Altering the Diet May Ease FibromyalgiaThursday, October 25, 2001 By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a small, preliminary study suggest that people with fibromyalgia may experience reductions in their symptoms if they eliminate one or more foods from their diet.
Lead investigator Dr. Joel S. Edman of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month.
"People don't need to completely change their life, but food may be a contributing factor to their condition," Edman told Reuters Health.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, often accompanied by depression and fatigue, in which a person feels pain in the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints. Nine in 10 fibromyalgia patients are female. While the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers have found pain-processing abnormalities in the spines and brain stems of some people with fibromyalgia.
In the study, Edman and colleagues reviewed medical charts of 17 fibromyalgia patients who agreed to eliminate common foods from their diet such as corn, wheat, dairy, citrus, soy and nuts.
After 2 weeks without eating any of the potential food allergens, nearly half of the patients reported "significant reduction of pain," and 76% reported a reduction in other symptoms such as headache, fatigue, bloating, heartburn, and breathing difficulties, according to Edman. Two patients had an increase in symptoms.
After the food elimination phase of the study, the patients were then instructed to reintroduce a particular food every 2 or 3 days and monitor their reaction to the food.
Some of the reactions to foods were pain, headache, and gastrointestinal distress, Edman noted. The most common problem-causing foods or ingredients for the patients in this study were corn, wheat, dairy, citrus and sugar.
"It's a preliminary study...but (the findings) do support the idea that food may play a role in fibromyalgia and more research in this area should be conducted," he said.
Such a test offers "no real harm to the patients other than the time and effort it takes to try it," Edman emphasized.
"There is no real downside and it has a potential upside," he added.
SOURCE: Annual Meeting "American College of Nutrition" in Orlando, Florida