This week I'd like to tell you about an amazingly simple but very effective tip for addressing fibromyalgia pain — a particularly timely one, as cold weather often makes FMS pain worse, and we're just heading into the winter months. The secret? Wool! Wearing long underwear made of wool during the day, and using wool sheets and wool pillowcases on your bedding, can dramatically reduce your fibromyalgia-related pain!
Such a nearly effortless (and comfy!) therapy may seem too good to be true. It's low cost and has no toxicity. And it's amazingly effective! A study reported in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed an 84% drop in pain in FMS patients who used the wool versus those who didn't. This isn't a case of researchers "getting the wool pulled over their eyes" (I couldn't resist the pun) — it really works. And I'm very happy to fill you in on the details, so that you'll be prepared to use the therapy yourself this winter.
In yet another study, a simple technique shows how to literally wash away pain — using only a few cents worth of Epsom Salts!
Two more simple ways to get pain free NOW!
The study was conducted by Emine Kara Kiyah, PhD, at the School of Nursing at Ataturk University in Turkey. Dr. Kiyah has fibromyalgia, so she was not only professionally but personally interested in the results of her study.
She studied 50 people with fibromyalgia, dividing them into two groups. Starting in January, one group wore woolen underwear, or "long johns" — underwear that covered the body from the shoulders to the thighs. (It was a combination of 75% merino wool and 25% acrylic fiber.)
The woolen group didn't only wear wool, however. They also used woolen bedding, a woolen bed liner (between the mattress and the cover sheet), a woolen pillow case, and a woolen quilt.
It's worth noting that before the study, the patients using wool had worn cotton underwear and used synthetic bedding materials, said Dr. Kiyak.
The other group didn't use woolen underwear or bedding. Though they probably wished they had.
After six weeks, those wearing and sleeping in wool "reported significant improvement in their condition, including a reduction in pain levels, in tender points and in the interference of fibromyalgia with their daily life," said Dr. Kiyak.
Specifically, they had decreases in:
- Pain, by 84%
- Tender points, by 51%
- Muscle stiffness, by 86%
- Morning tiredness, by 91%
- Overall fatigue, by 80%
- Depression, by 64%
- Impact of FMS on daily life, by 74%
Dr. Kiyak called this level of relief "remarkable." And I'd have to agree.
"The use of wool in patients with fibromyalgia should be recommended as an inexpensive and easy way to mitigate and reduce the symptoms of the disease," she concluded, in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Why does wool work? "We think the reason for the lower pain level and reduction in the tender point count was the warmth of the wool, which led to increased local blood flow, which in turn reduced pain," said Dr. Kiyak. In addition, wool wicks away moisture, keeping your muscles from getting chilled.
The reason for less morning tiredness and fatigue? "The patients maintained a constant and balanced body temperature during sleep because of wool bedding, and experienced more restorative sleep," she said.
The reason fibromyalgia interfered less in daily life and, and there was less depression and anxiety? "The reduction in physical impairment, the increase in the number of days the patients reported feeling good, the reduction in the number of work days missed, the reduction in the number of days the patients reported experiencing work impairment, and a concomitant reduction in anxiety and depression levels, may be attributed to an overall reduction in pain and fatigue and an overall improvement in the quality of sleep," she wrote.
Fibromyalgia pain worsens in the winter, and this simple tool — wearing wool for warmth — is very helpful.
For best results, I recommend you wear long underwear that covers your chest and trunk, at least to the knees.
I also suggest a woolen bed liner (the one used in the study was about 1/3" thick), which will make your sleep much more comfortable. Also, use a woolen blanket or quilt, and a woolen pillowcase. The combination is likely to work better than just the liner, or just the blanket. And you can continue to use the woolen bedding during the summer (though woolen underwear would be too hot for the summer months).
A good place to find sheepskin liners and other types of bedding online is at the website Cuddle Ewe (or call them 800-290-9199). You can also find Australian-made woolen underwear in many varieties at wool-underwear.com.
Share Your Tips
In addition, I have seen the power of people with CFS/FMS helping each other. As you find good, low cost, online sources for these products, please share this info with each other at my Facebook page. Remember, the wool bed liner only needs to be about 1 cm thick (1/3 inch), which can be much lower cost than thicker liners like the Cuddle Ewe — so let everyone know what you find.
"A new nonpharmacological method in fibromyalgia: the use of wool." Kiyak, EK, J Altern Complement Med, 2009 Apr;15(4):399-405.
Bottom Line's Breakthroughs in Natural Healing 2011 (Bottom Line Books, 2010), by Bill Gottlieb and the Editors of Bottom Line Publications, pages 15-17. (Bill is the co-author of my recent book Real Cause, Real Cure, and reported this study at length in the above book.)
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.