Heal the Roots of Unresolved Pain and Chronic Illness
Healing unresolved pain and chronic illness depends on an integrative, systems perspective. Your body-mind is smarter than your doctor, or any doctor. We need to look for the roots of the problem and enable the body-mind to heal itself.
The Thigh Bone’s Connected to the Hip Bone
If you pay attention to life in general, you have probably figured out that everything is connected to everything else.
For some reason, mainstream medical thinking doesn’t seem to “get it”. Maybe that’s part of why conventional treatment of fibromyalgia is so often ineffective or harmful.
If you have Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain or Chronic Illness, your understanding of connectivity can change your life for the better.
Here’s Why Your Doctor Can’t Help Your Fibromyalgia
Part of the reason why mainstream medicine doesn’t have your answer is that most conventional medical thinking is fragmented. I know, because I got my medical degree and specialty training in the best hospitals in America. We are trained to to look at medical problems in a fragmented way that disregards the natural healing intelligence that lives inside of you. And it doesn’t work for most chronic diseases, especially Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain.
Fortunately, even in mainstream science, the walls between disciplines and specializations are dissolving.
Major medical research institutions like Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health now have programs in Systems Biology. Systems Biology is an approach to studying what most people know intuitively–that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. Systems Biology promises to solve some very difficult problems in the future.
It goes way beyond the notion that “the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone.”
There is a stunning degree of integration among all the systems that were once considered separate. For instance, we know now that there is constant intimate communication among the immune system, the digestive system, the hormones, the mind, emotion, and brain activity, as well as everything else. According to medical research, changes in the function of the intestines can activate inflammation and change brain chemistry. Various environmental toxins can further stimulate immune reactions and drive further low grade inflammation. That inflammation and its associated oxidative stress can impair the function of mitochondria–those are the organs inside your your cells that produce energy. When you have chronic inflammation, toxicity, hormonal abnormalities, and you’re mitochondria are not working, you’re going to feel fatigue; your muscles are going to fail, and you’re going to have other debilitation symptoms. I imagine that sounds all too familiar.
These same complex system changes are important for the development of Fibromyalgia, as well as autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s, as well as cardiovascular disease.
This is a hugely important principle in understanding and healing from Fibromyalgia and chronic illness. Research shows that people with Fibromyalgia have a variety of changes in their immune, digestive, hormonal, neurological, emotional and other systems. It seems that the relevant changes differ depending on the patient. That’s why some patients respond to some kinds of nutrition, medications, or lifestyle interventions, and others respond differently.
Unfortunately most medical scientists don’t look at the complex changes from a systems approach. And standard medical practice lags way behind the scientific research. So mainstream conventional medicine says that Fibromyalgia is because of changes in nerve sensitivity. But that’s not the cause. It’s a symptom! And one research group says the cause is changes in hormones. Another group blames inflammation. Another group says it’s due to impaired cellular energy production. And so on. Where’s the “I want to vomit” emoticon?
We all know the parable of the four blind men who bump into an elephant! Wake up, science!
Fibromyalgia is a complex systems problem with multiple contributory factors. Like most chronic illnesses. And it needs a multifactorial systems approach to heal.
All this theoretical stuff is very nice and interesting. I’m excited that, there is growth in our basic science understanding of complex problems like Fibromyalgia. But they will take time to percolate through to your primary care doctor’s office. And you’re suffering now.
What can we do now?
You Can Understand and Heal Fibromyalgia Through an Integrative Holistic Approach
As we discussed above, Fibromyalgia is best understood as a holistic problem. It arises from a set of vicious cycles of interaction among genetics, gut health, the microbiome, stress-hormone dysregulation, inflammation, cellular energy production, toxicity, etc. As a result, you have widespread pain, can’t sleep despite being exhausted, have digestive issues, have brain fog and get dizzy when you stand up, etc….
Think of it as a one of those big soap bubbles that wobbles through the air, or maybe a big snowball on a somewhat slushy warm day. Fibromyalgia develops over decades, as various vicious cycles of change percolate through the system. (For sure there are some people who have a sudden onset of symptoms after a trigger such as trauma, surgery, or illness. But their system typically has been moving toward the dysfunction for a long time before that) If you want to move the soap bubble, you need to work with its momentum, and contact it in several places at once. If you try to push on it with a stick, you’ll just pop it or break it. That’s why there isn’t “a pill” to fix fibromyalgia. And that’s why your healing will begin when you start to work on the whole system at once. It’s about helping your system heal, through lifestyle, metabolic healing, the right kind of exercise, and by activating the healing intelligence in your mind-body connection.
You can do this. Don’t despair.
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