According to the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, fibromyalgia has existed for centuries. But it has often been misunderstood by both health professionals and the public. While there is no known cure yet, nootropics for fibromyalgia may help with symptoms and help improve daily life for those dealing with it.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder that affects more than 10 million Americans.<1> It is one of the most common conditions that affects muscle and bone, second only to arthritis.
While fibromyalgia is a medical term used to describe a distinct entity, the medical community remains stymied by this complex condition. There is no concrete evidence for what causes it, and while various therapies can be effective, there is no known cure.
Initially, the condition was called rheumatism. Rheumatism was replaced by the term fibrositis in 1904 as a way to describe the specific inflammation of soft tissues that contribute to specific patterns of widespread chronic pain commonly located in the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, and upper neck.
Although it tends to localize near joint areas commonly affected by arthritis, fibromyalgia inflammation is not the same type of inflammation found in arthritis.
Fibromyalgia and the Brain
Pain is usually an appropriate response to an external injury or internal trauma. This is an evolutionary tool that tells us when we are in danger of injury or death and spurs us to get away from the situation.
When it is working properly, pain sensation results from a chain of communication through the nervous system and into the brain. Here’s how it works.
Microscopic pain receptors (nociceptors) send electrical signals from one end of a nerve cell or neuron, located in the skin or muscle, to the other end in the spinal cord through a long nerve fiber called an axon. This axon is bundled with many others to form a peripheral nerve.
Electrical signals travel up the neuron within the peripheral nerve to an area in the spinal column called the dorsal horn, located in the neck.
Upon reaching the dorsal horn, neurotransmitters relay the electrical signals from one neuron to another across synapses and into the thalamus. The thalamus sorts out various signals and relays them to different parts of the brain.
Physical sensations are sent to the somatosensory cortex, emotional responses go to the limbic system, and the frontal cortex processes thought.
But with fibromyalgia, this communication chain gets disrupted. While the causes of fibromyalgia remain largely unknown, researchers are using brain imaging technology to reveal changes in how the brains of fibromyalgia patients process pain differently.
Current research suggests fibromyalgia may be caused by failure to dampen pain signals in the brain, causing things that are normally painless to become considerably uncomfortable. But how and why? Until now, there was very little evidence to back up theories.
But in a recent study (2012), researchers using PET imaging discovered that the central nervous system’s immune cells (glial cells) are activated in people with fibromyalgia. When these glial cells are activated they spark inflammation in the brain.
- According to this groundbreaking study, glial cells are activated throughout large areas of the cerebral cortex, and the extent of activation is related to the degree of fatigue reported by study subjects.
Lead researcher of the study, Professor Eva Kosek, says these findings may soften the suspicion fibro patients frequently face from health professionals and society in general.<2>
"The findings may open the way for the development of completely new therapies for this currently difficult-to-treat condition."
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Although experts now believe inflammation triggered by overactive glial cells is the main culprit behind the fatigue and pain of FM, the reason behind glial cell activation remains unknown. However, evidence points to certain factors may contribute to fibromyalgia development.
Evidence suggests first degree relatives of people with fibromyalgia are eight times more likely to develop the condition than others.
High levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are linked to fibromyalgia. BDNF is involved with neuronal survival and helps regulate synapses in the nervous system, improving synaptic plasticity.
Research suggests fibromyalgia pain may result from a lower pain threshold combined with heightened sensitivity to pain signals in the brain.
Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, accounting for 75 – 90 percent of people with FM.
People with physical conditions like arthritic conditions seem to contract FM more often than healthy people.
People with mood disorders, anxiety, or depression are more prone to FM. And those who have experienced physical or emotional abuse or who have PTSD are more likely to acquire fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia may be triggered by an event, such as:
- Psychological trauma
FM symptoms can also accrue gradually over time.
There is no test that can indicate fibromyalgia, and the symptoms are so similar to many other conditions, the only way to diagnose FM is to rule out all other, testable conditions.
