Is Gluten Intolerance Causing Your Fibromyalgia?

on Jul12
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

90% of those who Suffer are Women

Fibromyalgia affects about 5 million people in the US, 90% of whom are women. This common condition is characterized by chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep disorders, memory problems and tenderness at certain points on the body. The cause of fibromyalgia is not completely understood, but much the same as those who suffer from gluten intolerance that comes on in adulthood, fibromyalgia may appear after a traumatic event suffered by the body, such as an illness or surgery.

A Wonderful Success Story from a Reader

Here’s a comment from a reader. Her story so epitomizes what we see with our fibromyalgia patients:

“I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of 15. I also suffered with intermittent digestive issues and lactose intolerance dating from not long after the fibro diagnosis.

Fast-forward 20 yrs…my digestive issues were profoundly hampering my ability to leave the house, I had terrible eczema, and the fibro was getting worse and worse, despite my efforts at ‘eating right’ and exercising. I had not received much relief from the medical profession up to that point. Thank goodness for the Internet. I read of fibro patients benefiting from eating gluten-free, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Within 3 or 4 days my digestion had calmed down. Within a month or so, the fibro had eased considerably.

Now, I rarely have any issue with pain or fatigue at all. My skin cleared up and my overall ability to exercise and maintain my health has improved.

Going gluten-free has made all the difference in the world. I now have my life back.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if I have Celiac, gluten-intolerance, gluten-sensitivity, or what, as I did not have the blood tests or a scope prior to undertaking a gluten-free trial.

Frankly, though it would be nice to know, it does not matter to me as those test results would not affect my food choices. I have a very positive test available–Gluten makes me very ill, almost immediately upon ingestion. I don’t need the official stamp from a medical doctor to keep me on the gluten-free straight and narrow. For anyone else, finding a good doctor who is familiar with issues involving fibro & gluten would be a great place to start.

Maybe not all fibro patients would see these same results as many different things could be at the bottom of issue, but it’s worth checking into for those who are not finding relief from other treatments.”

We are Told There is No Cure… Or is There?

I agree with this reader completely. It definitely couldn’t hurt to be screened for gluten intolerance or engage in a gluten-free diet for 30 days.

Here at HealthNOW, in our clinical nutrition department, we have witnessed over and over again the resolution of the classic muscle aches and tender points of fibromyalgia in response to a gluten-free diet. Amongst our patients who have enjoyed successful outcomes of their fibromyalgia symptoms, there is no question of the link between fibromyalgia and gluten intolerance.

Adrenal fatigue, poor blood sugar control and hidden infections round out the most frequent causes of this condition in the patients we have treated.

If you are a sufferer of fibromyalgia, then you understand the frustrations of the frequent, unrelenting pain, stiffness, fatigue, lack of sleep and depression that are associated with it.

Study Shows 9% of Celiac Disease Sufferers Have Fibromyalgia

Large review studies examining gluten intolerance in patients with fibromyalgia have supported a higher frequency in this population. In a survey study of over 1,000 gluten intolerant individuals of varying ages, 9%  had fibromyalgia as well. This is much higher than the 2% in the normal population.

73% of Fibromyalgia Patients Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

To get a better handle on this number, it may be more accurate to look at the number of people who suffer abdominal complaints, like irritable bowel syndrome, with fibromyalgia symptoms. These statistics are staggering. In one research endeavor, an investigator found that in 123 patients with fibromyalgia  73% suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is found in a high percentage of the patients with undiagnosed gluten intolerance. Personally we see excellent success treating IBS and I can’t think of a single case who wasn’t concurrently suffering from gluten intolerance. It is safe, therefore, to assume that many of these patients with both fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome indeed suffer from gluten intolerance.

The ‘gut’ connection seems clear.

Spread the Word – A Safe Treatment is Available

Fibromyalgia is appropriately labeled a syndrome because it often has multiple causative agents coming together such as adrenal fatigue and underlying infections, as mentioned earlier. Therefore dietary changes taken alone may not result in a complete resolution. But in our experience this is no different from those suffering with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. While a gluten-free diet is a mandatory first step, the secondary effects that gluten creates must also be addressed. We find it interesting that those secondary effects are much the same issues as those found in fibromyalgia.

If you or someone you know suffers from fibromyalgia, please let them know about this information. We are here to help. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country as well as internationally. Don’t continue to suffer – give us a call or go to the ‘contact us’ page on this site. Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.

