Fibromyalgia is a condition that can affect just about every part of the body, which makes treatment especially challenging. Combining multiple medications can lead to many side effects, some of which are the exact problems you’re trying to eliminate!
Thankfully, research on natural remedies indicates that many supplements can offer relief for a variety of fibromyalgia symptoms. Since vitamins and minerals are essential for good overall health, supplements can often address many different problems at once, which is exactly what fibromyalgia treatment is lacking.
Take zinc, for example: it plays a crucial role in the function of nearly all bodily systems. And while this is true for everyone, zinc is even more important for those with fibromyalgia. According to a 2008 study in Rheumatology International, people with fibromyalgia have lower zinc levels than the general population. The researchers also found an association between zinc and severity of symptoms; the study participants with the lowest amounts of zinc in their bodies had the highest number of tender points .
And that isn’t the only benefit that zinc has to offer. Here’s 6 more reasons you should consider including zinc in your fibromyalgia treatment.
Widespread pain is one of the primary characteristics of fibromyalgia. Zinc has been scientifically proven to help alleviate pain in the same way that many anesthetics do: by acting on NMDA receptors in the nervous system. High NMDA activity has been linked with fibromyalgia and is associated with increased pain sensitivity. And a recent study on chemotherapy patients suggests that zinc’s pain relieving effects may also involve other receptors, such as TRPV1.
Anyone living with fibromyalgia is familiar with its impact on cognitive functioning. “Fibro fog” is a difficult symptom to live with – and equally hard to treat. However, zinc shows promise in this area, with multiple studies demonstrating its cognitive-boosting effects on both young and middle-aged populations .
In particular, zinc plays a significant role in learning and memory by regulating communication between nerve cells in the hippocampus, and by increasing proteins called brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) .
Depression and other mood disorders have long been associated with fibromyalgia. Although the exact nature of this relationship is unclear, one thing is certain: living with fibromyalgia is hard enough without depression tagging along and worsening symptoms.
The good news is that zinc has antidepressant properties, in part due to its aforementioned effects on BDNF levels. A 2009 study found that zinc reduced the symptoms of depression in young women, and multiple studies have shown that zinc enhances the performance of antidepressant medications .
If you have fibromyalgia, then you might be familiar with “painsomnia”: the inability to sleep due to pain. Whether it’s the result of pain or something else, fibromyalgia patients are known to struggle with various sleep disorders. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health problems, not to mention fibromyalgia flares, making it especially important to treat. And although more research is needed, several studies indicate that zinc may help to regulate sleep and can potentially improve sleep quality .
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is extremely common among people with fibromyalgia. Though IBS has long been misunderstood and dismissed, multiple studies have revealed its connection with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This means many people with fibromyalgia could have SIBO rather than IBS. In fact, research suggests this may be the case; in one study, 100% of participants with fibromyalgia tested positive for SIBO!
The good news is that SIBO, unlike IBS, is treatable (with antibiotics). And although zinc can’t cure SIBO, it has several benefits to offer anyone suffering from gastrointestinal disorders. Perhaps most importantly, zinc can repair gut lining and reduce intestinal permeability (leaky gut), which is a significant problem for those with SIBO. Zinc also regulates stomach acid and is an effective treatment for diarrhea, which can be a frequent symptom of both IBS and SIBO.
Research shows a direct relationship between zinc and heart health. Lower zinc levels are associated with heart disease, and increasing your zinc intake can protect your heart and improve its functioning . The link between fibromyalgia and heart disease makes this yet another reason that zinc should be considered for fibromyalgia treatment.
Clearly, zinc has a multitude of benefits to offer anyone living with fibromyalgia. It can address many different symptoms, making it especially valuable as part of a treatment plan.
There are many ways to increase your zinc intake, and some of the best food sources are oysters, beef, lobster, and cashews. You can also boost your zinc levels by taking a supplement, such as Everyday Optimal’s Fibromyalgia Relief CBD. It contains 2.5mg of zinc per capsule, along with 16 other ingredients proven to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms.
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