Harmful gut bacteria contribute to your fibromyalgia and chronic pain

by | Mar 21, 2011 | Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain, Functional Medicine | 1 comment

Scientists tested fibromyalgia patients to see if they had an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the small intestine.

Not only did the fibromyalgia patients have higher levels of bacteria than a group of controls, the tests showed they had higher levels than people with irritable bowel syndrome.

The level of bacterial overgrowth also correlated with pain intensity – the worse the bacterial imbalance was, the higher the individual’s pain.

The article appeared in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease in 2004.

The test that was used was a lactulose hydrogen breath test.  To perform this test they give someone a dose of lactulose – that’s a synthetic sugar that isn’t digested by your intestinal tract, but which bacteria can feast on.  The bacteria break the lactulose down into hydrogen. Then the researchers check how much hydrogen you’re exhaling.  The hydrogen levels give an indication of the amount of bacteria in your system.

Conclusion:  If you have chronic pain or fibromyalgia, you’ve got to rebalance your intestinal flora.

Six top reasons your gut bacteria are out of whack in the first place

  • Taking antibiotics, birth control pills, NSAIDs, or other pharmaceuticals
  • You’re eating refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Not enough soluble fiber – the kind found in fruits and vegetables
  • Too much wheat and other grains, especially when they’re processed into flour
  • Ongoing stress
  • Chronic low-grade infection

Seeking a natural treatment of fibromyalgia?  Five changes to implement immediately

I’ve compiled this list based on common suggestions made by natural health authorities and my own experience in helping people achieve mastery of fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

  • Minimal (i.e. zero) use of added sugars
  • Minimal intake of bread, pasta, or anything else made from flour
  • Supplement with probiotics to restore healthy gut bacteria
  • Have your teeth cleaned
  • Steam some kale.  And then eat it.


Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.

1 Comment

  1. Vickie Williams

    I have been dealing with excess weight and fibro also. This is really interesting as one of the things I am craving is sugars. Thank you for sharing this. I am going to try it and see if it makes a difference.


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