Note: The text below is a transcription from the video above. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
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Is fibromyalgia genetic? That is a yes and no question. Okay, so fibromyalgia. So what is fibromyalgia? So it’s a garbage pale type of a diagnosis that most of your doctors give you when they have no clue what’s causing your chronic conditions, your chronic pain, your chronic fatigue, your chronic bowel issues, and all that. So in understanding what does cause all of those things, there can be a genetic proponent to it, and there may not be a genetic proponent to it. So let’s talk about the not genetic proponent.
You can get fibromyalgia diagnoses from a doctor who is frustrated and confused and doesn’t know where to go with it. So you go to a rheumatologist and they just say, “You got fibromyalgia.” And then they just start giving you the medications for it. You can have fibromyalgia, pain from stress. Chronic stress will break down your system and it can break down your gut. It can break down your cells. It can create inflammatory responses throughout your body. And then ultimately, you can start getting secondary fibromyalgia pain, if you will, that kind of wax and wanes. It comes and goes, you don’t know why, from your gut breaking down because of the stress response. You can have it because your gut is broken down and you’ve developed food sensitivities. And I’m not going to be able to cover the whole spectrum here, but I’m just trying to give you the kind of the idea.
You can get food sensitivities. And food sensitivities, you eat the food one day and maybe three days later, suddenly you have a fibromyalgia flare up and you don’t know what’s going on. It’s because that undigested food particle has gotten through your system. It’s become a sensitivity. It’s flared up an inflammatory response. That inflammatory response is contributing to creating inflammatory proteins. That can cause joint pain. That can cause fibromyalgia pain. Usually it’s just people have a burning or numbness or tingling or sharp shooting pains. It can be any of those. All over, it moves around.
It’s there one day, it’s there not … The reason it’s there one day or not the next day is because of stress. You don’t have stress every day, all day long. Because of food sensitivities, you’re not eating foods that are sensitive to every day, all day long. In fact, you don’t even know what you’re eating as far as sensitivities go. Could be blood sugar swings from the stress responses. Blood sugar swings is one of the most underappreciated generators of chronic pain, especially chronic pain that comes and goes, or comes and goes in kind of a timely pattern comes every afternoon or comes first thing in the morning, or things of that nature. So these are all, and there’s more, but these all fall into the category of no, those are not genetic.
Now a good portion of my patient population, probably 75% of my patient population is autoimmune, maybe more, but certainly in that area. And so in that case, the answer would be yes, all right? And the reason is, is because really what autoimmunity is you have to have the genetic disposition in your DNA to turn on the genes that allows your immune system to attack you when you have exposed yourself to triggers that trigger a immune response, an exacerbating immune response, to your body could be an overwhelming affection. Could be a flu, could be a food sensitivity, could be a lot of things. That cause your immune system to flare up, and then your genetics have said to attack, I’m pointing to your thyroid because I have Hashimoto;s, to attack that particular tissue. Like in my case, it would be my thyroid. I also have celiac, and we’ll just go with that.
So I had this conversation yesterday with someone who’s not showing positive antibodies, but when we started figuring out what chronic fatigue was, what chronic pain was, thus fibromyalgia, immunodeficiency disease, we didn’t know what labs would look like. Testing wasn’t that good in proving that the person had autoimmunity and that they were turning on these genetic genes. And one of the things that we noticed was we should look to the history. So if the person came in and they had a lot of symptoms of, I’ll just use Hashimoto’s because I do a ton of Hashimoto’s.
So let’s just say they had 17 out of 20 symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease. Their labs were normal, but we looked at … Well, I should use my history. But we looked at their history. My mother had her thyroid taken out. Her sister had her thyroid taken out. Their mother had a goiter her whole life. And in that side of the family, their brother had MS. So it was not a far push that when I was triggered, my triggers were stress and pneumonia and Epstein-Barr virus over two different times, okay? It wasn’t unusual. I wasn’t surprises that I developed autoimmune problems.
So we would just look and see, okay, tests are normal, 17 out of 20 symptoms, mother, aunt, grandmother, uncle, we’re treating this fibromyalgia patient as an autoimmune problem. So that’s a yes. So that whole group of patients who have fibromyalgia and maybe haven’t investigated, maybe just from listening to this, maybe just go, “Hey, do I have autoimmunity in my family? Oh yeah, my grandmother had thyroid problem. Ah, but they didn’t say she has Hashimoto’s.” Well, back then, they wouldn’t have diagnosed her with Hashimoto’s, and today even the Mayo Clinic says 85% to 95% of thyroid problems were Hashimoto’s. So what are the chance of my mother having it? 85% to 95%. Her sister? 85% to 95%. Goiter, okay? I don’t think we had iodized salt in 1950, so it was probably Hashimoto’s that was causing my grandma to have a goiter, and we know that my uncle had MS, and so we know that he had autoimmune disease. So that’s how you think these through as a functional medicine practitioner.
So yeah, so you could have fibromyalgia without having a hereditary barrier. I will say this. I will say this, I do think there’s more, and I think there’s more hereditary predispositions as I’ve looked at people’s histories over my functional medicine career than there are people that come in who don’t have a genetic predisposition. And the people who come in who have fibromyalgia pains and symptoms, and they even got a diagnosis from a rheumatologist, et cetera, the ones who don’t have a hereditary predisposition, they respond much, much better. They respond much better because they don’t have an autoimmunity.
There’s just like a whole nother world of what you have to do to the autoimmune patient who’s got a hereditary disposition than the one … Than the person that you’re working with who does not. So that pretty much covers is fibromyalgia hereditary.