Herbs and Supplements for Fibromyalgia
Is St. John's Wort a Helpful Fibromyalgia Herb? continued...
There are several studies that show St. John's wort is more effective than
placebo and as effective as older antidepressants called
tricyclics in the short-term treatment of mild or moderate depression. Other
studies show St. John's wort is as effective as selective SSRI
antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft in treating
St John's wort is usually well tolerated. The most common side effects are
stomach upset, skin reactions, and fatigue. St.
John's wort should not be mixed with antidepressants and can cause interactions
with many types of drugs. If you're on medication,
check with your doctor before taking St. John's wort or any supplement. In
addition, be careful about taking St. John's wort with other drugs,
including antidepressants, as it could make you ill.
How Can SAM-e Help Fibromyalgia Pain and Depression?
It's not known exactly how SAM-e works in the body. Some feel this natural
supplement increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain
neurotransmitters. Although some researchers believe that SAM-e may alter mood
and increase restful sleep, current studies do not appear to show any benefit
of SAM-e over placebo in reducing the number of tender points or in alleviating
depression with fibromyalgia. Additional study is needed to confirm these
Can L-carnitine Help Improve Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
The studies are limited, but it's thought that L-carnitine may give some
pain relief and treat other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia. In one study,
researchers evaluated the effectiveness of L-carnitine in 102 patients with
fibromyalgia. Results showed significantly greater symptom improvements in the
group that took L-carnitine than in the group that took a placebo. The
researchers concluded that while more studies are warranted, L-carnitine may
provide pain relief and improvement in the general and mental health of patients with
What About the Effect of Probiotics on Digestive Problems Associated With Fibromyalgia?
Probiotics are dietary supplements that
contain potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. They may assist with the
breakdown and proper absorption of food and help improve digestive problems
such as irritable bowel syndrome -- a
common symptom of fibromyalgia. Some of the ways probiotics are used
- treating diarrhea
- preventing and treating infections of the urinary tract or female genital
- treating irritable bowel syndrome
Side effects of taking probiotics are usually mild and include gas or bloating.
There are other herbs and natural supplements that people say have helped manage fibromyalgia symptoms.
They include echinacea, black cohosh, cayenne, lavender, milk thistle, and B
vitamins. Nevertheless, there are no definitive studies on the efficacy of
these natural therapies.
How Can I Know Which Herb or Natural Supplement Will Help my Fibromyalgia?
Before taking any herb or supplement for fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor
or pharmacist about possible side effects or herb-drug interactions. Herbal
therapies are not recommended for pregnant women, children, the
elderly, or those with weakened immune systems. In addition, some herbs have
sedative or blood-thinning qualities, which may dangerously interact with
anti-inflammatory painkillers or other pain medications. Others may cause
stomach upset if taken in large doses.