Updated: Oct 25, 2022
A special look at the debilitating and chronic conditions of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome with real patient case studies and outcomes. As one patient stated 'This has been life changing.. I now feel liberated..free of pain, nausea, exhaustion and more...'
Fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (M/E)
When I was studying for my Ayurvedic Diploma, Fibromyalgia had personal significance for me, as my Mum had struggled with it for years. Mum was a relatively fit, retired GP in her early 80’s, super focused on her health, very slim and tracking her 10k steps every day. She was plagued by fibromyalgia for years and described it like a constant bruising pain all over her body. It really dragged her down and she found little relief from prescription medicine. The NHS describes the symptoms as changeable, generally causing widespread pain, increased sensitivity to pain, muscle stiffness, sleep problems and fatigue. It often also causes ‘fibro-fog’ – difficulty with concentrating and remembering things, headaches, IBS - stomach pain, bloating, frustration, worry and low mood.
When I started practicing, one of my first patients Sarah (not her real name) had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. They were impacting her life so much and had been progressively so; unable to work for 10yrs or continue with her previously active lifestyle. Going out with friends or even a long dog walk had to be planned ahead to ensure she had a few days to recover.
I was very nervous to take Sarah on, as my Mum, an experienced, dedicated GP who, even in her later years, researched new treatments, had not found a way to treat fibromyalgia. I worried that it would be, as western medicine states it is, ‘incurable’. She was also suffering from CFS, compounding the complexity. Her symptoms were quite severe and disabling, as she displayed almost all of the symptoms of both CFS and fibromyalgia.
The NHS describes CFS/ME as incurable with varying symptoms including feeling extremely tired all the time, difficult in doing daily activities, taking a long time to recover, still feeling tired after resting, sleep problems, thinking, memory and concentration issues. It can also include muscle or joint pain, headaches, flu-like symptoms, feeling dizzy or sick and heart palpitations.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia are due to an increase or decrease of Pitta or Vata, with blockages in the channels of the body. Treatment depends on the symptoms the patient is showing, always focussing on diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes with herbs and oils to detoxify, unblock the channels, calm the nervous system, and restore balance. I’ve seen the results for myself and could describe in detail the improving symptoms, but what matters is that patients’ health and happiness, and her ability to live her life. This is how Sarah, originally described her experience with Highland Ayurveda, 6 mths. ago.
''Having never come across Ayurvedic treatments before, Tish has been fantastic at gently introducing me to a whole new way of detoxing & treating the body and mind holistically. She is so patient and kind and definitely helps you to feel at ease and in safe hands. I am looking forward to carrying on this journey with Tish as my wonderful guide! My body has been damaged by 10 years of ME/Fibromyalgia so I don’t expect an overnight change, but I’m finally seeing an opportunity for mending and healing that is not offered by western medicine.''
At her 6mth review last week she described the impact her Ayurvedic treatment had, bringing it to life by describing her last week:
''I went out for dinner with a friend, had a few glasses of wine on the Friday. I then had a full-on family activity day on Saturday, where I rode a bike for the first time in ages. On Sunday, we entertained the extended family before I worked five days in a row, the following week. Any one of those things would have been virtually impossible for me to contemplate 6 mths ago. This has truly changed my life! It’s monumental change’
Her CFS, fibromyalgia, IBS, brain fog and many other symptoms have gone, many of them for 2-3mths now and she has reclaimed her life. As importantly, she is not dependant on drugs to manage her health, food is her main medicine, with home remedies when required. She has reduced her Ayurvedic herbs and will fully transition off them soon. This is what she has to say today:
'' Now that I am further along the road in my Ayurvedic journey, I can honestly say that I feel like a different person! Tish recommended a treatment plan which was very different to anything I’ve come across before, and which has felt like a total body, mind and heart scan, very holistic. After 10 years of being a prisoner to ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia, I am really enjoying feeling free of pain, nausea, exhaustion to my core & other symptoms which would swing from 1 extreme to another. I now feel liberated and so much more in control of my own body, rather than having to wait and see what I could manage in a day. I also have confidence knowing that if any symptoms were to creep back in, I have a way of dealing with them, as well as expert guidance from Tish. Thank you Tish, this has been life changing and I’m grateful for your attention and focus to detail which has made me feel supported throughout.''
Thanks to Sarah trusting me, I grew in confidence and have seen similar successful results with patients with Fibromyalgia and/or chronic pain. For some, the symptoms resolve even quicker, within 3 mths, with others it takes more time. Speed of improvement depends on the complexity and also the patient’s ability to manage the dietary and lifestyle changes. There are no quick and easy fixes with Ayurveda, for such chronic illnesses, it takes time and commitment for the patient to see results. At Highland Ayurveda, I take a holistic and individualistic approach, ensuring that treatment approach goes as fast or slow as the patient is able to cope.
It brings me such joy, to be able to share this story with you, I just wish I had understood how Ayurveda can help to resolve symptoms of such debilitating diseases when my Mum was alive. I have such respect for the medical profession having seen my Mum’s years of dedicated service to the NHS, so I’ll finish with a quote from a GP friend, when he heard about this case and the patient’s gratitude, it really moved me.
‘’That is truly amazing- I’ve been in medical practice 25 years and can’t recall anything like that happening. I have had thanks on several occasions for “saving “patients life - by picking up diagnoses etc but changing someone’s life in such a positive way is a different thing altogether. You are a born practitioner I can see that very clearly.’’