Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fibro Doctors Chose Pfzier Over You

To Read the Full Article, click HERE.

According to this article, a program funded by Pfizer concluded that Lyrica, Cymbalta, or Savella or cognitive behavioral therapy is the only answer to your fibro symptoms! If you go to a healthcare provider that only considered these options, you need to find another provider.  Pfizer promotes these as the roadmap to sucess for fibro patients, but this is not reality. What you need to know is that for these drugs, each one only works in one out of 8 to 15 patients ... that is they only work for 6-12% of the fibro suffers trying these drugs!!!!  So beware of physicians who only provide these as options for fibro relief.

You should also be aware of new criteria that appeared in print in 2010: these criteria don't require a doctor to examine or talk to you; identifying your illness has been reduced to filling out a 2-page form.  The criteria were disguised as an easier way for primary care providers to diagnose fibromyalgia, but more than likely, it expands the diagnosis to anyone who has muscle pain and trouble sleeping.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aspartame and Fibro Pain

Can your diet soda be making your fibro symptoms worse? One small change may help you feel a little better. I am talking about eliminating a common artificial sweetener from your diet. One of the low/no-calorie sweeteners called Aspartmae contains aspartate which is an amino acid that can work as a neurotransmitter stimulant that increases pain signling to the brain! It has been linked to fibro symptoms and widespread pain in one case study and suspected in others.  Steer clear of products containing Aspartame (you may find it even in toothpastes, yogurts,  and chewing gum -- so check your food labels).  Below is a list of sweetners with Aspartame:
  • Nutrasweet
  • Equal
  • Neotame
  • Aminosweet
  • Canderel
  • Spoonful
  • Equal-Measure
  • SC-18862
If you must have a low/no-calorie sweetener, some alternatives are:
  • Sweet n' Low (saccharin)
  • Spenda (sucralose)
  • Stevia (herbal extract - beware that is does contain low amounts of maltodextrin (glutamate))
Personally, I avoid any type of low/no-calorie sweetner because they can give me headaches/migraines and increase anxiety.  I go for plain old fashioned sugar and honey but stay away from high fructose corn syrup.

Maybe changing your sweetener  choices today will help some of your pain go away!

Source: Diet and Nutrition: Fibromyalgia Network


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some Info About St. John's Wort

Today I would like to pass along some information about St. John's Wort.  Right up front, you need to know that I have the blessing of my doctor to use this supplement instead of the SSRIs I have been taking for ALONG time. My reasons for wanting to discontinue taking SSRIs are numerous but a few of them are: water retention and weight gain. These two side effects have resulted in taking OTHER medications to reduce water retention and reduce my cholesterol which is high because I've gained weight (see a pattern here?). And lead to their own set of side effects which then require more medication to alleviate!

 The biggest problem I face when not taking SSRIs is severe leg, arm and chest cramping, low mood, and anxiety. More on leg cramp remedies in another post because today I would like to focus on St. John's Wort. Much of this information is summarized from  here and here.

 What is St. John’s Wort?
St. John's wort is a plant with yellow flowers that has been used as a treatment for depression and anxiety through the active ingredient Hypericum perforatum. The plant gets its name because it is often in full bloom around June 24, the day traditionally celebrated as the birthday of John the Baptist. Both the flowers and leaves are used as medicine. It is considered a weed in most of the United States. St. John's wort has been used as a medicine dating back to ancient Greece. St. John's wort also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

St. John' s wort has been studied extensively as a treatment for depression. Most studies show that St. John's wort may help treat mild-to-moderate depression, and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants.

 St. John’s Wort and MAJOR DEPRESSION
DO NOT treat severe depression with St. John’s wort – If you are not under medical supervision for severe depression, call your doctor NOW! If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe and, in some cases, may be associated with suicide. Consult a health care provider if you or someone you care about may be experiencing depression.

Treating Mild Depression
There is scientific evidence that St. John's wort is useful for milder forms of depression. Before taking St. John’s wort, you need to consult your doctor, especially if you are taking any type of prescription medication -- St. John's wort interacts with certain drugs, and these interactions can limit the effectiveness of some prescription medicines. Always let your health care

How Does St. John’s Wort Work?
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) contains many chemical compounds. Some are believed to be the active ingredients that produce the herb's effects, including the compounds hypericin and hyperforin. Preliminary studies suggest that St. John's wort might work by preventing nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing the chemical messenger serotonin, or by reducing levels of a protein involved in the body's immune system functioning (much like SSRIs).

St. John's wort has been used over the centuries for mental conditions, nerve pain, and a wide variety of other health conditions. Today, St. John's wort is used for anxiety, mild to moderate depression, and sleep disorders.  (These three things are what I take St. John’s Wort for: anxiety, low mood, and sleep problems).

