Sleeping tablet 'eases the agony of fibromyalgia' for sufferers like Lady Gaga
The chronic pain condition, which celebs like Lady Gaga, Kirsty Young and Sinead O'Connor have, has no treatment – so people often have to just leave with the headaches, tiredness and muscle stiffness.
But scientists now believe that taking melatonin might help improve fibromyalgia patients' quality of life.
Oral doses of the sleep aid have been found to improve mood, decrease anxiety and stress levels in those with the condition.
People with fibromyalgia tend to have mood disorders and mental conditions which can severely impact their quality of life.
Without specific treatments, patients are forced to use painkillers, sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety medications.
But melatonin is a natural substance that has all of these properties build in.
And according to a new study, it's been shown to have positive results in fibromyalgia patients, Fibromyalgia News Today reports.
Scientists got 36 women aged 40-60 (all suffering from fibromyalgia) to start a 110-day trial. For ten days, they didn't receive any treatment and that was then followed by five rounds of melatonin treatment.
Each round involved taking the substance for ten days in a row, followed by a placebo for ten days.
Every ten days, the women then filled out surveys to help evaluate their physical and psychological symptoms, pain levels and mood, and handed in urine samples to measure stress levels.
Scientists found that melatonin improved mood, pain levels, and quality of life and caused a slight reduction in anxiety – and the best responses were obtained with the higher doses.
Patients also reported that the treatment improved their family and social relations, state of mind and fitness.
Cortisol (stress) levels decrease significantly when patients were given a mid-to-high dose of the substance.
What is fibromyalgia?
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, although the symptoms can be controlled to make it easier to live with.
Exercise has been found to help ease many painful symptoms, while others find relaxation techniques can help keep the condition under control.
Treatment could include a combination of lifestyle changes, painkilling medication and counselling or another form of therapy, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:
- increased sensitivity to pain
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- muscle stiffness
- difficulty sleeping
- problems with mental processes (known as "fibro-fog") – such as problems with memory and concentration
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
Tips for coping with the condition include:
- Minimise stress – assess your work stress, learn to say no to things that may stress you out
- Work to improve communication skills
- Keep a daily diary – see if you can understand what may trigger an attack
- Soak in a warm bath
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce caffeine
- Use tools for relaxation of your mind and body
- Ensure you have a good sleep routine
They also said that they “did observe slight dose-dependent improvements in some variables with lower doses, though these changes were not statistically significant".
More research is needed to examine exactly how long and how much of it should be used to best treat fibromyalgia but it's a promising start.
You can't buy melatonin in the UK over the counter although you can get it on prescription.
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