Dear Pharmacist,

I've had fibromyalgia for the last 8 years, and I take Lyrica, Hydrocodone and citalopram for medicine. My local pharmacist said those are used to treat pain and depression but I want to make sure with you. And also, I'd like to know what natural alternatives I have.

—S.D., Gainesville, Florida

Answer: Fibromyalgia affects millions of people worldwide. In latin, the term describes pain in the muscles and fibrous tissue."

The muscle pain and tender points can become rather painful, and sometimes disabling but I believe there is an underlying cause, perhaps infection, nutrient deficiencies, mitochondrial dysfunction, the drug mugging effect of medicines and more. I'll elaborate shortly, but you asked me to confirm the uses of your medicines. The Lyrica (pregabalin) is used to soothe nerve pain and can make you drowsy. So can the hydrocodone which is used to reduce a pain chemical called "Substance P" and the citalopram (Celexa) is classified as an antidepressant but that's not necessarily how it's being used. Sure, it lifts a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin, which improves mood and reduces pain. Antidepressants that improve levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine may be even more effective. My point is this class of drugs is often used to relieve pain, not necessarily for depression. All three require prescription.

The cause of muscle pain varies greatly from person to person. Try not to concern yourself too much with the name of your disease or your "diagnosis" because the labels you take on as an identity make it harder for you to overcome. Just think in terms of having symptoms, rather than diseases, it's more pleasant.

The following are some known causes for muscle pain and if you can find out the cause you can address it. With the help of a conscientious practitioner and state-of-the-art blood tests, find out if you have:

Infections- Pathogens known as EBV, CMV and HSV are known to hide in the body and cause muscle pain. Some cause chicken pox and shingles. Lyme disease, Bartonella, Babesia, Hepatitis C, coxsackie and parvovirus may cause terrible muscle pain.

Magnesium deficiency- This causes widespread muscle pain. This nutrient is depleted by coffee, and "The Pill," certain menopause medications, antacids, acid blockers, steroids and 200 other drugs! Taking high-quality magnesium supplements along with malice acid (derived from green apples) can support muscle health.

Selenium deficiency- This can cause thyroid disease as well as muscle pain. Improving selenium can reduce thyroid antibodies and support immune system health.

CoQ10 deficiency- Over 300 drugs are drug muggers, among them statin cholesterol reducing medications. When you are CoQ10 deficient, your muscles can spasm, become weak and hurt badly. There are more causes (and solutions) so if you'd like to receive a more comprehensive version of this week's column, please come to my website and sign up for my free newsletter, I'll email it to you next week. The take home message today is that fibromyalgia may be correctable if you find out what the underlying cause is, so don't resign yourself.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website, SuzyCohen.com

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)