Treating Fibromyalgia with Dr. Martin Willmitch
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Pain is the most prominent symptom of Fibromyalgia. Although it generally affects the entire body, it may start in just one region, such as the neck and shoulders, and then spread to other areas over a period of time. Fibromyalgia is classified as a form of generalized muscular pain and fatigue. Therefore, it has been treated exactly as that since the initial diagnosis was developed years ago. But we now know through scientific research that the disease is actually a neurological condition that is caused by gradually increasing levels of inflammation in the body.
Inflammation will cause muscles to ache and burn, it will also cause muscles to spasm and develop the hallmark trigger points or tender points commonly associated with the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. It is this inflammation that eventually starts to damage other areas of the body, such as the brain and nervous system, the digestive tract, and the endocrine system. When these other systems of the body begin to malfunction as a result of the inflammation, we begin to see the other classic signs and symptoms of the disease. These are fatigue, brain fog or Fibro Fog, headaches, cold hands and feet, insomnia, digestive problems or IBS, decreased energy or lethargy, etc…
If what the scientific research says is true, that Fibromyalgia is caused by rising levels of inflammation in the body. Then to properly treat Fibromyalgia we as doctors need to figure out what is causing the inflammation in the first place. We know without a doubt that inflammation is the direct result of activity of our immune systems. Modern science has proven this fact, and there are many research papers and studies that show exactly how this happens. Simply put, whenever an immune system cell, called a white blood cell, is activated by a foreign particle, or antigen, such as a bacteria, a virus, a mold or fungus, a parasite, or even yeast or candida spores, the white blood cell will release a chemical called a Cytokine. Cytokines act as a chemical messenger to call on other white blood cells to help kill the foreign particle or antigen. Cytokines also help to control the overall activity of our immune systems. Without the help of the Cytokines, the immune system would act in a chaotic manner and we would die from infections very easily.
In a normal reaction, an antigen would present itself inside of our bodies. A white blood cell would engulf and destroy the antigen. As the white blood cell does this, it releases Cytokines that call other white blood cells to join the fight and kill any other foreign antigens that may be there. As more white blood cells join the fight, they also release Cytokines. As the level of Cytokines increases inside our bodies, so does the level of systemic inflammation. One of the negative aspects of Cytokines is that they allow the production of inflammation to occur. In a typical scenario, white blood cells get called to action by Cytokines from other white blood cells. The newly arrived white blood cells then release more Cytokines. As the level of Cytokines rises, so does the level of inflammation in our bodies. When we have a cold or a flu, we all experience the same relative symptoms. We get achy, tired, and lethargic. We may get a headache, and we may even get nauseous. We generally feel SICK. The reason we feel SICK is not because of the bacteria or virus inside of our body. We feel SICK because of the inflammation that is a result of the Cytokines being released by our white blood cells. Once the infection begins to die off, Cytokine levels slowly start to decrease. As this happens, inflammation levels begin to come down, and we then begin to feel better.
So how can we determine what is causing the activation of our immune cells that cause Cytokine production and elevated levels of inflammation? We use specific laboratory tests. Fortunately there are only so many things our immune system cells will attack. As a doctor it is our main job to figure this out. Chronically sick people need to be tested for immune stimulating items such as hidden or persistent infections. Infections can occur anywhere in the body, and they not only damage tissue, but they activate the immune system and cause the production of Cytokines, which raise levels of inflammation.
Heavy metals also activate our immune cells. Certain heavy metals are more destructive than others, but they are all toxic at high levels. We ingest heavy metals just like we ingest other environmental toxins. In chronically sick or unhealthy patients, our bodies cannot effectively eliminate these toxins and they activate our immune system cells which cause more Cytokines and inflammation, in which case then makes us even sicker.
We also need to check Fibromyalgia patients for the presence of immunologic food sensitivities.
So remember, you have to first identify the triggers that your immune system cells are reacting to. This is what causes Cytokines to be released. Cytokines cause the production of inflammation, and the inflammation that results is what causes Fibromyalgia. Only a healthy body can heal!!! In order to become healthy, you need to identify what is making you unhealthy. It is this basic premise of healthcare that is often overlooked.