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Fibromyalgia is an awful illness. It's really, really hard to find something that relieves pain without knocking you out, and the more pain you have, the less sleep you get, and the more sensitive you are to new pain. Your doctor will probably want to put you on something like the antidepressant Cymbalta, which has a lot of side effects, or Elavil, which usually makes people gain weight, or muscle relaxants, which make you sleepy all the time. However, blue green algae products--nobody really knows why--may take the edge off symptoms.

Back in the late 1990's, a group of researchers at the Medical College of Virginia recruited fibromyalgia patients to take a combination of blue-green algae products,

  • 10 grams (10 capsules) of Sun Chlorella and
  • 100 ml (a little less than half a cup) of a liquid called Wakasa Gold

every day for 2 months. The blue-green algae weren't a miracle cure. They just helped. Most of the participants in the study said they still had pain, but not as much. The researchers' statistical measurement tool claimed a "22% reduction in pain" but it's hard to know what that means. They took the blue-green algae, they felt better, they didn't have any side effects. It seems like a good thing.

Some people who have fibromyalgia get good results by taking St. John's wort. Just about every herb expert and every study that has confirmed real benefits for St. John's wort prescribes 3 capsules each of them standardized to deliver 300 mg of hypericin every day. Taking less won't work. Taking more isn't necessary.

While St. John's wort is an antidepressant, and fibromyalgia is definitely depressing, the way the herb seems to relieve the condition is by fighting inflammation. Again, the herb isn't a cure. People who have fibromyalgia feel better when they take St. John's wort. They don't run down the street shouting "I'm healed! I'm healed!"

And if you are taking a prescription antidepressant for fibromyalgia (whether or not you are actually depressed), it's not a good idea to take St. John's wort. The potential problem is a condition called serotonin syndrome. Antidepressants like amitriptyline (a really, really inexpensive drug marketed as Elavil), doxepin (marketed as Sinequan), and nortriptyline (marketed as Aventyl and Pamelor) may or may not "rev up" the brain too much if taken with St. John's wort. It depends on diet (take the drug, and the herb, and eat fava beans, for example, and you may get shakes and a headache). And SSRI (selective serotoninreceptor inhibitor) medications like Celexa (citalopram), Priligy (dapoxeline), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine) and several dozen others can cause severe side effects when taken with St. John's wort. If you have been taking any kind of antidepressant medication, you simply should not take St. John's wort for 4 to 6 weeks after you are off the prescription medication. The combinations won't make you feel better. It will make you feel worse.

Coenzyme Q10 isn't an herb, but there is a lot of evidence that it will also relieve fibromyalgia pain. It's been especially helpful for kids who have fibromyalgia.

And there is also evidence that vitamin D can reduce pain caused by fibromyalgia, but, for reasons scientists don't understand yet, only for women, not for men. It isn't necessary to be "deficient" in vitamin D, if you are a woman who has fibromyalgia, to benefit from moderate supplementation, up to 10,000 IU per day. However, since a single hour in the sun can enable your skin to make up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D, getting extra sunlight, without burning, may be a good idea, too.

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