Fibromyalgia and Depression

Fibromyalgia can be distinguished from depression according to a study by researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada.

Studies by the primary investigator, Serge Marchand, P.D., have shown that the body’s natural ability to inhibit pain in fibromyalgia patients does not work. When the body is subjected to a lot of discomfort, the spinal cord system should pour out pain-relieving substances to soothe the tissues.

This does not happen in people with fibromyalgia. The system in the spinal cord that helps block out pain works efficiently in depressed patients, but fails to function in people with fibromyalgia. Research shows that depression and anxiety worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia and can interfere with treatment. This is a worthwhile reason to do your best to use the tools you have to control your FMS, such as:

  • Taking your medication, especially if it is for sleep! Deep restful sleep is crucial to minimizing the effects of fibromyalgia.
  • Exercise, (love my chair yoga class!)
  • Eating nutritous foods


    Depression hurts

  • Relaxing
  • Have a sense of humor, don’t take life so seriously!
  • Be social. Did you know it takes less muscles to smile than to frown?
  • Delegate – don’t overdo, though I know most of us are multi-taskers.

We are mostly bacteria!

Did you know that you have a garden growing within you? Our guts are home to over 500 bacterial species. Cell for cell, we are mostly bacteria! Single-celled organisms out-number our own cells 10 to 1, and most of them make their home in our gut— a garden within.

Gut bacteria produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood.

Often referred to as “the second brain”, the gut is the only organ to boast its own independent nervous system, an intricate network of 100 million neurons embedded in the gut wall. This network is so sophisticated that the gut continues to function even when the primary neural conduit between it and the brain, the vagus nerve, is severed!

Some important nutrients made by these “good guys” are B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and some short-chain fatty acids. Up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of the good bacteria in your gut!

While harmful bacteria can increase anxiety, several studies have shown that beneficial bacteria can cause anxiety-prone mice to calm down. It is now known that gut bacteria manufacture about 95% of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity.

Serotonin—”the Happy Hormone”

UCC Scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the  “happy hormone”, are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life. Their research is published in the international psychiatry journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

This research shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. Antibiotics are used extensively in neonatal intensive care units and in childhood respiratory tract infections and their effect of suppressing the normal microbiota may have long-term consequences on brain development.

Probiotics may help heal some of the damage caused by antibiotics. The idea that bacteria in the gut – the microbiome – can affect not only the gut, but also the mind, “has just catapulted onto the scene”, says neuroimmunologist John Bienenstock, MD, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Probiotics

Patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep apnea will show excessive blood levels of TNF, tumor necrosis factor, which promotes the inflammatory response (see NO/ONOO-: A Brief Summary of the Work of Martin Pall, Ph.D.)

Also at the University of Toronto, they found that a two month protocol of probiotics not only boosted chronic fatigue syndrome patients “good” bacteria in the gut but also led to a significant decrease in their depression and anxiety levels! They found 73% of subjects taking a probiotic experienced an increase in levels of Lactobacillus and Bifdobacteria in the gut, which corresponded with a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms, whereas in the placebo group , only 37.5% showed an increase in Bifidobacteria, while only 43.8% showed an increase in Lactobacillus bacteria.

The researchers found no significant change in anxiety symptoms among this group. Researchers believe the probiotics “crowd out” the more toxic stomach bacteria linked to depression and other mood disorders. Bifobacteria appears to increase levels of tryptophan in the brain, a chemical that “helps people feel better”. It also helps with improving the digestion, experiencing less bloating and gas and a reduction in inflammation.

The gut/brain connection

The gut-brain link was first seriously suggested by Dr. Julius Wagner-Jauregg, the only psychiatrist to have won a Nobel Prize back in 1927 (for medicine). He wrote; “Biological mediators primarily designed to combat pathogens may affect the course of psychiatric disorders.” In just the last few years, evidence has mounted from studies in rodents that the gut microbiome can influence neural development, brain chemistry, and a wide range of behavioral phenomena, including emotional behavior, pain perception and how the stress system responds.



Research has found, for instance, that tweaking the balance between beneficial and disease-causing bacteria in an animal’s gut can alter its brain chemistry and lead it to become either more bold or more anxious!

The brain can also exert a powerful influence on gut bacteria; as many studies have shown, even mild stress can tip the microbial balance in the gut, making the host more vulnerable to infectious disease and triggering a cascade of molecular reactions that feed back to the central nervous system.

