Case Study: Fibromyalgia And Thyroid Problems
Taryn was a 27 year old photographer who came to see me for help with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is not that common in such young girls, but Taryn had a long history of immune system problems, and fibromyalgia is common in people like that.
Fibromyalgia can be a complex illness caused by a combination of immune and hormonal factors. Taryn experienced significant pain in her neck, shoulders and arms, which sometimes made her photographic job difficult.
She had a history of thyroid disease; she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease when she was 22. Graves’ disease is fairly common in young women and we are seeing it in our clinics at an increasing frequency. The Graves’ disease was treated by Taryn’s doctor in the conventional way – she was given the drug carbimazol to block thyroid hormone production, and a beta blocker to slow down her rapid heart rate.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease and neither of these medications addresses the underlying immune dysfunction that sparked the disease. Nonetheless, Taryn was lucky and the Graves’ disease did resolve itself. She was experiencing significant relationship stress at the time of the diagnosis and she believed that emotional trauma triggered the Graves’ disease.
This was probably true. However, not treating the underlying autoimmune condition meant Taryn was prone to developing new immune system problems. I believe this is why she developed fibromyalgia.
Taryn lived in a cold climate and her fibromyalgia was always much worse in cold weather. She felt excessively cold while others around her were comfortable, and she always had cold hands and feet. Taryn suffered with quite significant anxiety, and she was a restless sleeper who tossed and turned and she would grind her teeth at night. Her dentist recommended a night guard to protect her teeth while she slept, but it was quite expensive and she wanted to know if there are any natural remedies that can help her feel more relaxed.
Taryn didn’t have a fantastic diet. Her job involved odd hours and quite a lot of travel. This meant she often relied on convenient snack type foods for meals. She had toast with peanut butter for breakfast and would often just bring cheese and crackers for lunch and have them with an apple. Dinner was healthy most nights and consisted of some kind of protein and vegetables. Taryn didn’t eat enough vegetables. She did eat quite a lot of gluten and dairy products, and I explained to her how these foods can significantly raise inflammation in her body. This meant she was more likely to suffer with pain. Gluten is also a big trigger of autoimmune thyroid disease in genetically susceptible people. Taryn experienced strong cravings for sugar when she was exhausted and stressed and she knew it made the fibromyalgia worse.
My recommendations for Taryn
I asked Taryn to follow the eating guidelines in chapter 10 of my book Your Thyroid Problems Solved. Even though she no longer had Graves’ disease, the original immune system disorder was still present in her body. She was also at high risk of reactivation of the Graves’ disease, or development of an under active thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). The eating plan is a gluten and dairy free diet.
I ordered a vitamin D blood test and was not surprised to see that Taryn was significantly deficient. Having insufficient blood levels of vitamin D makes a person far more prone to painful inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases. I asked Taryn to take 5000 IU of vitamin D with breakfast each day, and I planned to re test her 2 months later.
I gave Taryn a selenium supplement. Selenium helps to reduce inflammation and pain because it assists your liver with glutathione production. I have found it to be very valuable with my fibromyalgia patients. Selenium also helps to inhibit autoantibody production, therefore is very valuable for all autoimmune diseases.
Taryn really needed magnesium and a supplement to support her adrenal glands. She described herself as “a stress head” and it was really reducing the quality of her life. The poor quality sleep left her feeling exhausted, overly emotional and easily overwhelmed during the day. I gave her magnesium powder to help her sleep and Adrenal Plus Support tablets to help her feel less stressed and more in control. I asked her to take Glicemic Balance capsules to help prevent the strong sugar cravings that were making it impossible to stick to a healthy diet.
I recommended Taryn visit a physiotherapist to check for postural and alignment problems. Her job involved carrying a lot of heavy equipment and she would often walk long distances while loaded up in a lopsided way. The chronic muscle strain worsened the fibromyalgia. I also recommended an exercise program and regular massage.
I have found that raw vegetable juices are a highly effective way of reducing inflammation and pain. I asked Taryn to drink one large glass of vegetable juice each day, focusing on green vegetables such as kale, cucumbers, zucchini and lettuce. Pineapple and papaya contain anti-inflammatory enzymes that are excellent for fibromyalgia, therefore I asked Taryn to add some to her juices.
Taryn has been seeing me for 3 months and she has made some remarkable progress. The fibromyalgia pain has reduced by 80 percent and she has much more energy. The stress and anxiety Taryn experiences is much better but still a problem. She has decided to join a yoga class near her home two nights a week and I believe that will greatly help.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.