FM symptoms so closely resemble other ailments, up to two-thirds of people who are told they have fibromyalgia are actually suffering from a different condition.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and prolonged fatigue, but it comes with a laundry list of related symptoms, both physical and mental.
Common physical symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Burning sensation
- Low pain threshold
- Tender spots
- Stomach pain
- Sensitivity to cold, light, and sound
- Dry mouth or eyes
- Numbness or tingling in hands, feet, arms, legs, or face
Other uncomfortable conditions can develop as a result of FM,<3> including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Restless legs syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Migraine and other headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Painful bladder syndrome
The physical symptoms of fibromyalgia can lead to a slew of other, non-physical problems, creating a downward spiral of debilitating, cyclical reactions.
Left unchecked, this vicious cycle can result in fibro-fog, a state of cognitive impairment that affects mental performance and can impair ability to carry out daily functions.
As if the physiological effects weren’t enough, the mental symptoms of fibromyalgia often include:
- Poor memory
- Difficulty retaining new learning
- Language or speech difficulties
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Short attention span
- Decreased alertness
Fibro-fog is very real, and it can be incredibly debilitating.
Living with the cognitive issues can lead to serious and persistent mood problems like anxiety, irritability, and depression.
But you don’t have to live with these disruptive symptoms. Nootropics for fibromyalgia can help, along with some simple things you can do at home to ease fibromyalgia symptoms and make daily life easier.
Regular, moderate exercise can help manage fibro pain. Staying sedentary, on the other hand, can provoke fibro flare-ups.
Low-impact activities like tai chi or Pilates build endurance, flexibility, and strength and improve movement. Plus, the endorphins released by exercise diminish pain and boost mood.
Even a simple walk can get the blood flowing through your body and up to your brain. But the very thought of exercise may be exhausting if you suffer from persistent fatigue.
- Nootropics for fibromyalgia may help give you the motivation you need to get going and stay ahead of the discomfort.
A slow, gentle yoga practice like Hatha yoga can stretch sore muscles and help to release toxins and stored fluid from soft tissue. Practicing yoga for just 15 minutes can help you achieve a calmer mind state, reduce anxiety, and boost mood while reducing discomfort, increasing flexibility, and improving muscle tone.
Stress is the number one contributor to most medical conditions, including fibromyalgia. Reducing your stress level may not eliminate FM or its symptoms altogether, but it can support mental clarity, positive mood, and energy.
Studies show meditating actually changes brain wave patterns and increases levels of the soothing neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin in the brain.<4>
Imagining a beautiful, quiet place can trick your brain into thinking you are actually there, calming excitatory chemicals in your brain and reducing stress in mere minutes. Nootropics for visualization can help to sharpen this valuable skill.
Massage therapy is an excellent way for fibro sufferers to increase immune system functionality, reduce inflammation, relieve muscle pain and stiffness, and stimulate endorphins that can diminish pain and promote better sleep. But avoid deep tissue or sports massage. Massage should not cause discomfort for fibro patients.
Regular chiropractic adjustments can help improve flexibility, reduce stiffness, and relieve some of the musculoskeletal discomfort of FM.
Acupuncture is a relatively new therapy in Western medicine, but it has been used in the East for thousands of years. Because fibromyalgia is primarily a nerve disorder, people with FM could experience significant relief through this intervention.
Good nutrition is the key to everyday health and vitality. Unhealthy, inflammatory foods can make fibromyalgia more difficult to manage, while foods that help modulate inflammation can reduce symptoms of FM.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Fibromyalgia
Natural nootropics are non-habit-forming, have no nasty side effects, and are easily absorbed by the brain and body. Nootropics can improve attention, enhance memory and learning, boost mood, reduce anxiety, sharpen focus and increase energy.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies 11 of the best nootropics known to science, including some that may ease fibro symptoms:
Bacopa is an adaptogen herb which contains powerful, long-lasting bacosides that can improve memory and new learning with regular use. For fibromyalgia sufferers, this can mean the difference between perpetual aggravation and efficient competency.
One study evaluated 76 healthy adults age 40 – 65 for three months and showed significant improvement in retention of new information with bacopa.
