In this last part of our Fibromyalgia series we are going to explore how Fibromyalgia relates to your biochemical health. In our many years of practice, we have found that the symptoms of Fibromyalgia can be reduced or even resolved by addressing the body’s pH and hormonal health.
Let’s first look at pH and the relationship it has with the Fibromyalgia patient. Our bodies are living laboratories. We are alive and breathing right now because of our complex nervous system in addition to the foods we eat and drink. This fuel we take in along with the oxygen from our lungs is “burned” in our cells, causing numerous chemical reactions to occur. The products that are left are carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O) and an ash residue. This is similar to how our automobiles and fireplaces work, except their food is gasoline and firewood respectively. The question is…how does our ash residue measure up, and how does it affect our health? The answer depends on whether this ash residue is acid or alkaline.
So what does it mean to be acid or alkaline? What is pH?? No, we are not talking about the pH of your swimming pool. In the scientific world, pH stands for “potential of Hydrogen.” Instead, we’ll just say that, in your body, pH stands for your potential for Health. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. The low end, 0 indicates really strong, complete acidity and the high end, 14 indicates really strong, complete alkalinity. In the middle of the scale, pH 7.0 indicates that the substance is neither acid nor alkaline – it’s neutral. When we talk about the pH of your body, we mean the pH of the fluids inside and outside your cells, your “internal environment”. So look at pH representing the “potential for health” of the fluids in and around your cells.
The pH of saliva offers a general window through which you can see the overall pH balance in your body. Studies have shown that healthy people’s body fluids are slightly alkaline while the same fluids of those who are sick are acidic, ranging from slightly acidic to extremely acidic. In Dr. Mark Cochran’s book “The Secrets of pH Concerning Health and Disease” he states the body should remain in a slightly alkaline condition in order to avoid disease and premature aging.
I recommend using pH test strips (litmus paper) to test your overall pH in your body. This is the easiest and quickest way you can test your pH. These test strips are inexpensive and are available at most reputable nutrition companies. This paper can be used to test saliva or urine, and the color of the paper will change to reflect your pH level. You simply compare the color of the paper to the color scale on the side of the package to reveal your pH.
So what does your pH have to do with Fibromyalgia?
Your salivary pH should stay in a range of 7.0-7.5 for healthy body function. When saliva pH falls below 7.0 or urine pH falls below 6.0, your nutrients are not being absorbed, your body becomes toxic and your body’s cells are bathing in acid. Fatigue and body aches are the major symptoms of an overly acidic body. And the most common complaints of fibromyalgia are fatigue and all over body achiness.
How do you keep your pH at a healthy range of 7.0 – 7.5?
Well, one of the best ways to correct an overly acid body is to correct your diet and lifestyle!
If you are very healthy and have no chronic health problems, in order to maintain your health, your diet should consist of 60% alkaline forming foods and 40% acid forming foods. If you already have fibromyalgia and want to restore your health, your diet should consist of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods.
Dr. Edlund’s 80/20 Rule for Better Health…
Now ask yourself, “Is my diet 60-80% fruits and vegetables and 20-40% meat, breads, dairy, pastas and grains?” Probably NOT. In fact, most of our patients when they first see us are backwards eaters. They eat about 80% meat, breads, dairy, pastas/grains and only 20% fruits and vegetables.
Modern medicine has prolonged our lives, but the quality is terrible! Americans are the unhealthiest people in the world. Most people think that their health issues are a result of aging and genetics, however, diet and lifestyle are the main culprits responsible for poor health. Backwards eating people are guaranteed to have more chronic problems as they age (fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoporosis, gall bladder dysfunction, headaches, heart disease, joint pain etc.).
Following the 80/20 Rule, that is 80% fruit and vegetables and 20% meat, breads, dairy pasta and grains will significantly increase the alkalinity in your tissues which will lead to a substantial improvement in your fibromyalgia symptoms. It is important to remember that changing the body’s pH does not cure disease, however, it allows the body to heal itself by ridding it of toxins. Learning about the alkaline-acid connection will give you the knowledge to create an internal environment that not only fights fibromyalgia but functions at a higher level.
