I came across a self-help book called ‘Reversing Fibromyalgia’ by Dr Joe M Elrod in my local library, and have wanted to share some of the insights within it and give a little bit of a personal review too. Although it is specifically mentions fibromyalgia, I believe that the advice here is applicable to many if not all stress-related and autoimmune illnesses so please do not be put off by the FMS focus. I apologise in advance that this post doesn’t contain all of the action steps in one place, the main reason for this is because I have chosen not to simply list the action steps but to add my “five pence worth too”, however I hope my additional comments and insights will be of more value to you than 5p!
In his book Reversing Fibromyalgia, Dr Elrod gives hope to the many thousands of people who suffer from this mysterious illness and similar others. His book offers a 9 step protocol for reversing Fibromyalgia that has worked for many of his patients including Janice, a 38 year old teacher and mother of three. Janice’s experience of Fibromyalgia echoes that of many who find that symptoms are often marked by a localised pain before becoming more widespread. Two years into her Fibromyalgia journey Janice had to say good bye to her usual way of life, her family didn’t understand and her physician had concluded that there was nothing more that could be done apart from trying to control the pain and disturbed sleep patterns. It was at that time that she decided to take a more natural approach to her health and well-being, she started to take a range of nutrients and changed her diet significantly with the help of a nutritionist and after 6 weeks of being on this program was back to 90% of her normal self.
My personal review
The thing I like best about this book is that the action steps are not rocket science yet, they can be a huge step for someone who is not used to adopting a more natural and wholistic lifestyle. I don’t think that this should be something that puts one off though, although health and lifestyle changes can often be extreme, it only takes you to follow two or three consistently to see massive improvements in your health. For myself, eating more organic food, drinking more water, cutting out dairy, yeast and certain meats have had a huge impact on my health and well-being. I would say that I am around 70-80 of my normal self on good days and on bad days around 50%. I have more physical, psychological and spiritual energy and stamina because I have adopted a whole person approach to health and well-being.
I am not saying that Elrod’s protocol is the cure for Fibromyalgia and related illnesses but what I am saying is that this and many other similar protocol’s empower one in a way that relying on normal health care routes do not.
If you follow quite a healthy and natural lifestyle, you may find that this book repeats what you already know. This may be tedious for you, but at the same time I don’t think you can ever know too much. Under each section it provides examples of different herbs, nutrients, examples of what you should include in your treatment protocol, which means that there may be some things which you have not thought of/tried before. Lastly, the steps do not need to be taken in any specific order; in fact it is likely that many of them will occur simultaneously.
9 Action Steps to Reverse Fibromyalgia and other similar illnesses
Step 1 – consult with your physician
Remember to speak to your GP or health practitioner so that you are given a thorough examination and diagnosis based on this, don’t just assume you have fibromyalgia, CFS etc. On a personal note, if you can find or have a really good doctor this is a massive blessing. It took me nearly two years of being passed around from hospital to hospital and specialist to specialist and receiving contradictory diagnoses until I eventually discovered what was wrong with me. So don’t be afraid to look for a doctor, hospital, clinic which will take your health seriously.
Step 2 – return to deep restful sleep.
You may not realise it but deep, restful sleep is so important, at this stage of sleep our body goes into a place that enables healing and restoration. Too much sleep can lead to depression but too little can result in anxiety and stress-related illnesses, likewise not entering into stage 4 (delta) sleep also has an adverse effect on vitality. Hauri (1973) found that people with Fibromyalgia show abnormal levels of alpha waves during their deep sleep stage which basically means that their sleep is very light and therefore not restorative. Interestingly, they found that Fibromyalgia symptoms could also be observed in ‘normal’ participants who were sleep deprived, but this effect did not occur with participants who regularly exercised. Think back to your quality and length of sleep prior to falling ill and your sleep habits now, can you see a link between your sleep patterns and health?
Even though I love to sleep I have learnt several things about my relationship to sleep, for example I often used sleep as a form of escape, the down-side of this was that I got more sleep than I physically needed pushing my body into an excessive lethargic and depressive parasympathetic state whilst at the same time being very tense and stressed in my waking hours. I was swinging between delta (deep sleep) and beta (high alert and stress) every day which is extremely unhealthy. What I needed to focus on was reducing my waking stress levels, and improving the quality of my sleep over the quantity of sleep. There are some researchers that say that there is an optimum time for entering into sleep (approx 10pm), to be honest, I can’t remember exactly why but it did make sense when I read it. There is also Biblical support for this too e.g. psalm 127: 2 but I think the one that speaks most clearly to me is this:
He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they steal away
and lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work
and to his labor until the evening. (Psalm 104:19-23, ESV)
I am going to skip to step 7 because it ties in more with what I have been already saying and address the other steps next week.
Step 7 – adhere to a life-sustaining and healing exercise regime
As mentioned earlier in step 2, regular exercise has been found to be beneficial to FMS patients, one way in which it exerts its therapeutic effect is to increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Dr Elrod sets aside a whole chapter dealing with additional therapeutic effects and how to plan, start and maintain your own personalised exercise program.
Purchase Reversing Fibromyalgia via Amazon
Join me next week as I continue on with my personal review of Dr Elrod’s book on Reversing Fibromyalgia.