Treating Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: The Four Key Elements
From our personal experience, we believe there are four key elements to treating Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia: supplements, diet, lifestyle management, and sleep. Each of these four elements is equally important and all four elements must be followed together if significant improvement is to be made. Ignoring just one of these areas can lead to symptoms becoming worse rather than better.
Supplements for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Many patients consider supplements to be vital to living a fulfilling life with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. Supplements give your body specialised nutrition which can help the body heal itself, as well as directly reducing symptoms to improve quality of life according to patient surveys and scientific trials.
Research indicates that many ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferers are deficient in certain key nutrients. Giving the body more of these vital nutrients in the form of dietary supplements not only helps to redress that balance, it makes it easier for the body to absorb and use other important nutrients.
Do they work?
You may be wondering if taking supplements for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia will make any real difference. The Patients’ Own Nutrition range of supplements for ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia is based on published scientific research. For each product, we’ve provided detailed scientific evidence from peer-reviewed academic journals for your total peace of mind.
A patient survey conducted by the charity Action for ME found that the vast majority of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME patients use dietary supplements. Of these, two out of three (66%) said it was helpful or very helpful and only 1% said it made them feel worse. These figures suggest that supplements are both very effective and extremely safe for treating ME and CFS.
If you’re considering taking a dietary supplement to help manage Fibromyalgia, you aren’t alone. According to a paper published in Rheumatology International by Arranz et al. (2011), 73% of Fibromyalgia patients take dietary supplements.
ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia are unusual diseases because each patient has different symptoms and responds differently to treatments. A product which is a Godsend to one patient may have a much smaller effect on another and vice versa. Therefore, there will be a little experimentation as you begin treatment. Remember that some supplements will also take a lot longer than others to show an improvement, so it’s important to give each supplement enough time to have an impact.
We know that choosing supplements can seem confusing, especially if you’re only just starting to consider supplements as part of your treatment options. Remember that many of the products we sell work synergistically. This means that taking them together makes each one more effective than they would be if used alone. For instance, Turmeric is best absorbed with fat so taking it alongside our Omega 3 Fish Oil will increase its effect. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. We’ve made it very clear on the product pages which supplements work in this way.
Supplements differ in quality and ingredients
Not all supplements are made following rigorous processes and industry best practices to guarantee their safety. However, at Patients’ Own Nutrition, we manufacture all our products in the UK to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards as well as ensuring they are ISO 9001 (International Organisation for Standardisation Quality Management Systems) certified. You should never purchase supplements which are not made to these high standards. To do so could put your health at risk.
Supplements also vary greatly in potency, the delivery mechanism, quality of ingredients and additives. Multivitamins are a great example of this variation. Although a cursory look at a multivitamin tub may lead you to believe they are all the same, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cheaper multivitamins will often only contain a small number of vitamins and minerals compared with a premium brand like Patients’ Own Nutrition.
An off-the-shelf multivitamin from the supermarket will most likely have a far lower quantity of each ingredient. This is because unlike Patients’ Own Nutrition, they haven’t been designed specifically for ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia patients.
They will also use cheaper and less effective ingredients such as cyanocobalamin rather than methylcobalamin, pyridoxine hydrochloride instead of pyridoxal-5-phosphate, or vitamin D2 in place of vitamin D3. We use only the highest quality ingredients, which are both safer and more easily absorbed.
Cheaper supplements will often be in tablet rather than capsule form which may mean they do not breakdown in time to be absorbed and will simply pass through the digestive tract. Compared with a vegetarian capsule, tablets require far more additives to bind them together which many patients say can increase their symptoms. These additional additives also make tablets larger and sometimes difficult to swallow than a vegetarian capsule
Even some premium capsule products contain many controversial ingredients which we avoid. Things to be wary of include artificial colours, Silicon Dioxide, Inositol, Dicalcium Phosphate, PABA, Modified Tapioca Starch, Acacia Gum, Maltodextrin, Titanium Dioxide and Microcrystalline Cellulose.
All Patients’ Own Nutrition supplements are contained within a vegetarian capsule, sometimes a pinch of inert hypoallergenic rice flower and the active ingredient itself – that’s it. Our powder products are 100% pure with nothing else added. This means they’re more effective, are more easily absorbed by the body and can help you begin to feel better sooner.
When you start taking a new supplement, start on a low dose and go slowly. Everyone reacts differently. Listen to your body and get to know what works for you and your ME, CFS or Fibro symptoms.
Shop our premium supplements for ME/CFS and Fibro now. Want to find out more? Get in touch!
Diet for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Taking steps to improve your diet and being very aware of what you eat is extremely important if you have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. With careful planning and a little research, this is not as daunting as it might first seem.
A survey carried out by the charity Action for ME found that the majority of patients had made dietary changes to help them manage their symptoms. 72% said it was helpful or very helpful and only 1% said it made them feel worse. According to a paper published in Clinical Rheumatology, 42% of fibromyalgia patients reported their symptoms worsened after eating certain foods – try keeping a food diary to see if anything triggers your own symptoms.
You will likely discover that you can no longer eat certain foods when living with ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia. Gluten, lactose and additives/preservatives commonly increase symptoms, so you may have to go gluten or dairy free – don’t be put off by this. It’s still possible to enjoy delicious, nutritious food. It simply calls for some kitchen creativity!
