Life Herbs Blog


Woman holding neck, pain shown on her face

Fibromyalgia – A Holistic Approach

From a holistic standpoint fibromyalgia is one of very many conditions that arise from metabolic toxicosis i.e. an internal toxic situation within the body. In the case of fibromyalgia these harmful toxins lodge within the muscles causing the extreme muscular pain which is the hallmark of this disease.

It is not difficult to picture how such a condition can arise when we think how much our food has been ‘tampered with’, what with chemical sprays, pesticides, artificial fertilisers, not to mention synthetic colourings, flavourings, etc. added to our foods by the ‘food industry’. Food really is not what it used to be and the human body is paying the price.

Of course it is impossible for anyone to be totally toxin free. Microflora in our gut, the liver, spleen and immune system all work as a team constantly neutralising them They are then passed onto the kidneys, intestines, skin and lungs which, in turn, eliminate them.

Chemical and Environmental Pollutants

Holistically we can therefore distinguish between a level of toxic accumulation that is reasonable, and one that tips the balance and becomes an encumbrance leading to disease. The major contributors leading to this unsatisfactory state are chemical and heavy metal environmental pollutants.

When the intestinal microflora are no longer able to transform nutrients they also lose their capacity to transform and neutralise the toxic wastes of nutrition. The knock on effect of this is reduced intestinal absorption, mucus obstruction of the colon’s filtering system and toxins feeding back into the general circulation – this state of affairs is referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Once absorbed, these toxic by-products of the gut’s bacteria and fungi wreak havoc with normal body processes.

Symptoms of Toxicity

When an internal toxic condition arises symptoms initially are quite low key. They include general tiredness, headaches, insomnia, food intolerances, rough or dry skin, strong smelling urine (indicating a lot of toxic wastes are being eliminated) and a general proneness to infections. If left to progress untreated the level of toxicity increases to a point where the symptoms that manifest include chronic inflammatory infections, hypersensitivity and a dysfunctional immune system.

It is vital to appreciate that it is the toxicosis that is causing the wide and variable symptoms of fibromyalgia not the disease that is causing the symptoms.

Eliminating toxins by using herbal remedies

The herbal approach for this low level stage of toxicosis would be to gently and regularly stimulate internal and excretory organs namely the liver, intestines, skin and lungs in particular. It is commonly found that digestive, urinary and circulatory functions are well below par, leading to the accumulation of these toxic products in the first place. The liver, which can be seen as an extension of the digestive system, also needs protecting because it is this organ which has the job of neutralising toxins.

Useful herbs in this regard are, amongst others, horseradish root, garlic and rue. Liquorice root, artichokes and dandelion root will in turn help detoxify the liver. Antioxidant remedies that will help the body to neutralise and eliminate toxic chemicals are turmeric (used as an Indian spice and particularly helpful since it also has anti-inflammatory properties), Reishi mushrooms and coconut oil.

Essential dietary requirements

Treatment needs to be dietary as well as herbal. The gut flora can be adjusted with careful food combining, eating of organic wholefoods which, by nature of the way they are cultivated, will be free of excessive chemical contamination. Their high fibre content will bind and therefore eliminate gut toxins. Organic fruit, in particular grapes, are brilliant to cleanse the whole system of accumulated wastes. The addition of lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation is highly desirable to establish the correct gut flora.

Environmental Pollutants : Causes and Symptoms

In the case of toxicosis arising from environmental pollutants, the causes are external rather than internal accumulation of waste products. The main culprits are chemicals e.g. pesticides, herbicides, nicotine from cigarettes, chemical solvents, cleaning materials and heavy metals e.g. cadmium from cigarettes, aluminium from excessive tea drinking and constant use of aluminium containers, mercury from dental amalgams and fluoride, added to drinking water in some counties. Although such contamination is not new and has always existed in every civilisation to a greater of lesser extent the rise of carbon chemistry has resulted in a bewildering range of chemical compounds now present in the soil and food chain. Modern industry has also provided a significant rise in heavy metal contamination. Low level contamination with heavy metal leads to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, absent-mindedness, poor concentration, dizziness, loss of coordination, muscle pains, indigestion and constipation.

Cleansing the body of environmental chemicals

The most effective way of ridding the body of such pollutants is fasting on freshly pressed organic fruit and vegetables. Carrot with beetroot are particularly good as is carrot with apple. The beauty of such treatment is that all types of toxins, chemical, metallic, microbial and metabolic wastes are neutralised and eliminated.

  • Nettle and red clover are blood cleansing herbs which will enhance this whole process. Dandelion leaf made into a tea, although bitter and unpleasant, will greatly benefit the liver. Another easier way to ingest this herb is in an alcoholic tincture.
  • An increase of trace minerals e.g. seaweeds like Nori in the diet or supplementation will assist greatly in the process of elimination of heavy metals. Vitamin and amino acid supplements can also be helpful.
  • Plant remedies to treat toxicosis have been used for thousands of years. Their main emphasis is eliminating unwanted and harmful substances and restoring balance and harmony
  • So to summarise:- a medical herbalist would treat this condition by using:

    1. Circulatory stimulants.

    2. Herbs to encourage diaphoresis i.e. promote sweating, always an excellent way of clearing toxins via the skin.

    3. Herbs with anti-inflammatory action. All this would be combined with a programme of detoxification and cleansing so as to remove the cause of the problem.

    Although much in this article is designed to provide ideas and self help approaches, treatment is always personal to the individual sufferer and not specific to the disease. I would therefore advise anyone to contact their local medical herbalist who has M.N.I.M.H or F.N.I.M.H. after their name indicating they have undergone a rigorous training and are fully qualified to treat you.

    Anne Chiotis B.Sc.Hons A.R.C.S. M.N.I.M.H.
    Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists