I remember the first time I ever heard about Fibromyalgia – I was in school for massage therapy, and we spent an entire evening talking about it. I had never heard of it before, and felt so bad for anyone that had ever been diagnosed with it after hearing what it entails. What made it sound even worse to me was the fact that a person with Fibromyalgia would have to watch what they eat for the rest of their life, because certain foods directly affect pain associated with Fibromyalgia. That was the one bit of information that had always stuck with me.
Once I started my massage therapy career, I began meeting a lot of people that were diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and worked with many of them on a very regular basis. I could feel exactly where they were having pain – and it was the same in every single one of them – most of the pain focusing in the upper back, right between the shoulder blades, and in the upper traps, as well as across the lower back and hips. They always had that particular kind of knot that was absolutely relentless. No matter what I did, week after week, those suckers would never go away. One client even had names for them – “Hal” (Hunk-a-lump) and “Ohal” (Other Hunk-a-lump). They were like her little alien friends that set up camp in her shoulders and refused to leave.
Out of the countless clients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia that I have seen over a span of 10 years, only a few of them had changed their diet, one specifically knew that gluten affected her, and one of them mentioned that they should stay away from sugar. That is all. Just sugar. From what I had learned, that list is much larger.
Now, I have done quiet a bit of research on the subject, and all of this research has led to the same conclusion – people who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia should follow a gluten free diet.. What’s more, is that the Fibromyalgia is actually caused by this gluten intolerance, or in my case corn intolerance. About 6 months ago, I started having severe symptoms of what I immediately recognized as Fibromyalgia – I even had the horrendous irritable bowel mess, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic fatigue to go with it. I took gluten out of my diet and saw a bit of improvement, but when I took corn out of my diet, and finally got it out of my system, the pain was gone. The insomnia was gone. Anxiety and depression no longer needed to be medicated. The chronic fatigue finally let up, and I felt normal. Those stubborn, golf ball sized knots in my shoulders? Gone. Now I know immediately when I have consumed something corny, because those knots suddenly appear out of nowhere, along with debilitating pain throughout my entire body, and I can’t sleep at night to save my life. Now I know.
The term Fibromyalgia is thrown about when there is no other diagnosis for universal pain and inflammation to be found. A simple blanket diagnosis for autoimmune disease, that does not get to the root of the cause of the problem, but enables doctors to prescribe some pain meds to try to hide some of the symptoms and make it a bit more manageable. I even know one person who was misdiagnosed with Lupus before being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. What do these have in common? They are both autoimmune diseases with just about the same exact symptoms – both of which can be managed with a gluten free diet. If you were told by a doctor that you have Fibromyalgia, and that you should make changes to your diet, then you are one of the lucky ones, and I hope that you paid attention to the advice! Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world when you eliminate foods that your body is intolerant to. Your body is revolting for a reason, and you should take heed immediately before you endure even worse repercussions.
If you try going on a gluten free diet, you have to give it at least 2 weeks before letting yourself “cheat” to see how you will react. It takes a long time to get out of your system. If you have gone the full two weeks, and still have not noticed a difference, you might have another food intolerance just as I did. It takes time and effort, but if you keep track of every meal, and eliminate foods one by one in the same manner as you did gluten, it shouldn’t take too long to find the culprit. Most likely candidates for causing the Fibro-Flare up could also include soy, corn, sugar, yeast, caffeine, alcohol, and nightshade vegetables.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, scientist, or a dietician. I am simply a person with gluten and corn intolerance, with experience working with clients who were diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and with first-hand experience with the pain associated with said disease. This blog post is simply my opinion on the matter, with a suggestion for trying to manage the pain associated with Fibromyalgia by discovering the root cause. I absolutely believe that it has everything to do with your diet, and urge you to listen to your own body, for it will tell you exactly what you can and cannot handle. Question and research everything, especially if you have been diagnosed with any type of autoimmune disease.