Next, let’s explore how hormones can influence the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
It is our opinion that Adrenal Fatigue is one of the most missed conditions in medicine today.
Fatigue, poor sleep, aches and pains, unexplained weight gain, memory loss, anxiety and depression…sound familiar?
Every challenge to the mind and body creates a demand on the adrenal glands (your body’s stress glands). Today, these challenges are endless: the threat of losing your job, lack of sleep, a demanding boss, financial pressures, yo-yo dieting, relationship problems, death or illness of a loved one, skipping meals, reliance on stimulants like caffeine and sugar, digestive issues, over-exercise, illness or infection. The result…adrenals that are over producing and are constantly on high alert. The over worked adrenal glands eventually wear out…resulting in this commonly missed condition…ADRENAL FATIGUE.
The Cortisol – Fibromyalgia Connection
The hormone cortisol is produced by the adrenals in response to physical, psychological and environmental stress. Cortisol is necessary for the action of almost every function of your body! This critical hormone regulates other hormones, glucose metabolism and the immune system. It affects the heart, blood pressure, water excretion, the eyes, the GI tract and reproductive function. Cortisol is also needed to combat inflammation in the body! The anti-inflammatory effect cortisol has on the body is crucial to control the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. If you are not producing enough cortisol (Adrenal Fatigue), your body will be raging with inflammation leading to Fibromyalgia and a multitude of other chronic health problems.
How Do I Test For Adrenal Fatigue?
Conventional medicine examines cortisol levels via blood testing. This type of testing measures you against pathological ranges and therefore will detect only the extremes of these conditions when the damage to the adrenals has already occurred. Any cortisol level within this very broad range is considered normal, and anything outside that range indicates disease. This means that your doctor will tell you that you are “normal” if you don’t have Addison’s Disease or Cushing’s Syndrome.
How many times have you been told your blood tests came back “normal” only to wonder… “then why do I feel this way?”
Within those extremes, you may feel miserable and still be told your cortisol levels are normal. But by responding to early-stage symptoms of adrenal fatigue, you can reverse the developing dysfunction and restore the function of your adrenal glands.
In our practice, we test for adrenal malfunction before the disease sets in. This is done with very specific salivary hormone testing and questionnaires. The adrenal profile consists of four saliva samples taken throughout the course of a typical day so that the cortisol circadian rhythm can be determined. This profile can help identify the stage of adrenal exhaustion and give an accurate assessment of adrenal dysfunction for each patient. Normal test results should show cortisol elevated in the morning to help you get going, lower but steady throughout the day to sustain energy, and a decline in the evening to support restful sleep.
In summary, if your energy lags during the day, you experience chronic aches and pains, you feel emotionally unbalanced, you sleep poorly or less than seven hours a night, you frequently use caffeine or carbohydrates as “pick-me-ups” and you can’t lose weight even while dieting and exercising, – then I highly recommend you get your adrenals tested. Most likely you have some level of adrenal dysfunction.
What Are Some Steps I Can Take To Improve My Fibromyalgia?
The first step is to have a full physical exam to find out what is truly causing your Fibromyalgia. It is important that your health care professional investigates the CAUSE of your condition. As we spoke of in our previous articles, Fibromyalgia is a very complex condition with many different causes. Chasing the symptoms with medications is only temporary and comes with a multitude of side effects. In our experience, people with mild to moderate cases of Fibromyalgia can see significant improvement through following these simple steps:
1. Dietary changes to improve your nutrition…reduce carbohydrates, stimulant and increase your pH.
Firstly, I encourage you to focus on balance. Nourishing your body with balanced meals and snacks can do wonders for your energy and feed your overall health at the same time. I always tell my patients to eat their best 80% of the time. The other 20% is up to them. Never allow yourself to get too hungry. Low blood sugar by itself puts stress on your body and can tax your adrenals.
