Fibromyalgia and The Digestion Connection Part 1

by Laura


This is a republish of an article I wrote in 2011. I found it VERY interesting to look back on how I was feeling then. I have come so far. My stomach was killing me almost all the time then. I could hardly eat, yet I was carrying significant weight. part 2 of this Digestive Connection to Fibromyalgia is on its way……

If you have CFS or fibromyalgia, chances are pretty good that your diet or digestion has played a role in how you feel.  It may seem obvious, but  managing pain, fatigue, digestive issues, headaches and even depression have a direct corolation to refined carbohydrates, fats, chemicals, protein sources, sufficient vegetables and fruits and more.  Even the timing of when you eat, how much you eat or don’t eat will have a huge affect on how we feel. These are all things we’ve known for some time. What I did not realize was how intertwined the digestive connection is to fibromyalgia management, depression and seratonin levels, stress, and colon motility.

I found this out the good old fashioned way…by experience! The last few weeks I’ve been through “the mill” of testing with both medical doctors, and holistic practitioners, in hopes of figuring out why the terrible pain I’ve been having on the right side of my abdomen and in my ribs for months now, could be connected to this bigger picture called Fibromyalgia, or if I have something else going on. When you have FM, sometimes there are so many issues going on with your body, that it’s difficult to separate what’s connected to your condition, and what’s totally unrelated. I must say I was reluctant to “bug” my doctor, because l wanted to be sure this was real, worth investigating and shining a light on.

I was referred for a colonoscopy first, which was my (oh goodie) first one, because I am 52. It was really not that bad. People make such a big deal about the prep and it was a breeze! Six benign polyps, some mild diverticulosis was found. I was glad I did it, because if it were not for this abdominal pain, I might not have had this procedure done for a while.  On a side note: If you are 50 or over OR you have Colon Cancer in your family, schedule an appointment today. If I had left 6 polyps in my colon, with a grandfather who died from colon cancer, well, “nuff said”!

The pain on my right side continued to get much worse, so I was referred for a CT scan. All was well except for “Bile Duct Inflammation” which they said could account for some of the pain, but not to the degree I am having, or so they think so far.  My ribs are so tender that they feel like raw meat. My doctor wants to give me more medication, and I am not willing to get on it at this point. I am trying as many holistic alternatives as possible. I have learned just in the past few days, that beyond eating a healthy diet, I am going to have to be even more specific to keep my digestion in check, and out of pain, as there does not seem to be anything else that can be done at this point. I am focusing on the positive that no cancerous tumors were found, or other disease processes. Halleluyah. My  oxygen is excellent, and I have many good things to focus and build upon!! I decided to look into the connection between FM and abdominal pain, digestive issues etc. Boy, I found a ton. So the lesson to me is, just when you think you are in control…you’re not! Let Go and allow the Universe to show you all the information you need to help you get well!

In doing research on the connection between FM and digestion, I found some really good information. “Digestive problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) frequently accompany fibromyalgia. Abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort are the main symptoms of IBS. Some people also experience constipation; others have chronic diarrhea; and some alternate between constipation and diarrhea.

Researchers have not yet discovered a specific cause for IBS. Below are some of the possibilities that might explain its relationship to FM:

  • One theory is that people who suffer from IBS have a colon, or large intestine, that is particularly sensitive and reactive to certain foods and stress. Since FM tends to involve general hypersensitivity, it follows that they could have a sensitive digestive tract.
  • Normal motility, or movement, may not be present in the colon of a person who has IBS. Staying active and exercising regularly can help the colon maintain its natural motility, but people with FM tend to be less active and often shy away from exercise because of the pain.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, “Recent research has reported that serotonin is linked with normal gastrointestinal (GI) functioning. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical, that delivers messages from one part of your body to another. Ninety-five percent of the serotonin in your body is located in the GI tract, and the other 5 percent is found in the brain. Cells that line the inside of the bowel work as transporters and carry the serotonin out of the GI tract. People with IBS, however, have diminished receptor activity, causing abnormal levels of serotonin to exist in the GI tract. As a result, they experience problems with bowel movement, motility, and sensation – having more sensitive pain receptors in their GI tract.” Since people with FM are known to have lower than normal levels of serotonin, this could be a significant factor”. Source:
If you’ve read any of my other articles on this blog, you’ll see that the past few months have been quite difficult for me. One of the most serious issues I went through (that’s much better THANK GOD!) is severe depression. The paragraph above speaks to one of the reasons that my brain was not getting the proper amounts of seratonin (a KEY feel good brain chemical).
My advice would be to guard your digestion with your life! I now have a new respect for my GI tract that I never had before! Not that I ignored what I ate, or how I digested it, but that my understanding is a personal and intimate one now in regards to its connection to how much pain I will experience in my body and abdomen particularly.
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