Originally published June 17 2008
Figuring Out the True Cause of Fibromyalgia
by Leisa Wheeler N.D.
(NaturalNews) To many doctors and patients alike, fibromyalgia is a mystery disease, one that encompasses a diverse set of debilitating and life changing symptoms that have "no known cause and no effective treatment for recovery".
In this article, we will explore the cause of fibromyalgia. There is a special audio link at the end of the article.
Many patients lose years of their life in searching for answers to their very real set of complaints, often spending thousands of dollars on different treatments that only give them modest relief at best.
They may be labeled as suffering from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, hypothyroidism, or some may be diagnosed with depression and referred for mental health evaluation.
This mainstream ignorance of the true cause of fibromyalgia has perpetuated a widespread health crisis that shows no signs of abating. Unless the knowledge of the fundamental cause of this condition is embraced by the medical profession; hundreds of thousands of people are not going to be able to find the help they need to get well.
Dr. John C. Lowe, one the world's leading experts on fibromyalgia, states categorically that we do know the major underlying cause of this disorder, and through many years of clinical practice and experimental research, he has developed a metabolic rehabilitation program that can relieve these patients from their endless suffering.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed when a patient has suffered from chronic pain for a period of longer than three months duration, has at least 11 out of 18 classic tender points on physical examination, and suffers from associated symptoms such as severe fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances, weight gain, poor memory and concentration, numbness and tingling and in women menstrual or menopausal problems.
The exclusion of other disease states that can account for the symptoms, often leads to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
The standard practice for most physicians is to then treat the patient with any number of prescription medications to attempt to alleviate the symptoms. Medications such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, pain killers and sleeping medication, are often used in combination; which not only fail to address the cause of the condition, but they can have detrimental side effects that make the situation worse in the long run.
What is the underlying cause of Fibromyalgia?
Dr. Lowe states that the common denominator in the patient's various symptoms is an abnormally slow metabolism. Most patients are suffering from either hypothyroidism or thyroid hormone resistance, and this is where the origins of the condition lie.
For patients to fully recover, as well as a program involving healthy food choices, exercise, nutritional supplementation and stress reduction; support with thyroid hormone therapy is critical.
Even though Dr. Lowe uses more than 6000 scientific references to support his research findings in his landmark book "The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia", and has helped thousands of people recover their health; there is still widespread refusal to adopt his research in the medical community.
The Thyroid Tragedy
In the past, hypothyroidism, it's signs, symptoms and treatment had been very well researched and documented. One of the pioneers in thyroid research was Dr. Broda Barnes, who found that one of the most important indications of a need for thyroid hormone treatment, was a subnormal body temperature. Other indicators such as a low basal metabolic rate and high levels of cholesterol were used in conjunction with the patient's various symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis.
However, these "old fashioned" methods of detecting a hypothyroid problem have been pushed aside in favour of more "scientific" blood testing, using markers such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and blood levels of T3 and T4.
These tests have been shown in many studies to not be accurate representations of whether a person is suffering from hypothyroidism, but they are taught to doctors as the gold standard approach for diagnosing thyroid conditions. The approach using observation, thoughtful investigation, common sense, patient collaboration and rational judgment, is one that is commonly missing from our medical practitioners.
Alongside the push for standardised blood testing for thyroid disorders, came the drug of choice from the pharmaceutical industry –- Thyroxine or T4 only medication. It superseded the previously used "Armour", a naturally derived thyroid replacement hormone from the thyroid gland of a pig. Because T4 is a biologically inactive form of thyroid hormone, it is essentially an ineffective treatment for many patients suffering from thyroid disorders. Dr. Lowe describes the use of T4 as "one of the worst disasters in modern medicine".
But my blood tests are perfect!
As reliance on blood test results rather than patient symptoms became standard practice, we have whole generations of doctors who are unable to identify and successfully treat thyroid conditions. If the blood tests are within range, then the symptoms, which can often be classic hypothyroid signs, are attributed to another one or more conditions.
It is well established though, by researchers such as Dr. Lowe and others, that it may take years for a thyroid problem to become apparent on a blood test, and at times it may never become detectable.
This is also true for auto-immune thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, whereby a study of the actual glandular tissue can show a high antibody activity, but the blood tests do not show a comparable relationship in serum antibody levels.
What is the treatment of choice?
A successful treatment protocol involves more than one area and relies on the patient becoming a fully involved partner in the program of recovery.
From Dr. Lowe's book "Your Guide to Metabolic Health", a summary of the matters that need to be investigated and often addressed, include:
* A wholesome diet
* Nutritional supplements
* Herbal medicine
* Thyroid hormone replacement
* Adrenal hormone support
* Female sex hormone balance
* Exercise to tolerance
* Healthy sleep
* Avoiding chemical contaminants
* Physical therapy
Thyroid hormone replacement includes either Armour (called Natural Thyroid Hormone Replacement in Australia); a synthetic combination of T3/T4; or T3 therapy on its own. A doctor that is familiar with this approach will be able to monitor and adjust the medication to obtain the best results.
Working in conjunction with a good naturopath to incorporate a healthy diet, suitable nutritional supplements and herbal medicine will bring the best of both worlds together to form an alliance that can take the mystery out of Fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism.
The turn around from a person in severe suffering, to one full of health and vitality is the proverbial journey that starts with one small step. And that first step may just be the knowledge that there is an answer.
Special Offer to Natural News Readers -- Audio Interview with Dr. John Lowe
I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time discussing fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, the thyroid-pharmaceutical industry, and patient recovery protocols with Dr. Lowe. He generously shared his valuable time, and his incredible depth of knowledge, in over an hour of vital information in a recorded interview with me.
Now you get to share in this essential knowledge, as I have made the audio file of our conversation available to you Absolutely Free. Just click on the link below and either listen online, or download the file to your hard drive so that you can listen to it at any time. You will also receive the past four issues of E-Health News when you confirm your subscription.
Dr. Lowe Interview (http://www.embracinghealth.com.au/news/natur...)
About the authorThe author, Leisa Wheeler N.D. is a Naturopath, Health & Healing Mentor and Raw Food Coach. She founded Embracing Health, a business dedicated to bringing you health information that can change your life.
Leisa runs Embracing Life! Six Day Detox, Healing and Raw Food Retreats around Australia, www.embracinghealth.com.au/retreat, teaches people about the benefits of a whole foods lifestyle via her exclusive membership service www.membership.embracinghealth.com.au writes on many health topics in her blog www.EmbracingHealthBlog.com and has released a DVD on mind-body medicine www.emotionalaspectsofhealingdvd.com You can sign up for Leisa's free weekly Embracing Health Newsletter at www.embracinghealth.com.au/subscribe
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