Before you buy
There are a range of conventional and natural products available that might help muscle pain. For safe use of over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies and supplements, consult a qualified person (such as a pharmacist) before buying or taking any medicine, remedy or supplement:
– if you have a serious medical condition
– if you are breast-feeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant
– if you suffer from allergies
Registered herbal medicines (bearing the THR logo) will have a package insert. Read this before taking the product.
Avoid taking the product if you think you may be allergic to any of the ingredients.
Do not combine over-the-counter medicines, remedies or supplements with prescribed medicines unless you have first checked with your prescriber or a pharmacist.
Seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist:
– If your symptoms do not get better
– if your symptoms get worse
– if you get new symptoms or have a side effect
The information here, including dosages, only applies to adults (over 16 years). Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
Many modern drugs started as medicinal plants and people have been using herbs to treat illnesses for thousand of years. Some of these remedies have been tested against the toughest health conditions, and plants with the strongest reputations across many cultures deserve a close look.
From the way they have been described in old texts, and from what we now know of the action of many plant constituents, it is possible favourite plant remedies work particularly by nudging better function in digestion, circulation, and eliminatory processes: helping the body help itself rather than directly attack a disease. Women also favoured plants in managing their health and childrearing needs.
Researchers are now discovering that many herbal medicines have useful benefits for the body, including in healing and repair, in stabilising hormonal responses (including stress hormones, insulin and sex hormones), and in reducing long-term inflammation.
Self care options
There many different painkillers available and they can be very helpful for acute pain. But they can cause headaches if used over long periods.
Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol, can be very helpful in managing persistent muscle pain. Aspirin and ibuprofen are less helpful.
If used in the correct dose, painkillers are generally safe. Fibromyalgia is a long-term problem and taking painkillers (whether prescription or over-the-counter) every day can cause side effects.
Side effects can include headaches, indigestion and even stomach ulcers or bleeding. Stop taking them if you start getting indigestion or stomach pain, and tell your GP or pharmacist. Always follow the stated dose.
Capsules are available from pharmacies and healthfood shops, and may cost up to £15 per month.
People with fibromyalgia often feel anxious or depressed and over-tired. Low levels of vitamin D can cause all these symptoms. So if you are suffering with anxiety, low mood and/or persistent muscle pain you may want to get a blood test on your vitamin D levels. Doctors are increasingly concerned about low vitamin D, especially in the Asian community. If your diet is poor (especially if low on dairy products) and you don’t get into the sun, ask your doctor about a vitamin D blood test. If it’s normal, there’s no point in taking vitamin D. If it’s low, your GP will prescribe it for you
There is some direct evidence of association between low vitamin D and symptoms associated with chronic muscle pain.
Vitamin D supplements can be bought over the counter. The average adult gets by on 5 microgrammes (200 IU) a day. More is needed as you get older. For instance the US National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a daily intake of 800 to 1,000 IU per day for adults over age 50. This vitamin can build up in the body. Overdoses are dangerous. The upper daily limit considered safe is 4,000 IU per day for adults.
Vitamin D is a fairly inexpensive supplement. In addition, oily fish and dairy products are good sources of vitamin D, and sunlight helps the body make vitamin D.