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Lifestyle changes and diet for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue

A health protocol with an easily-remembered acronym includes botanical treatments and diet for fibromyalgia to reduce pain and...
Illustration by Mikael Häggström

A health protocol with an easily-remembered acronym includes botanical treatments and diet for fibromyalgia

As an experienced practitioner you’ve seen patients over the years dealing with fibromyalgia (FM) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Years ago, I would have been one them.

Having had these conditions myself, (they knocked me out of medical school and left me homeless for a year, until I figured out how to recover), I have dedicated the last 40 years to researching these conditions and helping patients overcome them.

Show patients how to SHINE

From these explorations came a health protocol with an easily-remembered acronym: “SHINE.” It is based on a double-blind placebo-controlled study showed that 91% of people improved with an average 90% increase in quality of life in two years.1

While regular adjustments are critical for the structural issues, SHINE optimizes energy production, allowing the muscles to stay released. Using powerful botanicals, you can help your patients rediscover their energy and eliminate the pain.

  • Sleep: Your patients may need to be reminded that adequate sleep, preferably 8-9 hours a night, is critical for pain relief.
  • Hormones: Hormone deficiencies can contribute to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Addressing thyroid and adrenal issues, predominantly based on symptoms, is critical.
  • Immunity: Underlying viral, bacterial, bowel, sinus, and yeast infections can be a contributing cause or result of the condition. Maximizing each patient’s immune response with natural interventions can help rebuild their defenses.
  • Nutrition: Daily multivitamins and minerals at optimal levels are key, as are absorbable forms of protein, bioavailable vitamin B-12, magnesium, acetyl L-carnitine, glutathione, and iodine, as part of a diet for fibromyalgia.
  • Exercise – as much as patients are comfortably able. After 10 weeks with a SHINE regimen tailored to them, their exercise tolerance will markedly increase.

Supplementation and diet for fibromyalgia

As part of this protocol, I strongly recommend a botanical combination of curcumin, turmerones from turmeric essential oil, boswellia, and frankincense oil to address the inflammation and pain, and also improve the mental outlook and sense of focus for patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

Curcumin from turmeric is a highly effective pain reliever and should be part of a diet for fibromyalgia. In a double-blind crossover trial, participants taking curcumin two days before and three days after a physical workout experienced moderate to large pain reduction and slightly increased performance. Exercises included gluteal stretches, squat jumps, and single-leg jumps.2

Another four-day study featuring curcumin-assessed reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle damage in healthy adults following downhill running. The curcumin group showed a 17% lower pain score, fewer inflammatory markers, and less muscle damage than the placebo group.3

Curcumin can also significantly increase BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps create neurons, maintain existing ones, and is essential for learning and plasticity.4-8 Curcumin has been shown to address rheumatoid arthritis – a condition some researchers connect to fibromyalgia.

Arthritis study

A clinical study of rheumatoid arthritis divided patients into three groups: one taking curcumin combined with turmeric essential oil (for improved absorption and blood retention) one taking the prescription drug diclofenac sodium, and one taking a combination of the two. Curcumin alone showed the best results, reducing joint pain and swelling with no adverse effects. In the drug-only group, 14% dropped out of because of side effects.9

Turmeric essential oil contains turmerones (specifically ar-turmerone) with actions similar to curcumin. Ar-turmerone stops inflammatory cascades in the brain, and could be very effective for fighting the fatigue and cognitive fog of fibromyalgia.10-13

Boswellia affects multiple pathways in the body, including 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX), for significant reduction in inflammation and pain.14, 15 Combined with curcumin, boswellia has been shown to relieve osteoarthritis pain better than prescription drugs: 64% in herbal group versus 29% in the drug group saw a dramatic improvement.15

Choosing the right boswellia is critical as part of a diet for fibromyalgia . One of its most powerful components is acetyl-11-keto-B-boswellic acid (AKBA), but unstandardized extracts may only contain 1% AKBA, and may have as much as 25% pro-inflammatory beta-boswellic acid. The specialized, clinically-studied extract has a minimum of 10% AKBA (and other helpful boswellic acids), and virtually no beta-boswellic acid.16,17

