If you receive a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, don’t stop there.
It could be Mycotoxins, Heavy Metal Toxicity or Lyme Disease.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, as well as tiredness, sleep, memory and mood problems.
Fibromyalgia is more of a collection of symptoms and there is no test to determine that yes, you have it, or no, you don’t.
Doctors run tests to rule out other causes of the symptoms, but there is no definitive test for it.
Basically, it’s a catch-all diagnosis for chronic, wipespread pain.
Sadly, many doctors stop digging to find the cause once the Fibromyalgia diagnosis is determined. They focus on doling out pain-relieving medications (as well they should, it’s painful).
Even worse, there is no medically agreed-upon cause or cure.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
It is estimated that 1 in 50 people have symptoms of Fibromyalgia (approximately 6 million people).
Ninety percent of them are women. 🙁
This is not a rare condition, by any means.
Check this list of symptoms from Dr. Mercola:
- Painful tender points throughout the body
- Disrupted or irregular sleep patterns
- Muscle stiffness and spasms
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Sensitivity to cold and heat
- Restless leg syndrome or RLS, which is an uncomfortable, creepy-crawly feeling in your legs that often disturbs your sleep
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth)
- “Fibro fog” (or brain fog), a condition that impairs your ability to focus on mental tasks Some common signs of fibro fog include short-term memory loss, struggling to find a word, and disorientation that lasts for 30 to 60 seconds
- Depression and anxiety
- Allodynia is a heightened sensitivity to touch. Simply rubbing an affected person’s shoulder or patting him or her on the back can cause intense pain.
- Paresthesia is an unexplained tingling and numbness that’s often linked to anxiety or nervousness over the illness. Paresthesia is accompanied by rapid, deep breathing, and may lead to acroparesthesia, a tingling in the hands and feet caused by lack of carbon dioxide.
- Lipomas are lumps, which can appear in various parts of the body, are actually fatty benign tumors, and may cause you more discomfort.
- Sensitivity to fragrance, light, and even sounds
- Excessive sweating and a feverish feeling
If any or all of these symptoms apply to you or someone you love, keep reading!
Personally, I had almost all of them.
I kept digging with the help of several healthcare practitioners and discovered that, indeed, my symptoms had an underlying cause or two.
Many Possible Underlying Causes of Fibromyalgia
Functional medicine practitioners like Chris Kresser, Dr. Amy Myers, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Josh Axe and many others know first-hand that there can be many underlying causes of Fibromyalgia.
- SIBO and Leaky Gut
- Rheumatoid Arthritis and other types of arthritis
- Gluten Intolerance
- Candida Overgrowth
- Thyroid Issues
- Vitamin Deficiencies (magnesium, Vitamin D, and B12 are the most common)
- Adrenal Fatigue (HPA Axis Dysregulation)
- MTHFR genetic mutations
- Glutathione deficiency
- Heavy Metal Toxicity
- Lyme Disease
I encourage you to read about these subjects directly from the experts at the links above and on this site as I have addressed each of them as well.
Each of these disorders must be tested and ruled out, one by one.
The last 3 on the list, Mycotoxins, Heavy Metal Toxicity and Lyme Disease are ones that I will discuss here.
I have personal experience with all three and can attest to being diagnosed with “Fibromyalgia” or in some cases, I was told that I simply needed an anti-depressant (argh!).
Mycotoxins or toxic mold has ruled my life for at least 5 years. It began with cognitive decline and brain fog and progressed into widespread, chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Most people never know when or where they were exposed to toxic mold because it is typically hidden behind walls.
You cannot rely on your nose–black mold, Stachybotrys, for example, has no odor.
I’m pretty sure I know which house I lived in (we’ve moved a lot) that was the culprit.
Genetic Issues Related to Toxic Mold
Approximately 25% of the population has a genetic mutation that disables them from detoxying toxic mold. I am one of them.
Labcorp has a blood test for the HLA-DRB and HLA-DBQ genes that validate this mutation. The results must be interpreted by your healthcare practitioner or you can use this handy calculator for your Labcorp results,
Or there are many genetic tests available such as 23andme.
You’ll need to take your raw data from 23andme and upload it into one of the many sites that can interpret it. I like Promethease.com for a fee of $12, but it can be difficult to understand and quite the rabbit hole.
Testing for Toxic Mold
You will want to test yourself as well as your house (and possibly your workplace).
You may have been exposed to toxic mold years ago, but other health circumstances tipped the scales causing your symptoms to show up now.
For your home and workplace, contact a local mold testing specialist. Avoid those that also do Mold Remediation as there may be a conflict of interest. It is wise to select a company that ONLY does mold testing and not general home inspections.
For your body, I recommend the Great Plains Labs MYCOTOX test. It is a urine test, so it’s simple. The cost is $299 and you can order it yourself.
Our bodies are efficient at shuttling off bad stuff out of the bloodstream and into tissue, fat and other hiding places.
As well, many pathogens are adept at building biofilm, a protective shield manufactured by invading organisms to escape attack from our antibodies and natural killer cells.
All of this to say that a negative result from any toxic mold test doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have it.
