Functional Medicine And Fibromyalgia

This article was reviewed by David W, DPT .

Oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and, inflammation common 2 events in skin of patients with Fibromyalgia.

Recent research has begun to show that a number of different disease processes, ranging from cancer and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia, may be more closely tied to inflammatory cascades in our immune system, than we had previously thought. Previously, patients with fibromyalgia have been diagnosed only after ruling out a number of other serious options. Treatment is often lacking, as many healthcare providers ascribe symptoms off as stress related, or ‘psycho-somatic.’

A study published in 2014 sheds new light on what may be going on behind the scenes, revealing a correlation between increased oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, increased pain. In the study, skin samples were taken from 25 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and compared to samples of 20 healthy women in the control group. The results showed significant oxidative stress in the FM group, which was marked by mitochondrial dysfunction (damaged mitochondrial DNA), and impaired ability to create ATP (the energy that drives all metabolic activity in our bodies).

This mitochondrial dysfunction is often thought to be due to damage from an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals. Free radicals are simply atoms or molecules with an extra electron, and are necessary to create ATP and sustain life. When antioxidants are present in an equal ratio, free radicals can pair up with the anti-oxidants. That extra electron likes to try and pull apart other molecules in your cells to equal out it’s charge, so when there is no antioxidant to help out, it can potentially wreak havoc on various parts of your mitochondrial DNA, ribosomal DNA, and other organelles in your cells. Over time this can lead to widespread dysfunction on a microscopic level, and eventually manifest in real (and not so microscopic symptoms).

Integrative or Functional medicine and nutrition makes some simple suggestions to help the common person who may be suffering from a number of symptoms. Making small changes in your lifestyle in a number of areas can make a large scale difference on a microsopic level, and leave you feeling more energized, less irritable, and with less physical pain. Adding more antioxidants into your diet (see list at end of article), avoiding foods high in saturated fats and sugars which cause inflammation, exercising a moderate amount to reduce systemic inflammation, managing stress, and getting enough sleep are all ways to help reduce systemic effects of inflammation. While there is no silver bullet, the synergistic effect of addressing diet, exercise, stress, and sleep can have profound and beneficial effects on your health.

Some of antioxidant rich foods to add into your diet!

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranate
  • Artichoke
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Tumeric
  • Oregano


  1. Ind J Clin Biochem (Jan-Mar 2015) 30(1):11–26 DOI 10.1007/s12291-014-0446-0
  2. Sánchez-Domínguez, B., et al., Oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and, inflammation common events in skin of patients with Fibromyalgia, Mitochondrion (2015),

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