May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month! Fibromyalgia is a nasty, painful syndrome. For thousands of people with fibromyalgia it can be debilitating. I should know, I have endured fibromyalgia for over twenty years. In this Monday Musing I will tell you how I use true aromatherapy, diet, sleep-hygiene, and positive thinking to manage my symptoms of fibromyalgia.
The most recent findings indicate that fibromyalgia is the result of a faulty nervous system due to lowered levels of neurotransmitters. Specifically, individuals with fibromyalgia have lower levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The exact causes of fibromyalgia are not known, there is no “cure,” and traditional medical treatments involve the use of pharmaceuticals.
From experience I know that some medications work and some do not; some medications have negative side-effects some do not; some are easy to take (as in once a day) and some require several doses per day. Due to what I viewed as “the complications of pharmaceuticals,” and because I prefer a more pure and natural way of life, I began using more aromatherapy blends to help manage the pain of fibromyalgia. Below you will find three aromatherapy blends I have found very helpful when the pain of fibromyalgia slows me down.
*Before using essential oils and carrier oils be aware of any allergies, medications, herbal remedies, and medical conditions that can be negatively affected by the use of essential oils.
In a one ounce dark glass bottle blend the following essential oils with one ounce Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) carrier oil:
6 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
4 drops Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
3 drops Birch, Sweet (Betula lenta)
I use this massage blend throughout the day, on those rare days, when my fibromyalgia pain has flared up.
Add the following essential oils to one ounce of Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) carrier oil:
6 drops Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis)
4 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
3 drops Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
Fill the bath tub with warm water before adding the bath blend. Soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. The steam from the bath water will diffuse the essential oils and allow you to reap the benefits of two application methods, inhalation and absorption.
Dead Sea Salt Scrub
6 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil
6 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
3 Tablespoons Coconut (Cocos nucifera) carrier oil
½ cup Dead Sea salt – fine grade
Mix essential oils with the carrier oil and then add this mixture to the Dead Sea salt. While you are standing in the shower, without the water running, massage your painful muscles with the salt scrub. Direct your massage strokes in the direction of lymph flow and upward toward your heart. Once you have massaged each area well simply rinse off with warm water. Do not use soap! Gently pat yourself dry when you get out of the shower. These steps allow the essential oils to absorb into your skin and help ease muscle pain.
Cautionary notes: Please be very careful when using a salt scrub in either the shower or bathtub. The carrier oil will make the floor of the tub and shower slippery. To avoid the possibility of a fall do not attempt to use a salt scrub if you are feeling dizzy, unstable on your feet, or weak. Also, orange essential oil is not recommended for use in the bath; however, you are not immersing your entire body in bath water, you are only exposing your sore muscles to the orange essential oil.
The blends I provided above have been God-sends for me, especially on days when my pain threshold is low. I encourage you to try one or all of these blends. I also encourage you to consult with a Registered Aromatherapist, who can formulate an individualized blend for you.
In addition to using true aromatherapy I made other life-style changes that helped improve my condition. I began to eat better: more fresh fruits and vegetables; meals made entirely from scratch, nothing that comes from a box or simply requires the addition of water; inclusion of more spices and fresh herbs; eating the large meal of the day at noon and not at night; little use of sugar and salt. These dietary changes greatly helped minimize the digestive issues that often accompany fibromyalgia.
Good sleep-hygiene is a must for anyone, especially people with health issues. Going to bed at the same time every night, and getting out of bed at the same time every morning, is the first step to improving sleep and health. Avoiding caffeinated beverages after 2:00 p.m., limiting fluid intake after 8:00 p.m., and avoiding alcoholic beverages also helps to improve sleep. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only; not to read late into the night and not to watch television until you fall asleep. Avoid electronic devices for at least two hours before retiring for the night. Yes, that means turning of the computer games, closing down email, and possibly shutting off the television!
Staying mobile also helps improve overall health. This is hard for people with fibromyalgia because when they hurt they don’t want to get up and exercise. Doing simple stretching exercises, going for short walks, or going for a lazy swim do wonders for your aching muscles. Staying physically active helps to keep the pain and stiffness of fibromyalgia at bay.
Although the pain of fibromyalgia may make you feel like withdrawing from society you must stay in touch. I have found that although I may be in pain every single day of my life I still need to interact with people. Every day I attempt to do one nice thing for someone else and not stay focused on me and the pain. Yes, some days it is hard to put on a smile and be cordial, but when you do you feel better. Doing for others will take your mind off of your pain, and for those brief moments you are doing something nice for someone else your pain may disappear completely.
And last, but certainly not least, be positive! This can be so difficult when you are in pain. Depression and malaise can quickly creep into your life when you are suffering with a chronic pain condition. However, when I decided I was not going to be a slave to fibromyalgia I also decided to adopt a more positive outlook on life. Every day I find at least one positive affirmation on the internet or from a book or card. I find happy videos on YouTube. I listen to upbeat music. I watch the antics of my three terriers. I laugh! Laughter really is a good medicine. Laughing works muscles throughout your entire body, it releases good endorphins, it causes you to breathe deeply, and it just feels good! So decide to laugh a little!
Haly JensenHof, MA, RA
The information provided is for educational purposes, and it is not intended to replace the medical directives of your healthcare provider. This information is not meant for the diagnosis of health issues. If you are pregnant, have serious or multiple health concerns, consult with your healthcare provider before using essential oils. If you experience any complications or adverse reactions contact your healthcare provider.
Fragrantly helping you achieve health and well being!