Note: The following information has been gleaned from my own personal research. I am not a doctor nor a medical professional, so I cannot diagnose or treat anyone. I am a victim of FS and CMP who has recovered. Hopefully, my own experiences with fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain will help others.
Fibromyalgia has often been described as a neuro-muscular syndrome. It may or may not be an autoimmune disorder. The medical community has designated it as a syndrome with no known cause and no known cure. The most pronounced symptom is pain (especially when the patient lies down to rest), when nerves collect, retain, and then fire off pain signals. Victims describe the pain as highly varied – electrical, shooting, stabbing, burning, pressure, and soreness. Other symptoms include fatigue (secondary to the pain and especially in the muscles), foggy-mindedness (“fibro-fog”), irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and inability to relax into deep, rejuvenating sleep. Certain tender pain spots are common to most fibromyalgia patients, and doctors use them for diagnosis after ruling out disorders with similar symptoms, notably MS. Doctors often prescribe pain medication and anti-depressants (which seem to improve sleep patterns).
CMP, or Chronic Myofascial Pain, is different from, but often found with fibromyalgia. The myofascia is the membranous substance that encloses each muscle fiber, each group of muscle fibers, and the entire muscle. These membranes then gather and form tendons and ligaments. In CMP, the membranes stiffen and contract, pulling the muscles into odd lumps and causing pain. The membranes tear in micro-lesions, and these lesions scar as they heal, reducing elasticity. Knees may give way, pain grows in muscles and around joints. Exercise is painful and causes more knots and perhaps permanent damage. In serious or prolonged cases geloid masses may form in the muscles. CMP is easier to diagnose than fibromyalgia. The knots are easy for a doctor to feel and even to map.
Fibromyalgia and CMP seem to have the same, mysterious cause and appear to be closely related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Onset often follows a period of severe emotional or physical stress. The syndromes can last for months or years, often worsening over time. Cases seem to be increasing in number. Most victims are women (outnumbering men 9 to 1). Many sufferers also have hypoglycemia.
Though doctors and researchers cannot agree on a cause for fibromyalgia, the condition (or a tendency towards it) seems to run in families. It cannot be determined whether the syndrome is new and becoming more frequent, or whether it has always existed(“the rheumatiz”?) and is just now being recognized and validated as a real (rather than imagined) disorder.
When I fell prey to fibromyalgia and CMP, I decided not to opt for the standard medical treatment of pain-killers and anti-depressants. This (plus a very restricted cash flow) forced me to dive into research and find a therapy for myself. What I have really wanted is to find a likely cause and a method to reverse it. Most of the therapies readily available address symptoms (and that rather clumsily), but promise no cure. I followed the guaifenesin protocol (see for a while. This treatment was devised by Dr. St. Amand of UCLA. His theory is that electrolytes (calcium, phosphorus, oxalates) gather inside muscle cells as debris, probably because a genetic abnormality keeps the body from sloughing off trash electrolytes. They prevent the cells from oxygenating properly, so that weight-bearing exercise stops being constructive. Electrolytes around nerves cause them to fire. Guaifenesin supposedly rids the cells of these electrolytes. Guaifenesin is the active ingredient in Tussin cough syrup, and is so benign that it has virtually no side effects. However, salicylates block its action, so aspirin and herbal remedies have to be abandoned. One must be especially careful not to use anything herbal on one’s skin, since all plants contain salicylates. Therefore, the treatment necessitates abandoning natural products and seeking out personal care products that are totally chemical. Labels must be read very carefully. It’s almost impossible to find a toothpaste that qualifies. Lists of acceptable products and ingredients are available on the internet. Guaifenesin is available in up to 400 mg. tablets without prescription, and it can be orderedvery cheaply over the internet. 600 mg. tablets are available by prescription only. Some people must take up to 2400 mg. daily to diminish their symptoms, and they may feel much worse before they feel better.
