Herbs for fibromyalgia (and other chronic inflammatory diseases)
My life changed about 2 years ago. I began to realize that the ‘normal’ aches and pains of being a woman in her late 30’s weren’t all that normal. A lot of other people my age weren’t feeling the same things I was. Furthermore, those ‘normal’ aches and pains were getting a lot worse. They were beginning to affect my mood, my energy level, and my ability to cope with ‘normal’ life things like stress and sleep.
I talked to a friend who has fibro, and found that a lot of my symptoms were very much like hers. So I went to a doctor, who ran blood tests to rule everything else out. She did. We were left with fibro. And here I am.
It’s been a tough road trying to learn how to manage my symptoms and keep from crashing and burning. I’ve learned that meat is bad, sleep is good. Stress is bad, hot baths are good. Sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on everything. Then I have a gnarly flare-up and all pretenses that I’m in control of my own life are shot straight to hell.
So I’ve been thinking more and more about alternative treatments, as I still don’t have insurance, and doctors and pills just aren’t in the budget. That’s how I compiled this list.
Herbs for Fibromyalgia
Pain Relief and Anti-inflammatory
- White willow bark- White willow bark has a long history of use for pain relief among Native Americans, but other varieties of willow bark have been chewed as far back as Hippocrates’ time. The main constituent is salicin, which is similar in composition to Aspirin.
- Meadowsweet- Aspirin was originally synthesized from the leaves of meadowsweet to obtain the methyl salicylic acid that we know today. It’s great to reduce fevers, pain, and the whole herb also helps to relieve stomach problems. It’s also a great anti-inflammatory.
- Turmeric- Turmeric has shown great promise in fighting the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases like fibro. It also covers a lot of associated problems, like headache, stomach issues (which can often arise from the medicines we take), and intestinal problems. (A lot of fibro sufferers also suffer from IBS and other intestinal issues.)
- Kava Kava- (Sometimes called Kava) is used to help treat anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders. There is tons of information on Kava on the Internet, but it seems that a lot of it revolves on how to get the ‘high’ from ingesting concentrated doses. However, there is evidence that heavy Kava use can also cause liver damage- so tread lightly.
- Skullcap- Skullcap helps to fight anxiety and sleep problems as well. There is anecdotal evidence that shows an anti-inflammatory effect, so this may be a better option than Kava Kava all around as it doesn’t have the warnings about liver damage.
- St. John’s Wort- (Do not use with Valerian!) St. John’s Wort is best known for its anti-depressant effects. It has been used in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and also has been shown to help with migraines. I recommend doing some research before using St. John’s Wort, however, as it does seem to interact with other drugs. There are too many interactions to list here easily.
- Echinacea- Echinacea is used to fight infections, mostly respiratory infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, and rheumatism. Generally it is used to bolster the immune system.
- Damiana- helps to recover lost libido, but is also used to combat anxiety and mild depression. It is also used as a general, good-health tonic. Sometimes, with a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia, sexuality suffers. This can help to bring some of the spark back.
I’ve ordered a lot of these herbs, and am currently waiting for them to come in the mail. However, since I already had dried meadowsweet at home, and fresh turmeric root is available at my local Asian market, I went ahead and made some. Since the turmeric root was fresh, I filled a jar with thinly sliced turmeric, and then covered with 80 proof rum. (I couldn’t find 100 proof, but this should suffice.) The meadowsweet was dried, so I 1/2 filled the jar with the herb, and then continued to fill the jar to the top with rum. I’ll leave them to soak for about 2 months, and will strain and bottle them on the full moon in June (aka The Strawberry Moon.)
Once I’m able to strain and bottle them, I’ll try each individually to see if I have any bad reactions, and then start blending them to come up with one big master mix of Fibro-banish goodness. 🙂