Many doctors, researchers and people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) say nutritional supplements are an important part of managing your symptoms. Many of us swear by them, and some people use supplements as an alternative to medications.
However, supplements are typically not well researched, and many health-care workers believe them to have little benefit. Some of the supplements listed below have gone through double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials and have had mixed results, while others haven't been scientifically tested, either for these conditions or at all. We have very little solid evidence that supplements do help alleviate symptoms of FMS or ME/CFS. Self-reported results are highly mixed as well, with different supplements working for different people.
Before you start a supplement regimen, be sure to talk to your doctor and pharmacist to make sure the supplements you chose are safe for you. To learn more about safely getting started with supplements, and what you should expect from them, read Getting Started With Supplements. Keep in mind that just because a product is natural that doesn't ensure that it's safe.
Supplements for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
When considering supplements, think about what symptoms impact you most and then look for supplements that help with that symptom. The following lists break commonly used supplements into categories. (Note that some supplements fall into more than one category.)
Pain & Tenderness
- Magnesium Malate
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 (Fish Oil)
- Supplements that balance neurotransmitters (listed below) may help alleviate fibromyalgia pain
- Supplements that balance neurotransmitters (listed below) may help alleviate mood problems
Brain Function/Neurotransmitter Balance
Learn More About Vitamins & Supplements
Not all supplements are created equal! For help choosing a quality product, read Choosing High Quality Vitamin Supplements, by About.com Nutrition Guide Shereen Jegtvig.
For information about a wide array of nutritional and herbal supplements, visit the A-Z list compiled by Cathy Wong, About.com Guide to Alternative Medicine.
If you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you need to be aware that many supplements use gluten as a filler and their labels may not list it as an ingredient. To learn how you can find out what's in the supplements and medications you're taking, read Gluten Free Medications, from About.com Pediatrics Guide Vincent Iannelli, M.D.