If you've got pain, tiredness, and sleep trouble that go along with fibromyalgia, you may wonder if supplements can give you some relief. Medical experts are wrestling with the same question.
"While research on certain supplements is promising, it's still too early to say for sure if they help," says Kevin Fleming, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic at the Mayo Clinic.
To make things trickier, some pills may have harmful side effects. They also might not mix well with other medications or vitamins you take.
Choosing a Supplement
Before you decide to take one, check with your doctor. And always do your homework.
"You want to make sure that the benefits are worth the cost," Fleming says. "Consider how long a supplement has been used for fibromyalgia symptoms."
He says newer supplements that have become popular in the past 3 or 4 years don't have a lengthy track record, so the long-term effects aren't known.
Some common supplements that some people use:
Vitamin D. Experts aren't sure exactly why, but they think that you can get muscle and bone pain if you don't get enough of this nutrient.
In one study, researchers gave people with fibromyalgia who had low levels of vitamin D a daily supplement or a placebo (a dummy pill) for about 6 months. Those who took the supplement had less pain and fatigue.
"If you have fibromyalgia, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your vitamin D," Fleming says. If it's low, a supplement can raise your levels. But don't take a high-dose pill without your doctor's OK. More than 4,000 IU a day can lead to health problems, such as heart and kidney damage.
SAM-e. It's a substance that's found naturally in your body. It blocks cytokines, proteins in the body that cause inflammation, Fleming says. "It may also help boost mood, which can help you better handle the pain."
Danish researchers found that taking 800 milligrams every day for 6 weeks helped cut pain, fatigue, and tenderness in people with fibromyalgia.