As a part of this botanical combination, frankincense oil adds anti-inflammatory relief and can help balance cortisol and boost BDNF levels. In this way, it may lower the effects of stress, emotional fatigue, and anxiety.18

Clinically-validated nutrients and botanicals, incorporation of the SHINE protocol, and a compassionate, comprehensive approach with your guidance will help your patients overcome fibromyalgia. Over time – and possibly not too long — your patients can feel physically and mentally vibrant again, and break free from its grip.

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board-certified internist and a member of the scientific advisory board of EuroMedica. He is the lead author of four groundbreaking research studies on effective treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia using an integrated treatment approach called the SHINE Protocol, which was recognized as standard of practice for fibromyalgia and chronic pain conditions. He also is the author of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution published by Avery/Penguin. To learn more go to


  1. Teitelbaum J, Bird B, Greenfield RM, Weiss A, Muenz L, Gould L, Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Vol. 8, No. 2, 2001. PP3-28.
  2. Nicol LM, Rowlands DS, Fazakerly R, Kellett J. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Aug;115(8):1769-77.
  3. Drobnic F, Riera J, Appendino G, et al. Reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness by a novel curcumin delivery system (Meriva®): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Jun 18;11:31.
  4. Xu Y, Ku B, Tie L, et al. Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Brain Res. 2006 Nov 29;1122(1):56-64
  5. Huang Z, Zhong XM, Li ZY, Feng CR, Pan AJ, Mao QQ. Curcumin reverses corticosterone-induced depressive-like behavior and decrease in brain BDNF levels in rats. Neurosci Lett. 2011;493(3):145-8.
  6. Sanmukhani J, Anovadiya A, Tripathi CB. Evaluation of Antidepressant Like Activity of Curcumin and its Combination with Fluoxetine and Imipramine: an Acute and Chronic Study. Acta Pol Pharm. 2011 Sep-Oct;68(5):769-75.
  7. Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2013;28(4):579-85.
  8. Lopresti AL, Maes M, Maker GL, Hood S, Drummond PD. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-375.
  9. Chandran B, Goel A. A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytother Res. March 9, 2012 doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639.
  10. Aggarwal BB, Yuan W, Li S, Gupta SC. Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep;57(9):1529-42.
  11. Liju VB, Jeena K, Kuttan R. An evaluation of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from Curcuma longa. L. Indian J Pharmacol. 2011 Sep;43(5):526-31.
  12. Park SY, Jin ML, Kim YH, Kim Y, Lee SJ. Anti-inflammatory effects of aromatic-turmerone through blocking of NF-κB, JNK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in amyloid β-stimulated microglia. Int Immunopharmacol. 2012 Sep;14(1):13-20.
  13. Hucklenbroich J, Klein R, Neumaier B, et al. Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014 Sep 26;5(4):100.
  14. Siddiqui MZ. Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 May;73(3):255-61. doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.93507.
  15. Antony B, Kizhakedath R, Benny M, Kuruvilla BT. Clinical Evaluation of a herbal product (Rhulief™) in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Abstract 316. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011;19(S1):S145-S146.
  16. Ammon HP. Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases. Planta Med. 2006 Oct;72(12):1100-16.
  17. Alam M, Khan H, Samiullah L, Siddique KM. A review on phytochemical and pharmacological studies of Kundur (Boswellia Serrata Roxb Ex Colebr.)-A Unani drug. J Appl Pharm Sci. 2012;2:148–56.
  18. Moussaieff A, Gross M, Nesher E, Tikhonov T, Yadid G, Pinhasov A. Incensole acetate reduces depressive-like behavior and modulates hippocampal BDNF and CRF expression of submissive animals. J Psychopharmacol. 2012 Dec;26(12):1584-93.

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