- Another three-month study looked at adults 55 and older with age-related memory impairment and found that 12 weeks of bacopa supplementation significantly improved “mental control, logical memory and paired associated learning.”<5>
And a follow-up study showed no loss of cognitive gains after four weeks without bacopa, indicating bacopa is effective for long-term memory improvement in people with memory impairment, even after discontinuing use.
But short-term trial results indicate bacopa is not effective immediately, so users must take it regularly for an extended period of time in order to benefit.
Rhodiola is another adaptogen that can help reduce the stress that accompanies fibromyalgia. Adaptogens help with neural regeneration after stress and fatigue, and rhodiola is one of the best for stress reduction.
Rhodiola rosea is most well-known for its mood-boosting properties. However, studies also show it can also reduce fatigue – one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Researchers gave rhodiola to 56 busy physicians working the night shift for two weeks in a double-blind crossover study. Those taking rhodiola showed a significant reduction of mental fatigue and a twenty percent improvement in work-related performance, including short-term memory and concentration.<6>
Another study looked at the effects of rhodiola for military cadets on night duty over five days, with similar results. Specifically, rhodiola was linked to reduction in fatigue and improved well-being.
These studies, along with many others, suggest rhodiola helps both fatigue and stress. Rhodiola’s effects are usually noticeable after just 45 minutes. It may provide fast relief for some of the most bothersome fibro symptoms.
B vitamins are essential for nervous system maintenance and brain energy production. Some studies link B12 deficiency to fibromyalgia, and doctors often test B12 levels in fibromyalgia patients.
Although we require B12 for healthy brain function, the human body does not produce it, so we rely on animal-derived food sources to obtain it. But some fibromyalgia patients cannot absorb B12 from food sources, resulting in a B12 deficit.
Taking a high quality B12 supplement can help reduce this symptoms. Mind Lab Pro® contains B12 as BioGenesis™, a nature-identical form of methylcobalamin (B12). Methylcobalamin is the most absorbable B12 and the only neurologically active form.
- Studies show methylcobalamin may restore neurons and nerve fibers, potentially reducing inflammation and chronic pain in fibromyalgia patients.
But B12’s main benefit for FM patients may be its ability to reduce the presence of homocysteine, a non-protein amino acid that can cause inflammation in excessive levels.
Increased concentrations of homocysteine have been found in fibromyalgia patients, and researchers believe low B12 levels may be a factor. B12 can recycle homocysteine into methionine or convert it into cysteine, reducing inflammatory homocysteine for better pain management, more energy, and enhanced mental clarity.<7>
Other Important Vitamins and Minerals That May Help with Fibro Concerns
Even if we eat the healthiest food every day, it’s likely most of us are not getting all of the nutrients we need for optimal performance from diet alone.
High quality, absorbable supplements can fill in the gaps left by insufficient nutrient intake from food sources.
Mind Lab Pro® is a nootropic, not a multivitamin, and its B12 dose is not high enough to act as a supplement on its own. Taking a premium multivitamin can help.
It’s important to take a high quality, clean multivitamin each day for optimal mental and physical performance. Some vitamins and minerals are particularly good for managing fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium can soothe muscles and can help the body absorb more of other nutrients.
- Vitamin D may reduce discomfort in people with FM and vitamin D deficiency.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help fight cell degeneration and improve muscle symptoms.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi contains these essential nutrients and more in a complete formula packed with nature-identical vitamins and minerals that support peak cell function and may help alleviate symptoms.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for fibromyalgia support energy, mood, and mental clarity to help counter fibro-fog.
Mind Lab Pro® is just one component of a multi-faceted self-care program designed to promote 100% Brainpower™ for optimal mental performance and peak productivity. Multiple therapies may best manage fibromyalgia symptoms.
An integral approach combining Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for fibromyalgia, exercise, massage, movement therapies such as Pilates and yoga, meditation, chiropractic treatments, nutritional changes, and acupuncture could help you manage fibro symptoms better than ever before.