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  Article: Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - by Dr. Farah Khan, DOM  
     
  Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is composed of many different symptoms. The primary symptom is pain and tenderness in multiple areas of the body. This is often linked to fatigue, sleep disorders, digestive problems, and depression. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are considered to be overlapping disorders which many consider to actually be the same illness. It is also possible that many of these people actually suffer from Lyme Disease which has never been diagnosed due to the lack of proper testing.

There are a number of pathogens that are not easily detected in the body through standard diagnostic procedures and that are not easily killed off through a short course of treatment. These pathogens may be involved in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. There is a new theory that chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia may be related to chronic mycobacterial infections.

According to Chinese research, there are many Chinese herbs that have immune enhancing and antibacterial properties. There are also many Chinese herbs that can help the various symptomatic aspects of fibromyalgia and CFS. Some herbs such as astragalus and schizandra can improve the body’s ability to handle stress and can boost immunity. Other herbs such as coptis and scutellaria have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Zyzyphus seed may help with sleep problems and anxiety. Bupleurum root may help relieve the moodswings and emotional aspects of fibromyalgia. The various types of ginseng can help to improve one’s energy level. Pseudoginseng, frankincense, and myrrh can help stimulate blood circulation and may help with symptoms of muscle weakness due to poor circulation. Walnuts, gingko biloba, frankincense, gotu kola, and fo-ti may all help with the brain fog and cognitive difficulties that many people with fibromyalgia and CFS experience. Codonopsis, atractylodes, mint, and citrus peel may all help with digestive problems. Chinese herbs are used together in herbal formulas that are individualized to address the pattern of disharmony that the person presents. They are generally not used separately on a symptom by symptom basis.

For Lyme Disease, a few different Chinese herbs stand out for their potential usefulness. Smilax (tu fu ling), coptis (huang lian), garlic (da suan), houttuynia (yu xing cao), and teasel root (xu duan) are all herbs that appear to help to treat Lyme disease in different ways. Some of them have antibacterial properties, some strengthen the body generally, and some improve circulation. Chinese herbal formulas such as Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, and Xiao Fu Zhu Yu Tang can be helpful. Artemisia can be a useful herb for babesia- a disease which people with Lyme Disease also frequently have. This herb has been shown to have anti-malarial properties in China and Vietnam. 

Aromatherapy is one of the most promising holistic therapies for conditions such as fibromyalgia, CFS, and Lyme Disease, in my opinion. The essential oils are concentrated versions of the volatile components found in herbs. Most of the oils have antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Many of them stimulate the immune system and trigger increased production of white blood cells. The oils also improve oxygenation of the body’s tissues and promote detoxification. They may have a chelating effect, which means that they may assist in carrying toxins such as heavy metals out of the body. Some oils such as lavender can be sedative and aid with sleep and reduce anxiety. Oil of oregano, which is a popular supplement found in health food stores is the essential oil of oregano diluted in vegetable oil. Interestingly, many people with CFS, Lyme Disease, and fibromyalgia are likely to find that some of their symptoms worsen when inhaling the fragrance of the oils. This is often a detoxification reaction. People with these diseases may discover that much of their fatigue, muscle weakness, mental fogginess, and pain can be significantly reduced with regular application of the oils.

The oils can be used diluted in vegetable oil for massage of affected areas of the body, and they can be used by the drop in one’s bath water. They can also be absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs simply by inhaling their fragrance. The oils also penetrate the blood-brain barrier and may be helpful for neurological issues due to infections or other reasons. Oil of oregano taken internally as directed can also be helpful in the treatment of Lyme Disease.

As you can see, fibromyalgia, CFS, and Lyme Disease are complex ailments, but Chinese medicine and aromatherapy are promising alternative therapies that people with these conditions are likely to find helpful.
 
 
     
 

Dr.Farah Khan, DOM is a licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her web site is at http://www.yinessence.com. She offers herbal & aromatherapy telephone consultations and a number of products on her site. She can be contacted at farah@yinessence.com


 
 

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