My own theory of the cause of fibromyalgia/CMP is close to Dr. St. Amand’s, but I think I’ve determined the cause and the cure. Calcium is the bandaid of the body. It rushes to internal injuries and inflammations. For instance, medical researchers are beginning to consider inflammation of the heart and arteries as the major cause of cardiovascular disease. The inside walls of arteries become inflamed, calcium coats the walls of the arteries, and cholesterol sticks to the calcium, clogging the artery. Pollutants and irritating chemicals can build up in the body. Sensitivity to these pollutants is genetic. Calcium goes to the cells as a bandaid, and other electrolytes follow. Most of the people I’ve met who suffer from FS/CMP have had experience with roving calcium. They’ve had calcification in their shoulders, torn muscles, or other injuries. I feel that people inclined towards developing fibromyalgia do not metabolize or absorb calcium properly, so calcium is already wandering and really dumps where inflammation or pollution is found. It appears that the calcium dump is most damaging when it occurs in the mitochondria of the cells of muscles. Another cause of gathering or roaming calcium is acidity. Dr. John Lee says that an acid body is an irritated body. It pulls calcium from the bones to buffer the acid. A person then might end up with fibromyalgia plus osteoporosis. (See below for a discussion on pH.)
Four doctors have proposed theories regarding the cause and cure of fibromyalgia. Dr. Janet Starr Hull proposes that pollutants in the body cause fibromyalgia. Dr. John Lowe’s studies have shown that 64% of his patients have T-3 thyroid deficiency, so he blames hypothyroidism for fibromyalgia. Dr. Sam Yue (www.samyue.com) feels that fibromyalgia is caused by a deficiency in the hormone relaxin, since it seems to influence connective tissue, and the lack of it might cause leaky gut syndrome. Dr. John Lee says that natural progesterone cures fibromyalgia by opposing internal and environmental estrogens. I submit that a combination of progesterone deficiency (or “estrogen dominance”) and irritants such as acids and pollutants are the cause of fibromyalgia.
My research into estrogen dominance and the benefits of transdermally applied natural progesterone have led me to surmise that progesterone deficit (in both males and females) might be a cause of fibromyalgia. In addition to being a reproductive hormone, progesterone regulates mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cells. It seems that failure of mitochondrial membranes allows electrolytes, beginning with calcium, to accumulate in the wrong locations, interfering with oxygenation and energy production. Combined with calcium gathering in the muscles and around nerves, electrical short circuit and hardening muscle membranes (myofascia) occurs. Progesterone also manages calcium metabolism in the bones, so lack of progesterone (in both males and females) causes calcium to linger elsewhere. Interestingly, with regard to the theories of Dr. Lowe and Dr. Yue, progesterone also regulates thyroid function and thyroid acceptance or resistance, and also encourages the production of relaxin. A large number of fibromyalgia sufferers also have hypoglycemia. Progesterone governs insulin acceptance and resistance. Progesterone is also necessary for nerve health, comprising the myelin sheath of peripheral nerves. Progesterone is the precursor hormone for adrenal cortisal. Constant stress causes the adrenal glands to “rob” progesterone to keep adrenaline pumping. In females ovaries shut down gradually after hysterectomy or tubal ligation, or when the adrenals request a shut down to favor adrenal function. Menstruation may still occur, even when ovulation has ceased. Thus, progesterone deficiency or estrogen “poisoning” from xenoestrogens or HRT can lie at the base of all the doctors’ theories listed above.
Dr. St. Amand and others are adamant that patients try to correct “perpetuating factors,” that cause constant emotional, psychological, or physical stress. This means correcting hormone imbalances, managing blood sugar problems – hypoglycemia or diabetes — living a healthy lifestyle, and decreasing stress in one’s environment. Some people recover from fibromyalgia/CMP when stresses are alleviated. That’s why every sort of health product claims to be a cure for the syndromes (growth hormone, and GH stimulators, cleanses, immune system boosters, etc.)
Pain management and good, refreshing sleep are paramount for the sufferer. Failure to enter the realm of deep sleep keeps growth hormone from being produced by the body. Without GH, the “happy” chemicals in the brain dip very low. Depression follows. I take cyclobenzaprine (5 to 10mg) each night before bed. Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant. I never take it during waking hours, because it makes me wobbly. Driving would be out of the question. Another possible help is to chew a 500 mg. wafer of calcium with magnesium about 45 minutes before bedtime. (Or use Viactiv chews.) I take a 550 mg. tablet of naproxin as a pain killer, but really limit my use of the drug, because constant use can cause serious bleeding ulcers with no hint of symptoms before the damage is severe.