I know, for myself, fear is first felt in my gut, the “nervous stomach”, also known as “butterflies”. Serotonin, the major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, is altered in times of stress, anxiety, and depression and most clinically effective antidepressant drugs work by targeting the neurochemical. Studies show that the pills that are used to treat depression may be doing more harm than good! Nature has provided us with a better way!

Re-populating the gut

Basically, probiotics are the “good” bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy and happy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for the probiotics, so a minimum of 25-30 grams is recommended as part of your daily intake..

Both help you to maintain a healthy digestive system. Foods rich in prebiotics include: asparagus, jerusalem artichokes, bananas, whole grains honey, garlic,onions and legumes Dr. Oz recommends 2 to 4 servings of these prebiotic-rich foods a day….and if Dr. Oz recommends it!

We have lost a lot of the benefits in our foods today because of them being cleaned, processed and sterilized and driven long distances and handled until they arrive at our tables. Remember, too, if you need to use an anti-biotic, supplement with probiotics to replenish the digestive tract.

How to choose a quality probiotic What to look for when choosing a probiotic:

  • A well-know and trusted brand – Choose a probiotic supplement from a trustworthy manufacturer which provides research and thorough information about the product.
  • Billions of live bacteria at the time of expiration – 1 to 15 billion and upwards of live probiotics in each capsule is a good recommendation. Look for a supplement that displays potency at time of expiration. A lot of the ingested microorganisms won’t survive through the gastrointestinal tract, and more bacteria usually means better survival rates. Generally the more the better, but if you are starting your treatments it is advisable to start with a lower quantity. Once you feel comfortable that they are not causing a severe Die-Off reaction, you can increase the dosage.
  • Know your CFU’s!   A colony forming unit is a bacteria or yeast that is capable of living and reproducing to form a group of the same bacteria or yeast.  Only the viable organisms are considered to be probiotics. “Viable” means that the microbes are capable of living under the proper circumstances.  A recommended serving size is listed and then the colony forming units in that serving size.
  • Several different bacterial strains – Different strains of bacteria have different survival rates and health benefits. Choosing a supplement with strains from different groups of probiotic bacteria will be the best bet in ensuring optimal results.
  • Well-researched strains – The health benefits of certain microorganisms have been well documented through research and clinical trials. Each manufacturer should be able to provide proof that their probiotic supplement contain well-researched and health promoting strains of bacteria.
  • Acid and bile resistant– The stomach acid and bile will kill a lot of microorganisms. Selecting a probiotic supplement with acid and bile resistant strains will ensure optimal survival.

Note: Some probiotic supplements have enteric coating or other delivery systems that are supposed to ensure survival. Using these types of delivery systems raises some concerns: – Their effectiveness varies and few manufacturers provide proof that their coating ensures survival – If these microorganisms aren’t supposed to survive through the GI tract, is it wise to artificially ensure their survival? – Some enteric coatings use synthetic ingredients – Beneficial microorganisms from natural sources don’t have any enteric coating.

Bifidus – Bifidus or Bifidobacterium bifidum is a type of beneficial bacteria that dwells naturally in the human gastrointestinal system, and especially in the lower GI tract. It promotes a healthy internal ecology, supports immune function, and promotes overall good health.

Acidophilus – Lactobacillus acidophilus helps maintain the health and optimal functioning of the upper digestive system.

Full Spectrum Probiotic


Probiotic Supplement


A full- spectrum probiotic provides several different bacterial strains. The probiotic blend I use is a combination of: * Lactobacillus helveticus * Lactococcus lactis * Bifidobacterium breve * Bifidobacterium bifidum * Bifidobacterium * Lactobacillus rhamnosus ***Proprietary Synergistic Blend: 7 billion live cell count at time of manufacture – for vibrant health from the inside out!




I am spreading the word about these amazing super-foods!

Today, besides being an active grandmother, I am a volunteer with several community organizations and I love spreading the word of how these supplements have changed my life!


I love the Algae!

If you are interested in learning more about the products I use and wrote about in this post, contact me at, I would love to hear from you!

To read more about my journey living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia – click here.

(1)  Photo credit: by  David Castillo Dominici – “Worried Young Lady” (2) Photo credit:




Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Print Friendly, PDF & Email