Natural Alternatives for Symptom Relief of Fibromyalgia & Perimenopause
Learn about the best vitamins and herbal supplements you can take for emotional & physical symptom relief of fibromyalgia & perimenopause for women over 40.
I sometimes like to refer to it as the “Princess and the Pea Complex.” Because there are days when a wrinkle on a sheet feels like a rock that’s dug into my skin and left a bruise behind. Days a tickle feels like a punch. Sometimes I even feel like I’ve pulled the muscles in my shoulders from simply pulling a shirt off over my head. And that pain lasts for days to weeks. When perimenopause rolled around, it all got worse. Pain and emotion become even more intertwined. I felt miserable all the time. And it wore on me.
Whether you have fibromyalgia or perimenopause – or even both! – there are natural remedies that offer significant relief. Keep reading to learn how more about how one affects the other. As well as the best supplements you can take to put you back on top and in charge of your physical and emotional health.
Finding Symptom Relief from Fibro & Perimenopause
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. However, I was always afraid I’d leave something out. And considering how well these products work for me personally, I wanted to cover how beneficial they are in case they can help you as well. Juggling both fibromyalgia AND perimenopause in my forties has proven to be a challenge. However, as many of the natural supplements that reduce symptoms of perimenopause also help with my fibromyalgia, I decided to share them in a post together.
If suffer with chronic pain from fibromyalgia, you’ve likely found that stress and hormones are the two biggest contributing factors to fibro flare ups. And that’s why the same treatment I use for fibro works so well for both the symptom relief of fibromyalgia and perimenopause.
You may recall my post from last year in which I covered the supplements I using then to manage my fibromyalgia. However, this is a revised list of vitamins and supplements that not only work better at providing symptom relief of fibromyalgia pain, fatigue and fibro fog, but also help with perimenopausal symptoms.
Why You Shouldn’t Take Painkillers for Fibromyalgia
There is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, from personal experience, I quickly realized that opioid (and synthetic opioid) painkillers are one of the worst treatments. Not only do they worsen fibro pain over time, they also lead to addiction. With that, in addition to the pain caused by fibromyalgia, you’ll also quickly start to experience withdrawal symptoms as the time for your next dose nears.
Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that doctors just do not know how to treat fibromyalgia symptoms. Aside from recommending SSRI drugs or drugs used to treat nerve pain such as gabapentin – both of which can cause considerable unhealthy weight gain – as well as painkillers and muscle relaxers, there really are no other prescription treatment options.
The Cost of Natural Remedies Vs. Prescription Drugs
It’s also unfortunate that herbal supplements are nowhere near as cheap as generic prescription drugs. However, when those drugs do more harm than good over time, you really have to consider your priorities. Do you find a way to give your body what it needs to be healthy? Or do you spend less to mask the symptoms of your illness?
Therefore, I made the choice to put my health first. I work my butt off – and go without things – to afford my vitamin and herbal supplement regimen. Without them, I can’t function normally. Which in turn means I’m unable to work. While I still have days that challenge me, I now feel better overall. And my focus is sharper than it has been in the past.
Working to discover an affordable supplement regimen to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia has been a challenge. However, I have learned a lot throughout the process. You really need to try natural supplements for at least three to four months before giving up on them. I found this especially true for (THC free) CBD oil. (For fibromyalgia I recommend medical grade CBD oil if your state offers medical marijuana which is more powerful and more cost effective.) While other supplements, like those I take for perimenopausal hot flashes and mood, require a 90-day minimum before they start working.
An investment of time and money is required to find the right solution to help ease your symptoms. So some patience is required before throwing in the towel.
The Emotional Monkey Wrench: Perimenopause
Treating my fibromyalgia symptoms has become more trying since I developed perimenopause. The symptoms of fibro, when combined with my body’s changes from perimenopause, has been an incredible challenge.
I’ve been struggling with perimenopause for several years now. Much of that time, I really didn’t know that I had perimenopause. (No one talks about it!) When coupled with the fibromyalgia, the symptoms of perimenopause left my body in a whirlwood. I’d have weeks where I felt okay. Then other times I felt like the world just dropped out from under me.
Not knowing I was going through perimenopause, I didn’t really understand why I was having mood swings. Or that my hot flashes were hot flashes. Why I couldn’t sleep or why I was having night sweats. No one ever talked to me about it.
