Herbs and supplements as fibromyalgia treatments may not work for everyone, although some people find them effective. If you decide to try an herb or supplement as a fibromyalgia treatment, be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you. Even though they're often labeled as "natural" products, herbs and supplements can cause serious side effects and interact with other drugs you may already be taking. Unlike drugs, herbs and supplements don’t have to receive FDA approval for effectiveness before they can be sold. In addition to talking with your doctor, it’s important to learn as much as you can about any alternative therapy before using one.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness
Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks ("fibro fog")
Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
Although studies about the effectiveness of herbs and supplements are limited and overall evidence has been inconclusive, researchers are beginning to research them more. Some small studies have been promising, but many study results have been mixed. In most cases, larger and controlled studies are needed.
Research is ongoing, but here are just a few of the herbs and supplements that people have tried to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms:
Anthocyanidin. This supplement is a type of flavonoid found in red-blue fruits like red cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and purple grapes that has been used to treat other types of chronic diseases. In one small study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found that anthocyanidins helped improve participants’ quality of sleep. Researchers found no improvement in the patients’ pain or fatigue. The side effects were minor, but can include nausea, indigestion, and nasal congestion. Not a lot is known about the safety of anthocyanidins
Capsaicin. Capsaicin is an extract of chili peppers that is applied to the skin in a cream. In a small study, capsaicin was found to significantly relieve tenderness in patients with fibromyalgia. However, it didn’t help improve pain or quality of sleep. Side effects can include redness and slight stinging or burning on the skin.