Feel like you have tried everything for fibromyalgia but nothing works?
Fibromyalgia is a painful chronic condition.
It can be very difficult to treat with conventional medicine.
Many people report positive results after trying Ayurveda for fibromyalgia.
What is Ayurveda for fibromyalgia?
Ayurveda is a traditional medicine originally from India. Ayurveda uses techniques, including diet, herbal medicine, massage, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. Ayurveda targets nutrition, stress and physical pain. It is thought the holistic approach significantly improves the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
We run through everything you need to know about Ayurveda for fibromyalgia.
What is fibromyalgia?
Do you have constant fatigue and pain in your joints & muscles (either constant or coming and going)?
Fibromyalgia causes pain, fatigue & tenderness throughout your body. Despite being very common it is a mysterious disease.
Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition affecting the musculoskeletal system (so your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments).
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. 80 – 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition – which means unfortunately there is no cure.
Some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Painful / aching muscles
- Fuzzy head (known as ‘fibro fog’)
- Feeling anxious, nervous or worried
A full rundown of the tell-tale signs of fibromyalgia is available here.
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia but researchers have identified a number of risk factors. These risk factors may contribute to a ‘perfect storm’ leading to fibromyalgia.
These factors include:
- Genetics– fibromyalgia often runs in families.
- Other rheumatic conditions– prior illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or ankylosing spondylitis.
- Stress– Prolonged periods of stress.
- Being a woman– women are 8 to 9 times more likely to have fibromyalgia – potentially due to the female sex hormones.
- Age– 20 to 50 years old is the most common age bracket for fibromyalgia.
- Sleep disorders– people with sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea & restless leg syndrome.
- Mental health conditions– depression and anxiety stem from the same chemical imbalances as fibromyalgia.
- Trauma– fibromyalgia is more common in people who have suffered PTSD or trauma.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda originated in the ancient Vedic civilization of India over 600 years ago. Ayurveda (which means “knowledge of life”) is the oldest continually practiced system of health care in the world.
Amazingly the ancient Vedic texts distinguished between two types of diabetes. It also described the circulatory system thousands of years before Western medicine ‘discovered’ it.
Ayurvedic medicine is a very old but highly sophisticated health science.
“The body’s healing system is still little understood because of the complex inputs – thoughts, emotions, diet, stress, exercise, immune response – that affect healing. The picture is further clouded when isolated findings overlap or contradict one another. In the context of Ayurveda, therapies and practices aren’t done in isolation. Instead of focusing on local symptoms, the diagnosis is systemic. Only now is Western medicine beginning to understand that a blanket condition like ‘stress’ or ‘inflammation’ connects many diverse disorders, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes,” says Deepak Chopra.
How does Ayurveda differ from Conventional Treatment?
The primary focus in Ayurveda is to eliminate the root cause of a condition. Not to mask the symptoms.
Ayurveda aims to strengthen your body’s innate ability to heal. It does so my using a range of techniques to enliven the inner intelligence of the body.
Every Ayurvedic treatment is judged for its effect on the entire mind and body system.
According to Ayurveda, disorders are the result of imbalances and impurities that build up in the body over time.
Ayurvedic treatment involves diagnosing and healing the imbalances in the body. It uses treatments and education on how to live a healthy balanced routine to support your own unique mind/body make-up.
The mind/body approach is also widely practiced in Western integrated medicine.
Where Ayurveda differs from Western medicine is the biological systems called doshas.
According to Ayurveda, the human body is governed by three doshas – that control all of the body’s functions.
The three doshas are:
- Vata (regulates movement)
- Pitta (regulates metabolism)
- Kapha (regulates structure)
The doshas work together and each person has unique balance of doshas. An Ayurvedic approach aims to restore the natural balance of your doshas.
Ayurveda also provides a preventative approach to health. The aim of Ayurveda is to detect imbalances at an early stage – before symptoms arise.
Does Ayurveda for fibromyalgia work?
More scientific research is needed on Ayurveda for fibromyalgia but preliminary results show promise.
One study followed 31 women with fibromyalgia at an Ayurveda Health Centre in Norway. The women were given diet advice on Ayurvedic principles, meditation instruction, herbal remedies and personal purification therapy (panchakarma). After six-months all the women reported improvements in pain, tiredness, stiffness, anxiety and depression. Four of the group who had started to practise meditation had almost no symptoms by the end.
This same group of women were followed up after 24 months. There remained significant reductions in most symptoms including pain, tiredness and anxiety. The women who continued with meditation practise had almost no symptoms.
The long term benefits of the Norwegian Ayurveda study are impressive considering fibromyalgia is believed incurable.
What does Ayurveda treatment for fibromyalgia involve?
Ayurvedic treatment for fibromyalgia is unique to each individual.
Typically, an initial consultation is followed up by a tailored set of treatments and protocols.
Diet and lifestyle are the foundation for Ayurveda for fibromyalgia.
Diet is typically warm and nourishing with an aim to supporting digestive fire and restoring balance of your doshas. Examples include foods made with ghee or coconut oil and Golden Milk (turmeric and warm milk).
Ayurvedic diet also considers stabilising eating patterns.
