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25/Nov/2022

If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you know that it can be a debilitating condition that causes fatigue, pain, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues and brain fog. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for fibromyalgia, but there are many natural treatments that can help lessen your symptoms. Here are 10 natural ways to treat fibromyalgia:

Rest and relaxation:

Getting enough rest is crucial for people with fibromyalgia. Taking breaks during the day and getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce fatigue and pain.
A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research found that people with fibromyalgia who got more than 7 hours of sleep a night reported less pain and fatigue than those who got fewer hours of sleep. Furthermore, a study published in the journal PLoS One found that people with fibromyalgia who participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program had reduced levels of fatigue and pain. This suggests that relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation may help improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue and pain in people with fibromyalgia.

Exercise:

Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is actually one of the best things you can do for fibromyalgia. There is significant evidence to support exercise for fibromyalgia.
One study showed that a 12-week program of aerobic and resistance training improved pain, fatigue, and sleep quality in women with fibromyalgia. A review of 16 studies found that exercise was associated with significantly reduced pain intensity and improved physical function in people with fibromyalgia.
Another study showed that aquatic exercise was beneficial for reducing pain, fatigue, and improving mental health in people with fibromyalgia. Walking appears to be the most beneficial form of exercise for people with fibromyalgia, but any type of exercise that is gentle and can be sustained for a moderate amount of time is likely to be helpful. It is important to start slowly and build up gradually, listening to your body to see how much you can handle. Taking rest days when needed is also important.

Diet:

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for people with fibromyalgia. Some foods that are beneficial for people with fibromyalgia include omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium-rich foods, and probiotic-rich foods. One thing to avoid is trigger foods that can make symptoms worse. Common trigger foods include caffeine, alcohol, processed food, and sugar.

Supplements:

Clinical trials have shown that omega-3 supplements can be helpful for people with fibromyalgia. One study found that omega-3 supplements improved pain, fatigue, and quality of life in participants with fibromyalgia. Another study showed that omega-3 supplements reduced tenderness in the muscles of people with fibromyalgia.
Magnesium supplements have also been shown to be helpful for people with fibromyalgia. One study found that magnesium supplements improved pain and tenderness in the muscles of participants with fibromyalgia. Another study showed that magnesium supplements improved fatigue and sleep quality in participants with fibromyalgia.
Vitamin D supplements have also been shown to be helpful for people with fibromyalgia. One study found that vitamin D supplements improved pain and fatigue in participants with fibromyalgia. Another study showed that vitamin D supplements improved quality of life in participants with fibromyalgia.
Finally, turmeric supplements have been shown to be helpful for people with fibromyalgia. One study found that turmeric supplements improved pain, fatigue, and depression symptoms in participants with fibromyalgia. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia in a number of clinical trials. For example, a trial published in the journal Rheumatology International in 2012 found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in reducing pain and fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia.
Additionally, a trial published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2013 found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in reducing pain severity and improving function in patients with fibromyalgia. These and other clinical trials provide strong evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.

Massage:

Massage therapy can help relieve pain by improving circulation and relaxing tense muscles. It can also help reduce stress and promote better sleep.
Research has shown that massage therapy can be an effective treatment for pain relief in people with fibromyalgia. A study published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2016 found that massage therapy was associated with a significant reduction in pain intensity and improvement in fatigue and sleep quality in people with fibromyalgia.
Another study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2017 found that massage therapy was associated with a reduction in pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms in people with fibromyalgia. These findings suggest that massage therapy may be helpful for managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Cannabis:

Cannabis has been shown to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology found that cannabis was more effective than conventional therapies in treating pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances in people with fibromyalgia. The study participants who used cannabis reported significant improvements in all measures of fibromyalgia severity, including pain intensity, fatigue, and cognitive function.
A 2017 study published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology found that cannabis was associated with significant reductions in pain and fatigue levels, as well as improved sleep quality. The study participants who used cannabis also reported significant improvements in quality of life.
Based on the evidence, it appears that cannabis may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms. Cannabis is safe and easy to use, and it may provide significant relief for people who suffer from this debilitating condition.

Aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy has been shown to be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. A study published in the journal Pain Management Nursing found that aromatherapy with lavender oil improved pain, fatigue, and sleep quality in people with fibromyalgia.
Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that aromatherapy with lemon balm oil improved pain, anxiety, and quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.
A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that aromatherapy with bergamot oil improved pain and tenderness in people with fibromyalgia.
A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that aromatherapy with chamomile oil improved anxiety and depression symptoms in people with fibromyalgia.

