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Finding Balance with Natural Healing

Offered by Jessica Ahmed, Licensed Acupuncturist

Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are two poorly understood syndromes that affect the lives of millions each year. Symptoms may include chronic muscle pain, severe and enduring fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, anxiety and depression, amongst others. Since the exact causes are unknown, conventional medicine can generally only provide palliative care in the form of pain relievers, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and antiseizure drugs.

Healing is often possible through diet, lifestyle, and natural medicine, although it can be a slow process. It is unlikely these symptoms came on quickly, so it is realistic to expect gradual progress rather than an overnight solution. Here is what I find helpful in managing chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia in my practice:

Lifestyle: Pushing beyond your comfort zone can help you grow and succeed, but sometimes it is best to take a step back and slow down. I experienced this in my own life when I had shingles in my twenties, followed by a year of severe fatigue. I was able to heal with acupuncture and herbs, but it was a very long and exhausting way to learn that sometimes slow and steady really does win the race. Try to maintain healthy ways of dealing with stress, take enough time for yourself, and learn to say no if that is difficult for you.

Diet: Many people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue also have digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, so focus on a hypoallergenic diet that is less likely to cause food sensitivities and inflammation. Limit sugar, dairy, wheat, soy and caffeine, and focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fat such as avocadoes and coconut oil.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs: I’ve found acupuncture to be the most effective tool I have for healing symptoms of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, because it benefits immune function, increases energy, reduces muscle pain and spasm, reduces stress, increases circulation, and regulates the nervous system, altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Chinese herbs are great for nourishing the immune and digestive systems, increasing energy and benefiting sleep.

Movement: Exercise is a crucial part of healing, but proceed slowly. Many people want to make up for lost time when they start feeling better, but then overdo it and feel like they’ve backtracked. Walking and gentle yoga/stretching are great options, and you can build up duration, frequency and intensity over time.

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