Herbs and Supplements to Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Herbs and supplements offer an alternative or complementary method for treating fibromyalgia. There are many different types of herbs and supplements that can help you manage a number of symptoms. Some are used to boost the immune system while others are useful for stress or anxiety reduction, pain control or sleep inducement.

The following chart offers some basic information on herbs and supplements that can help women and men suffering with fibromyalgia. Before taking any herbs, it’s important to first check with your doctor to make sure the herbs can be safely used. Herbs used as complementary treatments are being used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. Using herbs as alternative treatment means they are being used instead of conventional medicine.

There is plenty of information available including articles on complementary medicine, books on herbalism[1], and supplements as well as specific reference works on both herbs[2] and supplements[3].

Herb Category Form Action
Boswellia or Frankincense Herb Gum resin Helps relieve the pain of swollen joints
Bromelain) Supplement(Enzyme of pineapple stems) Oral tablet or capsule or topical cream Anti-inflammatory
Calcium Supplement Pill, capsule or tablet Helps bones, digestion, energy production and nerve transmission
Capsaicin Herbal supplement Capsules and cream Applied to body to reduce pain. Popular among Ayurvedic, Chinese, Japanese, North American and Korean Medicine
Chamomile Herb Tea is the most common form made from the flowers Sedative and calmative: Helps you to relax is also a useful sleepy time herb
Chondroitin Sulfate Supplement Injection, oral Reduce pain and increase joint strength
5-Hydroxytrytophan (5-HTP) Nutritional supplement Capsule and tablet Decreases depression; also a sleep aid
Echinacea Herb Roots – dried, tinctures, liquid extract, expressed juice Immune system booster
Fish Oil Supplement Fish parts: potency depends upon fish used: Capsule, liquid Anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and triglyceride lowering properties
Flaxseed Oil Supplement Capsules and tablets Anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic
Folic Acid (Folate) Supplement Tablets, capsules Fatigue: Lack of this substance is found in people with chronic fatigue.
Ginger Herb Root: used dried, chopped and powdered as a tea, candy, lozenges and root Anti-nausea, helps with digestion
Gingko Herb Leaves – dried, extract Memory booster and antioxidant: beneficial for the brain, lungs and cardiovascular system
Ginseng Herb Roots are made into powders, tablets and liquid extracts Adaptogen: Helps the body cope with stress
GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid) Supplement Oil preparations Ant-inflammatory and antithrombotic: Reduce pain and increase joint strength. Often found as Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed Oil and Blackcurrant Seed Oil[4]
Glucosamine Supplement Capsules and tablets Anti-inflammatory affecting the joints and cartilage of the body
Golden Seal Herb Rhizome and root – dried, tincture, extract Reduce inflammation
Hops Herb Strobiles provide the basis for liquid extract, tincture, powdered extract, tablet and a tea Sedative: found to be effective in reducing stress particularly in combination with other herbs
Iron Supplement Capsules or tablets Integral to the production of energy
Kava Kava Herb Rhizome is used to produce capsules, liquid or tea Sedative: this plant has been approved for use in nervous anxiety and stress. It helps reduce restlessness, agitation and tension
Lavender Herb Flowers – oil, extract, whole made into cookies or incense Aromatic, sedative: conducive to relaxation and sleep
Lemon Balm Herb Leaves, stem usually a tea Soothes the stomach, helps individual to relax
Licorice Herb Root: powdered, extract, tablets, decoctions, lozenges Soothes digestion, and is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory
Magnesium Supplement Tablets and capsules Helps to produce ATP – energy transmitters. Low levels are found in those with fibromyalgia
Malic Acid Supplement Tablet or capsule Promotes energy and muscle health
Passionflower Herb Flowering shoots are made into a tea or a tincture Sedative: helps to decrease stress and nervousness
Selenium Supplement capsule Antioxidant enzyme that supports detoxification; may also stop inflammation[5]
St. John’s Wort Herb The flower tops and petals are made into tea, tinctures, tablets and capsules Sedative: helps reduce stress, also effective against pain and depression
Skullcap/Scullcap Herb Flowers and roots, depending upon the tradition are used to make powder, liquid and capsules Sedative: used to decrease stress and nervous tension
Tyrosine Supplement Capsule or tablet Amino acid: Reducing fatigue and improving memory
Valerian Herb Roots are made into tinctures, extracts, capsules, tea, extract Sedative: helps you to relax, is conducive to sleep and the reduction of anxiety as well as stress
Vitamin A Supplement Capsule or tablet Antioxidant
Vitamin B complex Supplement Capsule or tablet Antioxidant. This collection of vitamins is involved in a wide variety of body functions. Particular interest to fibromyalgia patients relates to its ability to produce energy and lower stress
Vitamin C Supplement Tablet or capsule Improves immune function. Noted deficiencies can result in depression, fatigue and pain
Vitamin D Supplement Capsule or tablet Antioxidant; also lack of Vitamin D can result in musculoskeletal pain
Vitamin E Supplement Capsule or tablet Antioxidant: Early research indicates it can be beneficial to those with fibromyalgia[6]
Zinc Supplement Capsule or tablet Mental alertness, healing , growth hormones

Combining herbs can provide a safe and effective way to treat a number of health issues resulting related to fibromyalgia. Following are examples of common herb combinations:

  • Boswellia combined with safflower extract is a powerful, safe and effective pain reliever
  • Ginger combined with licorice helps an stomach upset
  • Lavender when mixed together with vanilla is an effective aromatic that promotes sleep
  • Valerian, chamomile, and passionflower together increase their effectiveness as a relaxant and sleep inducer
  • Malic Acid is increased in potency and effectiveness if combined with magnesium
  • Zinc may be combined with black elderberry, larch tree and echinacea, to boost your immune system against a cold
  • Iron and vitamin C combined increase absorption of the iron
  • Chondroitin Sulfate is often combined with glucosamine to heighten the effects and efficacy of each
  • B-vitamins when combined with such herbs as ginkgo, hawthorn and bilberry are effective for improving memory and general brain functioning

Conclusion

Herbs and supplements may be beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. They are normally used as complementary treatments to conventional medicine. In all cases, herbs and supplements should be used only under the direct supervision of a doctor.

References

[1] Boon, H; and Smith, M (2009). 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs 2nd ed. Toronto, ON: Robert Rose, Inc.

[2] Heber, D (2005). PDR For Herbal Medicines 3rd Edition. Montvale, NJ: Thomson PDR.

[3] Hendler, S. S. (2008). PDR For Nutritional Supplements 2nd Edition. Montvale, NJ: Physician’s Desk Reference.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Rodale Health Books (2009). Healing With Vitamins. New York: Rodale

[6] Bassman, L (2007). The Feel Good Guide To Fibromyalgia And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Books.

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015