Fibromyalgia syndrome is a musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder manifested by diffuse myalgia, localized areas of tenderness, fatigue, lowered pain thresholds, and nonrestorative sleep.
This description comes from a paper titled: Fibromyalgia and the serotonin pathway
The paper discusses how low serotonin is often a contributing factor with fibromyalgia and how beneficial tryptophan and/or 5-HTP can be for the anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia we often see in those with classic fibromyalgia:
Evidence from multiple sources support the concept of decreased flux through the serotonin pathway in fibromyalgia patients.
Serotonin substrate supplementation, via L-tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and somatic pains in a variety of patient cohorts.
I recently blogged about the effectiveness of 5-HTP being a clinically-effective serotonin precursor and how it improves many of these same symptoms:
Therapeutic administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, including depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, chronic headaches, and insomnia.
An open 90-day study in 50 patients affected by fibromyalgia found benefits with the use of 5-HTP:
When all the clinical variables studied throughout the trial (number of tender points, anxiety, pain intensity, quality of sleep, fatigue) were compared with baseline results, they all showed a significant improvement.
It is concluded that 5-HTP is effective in improving the symptoms of primary fibromyalgia syndrome and that it maintains its efficacy throughout the 90-day period of treatment.
If we suspect low serotonin may be a factor, I have my clients do the following (whether or not they have a fibromyalgia diagnosis):
- complete the Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from The Antianxiety Food Solution and check off their symptoms on the low serotonin section. The rating uses scale of 1-10 with 10 being worst.
- review the Amino Acids Precautions and figure out if we can do a trial of 5-HTP or tryptophan
- do a trial of the amino acid 5-HTP or tryptophan and observe for improvements in anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia and the other low serotonin symptoms
We are all unique and some people do better on 5-HTP and some do better on tryptophan. I typically start with a tryptophan trial since I’ve seen such great benefits with this amino acid. If that’s not working, we’ll do a 5-HTP trial, always watching for high cortisol as 5-HTP can raise cortisol if it’s already high. In this instance 5-HTP may be too stimulating.
Quality is an important issue when it comes to the amino acids and this is especially the case with tryptophan. I find that the Lidtke brand is the most superior. You can see my amino acid product recommendations here.
Do you have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and have you found benefits with 5-HTP or tryptophan? For your pain? For your sleep? For your anxiety and/or depression?
I’d love to also hear what else has helped with your symptoms?