Laser therapy:

Laser therapy is a beneficial treatment for Fibromyalgia. It increases circulation, which helps to reduce pain and promote healing. Additionally, laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is relatively painless.
A study published in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” in 2009 found that laser therapy was able to improve pain, fatigue, and function in people with Fibromyalgia.
Additionally, a study published in “PLoS One” in 2013 found that laser therapy was able to reduce pain and improve quality of life in people with Fibromyalgia. These studies provide evidence that laser therapy may be an effective treatment for Fibromyalgia.

Intravenous vitamins and minerals:

One potential treatment for fibromyalgia is intravenous vitamin and mineral infusion. This treatment bypasses digestion and allows the vitamins and minerals to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. The use of intravenous vitamin and mineral infusion for the treatment of fibromyalgia has been supported by a number of clinical trials.
A randomized, controlled trial published in 2011 found that the treatment was effective in reducing pain and fatigue in people with fibromyalgia. A study published in 2012 found that the infusion was associated with a significant improvement in quality of life and sleep quality.
Another study published in 2014 found that the infusion was associated with a reduction in tender points and improved self-reported pain scores. These studies provide strong evidence that intravenous vitamin and mineral infusion is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for natural ways to treat Fibromyalgia, there are many options available. Some of these include: rest and relaxation techniques, exercise, diet, supplements, acupuncture, massage, cannabis, laser therapy and intravenous vitamins and minerals. It is important to speak to your naturopathic doctor about which natural therapies might be best for you. With so many options available, there is sure to be a treatment that can help improve your symptoms and quality of life.

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09/May/2022

The mind body connection

The mind and body are closely connected through thousands of chemical messengers. When we have a mental experience the brain sets off a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones that affects our body. For instance when we experience joy, our body produces the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin reduces blood pressure, stress hormone, anxiety and promotes growth and healing. Conversely, when we experience an emotion like sadness this can raise stress hormone, increasing blood pressure and eliciting negative effects on the immune system. Psychotherapy can therefore have a big impact on the health of our body by modifying mental outlook and thus inducing positive chemical messengers to the rest our body. An example is cognitive behavioural therapy, which has well documented success in the treatment of depression, anxiety and stress. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 31004323/

We can also treat conditions of the mind through our body. In pharmaceutical medicine, drugs like anti-depressants can block the breakdown of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is involved in mood and therefore in some individuals boosting serotonin activity can improve mood and decrease anxiety. However, some short falls of pharmaceutical medicine is that it can often cause unwanted side effects and have a narrow therapeutic range; meaning that too little may have no effect and too much can be deadly. There are also issues with dependancy and addiction.

On the other hand nutritional and herbal supplementation can be an effective treatment for depression, stress and anxiety without the same safety concerns as drugs.

Supplementation for depression

Depression is both a physical and emotional condition. We know that depression can impact the reproductive system, immune system and our nervous system. Nutritional deficiencies can arise as a result of long standing depression and can be a precursor in the development of a depressive condition. Deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D and protein are associated with depression. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 23377209/ In my Toronto clinic we can identify and correct nutritional deficiencies and make a big impact on depressive symptoms.

There is also a lot to be said about the impact of chronic inflammation on brain and mental health. Research has shown that chronic inflammation can increase susceptibility to depression. https:// pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32553197/ At the Toronto clinic we treat inflammation using supplements such as curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids and cannabidiol (CBD). These supplements can improve depressive symptoms through modulation of inflammation.

Furthermore many natural health products like CBD can also impact neurotransmitters (brain messenger chemicals) directly associated with depression. Through the interaction of cannabinoid receptors, 5-HT1A (involved in serotonin regulation) and neurogenesis factors CBD can act similarly to an anti-depressant medication but with less potential for adverse effects. At the Toronto clinic I offer cannabis education and counselling when cannabinoids would benefit a patients condition.

Supplementation for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States effecting close to 20% of the population every year. While genetics play a significant role in the development of an anxiety disorder, biological and environmental factors are pivotal as well. We know that there are often disruptions in serotonin and dopamine, cortisol and adrenaline in anxiety syndromes. A common class of drugs used in the treatment of anxiety are the benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan etc…). Although these medications can be very effective, they often have significant side effects (drowsiness, depression, constipation). Benzodiazepines can also be difficult to stop once started. One of the most significant mechanisms in which anti-anxiety medications work is through the GABA receptor system.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it helps to calm the nervous system and muscular skeletal system. Benzodiazepines have a very strong effect on GABA receptors making them effective but also potentially dangerous.

