Fibromyalgia (FM) Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain disorder. Research studies( though not yet conclusive) state that FM patients may have lower levels of a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin, which leads to lowered pain thresholds and increased sensitivity to pain. The lowered pain thresholds in fibromyalgia patients may be caused also by the reduced effectiveness of the body’s natural endorphins and the increased levels of a neurotransmitter called substance P which amplifies pain signals as well.
Recent research suggests that the chronic widespread pain that is the hallmark symptom of FM is neurogenic in origin. Fibromyalgia is associated with a central amplification of pain perception characterized by allodynia (a heightened sensitivity to stimuli that are not normally painful) and hyperalgesia (an increased response to painful stimuli). Neuroimaging studies have also shown that FM is associated with abnormal processing of painful stimuli in the central nervous system and the elevated levels of nerve growth factor in the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients. The latter is a small protein important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain nerve cells.
Fibromyalgia is a persistent and potentially debilitating disorder that can have a devastating effect on quality of life, impairing the patient’s ability to work and participate in everyday activities, as well as affecting relationships with family, friends, and employers. It imposes heavy economic burdens on society as well as on the patient.
Ayurveda on Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can be classified as mamsa dhatugat dushti (diseases affecting muscles and tendons) and mamsavrut Vāta (diseases of excess Vāta dosha in muscles and tendons).
Additionally, it involves dysfunction in vāta vaha srota, mamsa vaha srota and mamsa dhatvagni. It falls into a subtype of disease known in Ayurveda as vātavyādhi (diseases caused primarily by vitiated Vāta dosha), but always has Paitaja and Kaphaja involvement and variations.
Vātavyādhi is a disease of chronic and unpredictable (anavasthita) nature, involving primarily the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, but in time affecting one or more additional tissues.
It is described in ancient texts as manifesting with a variety of possible and changing symptoms and signs including pain, stiffness, contracture, fatigue, gradual loss of movement, and mental disturbance. This description is remarkably similar to our modern description of fibromyalgia.
Other primary culprit are Ama and low agni. Ama is the result of defective digestive and metabolic mechanisms initiated by the consumption of diets prepared with some ingredients of opposite qualities (viruddha ahara) consumed in the presence of mandagni (low agni).
Though, according to Ayurveda, ama and Vata dosha are the main pathogenic factors, Kapha and Pitta are also invariably involved in its pathogenesis.
Fibromyalgia is caused due to an initial aggravation of Vāta leading to neurological signs and symptoms. Kapha and Pitta are vitiated to varying extents in different individuals, and thus fibromyalgia is best understood as a tridoshic disease.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can wax and wane, varying in intensity from day to day and by physical location, all features which reflect its Vāta nature. Patients with FM frequently report impairment in multiple areas of function, especially physical function.
Treatment through Ayurveda:
Diet and Lifestyle modification: Nutritious Vata and Pitta pacifying vegetarian diet.
Plenty of rest (about 8 hours sleep at night); increased intake of warm water; milk with clove, cinnamon ,saffron, ginger(warming herbs) .
Avoid stress and worries.
Light exercise, Yoga, Pranayam ,Shavasana, meditation.
Virechna ( An Ayurveda detox panchakarma therapy to remove ama , increase agni and to pacify Vata)
Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Basti subject to each individual’s requirement with specific oils and herbs to balance Tridosha.