Many practitioners advocate the use of biofilm busters like Nattokinase, Lumbrokinase or Serapeptase and supplements known to help with detoxification such as Glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Milk Thistle.
Taking these supplements may help pull the mycotoxins out of hiding allowing us to test more accurately as well as help remove them.
Treatment for Mycotoxins
There are as many treatment protocols as there are types of toxic mold.
Basically, there are two categories: the slow (but cheaper) method using supplements that will ‘dislodge’ the toxins, bind them and help shuttle them out through our waste system and the faster IV (Intravenous) method which may be essential for acute cases or chronic cases that have not responded to treatment.
You can read more about these methods in my article “Is Toxic Mold the Cause of Your Fatigue?”
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals, like Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Nickel and Arsenic, are not supposed to be in our bodies, even in low concentrations.
Just like mycotoxins, most people don’t know when or how they were exposed to heavy metals.
The symptoms of Fibromyalgia can mimic heavy metal toxicity.
You can read more details about the symptoms and testing for heavy metals in my article “Are Heavy Metals the Cause of your Anxiety or Depression?“.
Testing for Heavy Metals
Testing for heavy metals can be a controversial topic because each of the currently available methods of testing—hair, urine, and blood—has some drawbacks.
- I’ve discussed Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis before, one method of testing.
- Urine testing (using provoking methods such as EDTA or DMSA) is another method frequently used.
- Blood analysis only shows heavy metals that are currently circulating in the blood. That would only be useful in cases of acute and recent exposure. As we know, the body shuttles heavy metals off to the tissues and out of the blood stream fairly quickly.
The most prudent advice is to combine the results of two or more types of testing.
Treatment for Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are hard to remove.
First, remove the source of the heavy metals if it still exists.
For example, many of us grew up with lead water pipes, so our exposure may have been years ago, but we still carry it around. Commonly, ‘silver fillings’ used in dental cavities can be a dangerous source of mercury.
I discuss sources, symptoms and treatment protocols in my article “How to Detox Heavy Metals Safely“.
Two methods for chelation (binding and removing) of heavy metals are: the slow (but cheaper) chelation supplement method and the faster IV (intravenous) chelation therapy using man-made amino acids like EDTA or DMSP.
Dr. Axe offers suggested supplements and dosages for detoxing heavy metals.
IV chelation can cause electrolyte imbalances because it not only removes heavy metals, but essential minerals too. As well, if your detox pathways are not open and healthy (poop, pee, respiration and sweat), the heavy metals can simply be redistributed in the body.
However, IV chelation can be a very effective method of heavy metal detoxification, administered by a licensed healthcare provider (an MD or a DO).
Lyme Disease and its Coinfections
Most people know that Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite.
But most people are never aware of that tick bite.
Not only that, but we now know that not only ticks that carry Lyme (or Borrelia), but that many biting insects can.
Borrelia commonly travels with coinfections like: Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Mycoplasma. These coinfections can actually be more problematic than Lyme itself.
Diagnosing and Testing Lyme Disease
The problem with Lyme is that it has elaborate ways of tricking the immune system and changes its genetic signature easily. It can shed its corkscrew shape and create a cyst when attacked by antibiotics.
“You cannot rely on lab tests alone; symptoms are often a better guide than lab testing,” says Dr. Bill Rawls.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) prescribes the Western Blot test for Lyme disease. While it can be an effective test, many people test negative for it, yet they still have Lyme.
Other tests are: IFA (indirect fluorescent antibodies), EIA (enzyme immunoassay), and PCR tests (polymerase chain reaction).
You can read more about these tests in my article “Are Borrelia, Babesia and Bartonella to blame for your Headaches?”
Treatment for Lyme and Coinfections
Most Lyme literate doctors agree that two things cause chronic Lyme: a suppressed immune system and biofilm.
For a recent bite, an antibiotic such as Doxycycline can be effective. But once the little buggers known as spirochetes wrap themselves in biofilm, antibiotics are no longer effective.
As with Mycotoxins and Heavy Metals, two categories of treatment options exist: the slow herbal method that wears down the microbes while supporting the healthy bacteria and IV therapy using antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins along with herbal support.
The coinfections of Lyme should be taken seriously. I discuss the symptoms and treatment methods for the common coinfections in my article “These Stealth Microbes may be Causing your Headaches.”
I chose IV therapy and had amazing results. I kicked Babesia’s behind! And I am down to just two bands of Lyme (41 and 66) which my body seems to be able to keep in check.
All my symptoms disappeared…for about two months, then they all came back with a vengeance. In a strange way, this actually gives me hope that I can return to a pain-free life again, because I did it once before. You can read about the beginning of my journey here.
Soon after, I discovered that I had heavy metal toxicity, primarily lead. Now I have completed IV chelation for lead and am returning to address the Mycotoxins.
I will update my progress report here, but I am hopeful to be in the homestretch.
It’s a frustrating process, to be sure, especially when you don’t feel well.
And treatment and diagnosis is outrageously expensive. Very little is covered by insurance.
Nonetheless, you have to rule out each of the potential underlying causes, one by one.
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
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