Eating meals and snacks that are made of fresh whole foods, preferably organic or locally grown, without chemicals, preservatives or added hormones are the best to strive for. Including some protein in all your meals (especially in the morning) will have a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar, which in turn can help you overcome caffeine and sugar cravings. Following the alkalizing pH diet of 70-80% fruits and vegetables and 20-30% protein and fat is a great start to restoring your biochemical health.
Include these alkaline foods in your daily diet:
Lemons, watermelon, cantaloupe, cayenne celery, dates, figs, kelp, limes, mango, melons, papaya, parsley, seaweeds, seedless grapes, watercress, asparagus, fruit juices, grapes, kiwifruit, passionfruit, pears (sweet), pineapple, raisins, plums, vegetable juices, apples, alfalfa sprouts, apricots, avocados, bananas (ripe), currants, dates, figs (fresh), garlic, grapefruit, herbs (leafy green), lettuce (leafy green), nectarine, peaches, pears, peas (fresh, sweet), pumpkin, sea salt, beans (fresh, green), beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carob, cauliflower, ginger (fresh), oranges, potatoes (with skin), raspberries, strawberries, squash, sweet corn (fresh), turnip, vinegar (apple cider).
Avoid processed foods! These are loaded with chemicals that are not only toxic to our system but are also very acidic to our body. It’s interesting to note that to neutralize a glass of cola with a pH of 2.5, it would take 32 glasses of alkaline water with a pH of 10!
2. Stress reduction.
This includes moderate exercise and taking more time for yourself. It’s helpful to make a list of your stressors, especially those that are constant. Yoga and meditation are very effective for stress reduction. Instead of reaching for that coffee mid afternoon, take 15-20 minutes to relax with herbal teas that contain chamomile, passionflower and Siberian ginseng. Herbal teas support your adrenals while caffeine drains them.
3. Get your spine checked regularly.
The thoracic spinal nerves especially at the T9 and T10 level control and support the function of the adrenal glands. If there are subluxations (spinal misalignments) at these levels, you will have interference of these nerve pathways, resulting in suboptimal adrenal function. In fact, your nerve system controls every organ, tissue and system in your body. Misalignments in your spine result from poor posture, old injuries and every day stress! If left uncorrected, misalignments at any level in the spine will affect the nerve supply to different organs, muscles and cells. Chiropractic adjustments correct subluxations which remove the nerve interference and therefore allow your body to function at a higher level which will lead to overall better health!
4. Medical-grade nutritional supplements.
Nutraceuticals ensure your body has the rich nutrients it needs to make and balance its hormones and support your adrenal glands. Fibromyalgia patients are usually lacking B vitamins, magnesium and greens in their diet. A high quality “Greens Drink” and adrenal adaptogen will generally help support the adrenal glands and alkalize the body.
5. Get more rest.
Your body needs time to heal. You should be sleeping 7-8 hours every night!
In our many years of practice, we have found that the key to longevity and wellness is to center your health around self care and health care which will significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a crisis. It is time for the people to fix the broken health care system. Remember, statistics show that most of us are going to live to 100 years of age. The question is…Do you want to live these years healthy or unhealthy? The choice is yours. At some point in your life you are going to have to make this choice. The secret is to make it because you want to, and not because you have no choice. If you approach your health proactively, you will experience the quality of life you deserve.
In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed our Fibromyalgia Series these past few months. Our intent is to educate the public on the different causes of this complex condition and to inform you on the many advanced options available to you to improve your overall quality of life. Remember, knowledge is power. It will allow you to make the best decisions for better health. I advise you to continue to educate yourself, your family and your friends about how to enhance your overall health. We will never have “Health Care Reform” until we have “Self Care Reform”!
Although fibromyalgia is a complex, multifaceted combination of symptoms that stem from a wide variety of systems in your body that have gone haywire, it can be understood, if you take the time to look at and assemble the pieces of the puzzle.
“The first thought of any doctor who treats any kind of disease should be, what is the pH of this patient?”- Dr. Carson E. Pierce