Home Arthritis Fibromyalgia – causes and treatment

Fibromyalgia – causes and treatment

Fibromyalgia – causes and treatment

Fibromyalgia resembles an extreme form of arthritis with fatigue and chronic bone and muscle pain likely; the causes are becoming clearer with an increase in certain gut bacteria and a decrease in others caused by lifestyle issues such as stress, trauma, diet, and even illness  and toxic chemicals.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, formerly fibrositis, is an illness affecting your bones and your muscles, with joint pain, sometimes chronic, and fatigue widespread and regular occurrences. Medical journals and doctors will tell you there’s no cure, but then they have little idea what causes it.

They will suggest exercise, healthy eating and stress management help. And then they will give you drugs (despite not knowing what causes it). The illness is twice as common in women as in men.

Some 10 million people in the USA have Fibromyalgia. The word ‘myalgia’ actually means ‘pain within muscle tissue’.

‘Official’ Causes of Fibromyalgia

Doctors believe the disease is something to do with the brain and the spine and how they process pain messages. many ‘expert’ websites say it is not an inflammatory disease. That seems highly unlikely.

A number of research studies show Fibromyalgia is more about your gut microbiome as we will explore. A meta-analysis which chose 11 out of 4771 studies, claimed that there was a paucity of quality research even in 2020. They looked at the microbiome, gut permeability and even the presence of stomach parasite and GERD-driver, Helicobacter pylori (1)

You are more like to develop Fibromyalgia if you are female, have depression or mood swings, take little exercise, have some form of arthritis, and/or it runs in the family; Fibromyalgia can come about through physical or emotional abuse.

The National Arthritis Foundation, however, believe it is linked to ‘muscle overuse’, depression, sleep disturbance, and abnormal levels of toxins in the blood, brain or spinal fluid.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Severe aches and pains, depression, poor sleep, fatigue, headaches, menstrual problems.

The treatment of Fibromyalgia

When doctors don’t understand a disease or its cause, they throw drugs at the symptoms. So pain relievers, anti-depressants, and anti-seizure drugs are common practice. Actually, drugs – especially drug cocktails – can make matters worse. Indeed we have seen a number of people who, after fibromyalgia and the drugs, developed cancer. But then if you leave an illness untreated, plus you throw drugs into the mix, you have the double whammy and you should expect another chronic illness to come along.

The real cause of Fibromyalgia?

i. The gut microbiome and fibromyalgia –

Arthritis has been linked to issues with your gut microbiome – a loss of commensal (good) bacteria; and increase in pathogens (bad, toxin producing bacteria). So, have depression, mood swings and nervousness.   We know that if you consume certain healthy foods from the colourful Mediterranean Diet you make more bacteria that produce anti-inflammatory molecules. Antibiotics, drugs, stress, smoking and binge drinking will lower levels of these healthy bacteria. And if you eat badly you will feed the pathogens and make more inflammatory hormones.

Fibromyalgia seems to run in families. Lack of exercise, a poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle also run in families.

Many people with fibromyalgia have bowel problems – irregular bowel movements, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and, in about a third of patients, even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

In 2018, a UK study of 950 patients found some common threads to this illness: ill health, menopause, trauma to the body, stress, emotional trauma. And it is known from the Human Microbiome Project that any and all these factors can cause imbalance in the gut microbiome – stress has much the same effect as a course of antibiotics.

Sure enough, a 2019 study of 77 women with the disease and 79 women controls without (in the journal PAIN), showed significant differences in the microbiomes of those with the disease. 19 particular strains of bacteria were present in higher or lower levels; the wider the differences, the more extreme the symptoms. The research was from McGill University in Montreal (2).

ii. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth and fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia has also been shown to be an ‘illness’ of the small intestine. In 90-100 per cent of cases, the patient has Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. SIBO is not caused by any one type of bacterium; more that bacteria which should be in the colon have ‘escaped’ into the small intestine. This ‘infestation’ interferes with normal food digestion, causes damage to the lining of the wall of the small intestine with the result that bacteria can pass into the blood stream, where they produce their waste material, which increases toxicity in the blood, raises inflammation and promotes an immune reaction, resulting in aches and pains all over the body. (Sometimes books will talk about fibromyalgia as an autoimmune disease).  

Fibromyalgia is caused by infestation of the small intestine.

As you will read in our article ‘Heal your Gut’ on this website, or in our best-selling book, ‘Heal your Gut; Heal your Body’, the start point is to eat more natural soluble fibre, take a good multi-strain probiotic like Probio8 Max which can help heal the gut lining and then increase your intake of pectins and inulins. After about 4 to 6 weeks you can then start to eat foods containing bacteria – unpasteurized milk for strains of Bifidobacterium, Kefir for strains of Lactobacillus, and saukraut for a number of other species.

Apple Cider Vinegar is helpful and will duplicate bacteria with these three foods. Kombucha, Tempeh and kimchi are others.

Patients may be helped by yeast killers such as oregano oil, caprylic acid and pau d’arco, or the excellent artemisinin, which also kills certain parasites and pathogens.

Patients must absolutely avoid: gluten, mass market cows’ dairy, and junk food.

And drugs, especially Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), antibiotics and steroids.

And stress, alcohol, pickled foods, salt and sugar. And poor sleeping pattern.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus, unpasteurised organic milk, butyrate and glycine can help heal the gut wall; Bifidobacterium infantis helps heal IBS.

The most important thing is to co-ordinate your diet, with the killing of bad bacteria and the replenishment of good bacteria. What you cannot do is just ignore it; the symptoms will get worse, the causes can lead to something worse.


Some Doctors think fibromyalgia is an extreme form of arthritis. Both are inflammatory and can be linked to diet and the microbiome.

As Sir John Vane showed  prior to winning his Nobel Prize, there is an enzyme in every cell of your body called Cox-2. Turn Cox-2 on and it will produce approximately 130 highly inflammatory hormones called Eicosanoids. Six of these are also called Prostaglandins and these are known to cause arthritis. What turns Cox-2 on? Stress, steroids and insulin. Insulin levels are obviously dependent upon eating and drinking habits


What’s the difference between Fibromyalgia and Polymyalgia? Not a lot.

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disease that causes muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hips (2). The numbers of people with Polymyalgia seem to exceed those of Fibromyalgia.

Polymyalgia is also present more in older people and more in females. Even performing simple tasks such as combining your hair can be arduous if you have polymyalgia. Again it is thought to run in families.

Like Fibromyalgia, this disease is linked to a higher risk of other chronic illnesses including cancer.

Go to: Chris Woollams Gut Health Consultations



  1. Determining the association between fibromyalgia, the gut microbiome and its biomarkers: A systematic review; Sharon Erdrich et al; BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020; 21: 181. Published online 2020 Mar 20. 
  2. Altered microbiome composition in individuals with fibromyalgia; Amir Minerbi et al; Pain 2019 Nov;160(11):2589-2602
  3.  Polymyalgiathe Arthritis Foundation