Many nutraceutical compounds activate the GABA pathway but with a gentler effect than benzodiazepines. Pharma GABA (GABA produced by bacteria), Passionflower, St. Johns Wort, Taurine, 5-HTP and CBD all have well documented effects on GABA and Serotonin. At the Toronto clinic we use these compounds successfully in the treatment of anxiety syndromes with less potential for adverse effects.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 11679026/

Supplementation for Stress

Every single human being experiences stress throughout their life. Stress can be a healthy natural process in the right circumstances and at the right time. Stress becomes pathological when it is experienced chronically and without appropriate instigation. Long lasting stress can have detrimental effects on multiple biological systems including the immune system, endocrine system (hormones) and cardiovascular system. https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137920/

There are no specific pharmaceutical interventions in the treatment of stress. Benzodiazepines are the most common class of drug prescribed for debilitating stress and as I mentioned in the section on anxiety, benzodiazepines can have significant side effects and issues with dependency.

Since there is a wide spectrum of factors that can cause stress a “one size fits all” approach is not always effective. The naturopathic approach is fundamentally holistic and therefore takes into account mental, emotional and physical stressors. For instance a change in work schedule may be contributing to sleep disruption, leading to insomnia, poor work performance and nutritional disruption.

Furthermore, there is an entire class of nutritional and herbal supplements called adaptogens. Adaptogens have the ability to modulate cortisol (stress hormone) preventing peaks and dips in cortisol levels throughout the day. Overtime treatment with adaptogens facilitate a more balanced cortisol output avoiding periods of hyperactivity and burnout. To my knowledge there are no pharmaceutical drugs that act in a similar way. Some common adaptogens are: Ashwagandha, Rodiola and Siberian Ginseng. Vitamins like Vitamin C and Magnesium can help support adrenal function further helping the body to avoid burnout in periods of prolonged stress. At the Toronto clinic I use these adaptogenic compounds in conjunction with other treatments to provide a safe and effective treatment plan for chronic stress.

The mind can be treated through the body. Pharmaceutical interventions can be effective but often come with safety concerns around adverse effects and dependancy. There are many safe and effective natural approaches to mental health conditions through supplementation. At my Toronto clinic we specialize in developing an individualized plan to help achieve your mental health goals.


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13/Apr/2022

Intro

Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common chronic issues that we experience as a a result of modern living: Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression and Pain. While there are some pharmaceutical medications that can be effective, most individuals would rather seek a safe and effective alternative approach. Here I will outline these conditions individually and describe some of the most effective treatments that I use at my Toronto naturopathic clinic Physic-Logic.

Stress

Stress is an unavoidable biological response to a threat. The human body developed the stress response in order to escape immediately threatening situations like wild animals and hunting for food. The stress response evolutionarily developed to kick the body into high gear in particular situations and for relatively short intervals. Stress demands a lot from our body in order to perform at a very high level. An increased output of hormones, vitamins and minerals are utilized during the stress response.

The reality is that in modern day living we perceive stress from a variety of situations that are outside of our evolutionary makeup. For example, many if not all of us experience financial stress, workplace stress, relationship stress, medical related stress etc… If we do not have effective coping strategies these stressors, overtime, use up our bodies resources and lead to burnout.

Chronic stress can also be a trigger in the development and resurgence of chronic illnesses like autoimmune disease, allergies, gastrointestinal disease, migraine and skin conditions. At our Toronto Naturopathic Clinic we have several therapies that help to support the body through stress. Adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola and Ashwagandha help to balance cortisol levels, evening out the highs and lows of a stress response. Magnesium, b-vitamins and vitamin C help to support the adrenal glands which can experience a state of fatigue when under prolonged stress. Acupuncture can help to bring the body into a calming parasympathetic state after prolonged periods in sympathetic fight and flight mode. All these holistic modalities work together to bring a patient out of stress induced fatigue while allowing a better more controlled stress response in the future.

Insomnia

One of the most important foundations for health is good sleep. Most adults require 8-10 hours of sleep for optimal performance whereas in reality 5-7 hours seems to be the norm for most many patients. Not only is sleep duration important but quality uninterrupted sleep is important as well. Our body will have trouble healing and functioning optimally without adequate sleep quantity and quality.

There are 3 types of insomnia that I typically see in my Toronto Naturopathic practice: 1. Sleep initiation insomnia (trouble falling asleep) 2. Sleep maintenance insomnia (trouble staying asleep) and 3. A combination of both initiation and maintenance insomnia. Some of the most common issues causing insomnia are due to anxiety, stress, pain and discomfort. Therefore a successful approach to treating insomnia needs to take into consideration the root causes of the insomnia and the type of insomnia.

