Fibromyalgia is a mysterious condition. It manifests as a syndrome which is characterized by acute muscle pains throughout the body and general fatigue. It also includes other symptoms like increased sensitivity to pain, numbness, difficulty sleeping and problems with concentration and memory. The mystery comes about due to the difficulty in classifying and even diagnosing fibromyalgia. The common symptoms for fibromyalgia, like chronic pain and fatigue, are also indicators of other neurological disorders like arthritis, which makes it tricky to determine if it is indeed fibromyalgia the patient is suffering from.
Beyond that, scientists are still finding it difficult to outline the specific causes of fibromyalgia. Research has shown that there are several factors that can trigger or contribute to some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. For example, psychological and environmental factors like childhood trauma and repetitive injuries can make one more prone to developing this condition. In some cases, it has even been shown to be hereditary. So getting a diagnosis isn’t easy, and neither is figuring out its cause.
Fibromyalgia is also often misunderstood; because of the psychological manifestation of its symptoms, it is sometimes thought of as a myth, something that is ‘in one’s head’. But the condition is very real, and it can be challenging to treat.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, which means treatment is often an ongoing process, often one that has to be kept up for a long time. Most of the time treatment consists of managing the symptoms through healthy lifestyle adjustments and drugs like antidepressants. But antidepressants and analgesic drugs may bring about unwanted side effects.
Recently, researchers have begun finding more ways to treat fibromyalgia. Glutathione is arguably the most promising one.
Glutathione is a chemical compound found in every cell in the body, comprised mostly of amino acids. It has been referred to as ‘a super antioxidant’, because it regenerates in the liver once it is depleted, and it plays the biggest role in preventing oxidative stress of the cells. Glutathione is considered one of the most important molecules in the human body.
It carries out a host of functions in the body:
- It is an anti-aging agent.
- It helps fight infections in the body.
- It helps reduce inflammation.
- It improves overall health, particularly improving the skin and heart.
- It is essential for several enzymatic processes in the body, most notably detoxification.
- It helps manage the symptoms of certain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Glutathione and fibromyalgia
While the exact cause of fibromyalgia still remains a mystery, scientists have found a connection between glutathione levels in the body, cell dysfunction and fibromyalgia.
The cells in the human body contain glutathione, a chemical compound which is responsible for a lot of the biological processes in the body, including aging and disease prevention. The concentration of glutathione in the body corelates almost directly with health and vitality; healthier people, people who live longer, tend to have higher levels of glutathione.
Glutathione contains sulfur, which traps free radicals and other toxins in the body. It reduces oxidative stress of the cells in the body, and generally acts like a detoxifying agent for all foreign and unwanted compounds.
Glutathione is naturally occurring in the body, but over time it gets depleted; when the toxic load gets too high, for example, or due to illnesses. And once the body’s natural supply is depleted, it can no longer protect itself against toxins, free radicals, oxidative stress or infections.
The 2009 study ‘Serum antioxidants and nitric oxide levels in fibromyalgia: A controlled study’1 revealed that oxidative stress may have a role to play in the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia, and that the glutathione and catalase levels in fibromyalgia patients were much lower than in those without the condition. Glutathione deficiency has also been noted in several other central nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, autism and chronic fatigue syndrome (which shares a lot of symptoms with fibromyalgia).
This is how a person becomes vulnerable to chronic conditions like fibromyalgia; the glutathione levels in the cells eventually become so low the body cannot keep up with the cell injury from any infection or disease.
The two major studies on using glutathione to treat fibromyalgia are based on the need for supplemental antioxidants.
Dr. Martin Pall, PhD, professor emeritus of Biochemistry at Washington State University, based his treatment, named ‘The Pall protocol’ on the belief that fibromyalgia symptoms are brought about by excess nitric oxide in the body. According to him, this excess nitric oxide results in pain and inflammation in various tissues in the body. He recommended using antioxidants to reduce the damaging effect of nitric oxide on the body.
‘The glutathione protocol’, developed by Richard Van Konynenburg, PhD, is instead founded on the theory that fibromyalgia patients are deficient in glutathione. The focus of the treatment is therefore finding ways to increase the body’s glutathione levels.
While both approaches are still mostly experimental, there is enough evidence to suggest glutathione can at the very least help mitigate some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
One way of treating fibromyalgia is therefore by supplementing the body’s supply of glutathione. Several studies have shown that enhancing the glutathione levels in the body has drastic effects in combating various diseases. There has been particular success with chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia.
Due to the fact that it occurs naturally in the body, it can be challenging to find ways to get glutathione into the body.
There are several options for increasing glutathione levels in the body. It is possible to do so simply through changing one’s diet. For example, switching to sulfur-rich foods like kale and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli can be effective. Some studies have shown that regular exercise can also help boost the body’s immune system and improve detoxification.
For direct consumption of glutathione, it is important to consult a physician to find out what works best. Glutathione exists in various forms, and can be taken both orally (pills, drips) or intravenously. There are several other supplements which can be taken to help the body produce and recycle its glutathione. These include Alpha lipoic acid, which is just as important to the body in energy production and detoxification; folate and vitamins B6 and B12.
It is always best to consult your doctor or health care practitioner before and while taking glutathione.
Glutathione has been shown to provide health benefits and be supportive in relation to a large number of conditions. In order to maintain optimal glutathione levels, consider supplementing with Nano Glutathione.