When you live with fibromyalgia, you face daily challenges that many others don’t. Chronic muscle pain, nonstop fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and depression are all issues that can divide your life into ‘good days’ and ‘bad days.’
Fibromyalgia affects approximately one in 50 people – mostly women. There is currently no cure and no one knows what causes it- yet. Therefore, finding the best fibromyalgia pain relief is an ongoing process.
In this blog, we’ll examine seven herbs that can provide relief for your symptoms, along with three natural treatments that can make a big difference in how you feel.
1. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
While no studies have been done on the effect of St. John’s wort on fibromyalgia symptoms, it is often used to treat depression, which is commonly associated with fibromyalgia.
As a herbal therapy, it’s usually well-tolerated, although some people may experience an upset stomach or a skin rash.
According to this medically-reviewed article published on WebMD, an analysis of studies examining the effect of St. John’s wort on depression found that the herb was as safe and effective as selective SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac. However, if you are currently taking antidepressants, speak to your healthcare practitioner, as mixing St. John’s wort with some medications may cause illness.
2. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Echinacea is often used to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu, and to reduce symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, and fever.
Herbalists also recommend echinacea to help the body fight infection.
Echinacea contains antioxidants such as flavonoids, cichoric acid, and rosmarinic acid, which may protect your body from the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia. It can also activate chemicals in the body that reduce inflammation while strengthening your immune system.
Dried and ground turmeric roots have been used as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory for centuries, particularly in India. More recently, turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, has been called the ‘herbal ibuprofen.’
One study found that curcumin was highly effective at reducing pain and swelling in arthritic joints. When taken as directed, it can deliver a similar benefit to those living with fibromyalgia, so if you already enjoy turmeric in your meals, here’s a good reason to keep indulging!
4. Arnica (Arnica)
Arnica has been used for treating bruises, inflammations, and muscle pain since medieval times.
Today, many different topical remedies include it as a natural treatment for muscle pain, as these treatments tend to be well-tolerated and have few side effects.
Rubbing an arnica-based salve on sore joints and muscles can provide a measure of relief from the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia and even improve joint function. Now available in the Apothecary!
Research has suggested that certain arnica gels work as well as ibuprofen in reducing hand pain associated with osteoarthritis.
5. Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender oil and flowers are both used to create natural remedies for insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Since fibromyalgia patients often suffer from all three, taking lavender as a tea, tincture, or topical treatment can make it easier to sleep at night. One study concluded that lavender essential oil improved the sleep quality of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) who had trouble sleeping.
When applied as an oil, lavender has an added benefit of helping to reduce pain and improve blood circulation, rubbing a massage oil over sore joints and muscles may give you the pain relief you need.
6. Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Black cohosh, which was first used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, became a popular treatment for women’s health issues in the mid-1950s.
Today, black cohosh is often used to ease the symptoms of menopause, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), acne, and osteoporosis.
Black cohosh root contains several chemicals that work to reduce pain in the body, making it a viable treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms. These chemicals can also have a similar effect to serotonin, which boosts the mood and can help reduce feelings of depression.
7. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that is frequently used to treat various health conditions, mainly liver problems like cirrhosis, hepatitis, and jaundice.
In addition, it may lower cholesterol levels and help people manage type 2 diabetes.
Many people have found that milk thistle is highly effective in the treatment of painful conditions like fibromyalgia. In addition, it helps strengthen the digestive tract and aids in the healing of irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Additional Natural Therapies
The soothing and healing effects of the above herbs can be sustained and even improved with natural therapies that also target the stiffness and soreness caused by fibromyalgia. They include but are not limited to exercise massage and acupuncture.
Fibromyalgia patients might find exercising difficult at first, but building up gradually and persevering can be beneficial. Over time, your pain and discomfort may decrease as muscle strength increases.
Exercises like swimming, walking, and cycling, are likely to improve health and the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia. A physical therapist can help you put together a program that works for you.
Massage may provide chronic pain relief when received regularly. There are different types available to help you cope with fibromyalgia-related stiffness and discomfort:
- Swedish massages use long strokes to target and relax the muscle’s superficial layers.
- A deep tissue massage uses direct pressure and slow strokes to affect the deeper layers of your muscles and relieve chronic tension.
- Myofascial release involves stretching and manipulating the connective tissues, making them more flexible and allowing you to move more freely.
Your massage therapist will work with you to determine the type of massage that will reduce your pain and improve your comfort the most.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, which treats a wide range of pain conditions. A core principle of traditional Chinese medicine is: “Where pain exists, Qi is blocked.” Qi (or Chi) is the name of the life force (energy) that permeates the human body. Practitioners believe that when your Qi is blocked, it can cause pain or illness
Acupuncture can relieve pain by facilitating a more efficient flow of Qi through the painful areas. During your treatment, which lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, the acupuncturist will insert several thin, sterilized needles in strategic locations to open up all of your Qi channels.
You may notice that your pain has improved following an acupuncture treatment session. It may have to do with the fact that acupuncture triggers endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help decrease pain perception.
Managing uncomfortable fibromyalgia symptoms improves your quality of life. The remedies and treatments in this post can all play an important role in controlling pain and depression and improving mobility. A consultation with your healthcare practitioner can result in a holistic treatment plan that improves your outlook and your wellbeing.
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