What Works for Fibromyalgia Part II: In An-Depth Look at New Treatment Strategies

What Works for Fibromyalgia Part II: In An-Depth Look at New Treatment Strategies

You never get a break from your fibromyalgia symptoms. This frustrating, isolating disease disrupts your life in hundreds of ways. But it also makes you doubt yourself, as so many people – including friends, family, and doctors—treat you like it’s all in your head. You feel like you constantly have to explain your pain and exhaustion. Worse, you may end up trying to hide the fact that you’re suffering from debilitating—and sometimes embarrassing—symptoms.

Unfortunately, “fibro-doubt” is just as real as fibromyalgia, and that disbelief can leave you feeling alone and unsupported. It also makes it hard to be properly diagnosed. Fibromyalgia gets missed and misdiagnosed by doctors all the time.[1] That makes it extra hard to deal with—after all, you can’t start managing fibromyalgia if you haven’t gotten a correct diagnosis. 

So if you’re tired of living with painful fibromyalgia symptoms without relief, this article provides a more in-depth look into two groundbreaking discoveries that are helping us better understand— and successfully treat—this debilitating condition.

Misdiagnosed: Why Does It Take So Long to Diagnose Fibromyalgia?

It can take seven years of constant pain and suffering before you get a proper diagnosis of fibromyalgia… and there are several reasons for that:

  • The defining symptom of fibromyalgia—widespread chronic pain—is common to a  lot of conditions
  • Fibromyalgia causes more than 60 overlapping symptoms, from extreme exhaustion to brain fog to migraines, making it harder to pin down a diagnosis
  • It often coexists with other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome, so fibromyalgia may get overlooked
  • Many doctors still don’t believe that fibromyalgia is real
  • There are no definitive diagnostic tests for fibromyalgia… yet

But exciting new research in two distinct areas offer hope for a clear diagnosis and real, lasting symptom relief.

Gut-Brain-Fibro

Your gut microbiome houses trillions of microbes, both beneficial microbes including probiotic bacteria and fungi, and harmful pathogenic ones. When your gut microbiome is in healthy balance, a diverse population of probiotics keeps pathogens under control and delivers countless essential health benefits. But when pathogens outnumber probiotics—a condition called dysbiosis—your whole body suffers.

Dysbiosis causes:

  • the creation and release of toxins
  • increased levels of inflammatory compounds
  • reduced levels of important feel-good neurotransmitters (brain chemicals)
  • decreased production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are created by probiotic bacteria

Those SCFA shortages can do significant damage to your health. Because while SCFAs—such as butyrate—don’t get much attention outside of scientific studies, they play crucial roles in keeping you healthy. Butyrate has many essential functions:[2,3]

  • protects and strengthens the gut barrier to keep toxins safely locked in your gut
  • reduces inflammation in the gut and throughout the body
  • protects brain cells

On top of that, your gut microbiome has a direct connection to your brain called the gut-brain axis that allows constant communication.[4] That means the reigning bacteria in your gut send signals straight to your brain and nervous system. And when pathogens control the gut microbiome, they send the wrong signals to your brain.

Breakthrough Research: How Your Gut Microbiome Affects Your Fibromyalgia

This is where groundbreaking new research comes into play. A study of more than 150 women found a major link between dysbiosis and fibromyalgia—including symptom frequency and intensity.[5] 

In this eye-opening study, researchers discovered that fibromyalgia sufferers have significantly different levels of 19 species of bacteria in their gut microbiomes. They also have much lower levels of butyrate and other SCFAs due to dysbiosis. Those differences can interfere with neurotransmitter production and function, and lead to confused pain signals—a driving factor in fibromyalgia pain.

Other studies back up this dysbiosis-fibromyalgia connection. A 2019 study found that most fibromyalgia patients have dysbiosis that causes altered pain signaling.[6] Another recent study found that people with fibromyalgia have significantly reduced levels of beneficial bacteria responsible for managing key neurotransmitters.[7]

So it stands to reason that if dysbiosis makes fibromyalgia worse, then rebalancing your gut microbiome will provide relief from those painful symptoms.

Breakthrough Research: Brain Inflammation

Chronic inflammation—both in the brain and throughout the whole body—drives fibromyalgia, increasing symptom overload and boosting symptom intensity.[8] And new research finally confirms that fibromyalgia patients have unusual levels of specific inflammatory compounds.

One driving force behind your systemic inflammation: an alarm protein called galectin-3, which can be elevated in fibromyalgia.[9] Another is the release of mast cells, which increase levels of pro-inflammatory proteins such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).[10]

Widespread inflammation in the brain also plays a critical role in fibromyalgia, according to the latest research. That’s largely due brain cells called glial cells, which can trigger neuroinflammation when they’re activated.[11] And a groundbreaking study found that glial activation was much greater and more widespread in the brains of fibromyalgia patients than in healthy people.[12] That can alter pain signals and negatively affect neurotransmitter production—both of which play huge roles in fibromyalgia symptoms.

