Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: How to keep fibromyalga under control

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Liquorice herbal tea can help to increase cortisol, support adrenal health, reduce fatigue and help the body cope better with stress. Photo / iStock
Liquorice herbal tea can help to increase cortisol, support adrenal health, reduce fatigue and help the body cope better with stress. Photo / iStock

Hi Sandra, I have fibromyalgia. Can you recommend anything to help with this condition?
Jack, Nelson.

Hi Jack,

Thank you for your question. Fibromyalgia is a painful and chronic ailment that affects up to 5 per cent of New Zealanders. As you may experience, it is a debilitating condition that causes muscle and joint pain.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a medicinal plant that has proven both natural anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties, has been a suggested plant remedy for Fibromyalgia sufferers. Conventional treatment often centres on anti-depressants, which have shown a beneficial effect in pain reduction in fibromyalgia.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a spasmolytic and relaxing plant that has demonstrated efficacy in helping with fibromyalgia symptoms, in particular when they affect sleep. The consumption of Valerian in a double blind, cross over, placebo controlled trial showed Valerian increased sleep efficacy, and increased REM sleep percentage.

A German study looked at the use of Valerian or Pine oil whirl baths. Both natural treatments were effective, in that those with the pine oil found they did have an increase in the feeling of wellbeing, however those with a Valerian addition noticed that their sleep and wellbeing improved, while tender points decreased.

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) may also provide benefits for fibromyalgia sufferers. People who have fibromyalgia have lower cortisol levels compared to the normal population. This lower level may contribute to the increased fatigue and muscular pain that sufferers feel. Liquorice can help to increase cortisol, support adrenal health, reduce fatigue and help the body cope better with stress. Liquorice is best taken as part of a relaxing medicinal tea or in a herbal formula that is specifically made up by a registered Medical Herbalist to suit the person.

Massage and other therapies (chiropractic or osteopathic) have helped with correcting posture and alleviating pain and discomfort in sufferers. Pain may be further reduced by including the daily topical use of plant based remedial creams containing Cayenne, Arnica and St John's. Cayenne has analgesic properties and St John's Wort eases nerve pain. Both are most effective when used daily, to prevent relapse.

Those with fibromyalgia need to take good care of themselves as their condition affects all aspects of their life. Establishing a good sleep routine with the use of a medicinal tea with calming and mildly sedating plants, as well as having a diet rich in antioxidants (mostly plant based), will help with general wellbeing and health. Reducing stress or adding in traditional plant remedies that help the body adapt to outside stressors will greatly reduce fibromyalgia attacks.

Your lead healthcare provider may be able to help you with further support.

- NZ Herald

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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