I finally gained some insight into the mystery toward the end of last year. My 44th birthday was just around the corner, and an understanding (finally!) of why my body (and brain) were acting the way they were, gave me the insight I needed to take control of body – and mental health – back.
Natural Support for Symptom Relief of Fibromyalgia & Perimenopause
I’ve since taken a second look at my health and the supplements I take to stay healthy and support emotional wellness. The cost of vitamins and supplements, however, was and continues to be a factor. So, for a time, I was constantly tweaking strategies and looking for the best natural alternative that worked for both the perimenopause AND the fibromyalgia – at a price I could manage. After many many months, I think I finally found it.
Everyday Tips for Better Mental Health & Pain Relief
Before I share my vitamin and herbal supplement regimen with you, however, I first want to share a few tips to give you days a positive boost.
- Exercise. Whether walking for heart health or doing yoga to build muscle strength, both of these activities naturally boost serotonin in the brain, increase energy and help to reduce pain caused by fibromyalgia.
- Nutrition. Cutting processed foods, sugar and other foods from your diet that cause inflammation will help your body feel better and can also reduce bloating.
- Meditation. Meditation or mindful breathing exercises are an easy, cost free way to reduce stress that triggers and worsens symptoms.
- Nutritional and herbal supplements. As we age, our bodies lose vital vitamins and minerals. Supplements are an easy way to replenish things like D3, B-vitamins and magnesium. While GLA and herbs can support perimenopause relief, reduce inflammation and boost mood.
For more ways on dealing with chronic pain, I also recommend these tips from the American Psychological Association. They include managing stress, constructive positive thinking, staying actively engaged socially and seeking out additional support. I also like these easy ideas for “exercise snacks” throughout the day.
Turning to Herbal Supplements for Symptom Relief of Fibromyalgia & Perimenopause
It’s important to remember that herbal remedies can take up to 3 months to start working and see benefits. Therefore, starting and stopping prior to that is a disservice to both your health and your pocketbook. So be sure you’re ready to commit to the time and cost of discovering the best solutions for symptom relief of fibromyalgia and/or perimenopause. It’s also important to note that herbal supplements may interact with medications you may be taking. Therefore, as with all herbal supplements, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements so you are aware of possible interactions and symptoms.
Following is a list of the herbal supplements and vitamins that I take daily, why I take them and how they help.
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a naturally occuring compound in our bodies that helps produce and regulate hormones as well as maintain cell membranes. As we age, the amount of SAMe our body produce decreases. Fortunately, we can replenish those lower levels in the same way we replenish low levels of other vitamins and minerals.
While there is no naturally occuring form of SAMe outside of our own bodies, thanks to modern science there is a synthetic version available that works the very same way. A clinically researched supplement, SAMe supports a healthy mood and offers joint comfort. Studies have shown that SAMe can help with depression, is beneficial for people with liver disease and helps with symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Here’s why SAMe is my #1 recommendation for symptom relief of fibromyalgia and perimenopause.
- As women we are more prone to developing osteoarthritis as we age. SAMe offers similar pain relief and improvement in joint function as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This can also help with fibromyalgia pain.
- When I was taking celexa – an SSRI drug that reduces anxiety and boosts mood – my fibromyalgia pain was significantly reduced. However, I did experience a number of side effects. These included simply not giving a shit, lack of judgment and poor impulse control, and weight gain. SAMe has tackled my anxiety and in turn helped with stress levels and pain without any of those side effects. This reduction of anxiety and stress has in turn has also relieved my tension headaches, conquered my recurrent TMJ and helped with depression and better stress management.
- As you experience spikes and sharp drops in serotonin as hormone levels change throughout perimenopause, you also experience drastic shifts in mood. These include those “crazy mood swings” as well as depression. To treat this, my gynecologist actually recommended I take an SSRI drug for symptom relief. Since I’ve been there and done that, I decided to try SAMe instead. It does everything an SSRI drug does and more.
- While SAMe boosts serotonin in your brain and acts like an SSRI drug, there are none of the unwanted side effects that come with taking a prescription SSRI medication.
Unfortunately, if you have ever had serotonin syndrome, you can’t take SAMe. Otherwise, I recommend 800mg of Nature Made SAM-e Complete daily for symptom relief of fibromyalgia. If you don’t have fibromyalgia, and simply need emotional support for perimenopause, I recommend starting at 200mg per day then increasing your dose to 400mg (on up to 800mg if needed or to treat fibro symptoms) after two weeks at the initial dose.
