping off to buy magnesium supplements, ALWAYS check with your doctor before embarking on any natural remedy.

You can up your intake of this mineral by eating more green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Right, that's it for today. I'll be back again on Sunday with more ideas, advice or opinion to help keep you healthy and happy!




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