Fibromyalgia, an Empath's Guide to Recovery
People ask me, "What's a nice Jewish doctor like you doing in a field like fibromyalgia?" My answer? "I got into it the old-fashioned way. I had the illness."
I grew up as a highly empathic child in a family of Auschwitz concentration camp survivors. It almost destroyed me. To survive childhood, I had to go through my "I am a rock, I am an island" phase where I shut down almost all of my feelings.
When I got to medical school, my family imploded. As is often the case with empaths, I mistakenly took on the role of peacemaker in the midst of a psychotic conversation. I came down with a nasty viral syndrome that simply would not go away. After several months, I could no longer function and had to drop out of medical school. As I was paying my own way, this left me homeless and sleeping in parks.
But it was as if the universe hung a "Holistic Homeless Medical School" sign on my park bench. Energy workers, naturopaths, herbalists, and a wide array of other health practitioners found their way sitting next to me on the park bench. They taught me bits and pieces of what I needed to learn to recover. If they happened to have a pizza with them, I even ate that day.
A year later, using what I had learned, I recovered enough to go back to medical school and earn honors in Medicine. Since then, I've spent the last four decades researching, writing about, and treating people worldwide with fibromyalgia. Our published double-blind placebo-controlled research now shows that 91% of people can improve with an average 90% increase in quality of life, showing that this illness is very treatable. The problem? Most physicians are clueless about how to treat it.
Diagnosing CFS and Fibromyalgia
Exhausted, achy, brain fog and insomnia? Unless proven otherwise, you likely have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and/or its painful cousin fibromyalgia (FMS). Even if you have other accompanying conditions such as lupus, MS, or other immune conditions.
A simple questionnaire at this website can tell you if you may have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
What Causes CFS and Fibromyalgia?
These conditions represent an energy crisis, where your body is expending more energy than it's able to make. A major trigger is when you are empathic and unable to maintain your boundaries. Put very simply, this translates to not being able to say "NO!" to things that feel bad. As empaths, our sensitivity to other people's feelings make this difficult. But it is an essential survival skill.
You need no other excuse to say "NO" than that something feels bad to you!
Numerous physical conditions including infections, hormonal problems and countless others also fuel the energy crisis.
Addressing the Biochemistry
The energy crisis causes a master circuit (called the "hypothalamus," which controls sleep and hormones) to decrease its function. It's just like blowing a fuse or circuit breaker in your home.
The hallmark symptom is being unable to sleep despite being exhausted. There are literally dozens of other symptoms and it can be quite disabling.
These are the 5 key areas that need to be treated for your "circuit breaker to turn back on" and for fatigue and pain to resolve. This was coined as the "S.H.I.N.E.® Protocol" on the Dr. Oz show. These areas are also powerfully effective for improving normal day to day fatigue.
- Sleep. Take a mix of natural and prescription sleep treatments as needed to get 8 to 9 hours sleep at night.
- Hormonal deficiencies. The hypothalamus is the main control center for most of the glands in the body. It is usually necessary to treat with natural thyroid, adrenal, and ovarian/testicular hormones — despite normal labs!
- Infections. FMS/CFS is associated with viral, bowel, Lyme, and fungal/Candida infections.
- Nutritional supplementation. Widespread nutritional deficiencies are common and require dozens of nutrients. As people are tired of being part of the "Handful Club" (taking handfuls of supplement tablets each day), I recommend a multivitamin that contains 50 key nutrients in 1 drink. Called the "Energy Revitalization System" by Enzymatic Therapy, it replaces well over 35 supplement tablets daily. In addition, I recommend a special energy nutrient called S.H.I.N.E.® D-Ribose (a 5gm scoop twice daily at breakfast and lunch), which in our recent study increased energy by an average of 61%! These can be found in many health food stores and also at EndFatigue.com.
- Exercise as able. After 10 weeks on the 4 steps above, you should be able to slowly increase your exercise — without being wiped out the next day! I would note that the current research on exercise and CBT in fibromyalgia is largely a toxic scam. But this doesn't negate the importance of mild conditioning.
For pain, supplements such as Curamin, Hemp Oil, and even red kratom can be very helpful, and can be combined with any pain medications. There are over 30 effective pain treatments. It is very rare that we can't get excellent pain relief for people with fibromyalgia. So the pain is optional!
For Empaths: Treating the Psychospiritual Component
Addressing adrenaline overstimulation (via the vagal nerve), retraining the limbic system, and releasing both muscle memory and emotional traumas can also be very helpful. Especially if you find that you have a lot of sensitivities. Here are a few especially powerful techniques:
Dynamic Neural Retraining System™
Balance your limbic system using a therapy developed by Annie Hopper called the Dynamic Neural Retraining System™, or DNRS™. Begin with the DVDs at her website. One hour each day is recommended, but even 15-20 minutes a day can be very helpful. You'll start to see results in about eight weeks. After that, you may want to consider taking some of their workshops (coaches are available at her site to help if you'd like to work with one).
Vagal Nerve Stim
Read the book "Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve" by the renowned Craniosacral Therapist Stanley Rosenberg.
Emotional Freedom Technique®
The Emotional Freedom Technique®, or EFT, provides another helpful method for both rebalancing the vagus nerve and releasing emotional traumas. This can be powerfully effective. You can get a general idea about this by watching EFT videos at YouTube that were created by Brad Yates, one of the top recognized teachers of EFT. If you want to try this, search the web for a practitioner in your area to help you. After you've done this technique for several treatments with a practitioner, you'll often be able to do it on your own. Put simply, this technique is remarkable. People feel the emotional energy of lifelong traumas often dissipate in minutes!
This is our body's way of releasing muscle memory. Read a book by Dr. Peter Levine called "Waking the Tiger." You can do this technique easily on your own. PTSD? See his advanced work on resolving trauma.
Ready to "reboot" your brain and immune system? The techniques above can powerfully and gently do this for you.
There are hundreds of other helpful treatments available as well. For more information, explore the videos and blog articles at this site, and my books "The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution" and "From Fatigued to Fantastic!" I do treat people worldwide, and this can be done by phone (for information, contact Sarah at email@example.com )
You can get well — NOW!
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 eight research studies on their effective 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.