Unraveling Fibromyalgia

By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.

Fibromyalgia is a “super diagnosis” because many people diagnosed with it often have chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel, PMS, depression, chronic vaginitis, recurrent respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis, fibrocystic breast disease, chronic cyclic edema, alopecia (hair loss), eating disorders, myofascial pain syndrome, and more.

···fibromyalgia…. has become THE chronic illness.

This is a very complex condition. It is not going to be solved in an easy way and there is not going to be one simple cause that will answer all the questions. It is debilitating and disruptive. Some even equate fibromyalgia with the “sickness syndrome.”

So, in away, you are getting the inside track on how we deal with any patient with a severe chronic illness. The interesting thing about fibromyalgia is that it has become THE chronic illness.

At The Center, we can help you investigate and find the precipitating event that triggers the disease. Often this can be a very important clue to understanding the genesis of your illness.

Research shows that people who have fibromyalgia don’t sleep properly. They are overly sensitive to their environment. Often there is a disruption of their hormonal balance.

The Center’s approach is to do a very careful biochemical evaluation of the individual. Imbalances are corrected in the context of what we call a progressive lifestyle modification. This overall approach tends to result in the slow progressive improvement in a patient’s health.

Now I will review several biologic factors that could contribute to the overall picture of fibromyalgia.

Thyroid. Your thyroid regulates your entire metabolism. If your thyroid is down regulated, it makes you feel tired. It will affect every organ system. Often people with thyroid disorders have normal blood tests, but have low body temperature, which is a clue that the thyroid is not functioning optimally. This, in turn, is affecting various enzyme systems within your body. Enzyme systems need to work at 98.6°. If you are down 2°, the enzymatic activity of your biochemistry is lower. That is why thyroid problems affect so many systems within the body.

Usually thyroid conditions begin with some major stress-the death of a loved one, a car accident, a pregnancy, etc. If your symptoms started then, thyroid could be a factor. You can test your body temperature, plus do other testing~ Vitamin B 1 saturation levels, thiamine, and selenium are often low in people with thyroid disorders. You can use different forms of natural therapy, either nutrient precursors like iodine, tyrosine, GLA (an essential fatty acid), and selenium to enhance your thyroid. For some people we use natural thyroid.

Candidiasis. Candida is a normal gastrointestinal fungal inhabitant. You have a colony of friendly bacteria and organisms in your gut. If you disrupt that ecology with antibiotics, stress, estrogen, or steroids, you can create the overgrowth of candida. Candida is confined to your gut. It releases a toxin that can go to every organ in the body causing generalized symptoms throughout the body. We do a blood test to measure the antibody titer to candida. If we see an elevated candida antibody titer, this gives us objective evidence that indeed this might be the problem. We usually put people on a diet for a while and on one of the many protocols to try to restore the balance of the gut.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). A lot of doctors don’t believe in hypoglycemia. But if you haven’t eaten and you start to feel shaky, headachy, maybe a little bit anxious and depressed, then you eat something and you feel better, that sounds like hypoglycemia. Food allergy reactions very often trigger hypoglycemic reactions. Others deficient in trace minerals’ like chromium, zinc, and manganese, are prone to hypoglycemia. Patients with insufficient adrenal function are more prone to hypoglycemia. We have an adrenal insufficiency test done to see what is happening. Lastly, people who are low in thyroid seem to be more prone to hypoglycemia.

Depression. Anyone who has been sick for a long time starts to get depressed. You feel helpless and hopeless. It disrupts your sleep. Early morning wakening is common. The diagnosis is made based upon the clinical picture. There is no blood test for depression. We can do nutritional testing and map out a number of cofactors that go along with depression.

Magnesium. Specific research on fibromyalgia has been done using magnesium injections as a statistically significant therapy. We are suspicious of magnesium deficiency whenever people come in with the “sickness syndrome.”

Food Sensitivities. We know that foods can play a big role in how people feel. We use a blood test for food allergies. We take your white blood cells and mix them with various food substances to see how much of a toxic reaction there is. Based upon those scores, we make recommendations about which foods you ought to leave off for a while.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Parasites. Parasites are notorious for setting up shop and creating chronic symptoms that look a lot like irritable bowel syndrome. They are invisible protozoan infections found by microscopic testing. We have a video tape that tells you how to prevent parasites through such techniques as good hand washing. One of the reasons why parasites are proliferating may be that so many people are using antacids and acid blockers which shut off the acid in their stomach. Stomach acid is the body’s first line of defense against parasites.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Often we have found that women with PMS are making way too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. If you correct these problems, the PMS tends to get better. Para-menopausal women can also have PMS. Magnesium and B6 will help correct it. Hypoglycemia is a mechanism of PMS.

Fatty Acid Imbalance. Your body converts good fats from your diet into prostaglandins using an enzyme called delta 6 saturate. For that enzyme to work, you must have adequate amounts of magnesium. The best way of making a diagnosis is doing a special analysis of your blood through The Center. Only 5 or 6 labs in the country do fatty acid testing.

Heavy metals. There is cadmium in cigarette paper, so former smokers could have cadmium toxicity. Hair analysis will tell you whether or not you have lead poisoning or aluminum toxicity. You can do a mercury patch test for mercury toxicity. But one of the best tests for heavy metals is the diagnostic chelation. This will actually measure how much of these metals you have in your system. To get rid of them, you can do chelation therapy, which is a very good biological modifier.

I haven’t touched on all the modifiers. We find most patients with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr Virus, and some other viruses can be diagnosed and treated.

Mind/body connection. A common cause of chronic disease is chronic unforgiveness. Take a look at your relationships and try forgiveness.

Finally, you may be lacking in vitamin P (Prayer). Prayer has been scientifically shown to be effective in healing many medical conditions. So what are our conclusions?

There are many causative factors you probably hadn’t considered before that can help you get out of this rut, this black hole called fibromyalgia. Discovering and treating these underlying causes may be the best approach that is currently available to get control of long standing fibromyalgia.