Fybromyalgia can be debilitating for sufferers. Its associated with a long list of symptoms. These include insomnia, fatigue, headaches, numbness, menstrual irregularities, brain fog, depression and chronic pain. Conventional medicine often responds by treating the symptoms, sometimes relying merely on prescriptions of pain killers and anti-depressants. These can be of great relief to sufferers and can play a part in the journey back to health. Functional medicine however is concerned with getting to the origin of chronic illnesses such as this and treating the root cause rather than just the symptoms.
Treating the root cause
“In functional medicine we address these issues as a foundational element. We’re look at the microbiota. We’re looking at the gut and permeability issues and we’re looking at mitochondria and things like thyroid function in a much more granular way. And by optimising those things I think we get a lot more traction in a complex chronic disorder like this than if you just throw a drug or two at it.”
Functional medicine practitioners might explore a number of areas to find and treat these root causes in a patient.
The first of these is diet. Amy Myers, MD elaborates here that issues such as gluten intolerance or B12 defciency can often be a root cause. Understanding the patient’s tolerance to key foods via a food panel test can be the first step in developing a tailored nutritional plan.
The role of the microbiome
Understanding gut health and microbiome effectiveness might be the next step on the journey. Stool testing can be a powerful tool for understanding what might be going on in the gastro-intestinal tract. Or a broad health check test such as an Organix test that looks as gut, detox, oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction(fatigue), b12 and folate status as well as b-complex status can provide insight into any possible sources of inflammation or autoimmune issues.
Following any nutritional and gut microbiome interventions resulting from functional tests in these areas practitioners might also explore the role of thyroid activity in contributing to fybromyalgia and tests are also available to support understanding in these areas.
A complex chronic disease
Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic disease and requires careful exploration by the practitioner. In the words of Neurologist Dr Singar Jagadeesan,
“Fibromyalgia patients are good examples of chronic multi-system derangement. They have chronic inflammation. They have immune system problems. They have chronic infection problems. We need to evaluate them systematically to improve the underlying cause, rather than just controlling the pain.”