Tackle the Causes to Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Many fibromyalgia treatments—both natural and pharmaceutical—focus only on symptom management. And while that can be temporarily helpful, addressing the causes of fibromyalgia offers a better chance of deeper, lasting relief.

The two most promising therapeutic strategies we have are A) restoring healthy balance to your gut microbiome, and B) stopping the sources of widespread inflammation—particularly, neuroinflammation. That’s how you’ll finally get your disease and its symptoms under control… and get back to enjoying your life.

Rebalance Gut Microbiome with Advanced Probiotics

From my clinical experience, it takes a powerful probiotic formula to restore healthy balance to a gut in conditions of dysbiosis. This means that your regular, off-the-shelf probiotics likely won’t work here. In my practice, we were not seeing good results with probiotics—until we created a dynamic, fermented liquid formula with the following key components:

  • 8 live, clinically studied strains of lactobacillus probiotics
  • Modified Citrus Pectin, a proven prebiotic[13] that nourishes and powers those probiotics
  • Optimal pH acid balance so beneficial bacteria can thrive and pathogens can’t survive
  • 19 organic digestive-supporting botanicals including ginger, fennel, and chamomile

This certified organic liquid pre+ probiotic formula contains the necessary therapeutic-level ingredients to get your gut microbiome back into healthy balance and put an end to damaging dysbiosis. And with a well-balanced gut, you’ll also enjoy:

  • A gut-brain axis reset, so the right signals get sent to your brain[14]
  • Increased SCFA production for symptom relief[15]
  • Increased feel-good neurotransmitter production[16]
  • Lasting relief for gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.[17]

Control Galectin-3—and tame inflammation— with Modified Citrus Pectin

When you need to calm body-wide inflammation, you need to block galectin-3 (the alarm protein). And Modified Citrus Pectin – MCP – is the most effective natural galectin-3 blocker.[18] By stopping galectin-3, MCP shuts down the inflammation cascade[19]… and that plays a huge part in reducing the constant pain of fibromyalgia.

At the same time, MCP offers strong, balancing immune system support.[20] And that will help you avoid developing new infections that can aggravate your fibromyalgia symptoms, while reining in immune-overreactions that can complicate the condition.

Calm Neuro-Inflammation with Honokiol

Honokiol, a natural compound purified from magnolia tree bark, works to reduce brain inflammation and relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. This powerful antioxidant compound directly calms activated glial cells and decreases the release of inflammatory compounds in the brain.[21]

By tackling the root cause of brain inflammation, honokiol can:

  • Quiet the pain signals that plague you[22]
  • Improve the way your brain processes feel-good neurotransmitters[23]
  • Relieve depression and anxiety[24]
  • Promote restorative sleep and relieve insomnia[25]

And while honokiol won’t leave you reeling from a laundry list of negative side effects, it delivers an extra positive benefit: Honokiol can effectively prevent and treat cancer.[26]

These research-based strategies get to the root causes that drive fibromyalgia, and can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating symptoms, balancing neurological wellness, and supporting optimal recovery.


[1] Häuser W, Sarzi-Puttini P, Fitzcharles MA. Fibromyalgia syndrome: under-, over- and misdiagnosis. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2019 Jan-Feb;37 Suppl 116(1):90-97.

[2] Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:25. Published 2020 Jan 31. doi:10.3389/fendo.2020.00025

[3] Stilling RM, van de Wouw M, Clarke G, Stanton C, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. The neuropharmacology of butyrate: The bread and butter of the microbiota-gut-brain axis? Neurochem Int. 2016 Oct;99:110-132. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2016.06.011. Epub 2016 Jun 23. PMID: 27346602.

[4] Shaik L, Kashyap R, Thotamgari SR, Singh R, Khanna S. Gut-Brain Axis and its Neuro-Psychiatric Effects: A Narrative Review. Cureus. 2020 Oct 24;12(10):e11131. doi: 10.7759/cureus.11131. PMID: 33240722; PMCID: PMC7682910.

[5] Minerbi A, Gonzalez E, Brereton NJB, Anjarkouchian A, Dewar K, Fitzcharles MA, Chevalier S, Shir Y. Altered microbiome composition in individuals with fibromyalgia. Pain. 2019 Nov;160(11):2589-2602. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001640. PMID: 31219947.

[6] Malatji BG, Mason S, Mienie LJ, Wevers RA, Meyer H, van Reenen M, Reinecke CJ. The GC-MS metabolomics signature in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome directs to dysbiosis as an aspect contributing factor of FMS pathophysiology. Metabolomics. 2019 Mar 27;15(4):54.

[7] Clos-Garcia M, et al. Gut microbiome and serum metabolome analyses identify molecular biomarkers and altered glutamate metabolism in fibromyalgia. EBioMedicine. 2019 Aug;46:499-511.

