6 Surprising Benefits of Folic Acid for Fibromyalgia

If you’re living with fibromyalgia, you probably spend a lot of time trying to find relief. Doctors often suggest antidepressants and exercise as the only treatment options… and if those don’t work, you’re left on your own to find ways to manage your symptoms.

In your search for viable treatment options, you may have heard about folic acid (also known as folate, or vitamin B9). While it’s best known for preventing birth defects[i], folic acid offers several health benefits that are worth paying attention to. That said, there is currently only one study reviewing folic acid as a treatment for fibromyalgia – but its results are promising.

Folic Acid and Fibromaylgia

This article is part of our Fibromyalgia Series where we break down how different vitamins and foods affect fibromyalgia symptoms. Be sure to check them all out soon! Click here!

The study, published in PLOS One in 2015, found that folic acid (when combined with vitamin B12) can lead to major overall improvements for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia[ii]. Chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis) shares many symptoms with fibromyalgia, and it’s not uncommon for someone to live with both conditions.

There are even less treatment options available for CFS than for fibromyalgia, so the results of this study are great news, and suggest that folic acid’s role in treatment is worthy of further exploration.

How Folic Acid Can Help Fibromyalgia

So why should you care about folic acid?

Despite the limited research about its ability to treat fibromyalgia, folic acid is scientifically proven to treat many other health problems. And some of these problems – many of which are serious – are associated with fibromyalgia[iii], making folic acid something you may want to consider including in your treatment.

Here are 6 benefits of folic acid that you need to know about if you have fibromyalgia.

It Fights Depression

Depression is a well-established symptom of fibromyalgia. In fact, it’s estimated that at least half of fibromyalgia patients also suffer from mental health problems, including (but not limited to) depression[iv]. It can be difficult to enjoy life when you’re living with disabling symptoms. Fortunately, according to several studies, folic acid is a proven way to ease the symptoms of depression[v], and it can also boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medications[vi].

It Treats High Blood Pressure

Did you know that fibromyalgia patients may be at risk of developing high blood pressure? It’s true – a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology found abnormal blood pressure patterns among women with fibromyalgia[vii]. Chronic pain has long been associated with high blood pressure[viii], so this comes as no surprise. However, folic acid can reduce the risk of hypertension as well as stroke[ix] [x], making it incredibly valuable to anyone living with fibromyalgia.

It Improves Heart Health

Another lesser-known fact about fibromyalgia is its association with heart disease[xi] [xii]. Studies indicate that people who have fibromyalgia are at a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease than the general population. The good news is that folic acid supports a healthy heart not only with its effects on blood pressure, but also by decreasing homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid that contributes to heart disease and heart attacks[xiii].

It Boosts Brain Function

If you have fibromyalgia, you’re likely familiar with the frustration and inconvenience of brain fog. Also called “fibro fog”, this refers to the cognitive fatigue that frequently accompanies fibromyalgia. It’s a symptom that’s notoriously difficult to treat due to it being poorly understood. However, research has shown folic acid has multiple cognitive benefits, including boosting overall brain function[xiv] and reducing the mental decline that accompanies aging[xv]. Based on these studies, it’s very possible that folic acid can help relieve some of the symptoms of brain fog, but further research is needed.

It Supports Oral Health

Dry mouth is a very common, but frequently overlooked symptom of fibromyalgia[xvi]. It isn’t just annoying and uncomfortable – dry mouth can lead to serious health problems, such as tooth decay, infections, and periodontal disease[xvii] [xviii]. Medications can make this symptom even worse, so it’s important to take preventative measures. Research indicates that folic acid plays a role in supporting good oral health, and that it can help repair the damage done by gum disease[xix].

It Protects Your Body from Methotrexate

If you’ve never heard of methotrexate, consider yourself lucky. This medication is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but it can also be prescribed for severe fibromyalgia[xx]. Many medications prescribed for these conditions are very hard on the body, and methotrexate is no exception; it often causes unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea and vomiting. Luckily, folic acid can reduce these side effects significantly, and it also helps protect your liver from being damaged by the drug[xxi] [xxii].

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are many potential benefits of folic acid that are relevant to anyone with fibromyalgia. Although more research is needed to study its role in treatment, it’s clear that folic acid plays an important role in overall health and can address many concerns related to fibromyalgia.

To enhance some of the positive effects of folic acid, such as its antidepressant properties, it can be taken with B12. Every Day Optimal’s new supplement, Fibromyalgia Relief CBD, contains both folic acid and B12, along with 16 other natural ingredients with proven benefits for fibromyalgia.

References

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/features/folicacidbenefits/index.html [ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406448/ [iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2292439/ [iv] https://fibromyalgianewstoday.com/2016/06/17/most-people-fibromyalgia-depression-anxiety/ [v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130 [vi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967371/ [vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25417678 [viii] https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/501272_5 [ix] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2697578/ [x] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/folic-acid-a-b-vitamin-lowers-stroke-risk-in-people-with-high-blood-pressure-201503187810 [xi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25436616 [xii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4569466/ [xiii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC28491/ [xiv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29255930 [xv] http://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(07)60109-3/abstract [xvi] http://www.jrheum.org/content/30/8/1841 [xvii] https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/DryMouth/DryMouth.htm [xviii] http://www.periowaveblog.com/2012/09/1194/ [xix] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307677876_Folic_acid_A_positive_influence_on_periodontal_tissues_during_health_and_disease [xx] http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-1149.1000129 [xxi] http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/medication/drug-types/disease-modifying-drugs/methotrexate-side-effects.php [xxii] https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/588229

 

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