Managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia or
related ailments is not easy. So, many patients turn to alternative therapies
for relief of pain and sleep problems. They may use Chinese herbs or
over-the-counter supplements such as 5-HTP, melatonin, and SAM-e.
Because so many people -- not just those with fibromyalgia -- are using
alternative therapies, Congress has formed the National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). It is part of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), and it helps appraise alternative treatments,
including supplements, and define their effectiveness. This organization is now
creating safe guidelines to help people choose appropriate alternative
therapies that may help their symptoms without making them
Coping with Fibromyalgia
Because of a multifaceted treatment approach that involves medications and
lifestyle strategies, the prognosis for people with fibromyalgia is better
than ever before. But first, a doctor needs to make an accurate diagnosis of
fibromyalgia. Are you wondering how that's done?
Are Herbs and Supplements for Fibromyalgia Safe and Effective?
Some preliminary studies indicate that some medicinal herbs and natural
supplements may help treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. Other studies of herbs and
natural supplements, though, are less positive. If you want to take a natural
approach to treating fibromyalgia, it's
important to learn as much as you can about the therapies you consider. The
herbs and natural supplements described in this article are just some of the
alternative therapies that may have an impact on fibromyalgia.
How Does 5-HTP Help Fibromyalgia Pain?
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a building block of serotonin.
Serotonin is a powerful brain chemical, and serotonin levels play a significant
role in fibromyalgia pain. Serotonin levels are also associated with depression and sleep.
For those with fibromyalgia, 5-HTP may help to increase deep sleep and
reduce pain. In one study published in the Alternative Medicine Review,
researchers reported that supplementation with 5-HTP may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fibromyalgia
pains. However, there are some contradictory studies that show no benefit with
5-HTP is usually well tolerated. But in the late 1980s, the supplement was
associated with a serious condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. It's
thought that a contaminant in 5-HTP led to the condition, which causes flu-like
symptoms, severe muscle pain, and burning rashes.
Can Melatonin Help Relieve Sleep Problems Associated With Fibromyalgia?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that's available as an over-the-counter
supplement. It is sometimes used to induce drowsiness and improve sleep
patterns. Some preliminary findings show that melatonin may be effective in
treating fibromyalgia pain. Most patients with fibromyalgia have sleep problems
and fatigue, and it's thought that
melatonin may help relieve these symptoms.
Melatonin is generally regarded as safe with few to no side effects. Due to
the risk of daytime sleepiness, though, anyone taking melatonin should use
caution when driving until they know how it affects them.
Is St. John's Wort a Helpful Fibromyalgia Herb?
There's no specific evidence that St. John's wort is helpful in treating
fibromyalgia. However, this herb is often used in treating depression, and
depression is commonly associated with fibromyalgia.