Friday, December 18, 2015

Winter: the dark side of fibro; healing soup

 Illustration depicting a set of cut out printed letters arranged to form the words chronic pain. - stock photo

While others have been caught up in Star Wars mania, I have been caught up in the “fibro dark side” for the past two weeks. A fibro flare has eclipsed everything in my world. My brain has been off in some other galaxy while the rest of me has been functioning barely above the level of a speck of intergalactic dust.
It’s only been recently that I have labeled my relapses of health as “fibro flares.” It would seem more appropriate for them to be called “solar flares” because they may have something to do with the amount of sunlight our bodies receive during winter vs. summer. The change of season brings lessened light which may throw off our circadian rhythms or internal clocks, all of which may cause those of us with fibro to be more fatigued and achy. 

Okay, so my circadian rhythms are off. Is an intergalactic disaster causing my symptoms?  It might as well be. A fibro flare can be mind-numbing and overwhelming; you feel as if you’ve been hit by a truck in terms of muscle pain and stiffness. The fatigue and accompanying depression are so intense you cannot keep up with anything without an extreme act of will and determination (this, of course, doesn’t work well). Your interest in food wanes as your stomach bloats up like a giant beach ball. (Or is that an alien growing in there?)

Most fibro sufferers don’t know anything about circadian rhythms but they do know that once winter comes around and the weather changes, they feel much worse. Studies seem to back up that weather changes definitely influence fibro symptoms.

 A study in Norway found a relationship between fibromyalgia symptoms and the weather. Fibromyalgia symptoms appeared to get worse during the months of December and January, but began to improve during April and May. This suggests a direct relationship between colder temperatures and lower barometric pressures and a rise in fibromyalgia symptoms.

Another study done in Cordoba, Argentina, revealed similar results as the participants had greater pain as temperatures fell and atmospheric pressure increased.

Unfortunately, researchers do not yet know why weather appears to affect fibromyalgia symptoms so much. Besides changes in circadian rhythms, other possible influences may be changes in sleep patterns or increases in the number of pro-inflammatory cytokines which appear to be related to pain intensity.
pain relief text write on blackboard - stock photo
I have found a few things that help:

  • Get as much sunshine as possible. You may have to bring the sunshine into your house with a light box or special bulbs. Keep the blinds open when the sun is out.

  • Do lots of deep breathing during meditation or easy stretching to remove toxins.

  • Take soaking  baths in Epsom salts to help remove toxins and encourage healing.

  • Try to reset your circadian rhythms by going on a 3-4 day cleanse.

A cleanse resets your body by decreasing inflammation and detoxing your body. It gives your system a break from the difficult task of digesting harder to digest foods and works with your body’s desire to renew and repair.

Tummy tamer chicken soup (single serving)
I decided my body needed a little nudge to get back on track and start healing by following a digestive cleansing diet. I have been giving this idea a try the past week. My diet has consisted of my tummy tamer chicken soup.

I have been on cleanses before but apparently forgot all the symptoms you can experience. Actually, I was already experiencing these symptoms which simply increased in intensity.

Fatigue, weakness
Irritability, mild depression
Flu-like symptoms
Constipation, diarrhea, gas

I found taking a daily Epsom salt bath helped relieve these symptoms, and drinking lots of water and tea helped. The deep breathing with either meditation or easy stretching also was beneficial.

Tummy Tamer Soup for One

What you need:

1 cup homemade chicken broth (Make the broth following this recipe:
½ carrot cut in carrot curls or diced
½ small zucchini, diced or cut into noodles
1 handful spinach
1 stalk celery or bok choy, chopped
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Note: add other seasonings (tumeric, ginger) if desired

What you do:

Saute the vegetables in a little olive oil. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.


Good said...

Hope you feel better soon and I love the look of that chicken dish. Have a good christmas. Best wishes.

Sheree Welshimer said...

Thank you for your good wishes. I am starting to feel better. Looking forward to some sunny weather. Hope you are enjoying the holidays.