Pranayama (breathing exercises)
Pranayama are different breathing exercises. Techniques include deep diaphragmatic breathing and slow nose breathing. Pranayama is practiced for around 3 – 5 minutes several times a day. Breathing exercises are proven to be excellent for aiding relaxation and eliminating toxins.
Meditation is a practice of calming a turbulent mind to focus on the here and now. Many people report reaching an amazing sense of inner calm through regular daily practice of meditation. Research has shown meditation is incredibly effective for anxiety, depression and even improving memory.
Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that focuses on strength and flexibility for body and mind. Yoga employed in Ayurveda is usually gentle and designed to support the lymph and endocrine system. It may focus on movements for ‘joints and glands’. Yoga is usually practiced for at least 20 minutes every morning.
Ayurveda relies heavily on herbal remedies and treatments. Some of these remedies may come in the form of food or supplements. Others are used in the form of specialist treatments such as the Panchakarma.
What are the Panchakarma?
A series of treatments known as Panchakarma (‘five actions’) treatments are often recommended in Ayurveda for fibromyalgia.
The focus of Panchakarma treatments is to detoxify the mind and body and restore balance for optimal health.
Examples of Panchakarma treatments include:
Abhyanga is a herbal oil massage designed to deeply penetrate the skin. The oils are individually prepared depending on your needs. The massage aims to relax the mind and body, stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation and break up impurities. It promotes the removal of waste and enhances the ability of nutrients to reach the cells. The massage should result in a heightened state of awareness that directs the internal healing of the body.
Shirodhara is the practice of slowly and methodically pouring warm herbal oil over the forehead. It is very calming for mind and body and is claimed to synchronize brain waves.
Garshana involves using dry gloves (either wool or silk) to brush the skin and stimulate the lymphatic system. The treatment enhances circulation. It also cleanses the skin so subsequent oil and herbal treatments can penetrate deeply into cleansed pores.
Swedana is a herbal steam bath, during which the heart and head are kept cool. The body is heated to remove physical, mental and emotional toxins embedded deep in the tissues. By keeping the head and heart cool a sense of calm is maintained preventing overheating and stress to the body.
Udvartana is a deeply penetrating lymphatic massage with a herbal paste. The paste is a powerful exfoliator – cleansing the skin whilst releasing stagnant lymphatic toxins within your body.
Five Senses Therapy
This therapy combines the calming effect of all five senses working in harmony. The sound element uses specific Vedic hymns and mantras recommended for each imbalance. The touch element enlivens the marma (vital points in the body). Taste therapy uses specific herbs and spices. The sight element uses Ayurvedic colour therapy. Finally, smell is enlivened through combinations of rare aromatics. The result of harmonizing the senses is to bring your awareness to the source of your thoughts and feelings in your heart.
Basti is a herbal enema to pull out toxins from the colon. At the end of each daily Panchakarma treatment, the basti flushes out the freshly loosened toxins after the previous treatments. The basti also transports Ayurvedic medicines into the blood and tissues to aid the healing of damaged cells.
Nasya involves individually prepared herbs and oil drops being inhaled through the nose to clear the sinuses. Nasya aims to combat the deep dryness that exists at the root of many allergic and respiratory conditions.
Shiro-Abhyanga-Nasya is a combination of deep massage of the head/neck/shoulder and facial lymphatic massage. It is followed by an aromatic steam inhalation and sinus cleansing with herbal nose drops (nasya). This popular combination treatment is helpful for balancing head, neck and respiratory problems.
Pinda Swedana is a deep cleansing treatment using rice cooked in herbal milk that is massaged into the joints and tissues. It is very relaxing and detoxifying.
Why does Ayurveda for fibromyalgia work?
More research is needed to discover why Ayurveda for fibromyalgia is effective.
One theory is the inter-disciplinary approach of Ayurveda drives the marked improvements in symptoms.
What is an inter-disciplinary approach?
An inter-disciplinary approach is an integration of knowledge from different disciplines. It synthesises many approaches to work on healing all areas of your life.
Your body, mind and social or spiritual well-being.
Studies of other inter-disciplinary fibromyalgia treatment have shown similarly impressive results. These treatments combined psychological, educational and physical therapies
For more information on an interdisciplinary healing program for chronic pain and fibromyalgia click here.
Potential risks of Ayurveda for fibromyalgia
Government health authorities have warned people to be aware of some safety issues with Ayurvedic medicine.
- Herbal medicines may have side effects. Herbal medicines can be as potent as pharmaceutical drugs and should be treated with the same caution.
- Many treatments have not been tested on pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers or small children. Some remedies may be harmful.
- Research from the USA found that about one fifth of Ayurvedic products bought online contained dangerous ingredients such as lead, mercury and arsenic in high enough quantities to be considered toxic.
- Herbal products are nt subject to the same laws or regulations as those bought in your own country.
- Talk to your doctor about Ayurvedic treatments you are having this will reduce the risk of adverse reactions with prescription medicines.
Ayurveda is an ancient traditional medicine from India.
It recognized fibromyalgia as a condition thousands of years ago.
Modern science is supporting the many benefits of Ayurvedic medicine for fibromyalgia.
The treatments in Ayurveda include mediation, yoga, massage and herbal remedies.
Many scientists agree it is the inter-disciplinary approach of Ayurveda that produces such good results for people with fibromyalgia.
Have you tried Ayurveda for fibromyalgia?