Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder suffered by millions of people worldwide. It occurs in people of all ages, even children, and affects more women than men. It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances, brain fog and depression.
Its cause is still a mystery among doctors, but recent imaging study found that fibromyalgia patients have unique brain activity. In the study published online last January 26 in Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers found that FM patients have an increased connectivity between their S1 somatosensory cortex and anterior insula in response to pain compared with healthy individuals. The anterior insula is noted to be an important structure for pain and for how much an individual can attend to a sensation. This study provides evidence that while FM patients have no obvious injury, their pain is legitimate and is caused by their brain functioning differently.
One question still begs answering though, what causes the brain to function differently?
Conventional medicine has yet to find the answer, but functional medicine – which seeks to find the root cause of chronic diseases like FM – offers some possible causes for this mysterious disorder:
Magnesium, Vitamin D and B12 Deficiency
Many patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia are observed to have vitamin deficiencies, and some physicians have had several patients who completely reverse their FM symptoms by taking magnesium supplement alone.
Glutathione is our body’s master antioxidant. It plays a big role in our body’s detoxification system and performs many functions, including regulation of cell growth and division, protein synthesis, metabolism of toxins and carcinogens, and neutralizing of heavy metals. In FM patients, the body’s toxic burden gets to high that the body’s glutathione level is not enough to combat them or that the enzymes needs to recycle and produce glutathione are lacking. Taking glutathione supplements or its precursors often help patients recover from pain and fatigue dramatically.
MTHFR Gene Mutation
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is one of the body’s most important enzymes in that it has an influence in many of our biochemical processes. Mutations in MTHFR production have been associated with fibromyalgia. It hinders the methylation and detoxification of toxins, such as mercury and lead.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overall Growth (SIBO) and Leaky Gut
A number of studies found that there’s a connection between fibromyalgia and problems in the gut. Over 70% of FM patients reported gastrointestinal illness and irritable bowel syndrome. Up to 50% of FM sufferers also have functional dyspepsia or indigestion. A study conducted by researchers at Cedats-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. also found that 100% of fibromyalgia patients have SIBO. Also, a research of 40 FM patients showed that 70% of study participant had intestinal permeability or leaky gut.