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Natural Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

What Natural Treatment Options are Available?

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Updated July 13, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Have you wondered what kinds of natural treatments are available for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome? Because these conditions are generally difficult to treat, many of us do explore natural treatment options, either instead of or in addition to mainstream medicine.

The tough thing about natural treatment options is that they're typically not as well-researched as drugs. It can take a lot of time, energy, money and experimentation to find treatments that work for you. However, many people find significant relief from natural treatments.

Natural Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The term "natural treatment" covers a lot of ground. Here's a look at some of the main areas that have been researched for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome:

Supplements

You can find a lot of information online about supplements for these conditions, but the fact is that no one supplement or supplement regimen is proven to help all of us. However, we do have some evidence backing up certain supplements. The key is to do your research and proceed slowly and cautiously, with the expectation that not everything you try will work for you.

Here are some resources to help you:

Diet

As with supplements, there's not "the" perfect diet for all of us -- it takes careful experimentation to figure out which, if any, foods bother you and which ones may help you feel better.

Still, there are some things that are especially likely to be bad for us (caffeine, alcohol). There are also foods that naturally provide vitamins, minerals and other substances that are considered beneficial for combating our symptoms. For information on those things, read:

For help figuring out which foods may be exacerbating your symptoms, see:

Exercise/Activity

Exercise is an especially difficult area for us, since even small amounts of exertion can make us worse.

For fibromyalgia, we have strong evidence that gentle, moderate exercise -- geared to our personal abilities -- can alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

It's more difficult when you're talking about chronic fatigue syndrome, in part because the physical toll of exertion is generally more severe than in fibromyalgia, and in part because of differences of opinion.

Some research shows that a treatment called graded exercise therapy (GET) can be beneficial in chronic fatigue syndrome, but this research is often criticized for being of low quality, and GET is a highly controversial subject. Still, we know it's beneficial to overall health and to your lifestyle to increase stamina and fitness.

Here's more information on getting started with exercise, as well as some forms of exercise that are recommended for us:

Improving Sleep

Most of us have problems sleeping and don't feel refreshed when we wake up, no matter how much sleep we've had. Research shows that better sleep means less severe symptoms, but it's not an easy thing to do.

Some simple lifestyle changes may help you get better sleep:

You can find a lot of herbal and natural sleep remedies, such as melatonin and valerian root; however, they don't work for everyone, and they can have side effects.

Other Lifestyle Changes

You might benefit from additional changes to your life, such as lowering stress, changing jobs, or learning to pace yourself. It can be daunting to think of changing your lifestyle -- where should you start? Here are some resources for you:

Alternative Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

Several complementary and alternative treatments may also be effective against fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Here's a look at what has and hasn't been found to work:

Whatever treatments you decide to try, be sure you're familiar with the possible side effects and talk to your doctor to make sure you're making safe choices. Be patient, celebrate every improvement, and keep looking for the right combination of treatments for you.

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