Understanding Fibromyalgia, Part 1: The Consciousness of the Sufferer

If we’re going to address this condition holistically, we must start with the consciousness of the sufferer and his or her understanding of what “fibromyalgia” actually is and how it has tended to define one’s identity, as many chronic diseases tend to do. We also have to do some critical thinking around our current healthcare system, the context in which this condition has been diagnosed, and begin to allow a change in consciousness to occur there as well. 

The word itself—which simply means aching muscle fibers— is a new name for what old folks today used to call “rheumatism,” or “la rheumatise” as the Cajun folk called it back when I got out of Chiropractic college in 1963 and opened my first practice in Crowley, Louisiana.  It’s a body ache that just won’t go away. You just hurt all over, and that’s not anything new.  In other words, it’s an old ailment with a modern diagnostic label.  

The only difference is we have a whole lot more pain-producing assaults to our bodies in the form of chemicals in our foods, water and air, than were around fifty years ago, not to mention mental and emotional stresses we didn’t used to have.  Then there’s the latest threat to our health and sanity in the form of Genetically Modified Organisms in corn and other food staples, such as fruits and vegetable.  All this to say we have many more toxins for our immune and elimination systems to process in body-minds that are a lot more stressed—and a lot less active physically but more active mentally.  All this bears on our predisposition to dis-ease.  

THE PROBLEM WITH A DI-AGNOSIS

I emphasize the word “diagnostic” to bring attention to the unpublished meaning of that word.  The dictionary gives this Greek derivation: [dia-, through, between + gignoskein, know], and defines it as an act of “distinguishing.”  But I prefer the one I heard some years ago at a motivational seminar: “di-, meaning two, and -agnostic, meaning not knowable”  When you ache and don’t know what it is, only you don’t know. That’s one.  When you take your condition to a medical doctor, he tells you he doesn’t know what it is either.  Now you have TWO who don’t know, only the doctor puts a name on it, mainly because that’s what you went to him for . . . and  he needs a legitimate condition to prescribe a drug for and get paid by the insurance industry to treat.  Now you have a diagnosis you can set your mind at ease with—at least it’s not “cancer”—and something new to tell all your friends and neighbors about. 😮  

One medical author actually writes that if people didn’t “demand” a name for their conditions, they would get well much faster—and that’s no joke.

Of course, I’m being facetious.  After 50 years in this work, which can be frustrating at times but, nevertheless, rewarding, I feel I’ve earned the right to interject a bit of humor into the otherwise heavy and futile undertaking health-care has become. People are perishing because of a lack of real vision. My purpose for blogging here is to hopefully bring some vision to the end that people will stop perishing. 

Sad as it is, that’s about where we are in our so-called “health care” and modern-day medicine, with 75% of medical diagnoses being wrong—and people sacrificing their lives every day at the research altar of the pharmaceutical industry—60,000 deaths worldwide from a simple pain pill before it was pulled off the market in 2004, not to mention those dying daily from contaminated steroid shots administered to relieve pain!  Tens of thousands die annually from medical mistakes, hospital-acquired infections, and “iotrogenic” (doctor-caused) diseases. 

The best medical specialists are only 25% right in their guesses about health conditions and their causes and treatments . Medicine does not deliver health and it never will.  It’s not “health care.” It’s disease management—and we do, unfortunately, still need to manage human disease and suffering—such as “fibromyalgia” and “chronic fatigue syndrome”—so I don’t want to come off as being ungrateful for drugs and surgery, certainly not for our well-meaning and compassionate doctors.  But what an indictment upon our way of life—or rather of dying—in the twenty-first century, and upon modern-day medicine!  Drugs are simply not the way to go.

Am I passionate about this blatant failure on the part of our healthcare delivery system . . . and the government’s continued support of it with our hard-earned tax dollars?  You bet I am!  I understand that research dollars are becoming harder to come by in the wake of decades of medical science’s failures to deliver on its promises to find cures for human diseases if we just give them more money and time.  It’s about time we wake up!

So, I will back off from calling chronic aches and pains “fibromyalgia” because, like all other diagnostic terms, it has become yet another mental fixation that people believe in with religious fervor.  Some time ago I learned that you cannot talk a diabetic, for instance, out of his or her pet topic of conversation.  Besides, it’s one of the four diseases that it is illegal in this country to “cure.” 

But, enough about human-nature antics.  People are suffering from pain that has no knowable cause  . . . to medical science, that is.  Not so. Everything in the world of effects has a cause that is knowable. We just have to put our critical-thinking caps on to figure it out.  That’s what chiropractors and other natural health care practitioners are good at.  So, let’s look at this modern-day plague, for which medical science loudly proclaims in its literature:  “The cause is unknown.” ___________________________________________________

EVIDENCE THAT HEALING IS UNDERWAY

1. PAIN AND INFLAMMATION 

It’s inflammation, pure and simple.  Inflammation is the first stage of the healing process.  It’s natural, in others words. Pain is the trigger for the healing process and inflammation is your first indication that you’re okay in spite of the pain.  The healing process is underway.  Support it . . . and find and eliminate the external and internal causes of the pain that triggers it. That’s all we can do.  The body heals itself.  It has an innate intelligence that automatically heals and repairs damaged and sick parts.

Read this excellent article by Dr. Samuel N. Grief, MD on the subject of inflammation for a better understanding of this mechanism of the healing process.