The Author

7 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Mary Schnarrs


    Lactose is the main carbohydrate or sugar found in milk, and in varying quantities in dairy products made from milk including yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose in the small intestine.Back in the cave-days, the only time a person would ever ingest lactose would be when they were infants getting milk from their mothers. During their adult lives milk was never consumed. Only with the invention of agriculture has milk become readily available to adults. Lactose is unique in that only in milk does it exist as a free form, unattached to other molecules.:^;..

    http://healthmedicinelab.comSee ya soon

    12 Jul
  2. Jona Shenkel


    Food industry applications, both of pure lactose and lactose-containing dairy by-products, have markedly increased since the 1960s. For example, its bland flavor has lent to its use as a carrier and stabiliser of aromas and pharmaceutical products. Lactose is not added directly to many foods, because it is not sweet and its solubility is less than other sugars commonly used in food. Infant formula is a notable exception, where the addition of lactose is necessary to match the composition of human milk.^.;:

    http://healthwellnessbook.comHottest piece of content on our very own web portal

    12 Jul
  3. Judi Kennon


    Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically-demanding work. In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity. It is usually obvious which activity is causing the pain…`-*

    12 Jul
  4. Emily Pecchia


    I have been suffering for 10 years with fibro. Like others I did my own research online and I have done my own trail ive been gluten free for 6 Weeks now and feel fabulous. I’m at the gym 3 days a week yoga twice a week. My energy level is so much better and my pain in gone. I don’t want to be tested because like others it won’t change my eating habits. I’m happy GF for life.

    12 Jul
  5. 5

    That’s fabulous Emily, so glad to hear!
    Let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul
  6. Sharon Anne


    I started having MS-type symptoms as long as 40 years ago, which eased up for 20 years during my child-bearing years… but then hit me hard… again 20 years later! I’ve been now in unbearable pain for the past 20 years ever since. Even suffered (was diagnosed) with Rheumatoid Arthritis for 12 years. Now treated another 8 years.

    All during that time my other diagnosis included Fibromyalgia, which my Rheumy affectionately dubbed as the F-word, say it was really nothing BUT “un-diagnosed” PAIN! That description USED to anger me. now I finally agree with his opinion of FMS.

    The past 6 years, all hell broke loose when I started to have stroke-like symptoms, with Neurological disturbances! My Rhuemy referred sent me to some neurologists and a gastroenterologist (for celiac) a scope said I wasn’t. One neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist, who said I was fine! I’ve continued with my gait problems, difficulty talking and walking, with partial paralysis. Last year it was becoming ALARMING; I was having increasing trouble swallowing and breathing, but I couldn’t afford to keep going to the hospital!

    So I went to a Allergy Clinic instead and got results. They indicated wheat allergy and severe gluten intolerance, among others. In three months I felt improvement, lost 15 lbs, six months 15 lbs more, by 9 months, 10 lbs more. Nothing different, just eliminating Gluten. I’ve since been wheat and gluten free for 15 months.

    I’ve since learned that during those 6 years, all my neurological disturbing years were cause by GLUTEN ATAXIA!!! Yet I’ve been to 3 different neurologist during those 6 years and not one of those CLOWNS clued into it and got me to start a GLUTEN-FREE diet, simply because I do not suffer from Celiac Disease!

    I am so happy that the doctor at the Allergy Clinic I went to is more up to date and open minded than the practicing neurologists currently are.

    My GP doesn’t even buy into it yet, even though I’ve been able to go COLD TURKEY OFF all my pain medication that I’ve taken for decades, plus the sleeping medication he use to prescribe too! Although in his defense I haven’t been back to see him in nearly a year now, as I haven’t needed to.

    My new Rheumy, however seems rather IMPRESSED with my improvement. To his credit, he’s a younger doctor. Sorry for being so long, but it felt good to get this off my chest. Thanks!

    12 Jul
  7. 7

    Dear Sharon Anne,

    Your story was definitely NOT too long – it was incredible! I am so very glad that you determined the real cause underlying your symptoms. We see it so very often which is why I write and video and lecture as much as I do. Hearing a story like yours makes it all worthwhile.

    Now that you’ve eliminated gluten, you might want to look into the various secondary effects of gluten and ensure none of those might be bothering you. I don’t want you to lose any of the wonderful gains you’ve gotten from something easy to address.

    If you need assistance you can always contact me for a free health analysis – we are here to help! Just call 408-733-0400.

    Dr Vikki

    12 Jul

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