Category Archives: placebo effect

Fibromyalgia, Evidence Based Medicine and ‘Complementary / Alternative’ Practices

“Question everything”, Maria Mitchell

Frustrated that there is not much hope for relief from the usual medical system and its approach to fibromyalgia, many turn for help to practitioners who provide either complementary or alternative medicine (C/AM). The differences between the latter two is an artifical separation since they both entail using concoctions, therapies, herbs, or homeopathic remedies that are one and the same. The more interesting issue is how  they differ from the traditional scientific ‘western’ medical approach, or what has been known as ‘allopathic’ medicine, or now commonly referred to as ‘evidence based medicine’ (EBM) of health care. However, within this discussion I do not refer to EBM as within the domain of CAM as many ‘alternate’ practitioners are prone to do.

What makes something considered to be complementary or alternative as opposed to mainstream, or scientifically based medicine?  Sometimes this distinction becomes blurred and confused with one another, for example, taking vitamins or supplements. Are they the domain of EBM or AM ?  Is it because there are scientific experiments that provide evidence that specific vitamins are essential for healthy living, as in the recent data on Vitamin D? As usual, I have more questions than answers. Sometimes the issues are not clear cut with many shades of gray.

Continue reading

Fibromyalgia and food: “thy food shall be thy remedy”(Hippocrates)

Eating can be one of life’s greatest joys. Eating for comfort can have an immediate effect on our moods, and it can often result in guilt. Eating can be a social event, or it can be done in private. Eating is sometimes only done to keep one alive. Eating a specific way is often done to either reduce weight, or gain weight. Eating often reflects cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and can be a way to show love to others. Eating and dieting go hand in hand and can bring about hope. So, is there hope for those who have fibromyalgia that in eating  particular kinds of food, and abstaining from others will bring about much needed relief? Is it realistic to give advice across the realm to those with FMS without taking individual factors into consideration?

Along with exercise, eating specific kinds of foods has become the sensible and popular  approach to good health in the 21st century. Fatty, salty and highly processed foods, as well as caffeine, colas, sugar, aspartame, preservatives and MSG should be avoided as much as possible in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We hear this advice often( See for example, the book The End of Overeating, by David A. Kessler) . Even more than one alcoholic beverage per day should be avoided. The issue of obesity is becoming a grave concern among health professionals, as is its polar opposite: anorexia. Furthermore, in order to enhance a healthy diet, eating locally and organically is highly recommended. But, what of the people who cannot afford to buy organically, who are often so fatigued that fast foods are easier on the body than hours of food preparation, who are living on a reduced income and cannot afford fresh fruit and vegetables? The literature on fibromyalgia is replete with advice about which foods to eat and which to avoid. Rarely does the literature take into account the challenges that face the sufferer who cannot meet the requirements for healthy eating.

Continue reading