Many of the pharmaceutical approaches to insomnia have issues with dependency, addiction and grogginess. The pharmaceutical treatments don’t typically consider the issues causing the insomnia or the type of insomnia either. At my Toronto Naturopathic clinic Physio-Logic I use a combination of time tested approaches to pinpoint the specific areas of sleep that have been disrupted. For instance melatonin can be a very effective treatment for insomnia but many patients don’t realize that there is more than one type of melatonin and that dosage is very important. A fast acting sublingual melatonin may be very helpful to initiate sleep but not effective at maintaining sleep throughout the night; whereas a prolonged release melatonin is often much more effective for sleep maintenance issues. Similarly Cannabis and cannabinoids can be used for insomnia but fast acting inhaled forms are better suited for sleep initiation whereas longer acting oral forms are more useful for sleep maintenance. At our Toronto Naturopathic clinic we take into consideration all the nuances in the diagnosis of insomnia to come up with the most effective and safest course of treatment.

Anxiety

Most of us have experienced anxiety at one point or another and like stress, anxiety in specific circumstances and in relatively short durations is perfectly normal. When anxiety becomes a daily or long lasting biological response we simply cannot function optimally and start placing our body at risk of chronic disease.

Stress and anxiety are closely related with anxiety being more of the mental emotional response and stress being more of the physical response to a perceived threat. A big issue with chronic anxiety is that it becomes a vicious cycle perpetuating itself; the experience of anxiety creates more anxiety and the fear of its return creates more anxiety. The brain, much like muscle has a memory and the more times specific pathways are engaged the harder it becomes to break those physiological habits.

Anti-anxiety medications often fail at producing long lasting results without side effects because they where often designed for treating other conditions; as is the case with anti-depressant medications. A recent breakthrough in anxiety medicine has revealed that our endocannabinoid system has a significant role in the maintenance of balanced mental emotional health. Therefore compounds like cannabidiol (CBD) which act to support the endocannabinoid system have been shown to be effective and safe in the treatment of anxiety with minimal side effects.

Promotion of a healthy lifestyle including daily exercise and a healthy diet can further support the endocannabinoid system and are therefore extremely effective strategies in their own rite. At my Toronto Naturopathic Clinic Physio-Logic we combine several strategies including cannabinoid education to formulate an effective strategy to break the anxiety cycle once and for all.

Depression

Depression is a spectrum ranging from mild symptoms to severe symptoms. While pharmaceutical medication is often necessary for more severe forms of depression, functional medicine can be very effective in treating mild to moderate depression.

Most anti-depressant medications work by keeping higher levels of serotonin in the brain and nervous system. There are many natural compounds that can achieve similar results with a less specific but more holistic mode of action. The net effect is something that is gentler than a pharmaceutical drug but with less potential for dependency and side effects. One example is the flower St. Johns Wort which s backed by several studies confirming its efficacy in treating mild to moderate forms of depression.

Nutrition and exercise are also fundamental in treating all forms of depression and unfortunately as symptoms get worse so do the potential for lassitude and malnourishment. Intervention at the early stages of depression can often allow the patient to utilize holistic therapies effectively and prevent the need for a more aggressive pharmaceutical approach. At my Toronto Naturopathic Clinic, we use functional and holistic medicines from both eastern western medical traditions to treat mild to moderate depression safely and effectively. Some of these treatments include: herbal therapy, acupuncture, intravenous therapy and lifestyle counselling.

Pain

One of the biggest obstacles to cure is pain. Chronic pain interfere with the activities of daily living, disrupting sleep and making exercise impossible. Chronic pain also places physical stress on the body, over time leading to physical burnout and deficiency. Unfortunately many of the most effective pharmaceutical strategies for pain management are linked to addiction and long term side effects. Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) is a common condition I see in practice linked to long term use of Non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Advil and Naproxen. Fortunately there are many safe and effective treatment options within naturopathic and functional medicine.

Pain is often linked to a few common phenomena: lack of circulation, inflammation, tight muscles and neurological injury. Many holistic treatments such as acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, laser therapy and massage work to improve circulation and loosen tight muscles. Many vitamin, mineral and herbal therapies are excellent for controlling inflammation. Curcumin is a compound derived from the spice turmeric and has years of scientific research demonstrating its strong anti-inflammatory properties without side effects. Using electric current in conjunction with acupuncture can be a safe and very effective treatment for neurological injury. At the my Toronto Naturopathic clinic we utilize many different tools and strategies to provide a safe, effective and individualize treatment for both acute and chronic pain.

Conclusion

Many of the health concerns that we experience in modern society can be safely and effectively treated with a Naturopathic approach. I would encourage anyone experiencing stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression or pain to have a consultation with a Naturopath or other functional medicine doctor. Unfortunately it is all too common for patients to first step into my office after years of trying to manage symptoms using only a pharmaceutical approach. It is never too late to try a more holistic approach. You will be surprised at how effective these treatments can be.


dr_shawn

Patient focused integrative health care. Utilizing effective natural approaches designed to be used alone or to compliment conventional medical care.


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