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Is fibromyalgia caused by a leaky gut? The emerging story….

Fibromyalgia is common and affects women more than men – in fact, 80 to 90 per cent of people affected are female. It is most commonly diagnosed in middle age.

As anyone with fibromyalgia will tell you, it’s a debilitating condition that affects every aspect of life. Conventional medical treatment doesn’t have a lot to offer; pain relievers, antidepressants and drugs used for epilepsy (e.g. Lyrica) are most commonly prescribed; all with a range of undesirable side effects. These are all band-aids and do not treat the underlying cause.

An alternative theory on what causes fibromyalgia

Gastrointestinal symptoms and IBS are a very common occurrence for fibromyalgia sufferers. For many years I’ve seen that a lot of my fibromyalgia patients experience gut symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal bloating and gut pain. Even if they don’t have those symptoms, when sent off for tests, they are often found to have an imbalance between good and bad bowel bacteria.

A Spanish study found that no less than 98% of FM patients had at least one ‘functional gastric disorder’. For decades, holistic physicians have known that "leaky gut" is a significant problem in fibromyalgia and CFS. Many allopathic physicians have laughed at this concept of increased intestinal permeability (the food getting absorbed into the blood before it is completely digested), stating that it was nonsense.

Recently, a study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that one hundred percent of the fibromyalgia patients studied were found to have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO simply means there is too much bacteria present in the wrong location. We all have approximately one and a half kilograms of bacteria in our intestines; most of it is supposed to be in the large intestine. If too much bacteria travels up into the small intestine it creates a problem because the bacteria inflames the gut wall and creates leaky gut. This causes the absorption of bowel toxins into systemic circulation resulting in systemic inflammation. Fibromyalgia is a common consequence. This is a huge deal because so much can be done to restore the balance of gut bacteria and relieve the fibromyalgia.

Some of the strategies I have employed very successfully with my clients is the strategic use of antimicrobial herbs, essential oils, probiotics, prebiotics and natural anti-inflammatories for the gut mucosal lining. I outline a very specific treatment protocol for each client, depending upon their needs. Treating SIBO and leaky gut is not a walk in the park, but it can be life changing for sufferers of fibromyalgia.

Altered Intestinal Permeability in Patients with Primary Fibromyalgia and in Patients with Complex Regional Pain SyndromeRheumatology Advance Access published online on June 7, 2008 Rheumatology, doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ken140A. Goebel,1 S. Buhner,2 R. Schedel,1 H. Lochs2 and G. Sprotte1

A link between irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia may be related to findings on lactulose breath testing. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Vol 63, Issue 4. M. Pimental, D Wallace, D Hallegua, E Chow.


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