In the United States, St. John's wort products are sold as:

·       Capsules and tablets

·       Teas—the dried herb is added to boiling water and steeped

·       Liquid extracts—specific types of chemicals are removed from the herb, leaving the desired chemicals in a concentrated form.

About Depression
Depression is a medical condition that affects nearly 21 million American adults each year. Mood, thoughts, physical health, and behavior all may be affected.

Symptoms of depression commonly include:

·       Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings

·       Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

·       Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

·       Restlessness or irritability

·       Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that the person once enjoyed

·       Fatigue and decreased energy

·       Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and/or making decisions Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

·       Overeating, or appetite loss

·       Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

·       Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment.

Depression comes in several forms and its symptoms and severity can vary from person to person. For example:

 Major Depression
(also called major depressive disorder), people experience symptoms that interfere with their ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and take pleasure in activities they once enjoyed. Symptoms last for at least 2 weeks but frequently last for several months or longer.

(also called dysthymic disorder), a less severe, but more chronic form of depression, people experience symptoms that are not as disabling but keep them from functioning well or feeling good. Symptoms last at least 2 years. Many people with dysthymia also have episodes of major depression. In bipolar disorder (also called manic–depressive illness), people have periods of depressive symptoms that alternate or may co-exist with periods of mania. Symptoms of mania include abnormally high levels of excitement and energy, racing thoughts, and behavior that is impulsive and inappropriate.

Minor Depression
In addition, milder forms of depression exist that fall into the category of minor depression. In minor depression, people experience the same symptoms as major depression, but they are fewer in number and are less disabling. Symptoms last at least 6 months but less than 2 years continuously.

What the Science Says About St. John's Wort for Depression
St. John's wort may have only minimal beneficial effects on major depression. However, the analysis also found that St. John's wort may benefit people with minor depression; these benefits may be similar to those from standard antidepressants. Overall, St. John's wort appeared to produce fewer side effects than some standard antidepressants.

Side Effects and Risks
The most common side effects of St. John's wort include dry mouth, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and fatigue. Taking St. John's wort can limit the effectiveness of some prescription medicines, including: Antidepressant medicines; Birth control pills; Cyclosporine, a medicine that helps prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs; Digoxin, a medicine used to strengthen heart muscle contractions; Indinavir and other medicines used to control HIV infection; Irinotecan and other anticancer medicines; Warfarin and related medicines used to thin the blood (known as anticoagulants). When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John's wort also may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.

Herbal Products: Issues To Consider
Herbal products such as St. John's wort are classified as dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The strength and quality of herbal products are often unpredictable. Products can differ in content not only from brand to brand, but from batch to batch. Information on labels may be misleading or inaccurate.

How to Take It
You should not take St. John’s Wort without consulting your doctor. Please consultthis website for more information.

 For adults:

·       Dry herb (in capsules or tablets):
The usual dose for mild depression and mood disorders is 300 mg (standardized to 0.3% hypericin extract), 3 times per day, with meals. St. John's wort is available in time-release capsules.

·       Liquid
St. John' s Wort is also available as a liquid extract or a tea. Ask your doctor to help you find the right dose.

It may take 3 - 4 weeks to feel any effects from St. John's wort.

Don' t stop taking St. John' s wort all at once, because that may cause unpleasant side effects. Gradually lower the dose before stopping.

Again, you should see a doctor to make sure you have the right diagnosis before taking St. John's wort. Your doctor can help you determine the right dose and make sure you are not taking any other medications that might interact with St. John's wort.

Side effects from St. John's wort are generally mild and include stomach upset, hives or other skin rashes, fatigue, restlessness, headache, dry mouth, and feelings of dizziness or mental confusion. St. John's wort can also make the skin overly sensitive to sunlight, called photodermatitis. If you have light skin and are taking St. John's wort, wear long sleeves and a hat when in the sun, and use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 or higher. Avoid sunlamps, tanning booths, and tanning beds.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Anyone for an Energy Drink? Natural Alternatives

You hear a lot about energy drinks these days, but for someone with fibro the ingredients in the drinks could cause a flare up if they are sensitive to it.  Today in my post I'll pass along 3 recipes for natural energy drinks and some information, but if you'd like to read the whole article, click here.

Energy drinks can contain alot of sugar, caffeine, stimulants, red food dye, and taurine (among other things). I stay away from them: 1. because of the sugar or artifical sweeteners; 2. caffeine and stimulants (doesn't help with my insomnia); and red food dye. And since they can cause anxiety, I stay away from them because I tend to have free-range anxiety.

