I was looking at my hands and arms recently and realized the myriad red spots I've grown used to seeing (a side effect of training a puppy) have been there since February and March. They're not as angry looking as they once were, but it still looks like I've got some kind of rash.
For comparison, I looked at my husband's puppy-teeth marks -- or rather, I tried to. His have healed completely.
I had to wonder if this was yet another symptom of fibromyalgia. I can't find much of anything research wise (which didn't surprise me), but I did find questions about it in a lot of forums, with enough "me too" responses to make coincidence unlikely. I didn't see much about slow healing in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, but it wouldn't be a shock to find out it was common in that sand box as well.
So why would we heal slowly? When you think about some of our underlying physiology, it makes sense. Researchers know that we have several abnormalities related to the skin: we're prone to tissue over-growth, such as skin tabs, adhesions and fatty tumors called lipomas; many of us bruise and scar easily. Clearly, something is misfiring in our cells. Emerging research increasingly suggests that we have mitochondrial dysfunction.
Mitochondria are tiny parts of our cells that produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Our mitochondria appear to be rather bad at their job, meaning we don't have enough energy for basic cellular functions. Mitochondrial dysfunction could play a role in many of our symptoms -- including healing -- and some researchers even believe it's at the core of our illnesses. Then again, many doctors disagree, and this remains an area of controversy. (Read more: Mitochondrial Dysfunction.)
Because I'd really like to get rid of the puppy scratches on my hands before my dog's on geriatric food, I did some research on healing and found that the essential amino acid lysine can help. I started taking it a week ago, and my red spots have cleared up more in that week than in the preceding 2 months. I also learned something else interesting about lysine -- it can help stop hair loss, which is another one of our symptoms! This is from About.com Thyroid Guide Mary Shomon:
"In one study, Dr. Hugh Rushton, a professor at Portsmouth University, also found that 90 percent of women with thinning hair were deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. Lysine is the most difficult amino acid to get enough of via diet. Lysine helps transport iron, which is the most important element in the body and essential for many metabolic processes. When lysine and iron levels are low, the body probably switches some hair follicles off to increase levels elsewhere."
Is that what's happening in us? We can't say for sure, but it does give us something to try. Poultry and fish have the most lysine, and you can also get L-lysine supplements. Here's a great overview from the University of Maryland Medical Center: Lysine.
Learn more or join the conversation!
- Mary Shomon's Hair Loss Article
- What You Need to Know About Starting Supplements for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Supplements for Specific Symptoms
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