1. Overview

    According to most current medical definitions, fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical disorder characterized by chronic, widespread pain, and a heightened and painful response to pressure.  Other core symptoms include joint stiffness, difficulty swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling.  And since fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain — and often include overwhelming fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, depression, and what has aptly been termed “brain fog” — the alternative term “fibromyalgia syndrome” (FMS) is often applied to this condition. 
    However, if you’re one of the estimated 2-4% of the population afflicted with this elusive and often incapacitating disease, defining it provides little if any relief.  Nor do the battery of commonly-prescribed pain relievers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, steroids, or newly-available pharmaceuticals that leave you drained and disoriented, with side-effects ranging from diarrhea and headaches, to vomiting, nervousness, and bleeding ulcers.
    But could the answer to fighting the symptoms of fibromyalgia be as simple as adopting a raw vegetable diet?  According to several raw vegetarian diet trials, the answer could a resounding, “Yes!”  In fact, even a 3-week vegetarian diet could have a remarkable effect on fibromyalgia symptoms.
    Adopting what is termed a "living-foods" vegan diet, individuals involved in several recent and ongoing studies have reported significant improvements in pain levels, quality of sleep, and morning stiffness.  These studies, along with anecdotal evidence that was gathered throughout the course of the studies, indicate that a mostly raw food vegetarian diet is indeed helpful in breaking the cycle of pain and discomfort of FM and FMS. 
    In one study, a pure vegetarian diet composed mostly of common fruits, vegetables, nuts, tubers, carrot juice, and dehydrated barley grass juice was used for a 7-month period of time.  As part of the study, subjects were supplied with informational pamphlets describing what foods to eat (fresh fruits, salads, raw vegetables, carrot juice, nuts, seeds, whole grain products, tubers, flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil), what foods to avoid (alcohol, caffeine, foods containing refined sugar, corn syrup, refined and/or hydrogenated oil, refined flour, dairy, eggs, and all meat), and how to prepare freshly extracted carrot juice (thought to be one of the key components).  Subjects were also given a 2-month supply of dehydrated barley grass juice powder and a blend of laxative herbs and psyllium seed.
    Twelve physical performance measures were collected at the beginning and end of the study for the purpose of comparison:
    > shoulder pain at rest
    > range of active motion
    > abduction (movement of a limb away from the body)
    > flexion (bending the elbow or knee)
    > shoulder pain on motion
    > pain on motion of hand to neck and hand to shoulder
    > isometric shoulder endurance
    > neck rotation
    > hand grip strength
    > flexibility of the low back and hamstrings using the sit-and-reach method
    > chair test (number of times a subject could stand up in a minute)
    > a six-minute walk 
    Subjects were also asked to report their health status using a prepared Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire which included a quality of life survey which asked about 16 different aspects of life with a scale from 0 to 7 for each question.
    While researchers cannot specifically ascertain what dietary factors led to the great improvements the fibromyalgia sufferers experienced, all agree that is was most likely the synergistic result of several combined factors, and unlikely to have been a single factor that a dietary supplement could reproduce–the results having been generated by an overall dietary change. 
    They did note, however, that high intakes of fruits and vegetables resulted in high levels of fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium that undoubtedly contributed to the positive end results. 
    Most significantly, however, following the completion of the studies, in almost every case where the individual reverted back to a standard diet, fibromyalgia symptoms quickly returned, showing even more clearly the association between diet and FM and FMS.

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