[8] Bäckryd E, Tanum L, Lind AL, Larsson A, Gordh T. Evidence of both systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation in fibromyalgia patients, as assessed by a multiplex protein panel applied to the cerebrospinal fluid and to plasma. J Pain Res. 2017;10:515-525.

[9] Khoonsari PE, Musunri S, Herman S, Svensson CI, Tanum L, Gordh T, Kultima K. Systematic analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid proteome of fibromyalgia patients. J Proteomics. 2019 Jan 6;190:35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2018.04.014. Epub 2018 Apr 12. PMID: 29656018.

[10] Theoharides TC, Tsilioni I, Bawazeer M. Mast Cells, Neuroinflammation and Pain in Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Front Cell Neurosci. 2019 Aug 2;13:353.

[11] Refolo V, Stefanova N. Neuroinflammation and Glial Phenotypic Changes in Alpha-Synucleinopathies. Front Cell Neurosci. 2019;13:263. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.3389/fncel.2019.00263

[12] Albrecht DS, Forsberg A, Sandström A, Bergan C, Kadetoff D, Protsenko E, Lampa J, Lee YC, Höglund CO, Catana C, Cervenka S, Akeju O, Lekander M, Cohen G, Halldin C, Taylor N, Kim M, Hooker JM, Edwards RR, Napadow V, Kosek E, Loggia ML. Brain glial activation in fibromyalgia – A multi-site positron emission tomography investigation. Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Jan;75:72-83. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2018.09.018. Epub 2018 Sep 14. PMID: 30223011; PMCID: PMC6541932.

[13] Odun-Ayo, Frederick, Mellem, John, & Reddy, Lalini. (2017). The effect of modified citrus pectin-probiotic on faecal lactobacilli in Balb/c mice. Food Science and Technology37(3), 478-482. Epub March 09, 2017

[14] Arneth BM. Gut-brain axis biochemical signalling from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system: gut dysbiosis and altered brain function. Postgrad Med J. 2018 Aug;94(1114):446-452. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2017-135424. Epub 2018 Jul 19. PMID: 30026389.

[15] Bojović K, Ignjatović ÐI, Soković Bajić S, et al. Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis Associated With Altered Production of Short Chain Fatty Acids in Children With Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020;10:223. Published 2020 May 19. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2020.00223

[16] Strandwitz P. Neurotransmitter modulation by the gut microbiota. Brain Res. 2018;1693(Pt B):128-133. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.03.015

[17] Menees S, Chey W. The gut microbiome and irritable bowel syndrome. F1000Res. 2018;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-1029. Published 2018 Jul 9. doi:10.12688/f1000research.14592.1

[18] Lu Y, Zhang M, Zhao P, et al. Modified citrus pectin inhibits galectin-3 function to reduce atherosclerotic lesions in apoE-deficient mice. Mol Med Rep. 2017;16(1):647-653. doi:10.3892/mmr.2017.6646

[19] Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11):2619. doi: 10.3390/nu11112619. PMID: 31683865; PMCID: PMC6893732.

[20] Ramachandran C, Wilk BJ, Hotchkiss A, Chau H, Eliaz I, Melnick SJ. Activation of human T-helper/inducer cell, T-cytotoxic cell, B-cell, and natural killer (NK)-cells and induction of natural killer cell activity against K562 chronic myeloid leukemia cells with modified citrus pectin. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:59. Published 2011 Aug 4. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-59

[21] Rickert U, Cossais F, Heimke M, Arnold P, Preuße-Prange A, Wilms H, Lucius R. Anti-inflammatory properties of Honokiol in activated primary microglia and astrocytes. J Neuroimmunol. 2018 Oct 15;323:78-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2018.07.013. Epub 2018 Jul 25.

[22] Khalid S, Ullah MZ, Khan AU, et al. Antihyperalgesic Properties of Honokiol in Inflammatory Pain Models by Targeting of NF-κB and Nrf2 Signaling. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:140. Published 2018 Mar 20. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00140

[23] Woodbury A, Yu SP, Wei L, García P. Neuro-modulating effects of honokiol: a review. Front Neurol. 2013;4:130. Published 2013 Sep 11. doi:10.3389/fneur.2013.00130

[24] Alexeev M, Grosenbaugh DK, Mott DD, Fisher JL. The natural products magnolol and honokiol are positive allosteric modulators of both synaptic and extra-synaptic GABA(A) receptors. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(8):2507-2514. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.03.002

[25] Qu WM, Yue XF, Sun Y, Fan K, Chen CR, Hou YP, Urade Y, Huang ZL. Honokiol promotes non-rapid eye movement sleep via the benzodiazepine site of the GABA(A) receptor in mice. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Oct;167(3):587-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02010.x. PMID: 22537192; PMCID: PMC3449263.

[26] Ong CP, Lee WL, Tang YQ, Yap WH. Honokiol: A Review of Its Anticancer Potential and Mechanisms. Cancers (Basel). 2019;12(1):48. Published 2019 Dec 22. doi:10.3390/cancers12010048