Fibromyalgia & Yoga
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disease that affects women more than men.
Much of what is known about fibromyalgia is the symptoms associated with it, as doctors are not able to measure symptoms by any standardized test.
Because there is no definitive diagnosis for fibromyalgia many in the medical community does not recognize fibromyalgia as a true illness. Treatment varies to suit the symptoms a patient exhibits and may include medication, diet, massage and exercise.
Wide spread body pain/chronic muscle pain
Sensitivity to touch
Flu like fatigue
Mental and cognitive issues
Robert M. Bennet MD states that his research shows the brain in FM patients is over sensitized to pain. Other research shows a connection to past traumatic events and fibromyalgia. These both make a connection to possible imbalance in the brain or nervous system.
Another connection to chronic pain is the Pfluger’s Law. Pfluger’s law consists of five laws that map the evolution of chronic pain and the nervous system.
Law of Unilaterality; pain residing at original site of injury.
Law of Symmetry; If the stimulus to the nervous system is sufficiently increased, you can start to hurt in similar muscles on the side other than the one injured.
Law of Intensity; As stimulus to the nervous system increases, the uninjured side hurts as much as the side of initial injury.
Law of Radiation; The nervous impulses travel up the spine activating reactions through centrifugal nerves coming from cord segments higher up. In essence, areas of old injuries become reactivated.
Law of Generalizations; With intense stimulus to the nervous system, the impulses are propagated to the medulla oblongata which becomes a focus from which stimuli radiate to all parts of the cord, causing a general contraction of all muscles in the body.
From these examples one can make the connection to imbalance in the brain and the nervous system.
Diet and Fibromyalgia
A couple examples of diets that increase the absorption of nutrients in the body are the Nutrient Dense Diet and Anopsology diet. “People who are sick may take 5 – 7 times the nutrients to heal than a healthy body.” Finding the foods that contain the highest nutrient content available is an example of nutrient dense diet eating. The Anopsology diet is about foraging for the best smell and taste from a variety of fruit, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, protein, and honey. “Your body will guide you to eat the nutrients needed through the sense of taste and smell.” Eating one food at a time until your body’s senses are satisfied.
In recent years gut health has been attributed to fibromyalgia as well as depression, inflammation, food allergies, attention deficit disorder and mental clarity or brain fog. “Leaky gut” is defined as intestinal permeability that creates damage to the lining of the small intestine. This damage can result in undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria to leak through or cross the delicate lining of the intestinal tract and into the blood stream.
Steps that can be taken to minimize or avoid getting leaky gut include, eating sprouted and fermented foods which reduces the intake of phytates and lectins that can attribute to the cause of leaky gut. Removing or minimizing gluten containing grains that damage the lining of the intestinal wall and potentially cause leaky gut. Using raw dairy from cows or goats that is free of the protein A1 Casein that is a component of dairy that will harm the gut. Avoiding sugar that feeds “bad” bacterial growth that creates toxins called exotoxins. Exotoxins damage healthy cells and have the potential to eat a hole in the intestinal wall. A protocol for healing the gut is one that may start first with an elimination diet removing and recognizing problem foods like dairy and gluten. Healing the lining of the gut and preparing to re-establish good bacterial growth using pre-biotic foods from the alum family (onions, garlic) and fermented foods (kimchi, kombucha). Then introducing good bacteria into the diet plan with the addition of pro-biotics.
Yoga and Fibromyalgia
Yoga is a science that calms fluctuations in the mind through the practice of meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques) and asana (poses). Pain management relief from fibromyalgia may be found in the practice of yoga. Yoga asanas are the postures most of us think of when we hear the words “yoga”. The postures are intended to create a balance in the physical body. Working the external body as well as the internal body by moving joints, muscle and circulating fluids. Recommendations for yoga and fibromyalgia are to start slow at 5 – 10 minutes a day. Keep the practice consistent every day rather than one or two 60-minute classes a week. Over time the practice will increase up to 15, 20 then 30 minutes or more a day. Recommended styles of yoga for fibromyalgia might include chair yoga, restorative yoga, and yoga nidra. Supported poses done with the assistance of props such as blankets or bolsters and held for extended periods of time stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and allow the relaxation response to take place.
Meditation is the practice of concentration that connects the separate sections of the brain creating a balanced relaxed thought process that is seated in the “present moment”, even if the present moment means dealing with chronic pain. By being present with the pain, the patient is honoring the body. Meditation practice can be done using techniques of observation, association, and mindfulness. All meditation techniques could be considered training techniques for mindfulness. The benefit of practicing mindfulness 20 to 60 minutes a day is said to be more effective at minimizing pain than morphine. Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center study found a little over an hour of meditation training dramatically reduced the experience of pain and pain related brain activation stated Fader Zeidan, Ph.D. “Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs by 25%.”
Pranayama or yoga breathing is a combination of breath techniques that help to bring balance in the body’s nervous system. Channels in the body referred to as Nadis in Hatha yoga can be looked at as having a direct link to the body’s nervous system and its balance. The sympathetic nervous system associated with the right nostril is the Pingala Nadi, the sympathetic nervous system associated with the left nostril is the Ida Nadi. The central nervous system is associated with the Sushumna Nadi channel. When balance between both nostrils is present the Sushumna channel is open and the parasympathetic nervous system is active. Techniques used to balance both channels are called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. Benefits of practicing Nadi Shodhana pranayama include relaxing the nervous system and reducing tension. According to Dr. Anadi Sahoo, a healthy nervous system is the secret to vitality & rejuvenation. Nadis(channels) determine the nature and quality of the nervous system.
Forbes, Alex Knapp
Musculoskeletal Therapy Center 2015
Do you Yoga, Liz Rosenblum
Yoga International, Shannon Sexton
Fibro & Yoga, Anita Murray
Oxford Biomedical Technologies