New Chapter Every Woman’s 40+ One Daily Multi
As many of tend to be deficient in necessary vitamins and minerals as we age, a multivitamin is a must. New Chapter Every Woman’s 40+ One Daily Multi is my by far my favorite vitamin. (This from the girl who used to take two chewable Flintstones +Iron a day.) Specially formulated for women in their 40s, this multivitamin not only offers necessary vitamins and minerals, it also offer bone, energy, stress and hormone support.
This #1-selling fermented multivitamin brand, this clean, whole-food fermented multivitamin delivers superfoods like ginger, organic turmeric & fenugreek and is made with certified organic vegetables and herbs. Many of the key ingredients I find especially beneficial not just for nutritional support but also for symptom relief of fibromyalgia and perimenopause.
Because this vitamin contains D3, it not only helps support bone health, but it also can help with pain. Low levels of D3 are linked to higher levels of pain. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had extremely low levels of vitamin D. In turn, my mother’s arthritis had grown increasingly worse about two years back. She too, had low levels of vitamin D as well as low bone density that can lead to osteoporosis.
This multivitamin also contains B6. The mineral B6 offers a number of health benefits that are backed by science. It can help to improve mood, promote brain health, aid in hemoglobin production to reduce symptoms of anemia, minimize the risk of heart disease, promote eye health and decrease inflammation caused by arthritis.
When combined with magnesium, B6 can help reduce symptoms of PMS including mood swings, irritability and anxiety. It’s also been show that low levels of B6 in older women can double our risk of depression. Therefore, by maintaining healthy B6 levels, it’s possible it can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression associated with both perimenopause and fibromyalgia. (You can learn more about vitamin B6 here.)
This multivitamin also contains schizandra berry, maca root and chamomile for energy and stress support. While a natural herbal blend with chaste tree berry, red clover flower and raspberry leaf offers hormone support that I found help ease hot flashes and night sweats.
If you aren’t yet 40, you can try New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily Multi. Or they also offer a women’s multivitamin for 55+.
When I finally figured out I was going through “the change” (and WTF do you mean perimenopause can last up to 7 years?!) I knew I did not want to take hormone supplements. My mom actually got cervical cancer from taking hormone pills that were over prescribed for a period of 15 years. And I have a friend who developed breast cancer when she turned 40. As it turned out my gynecologist actually suggested I try herbal remedies for perimenopause relief before I even considered hormone treatment.
Estroven is common, over-the-counter product for natural menopause relief. It contains clinically proven soy isoflavones for hot flash relief and increased energy as well as twice as much as black cohosh as other leading brands. In addition, it also contains magnolia bark which helps you manage stress, offers relief from menopausal anxiety and aids with digestion. However, you do have to take this product for three months to notice a difference.
I FINALLY passed that 3-month mark of taking Estroven for it to work. And while my daily New Chapter multivitamin helped with hot flashes and night sweats, this product significantly reduced hormone fueled food cravings, reduced bloating, helped with irritability and mood swings and provided additional support for hot flashes and night sweats. As I take Estroven Maximum Strength + Energy, this product also helps with fatigue caused by both the perimenopause and the fibromyalgia.
While I don’t recommend this product if you aren’t going through perimenopause, it does help with the hormone changes that often cause fibro flare ups. (Just as a side note I did take the New Chapter Every Woman’s 40+ One Daily Multi for several months prior to starting this product. I did not start them at the same time.)
Evening Primrose with 10% GLA
Evening primrose oil is a fatty acid that also offers hormone support. This cold pressed oil is comprised of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid that our bodies use to to produce eicosanoids, known as “local hormones.” Additionally, evening primrose also supports skin health and offers immune support. It’s taken for a variety of health concerns including eczema and psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, diabetic nerve damage and chronic fatigue, acne, PMS, breast pain, endometriosis and hot flashes and hot flushes cause by perimenopause.
Studies show that the GLA found in evening primrose oil not only reduces hot flashes, it can also improve heart health and reduce blood pressure. Additionally, older research has indicated that the linolenic acid in evening primrose can also ease symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, such as tingling and weakness caused by diabetes. In turn it’s possible it can also help with the pain symptoms and weakness you experience with fibromyalgia.
