A Functional Medicine Approach to Fibromyalgia

June 17th, 2016

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A Functional Medicine Approach to Fibromyalgia

It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects nearly 6 million or 1 in 50 people, causing chronic pain, particularly muscle pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, brain fog, or cognitive impairment, depression and painful tender points throughout the body.

Not surprisingly, conventional medicine focuses only on managing symptoms through pain medications and antidepressants.

Functional medicine, on the other hand, looks to find the root cause of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, treating the problem at the root level in order to restore the patient to health.  As a functional medicine physician, I have helped many patients recover from fibromyalgia.  Below are the top ten root causes of fibromyalgia I see in my clinic.


10 Root Causes Of Fibromyalgia

Gluten Intolerance:

Gluten has been liked to more than 55 diseases and is often called the ‘big masquerader’. The reason for this is that the majority symptoms of gluten intolerance are not digestive in nature but rather neurological such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, behavioral issues, fatigue and depression.


Candida Overgrowth:

Candida is a fungus or yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your intestines. However, when overproduced, candida breaks down the wall of the intestines and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body causing a host of unpleasant symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, digestive issues, and pain. Virtually every one of my patients with fibromyalgia have had Candida overgrowth.

Want to learn more about what causes Candida Overgrowth and how to eliminate it? Download my FREE Candida Control Resource Bundle!



More than half of the people with thyroid issues have no idea they have one and 90% of these have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland.  It is vital that your doctor check six different blood markers to measure your thyroid gland’s function, and it’s imperative that your doctor use the optimal levels rather than the standard reference range when assessing and diagnosing thyroid disorders. Getting my patient’s thyroid levels into an optimal range, typically alleviates their fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.


Vitamin Deficiencies:

Magnesium, vitamin D and B12 deficiency are the most common vitamin deficiencies I see in those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I have had several patients completely reverse their fibromyalgia symptoms with magnesium alone.  The best way to measure magnesium is a red blood cell (RBC) magnesium level, which can be ordered by your conventional doctor and tested through any conventional lab.


Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Leaky Gut:

There are more bacteria in us and on us then there are of our own cells.  When these bacteria get out of balance through use of antibiotics or a sugar-rich diet we can lose our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, particularly B12.  Gluten can cause SIBO and leaky gut and SIBO and leaky gut can lead gluten and other food intolerances.  It’s a catch-22 and a vicious cycle. You must ‘fix the gut’ first in anyone with fibromyalgia or any chronic illness.


Adrenal Fatigue:

Adrenal fatigue is a result of the chronic stress whether real or perceived. Chronic pain is a stress to the adrenal glands, though typically not the initial adrenal stressor.  The initial stressor is usually something such as food intolerances, Candida, mercury toxicity, vitamin deficiencies, or mycotoxins.  My goal is to support the adrenals with adaptogenic herbs while we search for the root cause of the stress and correct it.



Mycotoxins are very toxic substances produced by toxic molds.  Only about 25% of the population carries the genes to be susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins.  Conventional environmental mold testing only tests for levels of mold spores and does not test for mycotoxins.  I use a urine mycotoxin test in my clinic to determine if someone has been exposed to toxic molds.


Mercury Toxicity:

I recommend that all my patients find a biological dentist and have their mercury amalgam fillings removed.  Mercury is toxic to our bodies and can be one piece of the puzzle for those with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and cancer. I then recommend heavy metal testing using a pre and post DMPS urine challenge test.


MTHFR Mutations:

This is a genetic test you can get though any conventional lab.  The more mutations you have at the MTHFR gene the less able you are to methylate and detoxify, particularly toxins such as mercury and lead. The more mutations you have at this gene the higher your requirements for methyl-B6, methyl-B12 and folinic acid in order to keep your detoxification pathways working properly.


Glutathione Deficiency:

Glutathione, a molecule, is the most critical part of our body’s detoxification system.  Glutathione gets recycled in our body unless our toxic burden gets to high or we lack GSTM1 and GSTP1, the enzymes needed to recycle and produce glutathione. Taking a glutathione supplement or the precursors (NAC, alpha lipoic acid, milk thistle) often help my patients dramatically with fatigue.