Most ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibro sufferers will find that eating a well-balanced Mediterranean diet with a few adjustments works well. Be mindful of additives and preservatives, eat little to very low sugar, follow a gluten free diet and cut out lactose and dairy.
Although fruit is good, some are high in fructose so try swapping them for vegetables instead or go for low sugar options such as berries or watermelon. If this all has you feeling like you can no longer tuck in to your favourite foods, don’t despair. Keeping a food diary will help you identify and eliminate problem foods so you should find that you can still enjoy your favourite dishes – it might just be a case of swapping your usual bowl of pasta for courgette noodles, or nibbling on crunchy crudités with homemade dips rather than bread and store-bought hummus.
Changing your diet is no small feat and you might feel overwhelmed. But making slow changes, finding what works for you and listening to your body is manageable. Just apply some common sense and adopt a trial and error mindset – eat simply, aim for a broad and balanced diet so you consume a variety of nutrients and don’t get bored, listen to your body, buy organic when possible and avoid processed food.
If this is a major diet change, consult a registered dietician or nutritionist to help you devise a healthy, balanced diet. Don’t forget that specialist ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia supplements, along with lifestyle management and sleep are also essential elements of treatment.
Lifestyle Management for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
As an ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia patient, the single biggest lifestyle change you must make is learning how to pace yourself. It can be tempting to attempt too much on days when you feel better, but this can exacerbate the underlying symptoms of the disease and cause a relapse. Learn to say no.
Part of lifestyle management means learning what you can do comfortably on a daily basis and then sticking within that range. As you begin to improve and spend more time focusing on your diet, sleep patterns and ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia supplements, you can experiment with doing a little more. Never push yourself.
Make pacing yourself your mantra. Over time, you’re sure to develop techniques to manage your ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia and avoid overdoing it. In the meantime, why not try some of our own methods?
Be aware of your energy envelope – this might sound a little bit too New Age to the uninitiated but it’s actually a helpful, healthy lifestyle management technique that can help you avoid relapses. All it means is that to manage your Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia symptoms, you need to know and respect your own limits. Knowing how far you can comfortably walk for example or which chores you can handle is part of your energy envelope.
Take regular rests – it may feel odd at first to schedule resting into your day but making regular rest sessions a part of your routine can make a big difference. Again, you’ll need trial and error to find out what works best for you but often, regular small rests of between 15-30 minutes throughout the day works well.
Get organised – Planning and preparing for trips, events and activities ahead of the day itself can help to reduce exertion, keep you within your energy envelope and minimise stress. Write down a check list of tasks to do and prepare as much in advance as you can. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish those things and get ready for the trip or occasion.
Find out what physical exercise works for you – If you’re used to being physically active, playing a sport or going to the gym, being restricted in the kinds of exercises you do can be frustrating. While it might not be possible to continue some of your favourite fitness pursuits, it is possible to discover new ones if you shift your mindset. Gentle yoga for example or stretching can help not just with meditation and relaxation, but can also alleviate some muscle stiffness and soreness.
Stretching is especially beneficial if you suffer from Fibromyalgia. Regular, consistent stretching can help to counteract the tightness of muscles that cause spasms and muscle pain in Fibromyalgia patients, provided that it is introduced slowly and gently.
The organisation Fibromyalgia Action UK suggests that some conditioning exercise could also be beneficial to Fibromyalgia patients after you’re comfortable with light, daily stretches. This might include walking, swimming, cycling or dancing – but only at a comfortable level and after a suitable warm-up. Stretching, breathing techniques, posture and cool down periods are vital – it’s important to seek medical advice and develop proper techniques before embarking on a conditioning or stretching program.
Having a debilitating long term illness can increase stress levels and the risk of developing anxiety or depression. It is important to address these problems too – after all, lifestyle is as much about the mental as it is the physical. There is no stigma in seeing a therapist or seeking professional help. This is an important part of your self-care. Make time to practise relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation – they can help to reduce the frequency, length and severity of stress induced relapses and flares.
In addition to lifestyle changes, adapting your diet, trying dietary supplements for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia and managing sleep are important elements of treatment programs.
Sleep Strategies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Sleep problems (such as insomnia or non-restorative sleep) are one of the most widely reported and troublesome symptoms Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia patients face. They are also the hardest to treat.
If you have ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia, you will often find that you wake up still tired. Sleep is unrefreshing and you’re just as exhausted getting up as you were when you went to sleep. Being unable to get to sleep, being unable to stay asleep, repeatedly waking throughout the night, being unable to get back to sleep after waking, and needing to sleep during the day are all common symptoms of ME and Fibromyalgia. It can feel like a vicious circle of extreme fatigue yet an inability to sleep.
CFS and Fibromyalgia patients usually need more sleep than healthy people, particularly in the early stages of the illness. The challenge is working out the amount you need and adapting the amount depending on whether you are going through a setback or not (when more sleep may be required). Too little sleep will make your symptoms worse and recovery less likely. Conversely, too much time in bed trying to sleep will make your sleep quality worse. As your symptoms improve, the amount of sleep you need will most likely reduce.
As with many of the treatment options, the best advice is to listen to and respect what your body is telling you it needs.
If sleep continues to be a major problem, talk to your medical professional about prescription medicines such as low dose tricyclic antidepressants which many patients find make a significant difference.
Along with sleep, make sure you’re also taking Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibro nutrition supplements, take a closer look at lifestyle management and overhaul your diet. Want more information? Get in touch!