2. REPAIR AND INFECTION

The second phase is repair, which may include infection if the debris from damaged and dying cells is not eliminated properly. That debris is called “metabolic waste” in physiology.  If not eliminated, it becomes acidic.  Acid burns cells, and that can be quite painful.  It’s a toxin and needs to be cleansed out of the body tissues.  Infection is how the body deals with toxic waste.

That’s where alternative and natural healthcare can help with herbs and exercise, along with some Eastern Medicine techniques, such as Acupuncture, which is very effective in intercepting pain signals and opening up stuck energy pathways in the body—which is also what chiropractic spinal adjustments offer.  Spinal adjustments open up neural pathways between central control in the brain and peripheral tissues and organs in the body.  Pathways that carry vital signals and messages of the intelligent innate healing power of the body. Chiropractors have historically proclaimed the truth that “The power the made the body can heal the body.” Homeopathy and Naturopathy are also natural healing methodologies that offer totally harmless ways of supporting the natural healing processes of the body.

Tissue repair is done simply through a process of protein syntheses and cellular apoptosis (suicide) and replication.  Simply put, a cell sees that a neighboring cell has died so it replicates itself to replace the missing cell.  Innate intelligence at work! See this fascinating process in some of my earlier blogs on the Life of the Cell and Protein Transcription listed in the Archives of this blog. Also my articles on Bone Remodeling and The Healing Process published back in May and June of 2011.

3. SCARRING

The third phase of the healing process is scarring to fortify damaged tissue fibers.   For that process to work, building blocks are needed in abundance, and enzymes are called upon in greater demand to do the repair work. They are the workhorses of the body.  Here is where healthful dieting and nutritional therapies can help.  Raw foods supply us with enzymes, vitamins and minerals—provided they are organically produced in humus and mineral rich soils.  Otherwise, supplementation with enzymes and healing nutrients is absolutely necessary.

4. STRENGTHENING & REHAB

The next step for the injured person is  strengthening and rehabilitation, to break up the scaring so that new cells can come in and replace the collagen tissue where possible, and to strengthen the repaired tissues. This is where stretching, physical exercise, therapeutic massage, and physical therapy can help.

5. NUTRITIONAL AND HERBAL THERAPIES

This is also where nutritional and herbal therapies come in handy—and there are some remarkable products available to alternative healthcare practitioners today.  These natural healing  sciences are called by such names as “Trophotherapy” and “Phytotherapy.”  Trophotherapy includes the use of whole food supplements as therapeutic foods (“nutraceuticals”) that supply all the ingredients the body needs to repair and strengthen tissues, help the immune system process infection efficiently, and restore normal function to muscles, bones, organs and glands.  Phytotherapy includes the use of phytochemicals and herbs to supply natural medicines that act as catalysts for chemical processes, aid in the infection-fighting process and in the production of energy, as well as helping the body adapt more easily to environmental stress.  This work is called “Clinical Nutrition” and its rationale is to reverse the disease process and support the healing process.  

Doesn’t this kind of critical thinking  sound so harmonious and resonant with logic and reason? Don’t you just love the healthy sound of these words? They take us up toward health and life rather than down toward disease and death.  I love this work. 

We’ve come a long ways in our research and utilization of Mother’s Nature’s cornucopia of healing nutritionals and botanicals (herbs,  etc.) . . . and this is true health care research.  Research that delivers the goods of health as opposed to masking the symptoms of disease with drugs.

6. POSSIBLE CAUSES AND TRIGGERS

When I asked my Standard Process representative for some input for this post—he’s a Naturapath—here’s what he emailed me in response:

Yikes …you could write a book.  As you know it is a wastebasket diagnosis, a cluster of symptoms, and not definable by any marker other than tender point index.  I think finding the root causes and triggers is the real key to relief.  Also, as many practitioners will attest, a lot of long-term sufferers really don’t want to get completely better as the label of  “fibromyalgia” becomes their badge of honor or ingrained in their identity.  

His last comment echoes what I said earlier in this post. The problem, as well as the solution, lies within the sufferer and his or her consciousness.  That is both barrier and key to healing all physicians face daily in their clinics.  The Holistic approach takes this into account and addresses the healing of the person rather than the disease. Change is hard for those who don’t want to let go of what has defined them for so long, many for years.

Here are some of the known root causes and triggers for “fibromyalgia”:

  • Low thyroid function resulting in slow metabolism, the rate of energy metabolism and the breaking down of molecular structure (catabolism) and the building up of tissues (anabolism). 
  • Toxicity – especially aluminum
  • Post viral mitochondria dysfunction, resulting in “chronic fatigue,” another catch-all label
  • Un-diagnosed infective viral agents, such as Lyme disease, chronic staph and strep infections.
  • Food allergies, such as corn and wheat gluten, and dairy.

I will address each one of these areas in my next post, including known remedies and powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents, such as the fruit of the Nopal cactus that thrives in the Sonoran Desert of southwest USA and Mexico, now available in a juice called “nopalea” put out by the innovative company TriVita. Until then, here’s to your critical thinking on health and healing,

Anthony Palombo, D.C.
Note: I’ve interrupted my series “Seven Glands for Seven Spirits” in order to bring you this special on Fibromyalgia and to honor a request from one of my blog followers. Your requests and comments are encouraged and always welcome. Thank you!
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