PREVENTIVE MEDICINE CENTER OF ARIZONA FIBROMYALGIA: PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER FOR EFFECTIVE THERAPY Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease affecting 10 million people worldwide. Women between the ages of 25 and 45 experience this painful disorder 20 times for often than men. Pain and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but FMS patients also complain of disturbed sleep, digestive problems, allergies, joint pain, headaches and more. Perplexed by this array of symptoms, conventional doctors most often recommend anti-depressants and exercise, both of which may offer some relief but no lasting cure. Alternative physicians, aiming to restore the natural wisdom and balance of the body, have focused on a variety of common components of fibromyalgia:
  • hormone deficiencies, including DHEA, thyroid, cortisol, growth hormone and testosterone
  • nutrient deficiencies, especially magnesium, which is low in 75% of all people, regardless of their health status
  • digestive disorders such as IgG mediated food allergy and chronic intestinal overgrowth of yeast organisms such as Candida albicans
  • sleep disturbance, which is thought to be due to the chronic pain and/or serotonin deficiency
  • low blood pressure, which often reflects weakened adrenal gland function
  • immune system weakness reflected in numerous tests of immune imbalance
  • chronic infections, especially with stealth pathogens such as mycoplasma
  • stress is a component of all illness, especially chronic ones; mindbody healing needs to be a part of any serious treatment program.
Many holistic doctors have found that treating one or more of these common features of FMS usually provides some relief, but again the symptoms tend to recur over time and the problem is not completely resolved. This holistic approach seems to put together a lot of the pieces of the puzzle, but there still seems to be some essential missing pieces. Professor Garth Nicoloson at the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Huntington Beach, California has done extensive research into the role of chronic infections in numerous medical conditions. He has found that people afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Gulf War syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as some respiratory, cardiac, and gastrointestinal diseases show evidence of chronic systemic infection. Using a sophisticated molecular diagnostic approach called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), he has found various species of mycoplasma bacteria in a majority of these patients. According to his research on 200 chronically ill patients, mycoplasma species were found in 70% of fibromyalgia patients, 60% of chronic fatigue patients and 50% of those with Gulf War Syndrome. Mycoplasma species are tiny, simple bacteria that unlike other types of bacteria lack a rigid cell wall. These strange life forms do not cause typical infections like other bacteria such as streptococcus and staphylococcus. Sometimes they are found in the mouth and urinary tract of people with no evidence of disease and yet they are implicated in the pathogenesis of serious illness such as FMS, CFS and even cancer. To make matters even more complex, they are not easy to diagnose as simple antibody tests are often negative, and even PCR testing seems to be falsely negative sometimes. Finally, if the diagnosis of mycoplasma species is made, they do not always respond to antibiotic therapy because they seem to hide in the body. Nonetheless, mycoplasma forms can seriously disturb the immune system. Sometimes they activate the immune system as with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and sometimes they can suppress the immune system. Consequently, the diagnosis and treatment for these stealth pathogens has been conflicting and generally disappointing. However, another important piece to the puzzle has recently been discovered. David Berg at Hemex Laboratories in Phoenix, Arizona, and other researchers have found that infection with mycoplasma and other stealth pathogens such as chlamydia, as well as some species of viruses such as EBV, CMV, HHV6 and possibly even fungi like Candida, can activate the immune and blood coagulation systems so as to produce increased levels of blood coagulation. The blood becomes viscous or thicker, thereby reducing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the tissues of the body. With less blood flow and oxygen to support normal metabolism, many cells in the organs of the body begin to function at reduced levels, thereby offering an explanation for the numerous symptoms seen in patients with illnesses like fibromyalgia. David Berg calls this newly discovered syndrome Immune System Activation of Coagulation, or ISAC. According to his research, ISAC causes a thin layer of fibrin (blood clotting material) to be layered along the inner lining of the blood vessels, which not only reduces blood flow to tissues but also seems to hide stealth pathogens, like mycoplasma, which can live in the cells of the blood vessels. This may account for the difficulty in diagnosing stealth infections. In a pilot study on 20 patients with CFS/FMS, 90% of them had evidence of increased blood coagulation, or ISAC. Once the ISAC syndrome is identified, then anti-coagulant therapy will dissolve the fibrin coating on the inner lining of the blood vessels, thereby allowing more blood flow and elimination of many symptoms throughout the body. Not only does anti-coagulant therapy often relieve chronic FMS symptoms, it also may cause the stealth pathogens to be exposed in the body, thereby allowing for diagnosis and treatment of the underlying infection. Chronic infections can be treated with a combination of herbal and nutrient activation of the immune system, high dose intravenous vitamin C, and ultraviolet blood irradiation. These therapies are effective for a wide range of infectious viruses and bacteria, thus reducing the need for traditional antibiotic and anti-viral medications. Finally, all of the pieces to the FMS puzzle may be coming together. Treatments can be designed, which are based on a holistic viewpoint, with consideration of common hormonal, digestive, nutrient and other imbalances mentioned earlier in this article as well as the newer considerations of ISAC and stealth pathogen infection. It is too early to say the puzzle is complete for FMS therapy, but so far our results have been extremely encouraging.