Fibromyalgia is one of the most common pain syndromes and it even affects more and more people. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least understood. His hallmark is pain. Currently, if you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may be asked to exercise, think positive thoughts, and take an antidepressant or muscle relaxant. However, there is an increasing relationship between this condition and a digestive problem specific. Read on to see its signs and causes.
A specific digestive problem could be the cause of fibromyalgia
The connection between fibromyalgia and digestive problems is recognized but not fully understood, despite the fact that it affects up to 70% of fibromyalgia patients. It is believed to occur due to the consumption of certain food products, some of which may trigger only minor discomfort under normal circumstances.
It has been established that only rarely can a physical abnormality in the digestive organs be identified. However, it is believed that fibromyalgia brings with it increased sensitivity in pain receptors. So while certain foods can cause a mild trigger in most people, in fibromyalgia patients this can cause severe bloating and cramping.
Also, stress and certain types of conventional medications that are often taken in the treatment of fibromyalgia, such as NSAIDs, can cause side effects including digestive problems since the good intestinal flora is affected. If this is the case, your doctor may suggest an alternative form of treatment.
Studies link fibromyalgia to bacterial overgrowth
A study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases in 2004 found a 100% correspondence of fibromyalgia with SIBO. One study showed a 100% connection between fibromyalgia and small intestine bacterial overgrowth, the direct result of an unbalanced internal ecosystem.
In a double-blind study, participants were asked to take a lactulose breath test, the gold standard when it comes to measuring overgrowth in the small intestine, which checks for the presence of hydrogen in the breath. The bacteria produce hydrogen or methane gas as they feed.
Researchers of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that 100% of participants with fibromyalgia had abnormal test results. They also found that the more abnormal the test results, the more pain a fibromyalgia volunteer had. The degree of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine has a direct relationship to the severity of fibromyalgia.
Development of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
When bacteria invade the small intestine, be it good or bad bacteria, problems quickly arise. This is because the small intestine must smoothly transport food from one end of the digestive tract to the other. How can things go wrong? check below:
Enzymes play an important role. If there aren’t enough of the right enzymes in the small intestinal tract, known as brush border enzymes, food slows down its transit time and bacterial populations start to grow.
Diet matters too. When we eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, or if we are unable to break down certain plant fibers, this feeds the resident bacteria.
The wrong kind of bacteria starts to grow. Whether it’s food poisoning or a small, resident population of disease-causing microbes, these harmful bacteria can actually secrete an opiate-like substance that will slow down the wave motion of the small intestine. This gives food a chance to spoil and microbial communities a chance to grow.
Diabetes and hypothyroidism affect digestion. In both diabetes and hypothyroidism, something known as the migratory motor complex slows down. The migratory motor complex (MMC) is a set of undulating movements that keep food and bacteria moving. Bacteria from the large intestine often crawl into the small intestine. With a robust CMM in place, this is generally not a problem. When the MMC weakens or slows down, these bacteria have the opportunity to proliferate.
The communities of bacteria in the small intestine and throughout the intestinal tract are normal and expected. Only when these communities lose control do problems arise. In any healthy ecosystem, balance is key.
Bacterial overgrowth can lead to fibromyalgia
Once our internal ecosystems reach a state of imbalance, the intestinal lining can become “leaky.” This becomes a problem because the bacteria produce their own toxins and waste products.
These toxins are:
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS): Also known as endotoxin, this molecule provides structural support to certain bacteria. It also provokes a strong response from our immune system. Endotoxins contribute to inflammation in the body. We also know that, in fibromyalgia patients, it leads to increased pain.
tryptophan: Another byproduct of some bacteria is an enzyme that breaks down tryptophan, called tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that may sound familiar. That’s because it gets quite a bit of attention as a precursor to serotonin. Without tryptophan, serotonin (our happy brain chemical) could not be made. And without serotonin, it’s pretty hard to make melatonin (our sleepy brain chemical).
Serotonin helps us feel relaxed and happy. It is also important for intestinal motility, the migratory motor complex that we mentioned earlier. Serotonin deficiency contributes to pain, carbohydrate cravings, and fatigue.
Melatonin helps us fall asleep easily. It also helps reset our energy at the cellular level.
When large amounts of the enzyme tryptophan are busy breaking down tryptophan, the body no longer has the building blocks it needs to make enough serotonin and melatonin. This contributes to fibromyalgia syndrome.
4 Suggestions for Fibromyalgia Patients
Once we know what digestive problem causes this group of symptoms, we can do something about it.
Fortunately, scientists have already done the research showing that SIBO has a direct relationship to fibromyalgia.
While there is no universal cause and effect relationship, we do know that bacterial overgrowth can show up as fibromyalgia. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia:
- Request a lactulose breath test. This can help determine if you have SIBO.
- Preferably follow an alkaline diet. Even if your breath test returns to normal, it’s essential to remove anything that might lower your pain threshold. Since studies show that leaky gut toxins and bacteria can contribute to pain, use your diet to protect your gastrointestinal tract and nervous system.
- Take brush border enzyme supplements that help move things around in the small intestine, reducing the chances of developing SIBO.
- Optimize the beneficial bacteria in your gut by eating fermented foods and drinking probiotic beverages. These foods will not only improve digestion, but will also help repopulate healthy flora in the intestines. Do this part when your SIBO treatment is more advanced.
What to remember more about this article
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common pain syndromes, affecting up to 4% of the population. It is also the least understood, making it difficult to treat within the medical community today.
Several intriguing studies have connected fibromyalgia to the gut, emphasizing a strong relationship between fibromyalgia and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. This condition is called SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The researchers found that the degree of bacterial overgrowth detected in the small intestine has a direct relationship to the severity of fibromyalgia.
Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine can occur from:
- Not having enough brush border enzymes to support healthy digestion, which allows bacteria to grow.
- Eating a high-carbohydrate diet that feeds pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
- Allowing the wrong type of bacteria to grow and slowing down the movement of the small intestine.
- Diabetes and hypothyroidism that affect healthy digestion by slowing down the migratory motor complex, which keeps food moving through the digestive tract. Being under constant stress also affects leading to this digestive problem.