Fibromyalgia and Your Gut – Could The Microbiome Be A Marker?

A recent scientific study has found a potential link between gut bacteria populations to the debilitating but mysterious fibromyalgia syndrome

First Things First – A Break Down On Fibromyalgia

If you’re unfamiliar with fibromyalgia, it’s a medical condition that is defined by chronic muscle and joint pain spread across the body. Other symptoms include increased sensitivity and pain response to pressure, fatigue, sleep problems and can even affect memory. The cause of fibromyalgia is largely unknown, however is it commonly associated with depression, anxiety or PTSD. Roughly 2-8% of the population suffer from fibromyalgia, with women being affected twice as much as men. The treatment for fibromyalgia isn’t as straight forward as others, and normally centre around general life-improvement advice such as getting proper sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

So Where Does The Gut Bacteria Come Into It?

Your digestive system is a complex machine with thousands of tiny but important parts that extends past the more familiar components such as your digestive organs, the stomach, pancreas and intestines. There’s a lot of scientific research being carried out recently on the population of the friendly, and not-so-friendly bacteria that is present in your intestines.

This ‘Microbiota’ is composed of some 100 TRILLION bacteria – it’s unique to you and it has a much bigger effect on your health that previously thought. From digestive system diseases and obesity to problems with your immune system and even mental health, studies have found evidence that the presence or lack thereof of certain species of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria can be indicators or causes of illness.

In a recent article, researchers based in Montreal have published online findings in the journal Pain that have suggested that patients with fibromyalgia showed different presence of certain gut bacteria from people without fibromyalgia, and that the severity of the symptoms also directly correlated with the presence of certain species of microflora.

While these results do not indicate any causal role of gut microbiota on fibromyalgia, and the study was relatively small involving total of 156 subjects. Nonetheless, this could be a huge first step in the direction of improving fibromyalgia diagnosis – which is normally a process that takes as long as four to five years to fully diagnose normally, and is routinely disbelieved by some.

It Wouldn’t Be A Nordic Botanics Blog If We Didn’t Talk About CBD …

We’re still in the early days right now and there’s not yet a wealth of studies around the combination of CBD for the treatment of fibromyalgia related pain, however in 2011 a clinical trial in Spain found that treatment with medicinal marijuana was found to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia. This study wasn’t carried out with CBD Oil, but instead used medicinal marijuana (THC + CBD). Otherwise, most fibro sufferers seem to rely on opioids for pain relief.

References

  • Baothman, O.A., Zamzami, M.A., Taher, I., Abubaker, J. and Abu-Farha, M. (2016) The role of Gut Microbiota in the development of obesity and Diabetes. Lipids in health and disease, 15 108. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27317359.
  • Belkaid, Y. and Hand, T.W. (2014) Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell, 157(1) 121–41. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24679531.
  • Fiz, J., Durán, M., Capellà, D., Carbonell, J. and Farré, M. (2011) Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms relief and health-related quality of life. PloS one, 6(4) e18440. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21533029.
  • Minerbi, A., Gonzalez, E., Brereton, N.J.B., Anjarkouchian, A., Dewar, K., Fitzcharles, M.-A., Chevalier, S. and Shir, Y. (2019) Altered microbiome composition in individuals with fibromyalgia. PAIN, 1. Available from http://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00006396-900000000-98647.
  • Rogers, G.B., Keating, D.J., Young, R.L., Wong, M.-L., Licinio, J. and Wesselingh, S. (2016) From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways. Molecular psychiatry, 21(6) 738–48. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27090305.

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