I began an experiment after taking guaifenesin for about 10 months. Some clinical nutritionists feel fibromyalgia and CMP are caused by pollutants. I began to worry that increasing my use of chemicals and avoiding natural products was opposite to the lifestyle I should be living. I knew that females greatly outnumber males where fibromyaIgia is concerned. Perhaps the hundreds of chemicals we use in our personal care items could be a factor. (Many of these chemicals are xenoestrogens.) I stopped taking guaifenesin and took the following steps. My health is gradually, but very noticeably improving to the point where my fibromyalgia is gone, and I suffer only from small residual effects of CMP.
Our environment is full of estrogen. We eat it in our meats, eggs, and dairy products. Chemicals and pesticides have estrogen action in the body. Women’s fat cells produce it. Then doctors give women even more of it in the form of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Stress shuts down ovulation, and many women produce no progesterone, the opposer of estrogen, at all. If a woman is indeed ovulating, but is under constant stress, the adrenal glands often rob what progesterone is produced in order to produce adrenal hormones. Twenty milligrams of natural progesterone daily, adjusted to the menstrual cycle, combats estrogen dominance and gradually cures fibromyalgia. Topically applied, the progesterone goes straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the liver. This one action cures many women of FS/CMP without them doing anything else. There are some profound reasons for this: Progesterone is not just a female reproductive hormone; it regulates mitochondrial energy production, regulates thyroid performance and thyroid receptiveness/resistance, and peripheral nerve myelin sheath synthesis. It banishes insulin resistance, too. It is possible that in both males and females, exposure to environmental estrogen and stress combine to cause progesterone depletion, thereby upsetting all the balance that progesterone provides. (Men produce half as much progesterone as women, so they greatly benefit from a half-dose of progesterone cream (or 1/8 tsp/10mg) daily. However, Dr. Norman Shealy recommends a much higher dosage for men. Arbonne International produces the best natural progesterone cream on the market that can be purchased without a prescription.
Avoid chemicals. Most FS/CMP victims are women. I believe there are two reasons – 1) female hormone imbalance (estrogen dominance), and 2) the hundreds of chemicals we use on our bodies in the form of personal care items and cosmetics. Replace all your personal care items with botanicals. Again, Arbonne is the leader in natural personal care and cosmetics. You can find out more at Try using natural cleaning solutions to clean your home. A combination of hydrogen peroxide (3%) and white vinegar (1:1) makes a safe all-purpose cleaner that will kill bacteria (including salmonella). Purchase other “green” products at your health food store.
Massage is useful, but painful. With CMP a very light massage of the lumps eventually causes them to release. Moving electrolytes away from the sites doesn’t take much pressure. Professional massage is best received from someone trained to treat FS/CMP patients. Acupuncture can also offer symptomatic relief.
Celiac sprue syndrome destroys calcium absorption. Celiac is a condition wherein the villi in the small intestine lie down in the presence of even a few molecules of gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats, and soup mixes and other foods. Go to to read about celiac. Celiac is extremely common, especially among people of European descent. We are seeing 5 or 6 FS/CMP victims per neighborhood nowadays, when there should be that many celiac victims. Yet, most people have never heard of celiac sprue. That means there are many people who suffer from celiac and don’t know it. Celiac can wreak havoc in the body, and FS can be the result. A blood test will show a marker for celiac, but the only sure diagnostic test is a biopsy of the small intestine, done with a scope threaded down the esophagus while the patient is under anaesthetic. If you don’t want to go through the tests, or if you can’t afford them, try going without gluten for a couple of months, and see what it does for your health. Leaky gut syndrome has also been implicated as a cause for fibromyalgia. But the cure for leaky gut is the same one I’ve mentioned – make certain the diet is alkaline rather than acid by restricting grains and increasing vegetables and fruits that burn alkaline. Avoid foods that are not tolerated well or to which you are allergic. Encourage relaxin production by using natural progesterone. Encourage good flora in the gut. Arbonne’s “Herbal Colon Cleanse” and “Optimal Digest” supplements can help correct flora in the intestines.
