Fibromyalgia commonly presents as muscle pain, stiffness and tenderness throughout the body. The patient usually does not know the cause of the pain and has often tried many things to alleviate their symptoms. The ayurvedic approach to fibromyalgia is very specific and scientific. First, Ayurveda counts fibromyalgia as an imbalance not a disease. Imbalance means a disorder of energy within the body and mind. Ayurveda give hope to sufferers of fibromyalgia as it shows that the condition is treatable and manageable with ayurvedic treatment, diet and lifestyle.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Stiffness and/or tenderness throughout the body
- Mood disturbances (e.g. depression and/or anxiety)
- Cognitive difficulties (e.g. trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and disorganized thinking)
What causes fibromyalgia?
Nervous system imbalance
According to Ayurveda, fibromyalgia is an imbalanced state of vata energy. The physiological principle at the basis of nervous system stability and activation is called vata. A state of vata imbalance means the pitta (metabolism) and kapha (immunity) are also thrown out of balance.
Build-up of toxins and impurities
Toxins (ama) and excess vata are the main pathogenic factors in fibromyalgia. Toxins accumulate through consumption of improper diet and/or weak digestion. When toxins accumulate in the tissues and block the channels, they can cause tenderness, pain and hypersensitivity.
Accumulation of stress
Fibromyalgia can be triggered by stress. Stress at work or in the family, stress caused by life-changing events, a history of abuse, physical ailments such as infections and allergies are all triggering factors for fibromyalgia.
Ayurvedic management of fibromyalgia
Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma)
Panchakarma is the bio-purification method in ayurvedic medicine. It is an ideal treatment for managing fibromyalgia as it cleanses the cells and treats the root cause of the disease. The program consists of three main stages: preparing the body, releasing and eliminating the impurities, and rejuvenating the tissues. Cleansing the gut and intestine is the core of ayurvedic detox and it includes purgation therapy (cleansing of upper gut) and enema (cleansing of lower gut).
To prepare the tissues for mobilising and releasing the toxins, you begin by taking medicated ghee (internal oleation) at home. The ghee penetrates every cell of your body and works as a carrier to move the toxins from your tissues into the digestive tract where they are expelled. The treatments you receive in the clinic keep the body primed to do its natural process of detoxifying. Treatments include ayurvedic massage with herbalised oil (abhyanga), nervous system treatment (shirodhara), herbal paste massage (udvartana), full body herbal steam bath (swedana), and medicated enemas (vasti).
As the toxins move out of the tissues and into the alimentary canal, the treatments focus on removing them from the bowel. When your panchakarma is complete, your tissues and digestive tract will feel clean and ‘as new’. Your doctor then advises you on how to rebuild your tissue strength and immunity through healthy diet and lifestyle.
Diet, nutrition and digestion
Improper diet plays a role in causing and exacerbating fibromyalgia. Some foods make vata highly active, thereby aggravating fibromyalgia symptoms, including increased sensitivity to pain.
Consultation with an ayurvedic specialist will help you understand which foods to avoid if you are suffering symptoms of fibromyalgia. They will also recommend a diet based on foods that can be easily digested, creating micronutrients that can assimilate into the tissues and rebuild tissue strength.
The diet normally advised for patients of fibromyalgia is a modified vata-pacifying diet. It includes:
- vegetable soups
- coconut water and coconut milk
- fresh drink made from carrot juice (33%), water (33%), juice of 1 beetroot, juice of 1 red pepper, spinach (handful), juice of ginger root (2cm), juice of garlic (1 clove)
- cooked vegetables including squash, zucchini, sweet potato, tomato and pumpkin
- foods spiced with cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper, ginger, asafoetida, garlic and turmeric
- moderate quantities of green salads with simple dressings of lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt
- kichari (recipe made by cooking white basmati rice and moong dhal and spices)
- warm milk with warming spices including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove.
Fibromyalgia patients should reduce:
- hot (spicy) and fried foods
- processed sugar
- bitter and astringent foods such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, kohlrabi and potatoes.
- raw foods (less than 20% of your diet)
- high levels of black tea, coffee, alcohol, yoghurt, chocolate and cocoa.
Ayurvedic herbs and herbal formulations for fibromyalgia
Managing lifestyle and psychological health and wellbeing
- Establish routines to ensure healthy diet, good sleep, and a balance of work, exercise, and family, friends and fun.
- Avoid worry, hurry, fear, stress, grief and anxiety.
- Manage stress with practices like meditation, yoga, and spiritual activity.
- Perform ayurvedic rituals every day, such as self-massage, oil pulling, tongue scraping, and sipping warm water frequently throughout the day.
- Exercise regularly according to your energy. Breathing exercises and restorative yoga poses are excellent.
- Find out the factors that aggravate your symptoms and avoid them.
- Be social, share love, happiness and sorrow.
- Consult an experienced ayurvedic doctor who will tailor your personal diet and lifestyle to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
If you or somebody you know is experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia, get in touch with the ancient science of healing, Ayurveda. At Vibrant Ayurveda Wellness Centre, we are ready to manage your fibromyalgia with our team of experienced doctors and therapists using the natural tools of healing.