I am one of those unlucky people that experiences not hot flashes, but hot flushes. Similar to a hot flash in that there’s a sudden feeling of heat that spreads throughout the body, with hot flushes you also experience sweating, palpitations and flushing of the face. It’s not fun. Evening primrose really helped with my own hot flushes when I first started taking it prior to my use of Estroven. I recommend taking Nature’s Way EfaGold Evening Primrose with 10% GLA twice daily in addition to your daily multivitamin for additional hormone support if you are allergic to the soy Estroven. You can learn more about hot flushes here.
Irwin Naturals Sunny Mood
Anxiety, tension and pain are my jam where fibromyalgia is concerned. However, Irwin Naturals Sunny Mood helps to further reduce my anxiety even in those uncomfortable social situations. This unique blend contains D3 and magnesium along with fish oil (DHA), rhodiola extract, L-Theanine, lemon balm and passionflower. Brought together, this combination of adaptogenic botanicals, soothing nerve relaxants and harmonizing nutrients help to maintain mental balance during times of heightened emotional stress. This supplement if perfect for anyone with temporary depressed mood, occasional anxiety, emotional reactivity, temporary stress-related exhaustion and mental fatigue. ie. All the symptoms of fibromyalgia and perimenopause.
Sunny Mood can be taken either as needed or for daily maintenance depending on your emotional health needs.
While I already covered the benefits of D3 and magnesium, here’s a brief overview of the other ingredients, which were actually recommended by my licensed holistic therapist for symptom relief of fibromyalgia.
- An omega-3 fatty acid, DHA is linked to improved heart health, better vision, and reduced inflammatory response. Studies also show that it can help with ADHD symptoms, improve focus and help protect against depression.
- Like CBD oil, Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogenic herb. In short, adaptogens are herbal supplements that have to the ability to help stabilize physiological processes and promote homeostasis. As such, Rhodiola extract specifically promotes overall physical and emotional wellbeing by reducing stress, combating fatigue, increase mental performance and improving physical and mental fitness.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in both green and black tea that naturally improves mental focus and cognitive performance as well as contribute to relaxation and improve sleep quality. It’s believed that L-theanine affects the levels of certain chemicals in the brain including serotonin and dopamine. Both of which influence mood, sleep and emotion. Additionally, it also affects cortisol which helps the body deal with stress.
- Lemon balm is common culinary herb that’s often used in traditional medicine to treat both anxiety and insomnia. Also popular as an essential oil, lemon balm essential oil is used in aromatherapy to promote calmness and ease stress.
- Like lemon balm, passionflower is another herb traditionally used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in addition to certain forms of pain. While there are several types of passionflower, only the variety known as Passiflora incarnata, is used medicinally. This strain in particular increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA) in the brain – a chemical the brain makes to help regulate mood. As GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it counters the neurotransmitters that cause excitement, which in turn can provide a calming effect.
As both fibromyalgia and perimenopause can result in trouble sleeping, I often have to take something to help me rest. Otherwise I not only have trouble falling asleep, I literally wake up every two hours. While melatonin does help to an extent, I’ve found it works best when used in conjunction with an herbal supplement.
Currently I’m taking a store brand herbal supplement from Earth Fare. It combines 6 mg of melatonin with a blend of valerian root, hops strobiles, skullcap, passionflower and California poppy. I simply take two capsules about a half hour before I’m ready to go to bed to help promote rest and relaxation. If you don’t have an Earth Fare near you, you can easily find a similar herbal supplement across other health and wellness brands.
Otherwise, an essential oil blend comprised of 3 drops vetiver essential oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil and 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil in an essential oil diffuser at bedtime helps with insomnia and other general sleep issues. (If you’d like to learn how to get started using essential oils, be sure to check out my article on essential oils for home, health and beauty.)
Do you struggle with fibromyalgia, perimenopause – or even both as I do? I’d love to hear your thoughts on natural supplements you use for symptom relief of fibromyalgia and perimenopause that have worked for you! After all. Everyone is unique in their own body chemistry. And helping one another find solutions to live our best lives through the exchange of information is what it’s all about.
For more natural health and wellness alternatives to incorporate into every aspect of your life, be sure to visit my natural health and wellness Pinterest board.
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This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Information on products mentioned are based on my own personal experience and have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a physician prior to making any changes that may impact your health.
July 9, 2019 at 9:33 am
This is a great resource! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. This will help so many women, myself included.
Rebecca D. Dillon
July 9, 2019 at 11:14 am
You’re welcome! 🙂
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