Monday, May 15, 2017

Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions characterized by muscle and joint pain. If the symptoms are not managed, it could lead to depression and social isolation. 

To effectively manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, you need to know the cardinal signs and symptoms or also known as the fibromyalgia syndrome. These include the following:
  • The joints become tender to touch
  • You easily get tired
  • There is a widespread pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression and mood disturbances
  • Restlessness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Noticeable pain in the abdomen
  • Incontinence
  • Numbness and tingling sensation in the feet and fingers
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold objects
  • Poor concentration

Picture 1 : Pressure points in a patient suffering from fibromyalgia
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 Image 2 : Helichrysum oil
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Most of the time, fibromyalgia is confused with other disease because of similarity of symptoms and clinical manifestations. In some instances, fibromyalgia is confused with osteoarthritis and tendinitis. According to research, more than 12 million people in America suffers from fibromyalgia, but the prevalence is higher in women than men. (1)

Test and Diagnosis

To properly and accurately diagnose the condition, the doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination and will draw information about your past medical history. Certain diagnostic procedures should be done to confirm the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
  1. FM/a Test - Some medical institutions use FM/a test. What it does is it identifies the markers produced by the blood cells in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. This test is quite expensive. It can range from $700 to $1000.
  2. Complete blood count (CBC) – The doctor will ask for a CBC to rule out more serious disease condition. In some instances, the doctor will also ask for a glucose test to find out any disease that causes similar problems to that of fibromyalgia.
  3. Thyroid Test – If a patient has hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), it can cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Hence, a thyroid test is done to detect whether the patient has fibromyalgia or thyroid problems.
  4. Other laboratory tests should be done to rule out fibromyalgia and other serious illnesses like rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies, Lyme titers, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and level of calcium and vitamin D. (2, 3)

Fibromyalgia syndrome as outlined by the American College of Rheumatology

A widespread pain that has been around for three months. The pain is felt all over the body including the chest, entire back, neck, and other parts of the body. Mood swings, sleep disturbances, and fatigue should be assessed too, especially the severity of the symptoms. (4)

How to treat fibromyalgia?

Up until now, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. The treatment is yield towards the management of fibromyalgia symptoms. To best manage the symptoms, a combination of medical remedies is used, which include traditional and alternative treatments. There should be a combination of medication, exercise, and behavioural modification and therapy.

The drug of choice for pain relief secondary to fibromyalgia include Lyrica and Cymbalta, as per the recommendations of the American College of Rheumatology. Aside from drug therapy, essential oils can also be used to calm the nerves, relax the muscles, and alleviate the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. (5)

The potential benefits of essential oils in the symptomatic relief of fibromyalgia

The use of essential oils for various diseases started a long time ago. In the ancient times, essential oils were used to alleviate pain and discomfort. They are applied on the affected parts of the body, especially during night time.

Today, there are tons of ways to use essential oils. They can be added to the water bath. They can also be used as a massage oil, release into the air in the form of a diffuser, inhaling the scent, and many more. If you are going to apply the oil directly to the skin, you have to use a carrier oil such as jojoba oil and coconut oil. (6)

Below are the ideal essential oils for fibromyalgia

  • Helichrysum oil – This essential oil is helpful in decreasing muscle pain brought by fibromyalgia. It also improves blood circulation and promotes nerve tissue healing. If you are looking for the best essential oil to help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, the answer is Helichrysum oil.
  • Lavender essential oil – A patient with fibromyalgia is under emotional stress. To alleviate stress and discomfort, a rub of lavender essential oil is needed. It can also be used to reduce the pain and calm the nerves. (7)
  • Rosemary oil – This oil is known for its analgesic and brain tonic properties. The analgesic property makes it very effective in alleviating pain, inflammation and discomfort. It promotes skin healing, relieves headache, promotes hair growth and reduce the build-up of cellulite.
  • Thyme oil – It is one of the common ingredients of many dishes, but it does have cosmetic and medicinal benefits too. Thyme oil promotes strength and well-being. It promotes proper blood circulation and has a calming effect to the body. Thyme oil is perfect for people with fibromyalgia because it alleviates joint and muscle pain. It is an essential oil of choice not only for fibromyalgia, but as well for rheumatism and arthritis. (8)
  • Eucalyptus oil – This essential oil has been proven effective in promoting proper blood circulation. The symptoms of fibromyalgia such as muscle pain and stiffness are caused by poor circulation of blood. Hence, eucalyptus oil can help alleviate such symptoms. Eucalyptus oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, which helps in alleviating muscle pain. Furthermore, it helps the body in flushing out toxins from the body.  (9)
  • Peppermint oil – it has uplifting and refreshing property, which makes it helpful in combating physical fatigue and improves mental alertness. If you are experiencing muscle and joint pain, all you need to do is to massage the affected area using a peppermint oil and after a few minutes, you will notice a relief from pain and discomfort. You can also add peppermint oil to your night time bath. (10)
  10. Fibromyalgia Self-care Management: Use of Essential Oils by Regina Ann Sacco Izu