Fibromyalgia and Diet

Many scientists, physicians, therapists stress the fact that correct nutrition could be very helpful in fibromialgia syndrome treatment. Appropriate diet may ease the symptoms and foster remission of illness. Some substances that play key role in fibromyalgia course are strictly connected with diet.

Serotonin and Tryptophan

Disrupted metabolism of serotonin plays key role with no doubts among various causes of fibromyalgia syndrome. Serotonin is often characterized as a happiness hormone. It is a substance that has key function in our wellbeing and mood. It has been scientifically confirmed that increased serotonin level in the brain promotes good mood. On the other hand low serotonin level was found in persons with depression. Tryptophan is a starting substance for serotonin formation by our nervous system. It is so called an essential amino acid that cannot be synthesized (from scratch) by the organism, and thus must be supplied in our diet like a vitamin. Natural, good sources of tryptophan are protein rich products eg.: dairy products (cottage cheese, hard cheese), milk, yoghurt, kefir, soy products, pumpkin seeds, bananas spirulina, eggs, meat – particularly chicken and fish. Tryptophan content in various foodstuff has been presented in the table below.

Tryptophan Content
in 100 g of chosen foodstuff

Foods of Plant Origin

Foods of Animal Origin

  • Pumpkin seeds: 0,57g
  • Sesame seeds: 0,37g
  • Sunflower seeds: 0,35g
  • Linseeds: 0,30g
  • Cacao: 0,29g
  • Wallnuts, hazelnuts: 0,19g
  • Oat flakes: 0,18g
  • Spinach: 0,1g
  • Broccoli: 0,03g
  • Bananas: 0,01g
  • Mozarella cheese: 0,52g
  • Cheese: 0,35g
  • Pork meat: 0,32g
  • Poutry meat: 0,3g
  • Tuna: 0,3g
  • Trout: 0,28g
  • Smocked mackrel, cod: 0,26g
  • Salmon: 0,25g
  • Boiled egg: 0,15g
  • Milk: 0,04g

Proteins and carbohydrates present in our diet have influence on tryptophan absorption. Protein rich products reduce tryptophan absorption due to high content of long chain amino acids. It comes to the competition between amino acids and its acquiring by the brain decreases. In contrary carbohydrates improve tryptophan absorption for our food because they increase insulin secretion which improves long chain amino acid utilization by skeletal muscles and thus facilitate crossing blood-brain barrier by tryptophan.

Food Recommended in Fibromyalgia

With no doubts that inflammation activates blood coagulation system (process) and vice versa. We know now that coagulation cascade has proinflammatory properties. And in contrary fibrine derivate peptide Bβ15–42 has efficient anti-inflammatory properties and protects endothelial barrier*. Therefore modulation of blood coagulation process may reduce inflammation and from the other hand it could cause bleeding. Due to that facts the targeted anti-inflammatory action of blood coagulation system with no negative impact on coagulation is a new trend in inflammation treatment.


*Gröger M, Pasteiner W, et al. Peptide Bβ15-42 Preserves Endothelial Barrier Function in Shock PLOS One, April 29, 2009, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005391

Pineapple Fruit and Stem Extract

Bromelain – a proteolytic enzyme of pineapple – draws scientists close attention. Bromelain is potent anti-inflammatory agent that eases pain and swelling and supports tissue healing. It is an enzyme that decomposes and congeals protein, and occurs in fresh pineapple naturally. There are several scientific evidences that orally taken bromelain is assimilated intact even in 40 %. Bromelain in tablets was used in these tests, however we cannot exclude that fresh pineapple fruit or juice may show the same activity. If you would like to get comprehensive information about bromelain click the link beside → Bromelain Monography (pdf file)


Olive Seed Extract

Oleocanthal is natural organic constituent of olive plant. It occurs in various parts of the plant like leaf, root, however, in large quantities in olive fruit and olive seed in particular. It belongs to the polyphenols family, substances with antioxidant properties. The importance and uniqueness of oleocanthal is that it demonstrates antinociceptive*, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity.

In the last years there have been done some essays to check the potential benefits of oleocanthal.


* antinociception – the action or process of blocking the detection of a painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons

Daisy Leaf Extract

Daisy – Latin Bellis perennis has been used in herbal medicine. In ancient Rome, the surgeons who accompanied Roman legions into battle would order their slaves to pick sacks full of daisies in order to extract their juice. The word "bellum" stands for war or fight in Latin. This may be the origin of this plant's scientific name. Bandages were soaked in this juice and would then be used to bind sword and spear cuts.

The medicinal properties of Bellis perennis have been recorded in herbals as far back as the 16th century. Daisy was recommended as a remedy for heavy menstruation, migraine, and to promote healing of bruises and swellings.

health benefits of daisy leaves


Grape Leaf Extract

Grape leaves, a popular staple of heart-healthy Mediterranean cuisine, are rich in vitamins and minerals. Grape leaves are mildly anti-inflammatory based on a rating system that estimates the inflammatory potential of foods and food combinations. Chronic inflammation is may cause certain illnesses and diseases, such as heart disease, many types of cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Other diseases that are a result of inflammation include arthritis and many gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn's disease. While lifestyle and genetics contribute to chronic inflammation, maintaining a diet that is healthy and low in inflammatory foods is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks.

health benefits of grape leaves


Arachidonic Acid and Sugar

Arachidonic Acid may play negative role in inflammatory diseases as well as in pain disorders. It is lipid component of cellular membranes and also raw material for building up proinflammatory molecules prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Recent research argues that consumption of simple sugars (monosaccharides) and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates significantly promotes increase of arachidonic acid content in cells. The oxidation process leads to release of arachidonic acid and formation of proinflammatory substances that are "called" by stimuli of increased pain sensation. This why the patient with fibromyalgia should in her/his diet limit consumption of simple sugars: honey, jam, confectionery, sweet goodies, etc. It would be worth to limit also consumption of foodstuff that has high content of arachidonic acid like pork lard, pork liver, pork meat, meat of tuna and egg yolk.


Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge Psychosom Med. 2010 May; 72(4): 365–369.

Foods to be Avoided in Fibromyalgia

Certain chemicals in the foods you eat may trigger the release of neurotransmitters that heighten this sensitivity. Although there have been only a handful of studies on diet and fibromyalgia, the following eating rules can’t hurt, and may help, when dealing with chronic pain.

  • Limit sugar, as much as possible. Increased insulin levels will typically dramatically worsen pain. So you will want to limit all sugars and this would typically include fresh fruit juices. Whole fresh fruit is the preferred method for consuming fruit products. If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, you will also want to limit grains as much as possible as they are metabolized very similarly to sugars. This would also include organic unprocessed grains. Wheat and gluten grains are the top ones to avoid. Avoid fruits with high sugar content (list shown below with given % amount of sugar for 100 grams of fruit).
    • Grapes – 16, 3%
    • Figs – 16,3 %
    • Lychee – 15, 2%
    • Pomegranate – 13,7 %
    • Mango – 13,7 %
    • Cherries – 12,8 %
    • Peaches – 12,5 %
    • Bananas – 12,2 %
    • Mandarins – 10,6 %
    • Pears – 10,2 %
    • Blueberries – 10,0 %
    • Plums – 9,9 %
    • Pineapples – 9,9 %
    • Oranges – 9,4 %

    Click the link or the figure below to open
    movie on YouTube → "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"
    by Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics,
    Division of Endocrinology,
    University of California, San Francisco


  • Eat fresh and organic food – eating a diet of fresh foods, devoid of preservatives and additives, may ease symptoms triggered by coexisting conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also a good idea to buy organic food when possible, as it’s best to avoid pesticides and chemicals. However, fresh is best. So if you have to choose between local, fresh, non-organic and organic but wilting – go with fresh, and clean properly.

  • Avoid caffeine – fibromyalgia is believed to be linked to an imbalance of brain chemicals that control mood, and it is often linked with inadequate sleep and fatigue. The temptation is to artificially and temporarily eliminate feelings of fatigue with stimulants like caffeine, but this approach does more harm than good in the long run. Though caffeine provides an initial boost of energy, it is no substitute for sleep, and is likely to keep you awake.
  • Avoid fried and grilled food – while frying and particularly when grilling comes to formation of harmful glycation products. Intense food browning or burning foster that process. The term glycation applies to the situation when sugar molecule binds spontaneously to protein (without enzymes) forming harmful so called AGE (see pdf document advanced glycation end-products – 18 pages). This is an exogenous glycation in contrary to endogenous glycation that take place in e.g. poorly controlled diabetes.

    Body practically cannot eliminate the exogenous AGE. Moreover, AGE are pretty resistant to enzymatic degradation. The AGE have destructive and toxic effect on our body. Our circulatory system, heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes are the most exposed to the harmful effect of AGE. AGE also increase blood sugar, increase body weight, cause joint pain, and memorizing problems, destroy collagen and elastin producing i.a. skin aging symptoms. Our cells, tissues, and organs start to fail. The same happens to our brain. Glycation destroys our body literally.

  • Be Careful with Your Fats – animal based omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA have been touted as a heart-healthy food, and they may help with pain, as well. They can help reduce inflammation and improve brain function. At the same time, you want to eliminate all trans fat and fried foods, as these will promote inflammation.
  • Avoid aspartame. The artificial sweetener found in some diet sodas and many sugar-free sweets is part of a chemical group called excitotoxins, which activate neurons that can increase your sensitivity to pain.
  • Avoid additives. Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) often cause trouble for pain patients. MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter that may stimulate pain receptors; glutamate levels in spinal fluid have been shown to correlate with pain levels in fibromyalgia patients.
  • Use yeast sparingly – consuming yeast may also contribute to the growth of yeast fungus, which can contribute to pain.
  • Avoid pasteurized dairy – many fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble digesting milk and dairy products. However, many find that raw dairy products, especially from grass fed organic sources, are well tolerated.
  • Check your tolerance to nightshade plants – nightshade vegetables it is very large family of plants that includes over 100 genera (types) and 2.400 species of plants like tomatoes, chilies, potatoes, eggplants and many other, There is an observation that they may trigger arthritis and pain conditions in  s o m e    p e o p l e.

    However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, the belief that eating nightshade vegetables worsens arthritis is a myth. They claim people with arthritis may benefit from the high nutrition content in nightshades. For example, researchers in one 2011 study found that inflammation and DNA damage was reduced in healthy men who ate yellow or purple potatoes, which are nightshade vegetables, for six weeks.


Myalgan – popular dietary supplement providing tryptophan and plant extracts.

proMyalgan – popular dietary supplement providing taurine and plant extracts.

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