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An Integrative Medicine Approach to Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects about 6 million Americans, causing chronic pain, fatigue, sleep issues, brain fog, depression and painful tender points throughout the body.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine tends to focus only on managing your symptoms through pain medications and antidepressants.

Integrative medicine, however, seeks to determine the root cause of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, by treating the problem at the root level. As a integrative medicine physician, I have helped many patients recover from fibromyalgia. These are the top ten major causes of fibromyalgia I see in my clinic.

10 Major Causes Of Fibromyalgia

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance is linked to more than 55 diseases and can be tricky to diagnose. The reason is the majority of symptoms of gluten intolerance are not digestive in nature but rather neurological such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, behavioral issues, fatigue and depression.

Candida Overgrowth

Candida is a fungus or yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your intestines. When overproduced, candida breaks down the wall of the intestines and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body causing a host of unpleasant symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, digestive issues, and pain. Virtually every one of my patients with fibromyalgia have had Candida overgrowth.


More than half of the people with thyroid issues have no idea they have one and 90% of these have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. It is vital to check different blood markers to measure your thyroid gland’s function, and imperative that you use the optimal levels rather than the standard reference range when assessing and diagnosing thyroid disorders. Getting my patient’s thyroid levels into an optimal range, typically alleviates their fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Magnesium, vitamin D and B12 deficiency are the most common vitamin deficiencies I see in those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I've had several patients completely reverse their fibromyalgia symptoms with magnesium alone. The best way to measure magnesium is a red blood cell (RBC) magnesium level.

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Leaky Gut

There are more bacteria in us and on us then there are of our own cells. When these bacteria get out of balance through use of antibiotics or a sugar-rich diet we can lose our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, particularly B12. Gluten can cause SIBO and leaky gut, and SIBO and leaky gut can lead to gluten and other food intolerances. It’s a vicious cycle. You must fix the gut first in anyone with fibromyalgia or any chronic illness.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a result of chronic stress and anxiety. Chronic pain is a stress to the adrenal glands, though typically not the initial adrenal stressor. The initial stressor is usually something such as food intolerances, Candida, mercury toxicity, vitamin deficiencies, or mycotoxins. My goal is to support the adrenals with adaptogenic herbs while we search for the root cause of the stress and correct it.



Mycotoxins are very toxic substances produced by toxic molds. Only about 25% of the population carries the genes to be susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins.

Mercury Toxicity

Mercury is toxic to our bodies and can be one piece of the puzzle for those with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and cancer. I recommend heavy metal testing for anyone who may have heavy metal toxins in their body.

MTHFR Mutations

This is a genetic test you can get though any conventional lab. The more mutations you have at the MTHFR gene, the less able you are to methylate and detoxify, particularly toxins such as mercury and lead. The more mutations you have at this gene, the higher your requirements for methyl-B6, methyl-B12 and folinic acid in order to keep your detoxification pathways working properly.

Glutathione Deficiency

Glutathione is the most critical part of our body’s detoxification system. Glutathione gets recycled in our body unless our toxic burden gets too high or we lack GSTM1 and GSTP1, the enzymes needed to recycle and produce glutathione. Taking a glutathione supplement or the precursors (NAC, alpha lipoic acid, milk thistle) often help my patients dramatically with fatigue.

Many of these causes of fibromyalgia are interrelated and often there is no one single root cause to fibromyalgia or any chronic illness. It is a combination of several or possibly all of the above. Because getting to the root cause can be complex, I recommend that you consult your integrative physician to help uncover the root cause for you. You do not need to suffer needlessly or mask your symptoms with pain medication and antidepressants. There are doctors like myself who can help you.






Based on an article from Amy Myers, MD