Although there are many possible causes of fibromyalgia, what can be certain is that all of the possible causes are a direct result of a cascade of disturbances and resulting malfunctions. Chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia and many other so called “chronic diseases” are not different diseases, but the result of similar cellular malfunctions manifesting differently in different people because of different genes, diets, toxic exposures, lifestyles, beliefs, emotions and life experiences, in other words…stress!
So what is fibromyalgia and how can low serotonin be a common factor?
Fibromyalgia is recognized as a chronic condition that causes intense pain in various places around the body, including muscles, connective tissues and joints, as well as a host of other symptoms. At least ten million Americans, mostly women, suffer from it and research has shown that fibromyalgia is a condition that is unquestionably associated with low serotonin! Raising seratonin levels not only has a powerful muscle-relaxing effect, it can also powerfully stimulate our natural painkillers, the endorphins!
Now, of course, fibromyalgia can have other causes, too, including low thyroid, it usually responds very well to amino acid therapy. It must also be observed that low thyroid has been shown to be secondary to adrenal fatigue as cortisol blocks the conversion of T4 to T3, so when considering how to treat fibromyalgia it only makes sense that we observe the destructive nature of adrenal fatigue.
Increased cortisol to DHEA ratios, are a result of chronic stress. Chronic stress places the body in a sympathetic state, otherwise known as “fight or flight,” which further places increased demands on each and every system of the body, including the ability of the body to repair and restore musculoskeletal health. This vicious cycle, repeated day in and day out, creates inefficiency in the body, and nutrients that would have been used for one process are now doing the work for two.
Each one of us has a genetic potential when it comes to managing stress (nutritional, environmental, emotional, financial, physical, etc.) however, once we have met that genetic potential the body is no longer able to keep up with the demands placed on it. When this happens we become catabolic (tissue breakdown) while our anabolic (tissue build up) processes are suppressed. When we do not understand what stress is or how it affects us, it becomes obvious, as to how and why, so many are experiencing symptoms of chronic fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, sleep disturbances, gut and immune system dysfunction, fibromyalgia, etc.
Precious serotonin is synthesized in your body from tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) found in foods like turkey, beef and cheese. Tryptophan first converts to a substance called 5-HTP, which then converts directly into serotonin. This crucial three-step process can be short-circuited by a number of things. For example, if there is not enough tryptophan in your diet – a problem for many of us- your body cannot manufacture enough 5-HTP or serotonin.
Now that we know that few foods contain 5-HTP or serotonin themselves, maintaining a sufficient supply of tryptophan is where it can get tricky as our food supply is no longer what it once was. Tryptophan is found in high protein foods like turkey, beef, pork, dairy products, chicken and eggs; but in proportion to the other 21 amino acids that compose protein foods, it is the runt. In addition, what animals are being fed these days is magnifying the issue. Rather than the grasses and other plants that wild animals once grazed on, our modern stock-yard animals are now fed low-tryptophan grains like corn. This serves in fattening the animals in record time but the meat from these animals is much lower in tryptophan. To compound the problem, we humans have increased our consumption of low-tryptophan, grain-based carbohydrates like bread, pasta, corn, cookies, and so on, further diminishing our access to tryptophan!
As expressed earlier, there are several factors that can lead to fibromyalgia. Being able to identify and manage personal stressors and other factors that deplete serotonin, as well. Other factors that effect the hormonal pathways, either on your own or working together with your local CHEK Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, you can then begin to identify your deficiencies and create a plan geared towards restoring optimal functions to all systems of the body.