Find out what you are made up of. Go to the following website: . Janet Starr Hull is a doctor of clinical nutrition who nearly died from Graves disease brought on by aspartame in her diet. She has selected a very responsible lab to do hair analysis. Hair analysis will show you what your pH is, which vitamins and minerals you are lacking, whether you have any heavy metals in your body. She will have the lab work done and analyze the results for you for $180 (as of 3/03). Then you can take the exact vitamins and minerals you need without wasting money on unneeded supplements. Your pH is very important. An acid pH decreases calcium absorption. (Your body will pull calcium from the bones to buffer the acid.) Changing your diet can change your body’s pH. Again, eat foods that burn alkaline, such as vegetables and fruits. Grains are the most acid foods, then meats, then eggs. Dairy products are very slightly acid, almost neutral. Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, are slightly alkaline and highly desirable for intestinal health. Also, if your profile shows that you have a zinc deficiency, you are probably estrogen dominant and need to use natural progesterone.
NEVER eat aspartame. Aspartic acid in aspartame locks calcium in the cells, when it should be going to bones and teeth and helping with body metabolism. Aspartame is a poison that can cause seizures and death. Go to Dr. Hull’s website to find out which foods contain aspartame. (Children’s chewable vitamins contain aspartame; don’t give aspartame to your children. Children’s vitamins from Arbonne contain no aspartame.) Use stevia (an herb) or Splenda (sucralose) as sweeteners. Choose fructose over sugar, since it burns three times more slowly. If you love soda pop, go to the health-food store. You will find diet drinks sweetened with sucralose (Splenda) and carbonated real fruit juices.
Thyroid hormone and female hormones need to be tested for balance. Female hormones should be tested by saliva tests, not blood tests. Saliva tests are sometimes pricier for the insurance companies, but they are far more accurate. Have even minor imbalances corrected. Thyroid is very important. Dr. John Lowe ( is certain that fibromyalgia is caused by a malfunction of mitochondria (the parts of our cells that produce energy) and breakdown of electrolyte metabolism as a result of low thyroid (hypothyroid). If your blood test for thyroid comes back normal, that doesn’t mean you don’t need help with thyroid. If your thyroid tests normal you may be thyroid resistant. Do not take Levothroid or Synthroid, which provide only the T4 hormone. Demand either natural Armour Thyroid, which contains T4 and T3, or a synthetic counterpart comprised of both hormones. Better yet, get T4/T3 thyroid blended just for you from a reputable compounding pharmacy. Progesterone cream helps with thyroid resistance, which can be caused by estrogen dominance. If you use progesterone cream, therefore, and take thyroid medication, you will need a lower dose of thyroid. Be sure to make this adjustment under medical supervision. To get bio-identical hormone replacement, which is the very best choice, you might want to go to an anti-aging clinic that advertises the use of such. I swear by bio-identicals. They’ve changed my life.
Take supplements necessary for mitochondria to do their work. Yes, take calcium. Progesterone will help drive the calcium to the bones. (Progesterone has been proven to build bone by about 15% per year.) People with fibromyalgia should increase the ratio of magnesium to calcium, which is usually combined 1:2. Take extra magnesium mid-day and at bedtime – 500 – 800 mg each day. (Magnesium will give you diarrhea, if you take too much.) Also take malic acid and manganese. And be sure to get B complex vitamins.
For weight loss and general health follow the “Eat and Be Well” diet by Krystal Gray. Go to . This is an alkaline diet. Or, if you are really dedicated and willing to blenderize vegetables, try Dr. Mercola’s “No-grain Diet.” Go to www.mercola.com to read about it.
Try the supplement NADH, which is a coenzyme that aids cellular metabolism. To read about it, go to To buy it, go to which sells it cheaper.
Note: If you are suffering from fibromyalgia-like symptoms, including nerve and muscle problems, fuzzy thinking, plus progressive osteoporosis and kidney stones, you need to consult a good endocrinologist. You may have parathyroid gland problems. For more information, go to www.parathyroid.com.
Checklist: Go alkaline to increase calcium absorption and to help possible leaky gut syndrome. Get thyroid tests and correct deficiencies. Use progesterone cream to correct female hormones and blood sugar, thyroid and energy management, and to correct estrogen dominance. Take Magnesium, calcium, malic acid, manganese, and B complex. Take a muscle relaxant at night. Try cutting out gluten to check for celiac sprue disease. Do stretches, and exercise, if you can. Get massage and acupuncture, if you can afford it. Reduce stress.