For those who desire natural alternatives to relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia such as pain, inflammation and stiffness, supplements can be a viable solution. Supplements such as vitamin D and others are known remedies for alleviating pain caused by fibromyalgia. The following list of supplements is recommended by a variety of experts to help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If you are not taking supplements for your fibromyalgia, you may be missing out on some amazing options to relieve some of your symptoms.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a fibromyalgia specialist and director of the Fatigue & Fibromyalgia Practitioners Network, says in his book The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, “The right supplements can help muscles relax, which leads to pain reduction, or even prevent pain altogether.”
While this is great information, you may be wondering which supplements will help ease the pain of fibromyalgia.
The following supplements are evidence-based supplements known to relieve the pain of fibromyalgia.
- Brown Seaweed Extract
A lot of people haven’t heard of this supplement before, but it’s well worth looking into.
According to Dr. Nehad Soloman, a rheumatologist for Valley Arthritis Care in Arizona, brown seaweed extract has great potential for combating chronic pain.
Research has proven that a daily dose of 1,000 mg of brown seaweed extract significantly reduces chronic pain and stiffness by 52%, and this benefit can be seen as early as after one week’s use.
- Fish Oil
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a great anti-inflammatory agent for decreasing pain caused by fibromyalgia.The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil reduce the body’s production of prostaglandins, a hormone known to cause inflammation. The lower levels of prostaglandins lead to less stiffness and less joint pain.
Although fish oil supplements are safe to use, Dr. Soloman recommends using a fish oil supplement that is mercury-free.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 1 or 2 tablespoons of fish oil (which is the equivalent to 1 or 2 capsules) daily to improve immune system functioning and reduce. However, if you are on Coumadin (Warfarin) or any other blood-thinning medication, you may want to ask your doctor first about using fish oil supplements.
Dr. Teitelbaum says the body needs magnesium to maintain a healthy heart, healthy kidneys and healthy bones, but it also needs magnesium to alleviate weakness, back pain and muscle spasms.
Women who suffer from fibromyalgia often tend to have a magnesium deficiency, which is why magnesium supplements such as mag glycinate tablets are often used to ease the symptoms of the condition.
A study done in 2011 by Ajou University School of Medicine in Korea used women’s hair to determine their magnesium levels. A total of 166 women were used for the study, 44 of which had fibromyalgia. The results of the study revealed lower levels of magnesium in the group with fibromyalgia than those who did not have the condition.
Another study done in 2013 by a team of researchers at Acibadem University Medical School in Istanbul, Turkey revealed lower levels of magnesium in women who had fibromyalgia versus those who did not have the condition. However, after getting on a 300 mg/day magnesium citrate supplement for 8 weeks, the women with fibromyalgia reported having less pain and fewer occurrences of other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Certain foods are rich in magnesium if you eat them raw (because half the magnesium is removed when these foods are cooked). These foods are spinach, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, 100% wheat bran cereal and leafy green vegetables.
The Mayo Clinic recommends taking between 280 to 300 mg of magnesium daily with meals to get the maximum benefit from the supplement.
If you have kidney disease or are taking high blood pressure medicines or antibiotics, consult with your doctor before trying magnesium supplements because magnesium supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications.
Fibromyalgia pain is often caused by tight muscles. Dr. Teitelbaum says that muscles need energy to relax and ease the pain. Ribose supplements can help your body use energy to relax your muscles and ease fibromyalgia pain.Ribose is a sugar that produces an increase of 61% of energy output in the body. According to a 2012 article in The Open Pain Journal, Dr. Teitelbaum stated that a 5g dose of ribose taken three times daily will lessen fibromyalgia pain by almost 15.6%. The results of Teitelbaum’s study published in this article concluded that
“D-ribose may be a promising therapeutic option for patients with CFS and FMS [fibromyalgia], offering a significant improvement in their quality of life.”5. SAMe
S-Adenosyl methionine (popularly known as SAMe) is a synthetic version of a protein the body uses to maintain healthy cells. Dr. Soloman says that SAMe helps our immune system operate properly, and it helps in forming DNSA and cartilage.When we get older, our bodies decrease their production of SAMe, which is why many older adults often complain of body aches—especially when they are in their 40s. According to Dr. Soloman, using SAMe supplements not only decreases your aches and pains, but it also makes you feel better, improving your overall mood.
Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center on fibromyalgia suggests people start with 200 mg of SAMe and gradually increase to 400 mg twice daily to prevent stomach discomfort. However, you may want to ask your doctor what the best dosage for your needs may be.
- Vitamin D
Although Vitamin D is commonly used for bone health, a 2014 study found in the Pain journal revealed it is also great for alleviating the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.The study involved 30 female patients with fibromyalgia. The subjects were placed in two groups: one that took a vitamin D supplement and one that had a placebo.After one week of use, the group taking the vitamin D supplement reported having a better range of motion, fewer instances of pain and less fatigue than the placebo group.
According to the National Institute of Health, although exposure to the sun helps our body produce vitamin D, many women (those that have darker skin tones, are obese and are older) are still deficient in the nutrient.
People who have certain health conditions like Crohn’s Disease or celiac are prone to vitamin D deficiency. Also, people who wear sunscreen or don’t get much exposure to sunlight are prone to have low levels of vitamin D.
Unfortunately, there are few foods out there that contain natural sources of vitamin D. Therefore, many women must take vitamin D supplements to get enough of this nutrient.
The National Institutes of Health states that people between ages 1-70 need between 600-4,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day to maintain an adequate amount of the nutrient. However, before beginning any supplement, you should always consult with your doctor to find out if it’s recommended you take supplements to alleviate your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Things to Remember When Taking Supplements
Immunology professor Dr. David Pisetsky of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. tells us that too much of any medicine—prescription drugs or supplements, can be harmful to the body because many they can have a lot of side effects. Therefore, always consult with your doctor before incorporating any supplements into your diet.
Questions you need to ask your doctor before taking any supplement:
1. What is the recommended dose for my needs?
2. When is the best time to take the supplement, and should I take it with food?
3. Will this supplement have a negative reaction when interacting with my other medications?
4. Are there any side effects that may aggravate my fibromyalgia instead of making it better (i.e., insomnia or depression)?