Energy drinks do not hydrate the body either so don't rely on them for hydration. Energy drinks mask fatigue and you can acutally feel worse in the long run by feeling more tired and having put stress on your adrenal system. Headaches, nausea, and severe irritability are a few symptoms of energy drinks that I can do without. So the drinks become addictive because to avoid the symptoms you need to drink more.

So what can you do to increase your energy?

1. Get enough protein - you can get good protein in egg whites, fish, turkey, chicken breasts, and non-fate cottage cheese.  Protein shakes are a good choice just use high-quality whey protein. Also, be sure if you are purchasing protein shakes you are NOT purchasing ones for weight gain!!!

2. Sleep more - I know this is a tough one for us fibro suffers. Melatonin is a good choice. Start with 3 mg about 20 minutes before bedtime (you can increase the dose as high as 9 mg - but don't go higher without advice from your doctor). Six drops of oxytocin can ease anxiety and help you sleep longer.

3. Drink water! If you are even a little dehyrated your metabolism can slow down up to 3%.

For three great recipes (super energizer smoothie; pineapple-mint infused water; and lemon-lime water), click here.

Well, that's my tip for you today! I hope you enjoyed reading it.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Patches of Sunshine

Sometimes its hard to be positive or even have hope when you are going through a "bad" fibro flare. If you are a reader, you might want to check out Nancy Sonneman's devotional book "Patches of Sunshine: A Daily Devotional for Fibromyalgia Patients." Although a great way to start your day, it would be useful anytime when you need a little uplifting of your spirit.  It is a sweet devotional for anyone suffering from a chronic illness too.  Check out your local library and borrow the book for awhile or your can still purchase it through or eBay (for a bargain).
If this doesn't sound like your cup or tea, you can do a Goggle search on words like "fibromyalgia devotions or meditations" for other resources out there. Just remember to take care of your spiritual hurts as well as your physical ones -- it really helps you to deal more positively with the limitations of fibro.
Hope you have a great day today!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Stylish Side of Fibro

Tunic by TravelSmith
What do you wear? Does it contribute to your pain? Lets face it --- fashion hurts! I learned a long time ago, that if I can wake up knowing the clothes I will be wearing that day are going to be comfortable, then it makes getting up and getting dressed for work 100% easier and puts me in a better mood for the day. My clothes choices are loose-fitting, lightweight, and non-constricting (and yes, you can be stylish, it just takes some searching around – I do my searching via the web and almost 90% of my clothing purchases are via web catalogs). I laughingly call my style “pajama chic.” And NO, you do not have to live a life in sweatshirts and sweatpants to help ease your fibro sypmptoms!  There are alot of choices out there, its just takes some searching.

So far, I am not sensitive to things like rayon and other non-natural fibers, but if you find you are then its best to stay with natural materials like wool and cotton. Do I wear pantyhose: It is control top? Yes and yes (in the workplace).  However, I buy two sizes larger than I need so that I get a little control without feeling like I'm encased in a sausage (I like
Nononsence Silk Indulgence).

Skinny jeans and other tight-fitting clothing is not found in my closet, etither.  These things will not make you feel better and will only add to your fibro discomfort.  My "at home" and leisure clothes include a lot of cotton Tees and draw-string/elastic exercise pants. I also LOVE the peasant pajama sets by GEORGE that Walmart carries. They are great to lounge around in when I come home from work (I have quite a few in most of the colors that Walmart carries). The added bonus is I don't feel "doudy" around the hubby when I wear these!

  • Necklaces as they hurt sensitive pressure points on my neck (I do wear earrings, bracelets, and rings but they come off the minute I am at home!).
  • Turtlenecks (I wear scarves when its cold outside).
  • High-heels (I opt for stylish low heels to avoid back pain).
  • Bras with underwires (it goes without saying).
  • Pants and skirts without elastic or drawstrings).
  • Bulky sweaters or heavy-weight clothing (avoid the weight that can cause pressure on tender points).
  • Anything that is too tight - when pants are worn too tightly and ride low on the body, the nerves in the back can become compressed leading to more pain).
  • Dress pants that are made of travel knit.
  • Loose-fitting shirts and knit tops.
  • Tunics.
  • Good pairs of runnin/walking shoes.
  • Birkenstock sandals (but only with the soft footbeds).
  • Ballet and Maryjane flats

So pick a day you are feeling better, go through your closet and take all your non-comfies to your local consignment or charity shop and stock up on more comfies to help ease your body and spirit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5-MTHF Supplementation

In a previous post, I mentioned that there is a link between fibromyalgia and a faulty MTHFR gene.  If you are interested in trying supplementation with methylated folate, here is a $5 coupon (coupon code URI383) from  There are many manufacturers of this supplement, but I like Thorne Labs 5-MTHF which you can purchase in 1 mg or 5 mg capsules.