The primary cause of fibromyalgia pain is the depletion and decreased efficiency of stress-coping hormones like serotonin. This lowers the threshold and magnifies pain. This lower threshold causes pain that would normally be well-managed to be more pronounced. Pain due to a low pain threshold is known as allydonia.
There are numerous triggers for fueling the flames of fibromyalgia pain and al of these- food sensitivities, joint traumas, osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis), autoimmune arthritis, past surgeries (scars), inflammation, leaky gut, and many, many others.
Basically anything that increases inflammation increases the likelihood of pain. And in fibromyalgia a little inflammation can create a Lot of Pain!
Intestinal permeability (leaky gut) happens when the digestive tract lining leaks toxins into the bloodstream, which then trigger allergic reactions and inflammation. The autoimmune reaction to these toxins creates pain all over the body, especially in areas of trigger points.
Many of my patients take heartburn medications or NSAID’s for malabsorption and pain, but these drugs decrease the natural enzymes in the digestive system, which can make the lining permeable and cause leaky gut. These enzymes are depleted through prescription medications, NSAID’s, poor diet, steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, excess alcohol and caffeine.
The popular NSAID, ibuprofen, is a big cause of leaky gut syndrome. It leads to stomach ulcers that can cause bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, which would require surgery and blood transfusions to correct.
The National Institute of Health wrote:
“NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who take NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, or who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day while taking ibuprofen.”
Some other common NSAID’s to watch out for are aspirin, Advil, Celebrex, Aleve (naproxen), Lodine, Mobic, Daypro, COX-2 inhibitors, diclofenac, and Ansaid.
In addition to the above risks, NSAID’s also deplete melatonin, your natural sleep hormone, and increase blood pressure.
The FDA estimated that there are at least 200,000 cases of gastrointestinal bleeding every year, which leads to 10,000 to 20,000 deaths. Someone taking NSAID’s is actually seven times more likely to suffer adverse effects and be hospitalized. They are at more than double the risk of high blood pressure, which of course would lead to more medication.
Symptoms of leaky gut include increased widespread pain, rheumatoid arthritis, food allergies, Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, CFS, IBS, cystic fibrosis, hepatitis, lupus, and any other autoimmune diseases. Treating this condition requires diligent diet change and supplementation to restore chemicals and enzymes.
An elimination diet combining nutritional supplements, like L-glutamine, can help reverse leaky gut symptoms.
The first thing is to remove common foods that may aggravate leaky gut and or allergy reactions- sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, and nightshade foods (white potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.). It’s important to remove aspartame from the diet as well (the artificial sweetener in diet sodas). It would be prudent to remove soy products. A little here and there is okay, but don’t overuse it by drinking or eating it on a daily basis. Using a one to 3 month elimination (details in my fibro book) can result in dramatic reductions in pain for many willing to explore this diet.
Certain foods can cause pro-inflammatory responses in the joints and tissues. This inflammation typically presents in the hands, feet, and knees like it would for arthritis. In fact, you may think it is arthritis when it could just be food sensitivity/allergy.
I have detailed information in my book about the elimination diet, which I would urge you to review and consider implementing if you have fibromyalgia, or any other chronic disease. The diet takes about one month to complete. Most of my patients find they have more energy, better concentration and focus, as well as less pain after they determine the cause of their food sensitivity.
The elimination diet will be a difficult challenge. You are removing specific items from the diet for several days in a row just to record any reactions, and then you reintroduce those foods if nothing happens. You do this with every food group mentioned above, one at a time. There are reasons it takes so long. The body sometimes takes longer to digest the foods/drinks and cause a reaction.
You will be able to recognize certain symptoms once your body removes the allergen. Changing the diet and identifying food sensitivities is one the most effective ways to treat leaky gut. After that, you can work on restoring natural enzymes to help you better digest foods and gain the most benefit from their nutrients.