Living with fibromyalgia can be painfully difficult. Many patients turn to alternative therapies for pain relief when traditional treatments do not work. Chinese herbs and supplements have become a popular part of treatment in many patients’ efforts to relieve pain.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following:
This supplement is a building block of serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful brain chemical, and serotonin levels play a significant role in fibromyalgia pain. Serotonin levels are also associated with depression and sleep.
For men and women with fibromyalgia, 5-HTP may help increase deep sleep and reduce pain. In one study published in the Alternative Medicine Review, researchers reported that supplementation with 5-HTP may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fibromyalgia pains. However, some contradictory studies show no benefit with 5-HTP.
5-HTP is usually well tolerated. But in the late 1980s, the supplement was associated with a serious condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. It’s thought that a contaminant in 5-HTP led to the condition, which causes flu-like symptoms, severe muscle pain, and burning rashes.
This natural hormone is available as an over-the-counter supplement. It is sometimes used to induce drowsiness and improve sleep patterns. Some preliminary studies show that melatonin may be effective in treating fibromyalgia pain. Most people with fibromyalgia have sleep problems, muscle pain, and fatigue, and it’s thought that melatonin may help relieve these symptoms.
Melatonin is generally regarded as safe with few to no side effects. Due to the risk of daytime sleepiness, anyone taking melatonin should use caution when driving until they know how it affects them.
St. John’s Wort
While there’s no specific evidence that St. John’s wort is helpful in treating fibromyalgia, this herb is often used in treating depression, and depression is commonly associated with fibromyalgia.
Several studies show St. John’s wort is more effective than a placebo and as effective as older antidepressants called tricyclics in the short-term treatment of mild or moderate depression. Other studies suggest St. John’s wort is as effective as selective SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft in treating depression.
St John’s wort is usually well tolerated. The most common side effects are stomach upset, skin reactions, and fatigue. St. John’s wort should not be mixed with antidepressants, and it can cause interactions with many types of drugs.
If on medication, tell a doctor before taking St. John’s wort or any supplement. In addition, be careful about taking St. John’s wort with other drugs, including antidepressants.
It’s not known precisely how SAM-e works in the body. Some feel this natural supplement increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain neurotransmitters.
Although some researchers believe that SAM-e may alter mood and increase restful sleep, current studies do not appear to show any benefit of SAM-e over placebo in reducing the number of tender points or alleviating depression with fibromyalgia. Additional study is needed to confirm these findings.
The studies are limited, but it’s thought that L-carnitine may produce a reduction in pain and treat other symptoms of fibromyalgia. In one small study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of L-carnitine in 102 patients with fibromyalgia.
Results showed more significant symptom improvements in the group that took L-carnitine than in the control group that took a placebo. The researchers concluded that while more studies are warranted, L-carnitine may provide pain relief and improve the general and mental health of patients with fibromyalgia.
Magnesium is among the dietary supplements and vitamins necessary for a healthy mind and muscles. The Food and Drug Administration states that for adults 19 years of age and older, the recommended dietary allowance for magnesium intake is 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women, regardless of the presence of any pain conditions. Most of your daily magnesium intake should come from diet, and you should always consult your doctor before adding vitamins to your diet via supplements.
When magnesium levels are low, the effects of chronic pain conditions can worsen. A 2021 study found magnesium deficiency is linked to common fibromyalgia symptoms, including muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and anxiety.
Published On: April 17, 2013
Updated On: January 25, 2023