As you can see from the above list, many of these causes are interrelated and often there is no one single root cause to fibromyalgia or any chronic illness.  It is a combination of several or possibly all of the above.  Because getting to the root cause can be complex, I recommend that you find a functional medicine physician in your area to help uncover the root cause for you.  You do not need to suffer needlessly or mask your symptoms with pain medication and antidepressants.  There are doctors like myself who can help you.


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  • anonymous

    Dr. Myers I religiously read your blog, listen to your podcasts and follow you on Facebook. I’m young and have been living with what I think has been RA that progressed into sjogren’s syndrome. I have severe dry eye and that is the one symptom of all of my issues that I would give my right hand to fix. I have been verb strictly following the AIP mixed with gaps and SCD. Do you have any information on sjogrens syndrome? I loved this article and would love to see one geared toward dry eye and sjogrens and how you tackle this disease in patients. Thanks for all your information. It helps give those of us with autoimmune issues the tools we need to recover our health and hope for reversing our symptoms!

    • I am so glad you are enjoying the information

      I really use the same approach with all autoimmune

      I will see if i can come up with a blog specific to your request

    • OH thank you so much. I am glad you are getting some help from the info. I am very sorry for your pain!

    • Regina Garvey

      Many people with sjogrens have found omega7 to be very effective for dry eye. I recommend that you read the reviews of pharmanord omega 7 on amazon, then decide whether to try it.

  • Margaret Lockie-Binkley

    Hello. We live in Hamilton.Ontario and my husband has Fibromyalgia. He is on Lyrica and it is not helping very much. He has weight issues in his stomach but no where else and he is tired, sore and his memory is really bad some times. The specialist here has just told him to exercise and take Lyrica, Please help us.. Do you know of a Doctor here that would help him?


    Margaret & Jason



    • I do not. I am sorry to hear of your husband!
      http://www.functionalmedicine.org is where to look.

    • Tracey Davidson Mizell

      Margaret, has he changed his diet or been tested for gluten intolerance? With the weight in his stomach, it sounds like he probably has a candida (yeast) overgrowth. I know that changing my diet helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I’ve opted for all natural/lifestyle “treatments” rather than taking pharmaceuticals and see a huge change in my quality of life.

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  • Deena

    Can you point me towards more info on the MTHFR gene? Do you have any other studies or research you can share? I’ve just had my second miscarriage in a row and have the homozygous A1298c mutation. I am taking methylated folate and b12 but would love to read more about this, supporting the process and detox pathways. Thank you thank you!

  • MY LIFE ruined by Levaquin

    Dear Doctor Myers, please research Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, from damage done by Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics. I was diagnosed with Fibro- when in fact it was the toxicity from Levaquin. Most FQT victims are likewise misdiagnosed. FQT results in permanent neuropathy, fatigue, tissue, tendon, cartilage damage. The is no treatment or cure available for FQT. Pharma will not educate doctors and drug reps on this extremely tragic issue. FQT victims need doctors who are educated on this damage, till then the damage will continue and victims will continue to suffer. PLEASE research Fluoroquinolone Toxicity. PLEASE take a look at The Fluoroquinolone Wall of Pain on facebook, hundreds of FQT victim stories. And please if you are able to help us, please join, The Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group, on facebook, we need doctors that care…….Thank you for reading this…

  • DP2008

    omitted important root cause is the ingested fluoride which will cause functional disorders and makes restoration difficult ….

  • Nathan Brent

    As a HCP and a man with FMS, I have hypothesized that Fibro is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or at least contributes to the symptoms. The ANS controls the vasoconstriction and dilation of the vessels within the body. One theory is that this dysfunction contributes to the pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Dr. Myers, what is your thoughts to this theory? Please PM me as I am interested in both your thoughts and if you know of any current research being done focusing on this. Thank you. Nate Brent RN, MSN/Ed, APRN-C

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  • Angeles Rios

    Getting help with lymphatic drainage was super helpful as part of my healing process for my autoimmune condition, which felt like it was turning into fibromyalgia symptoms. What I find interesting to note is that the “trigger points” are located below all 4 diaphragms – key helpers in stimulating the lymphatic system. Hmmm…. I wonder if fibromyalgia is like sleep; just a symptom of other underlying causes. From experience and looking over the information about it, I view it as the overwhelming of the structural detox system. If there is any research on this idea, please share!

  • Karla Ely

    I’m LOVING the autoimmune summit lectures; I have an hour+ commute to work each day.. I use it as my “school on wheels” while I listen to the lectures… THANK YOU!