The most prominent feature of fibromyalgia, also known as myofascial pain or fibrositis, is the presence of tender, swollen, and painful muscle knots distributed throughout the body. This symptom is usually accompanied by stiffness, fatigue, and nonrestorative sleep. Other symptoms include alternating diarrhea and constipation (irritable bowel syndrome), headaches, numbness and tingling, and restless legs. Finally, people with fibromyalgia frequently develop prolonged discomfort from injuries so mild that they would not hurt a healthy person for more than a short time.
In severe cases, people with fibromyalgia experience extreme discomfort when almost any part of the body is pressed upon, even lightly. Milder cases involve moderate to severe pain that wanders from one location to another.
Current evidence regarding use of homeopathic remedies for fibromyalgia is mixed.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, researchers tested the remedy Rhus toxicodendron 6c on 30 people with fibromyalgia who fit the symptom picture of Rhus tox, as assessed by a homeopathic physician.1 For 1 month, the participants took either Rhus tox 6c or placebo three times daily. For the following month, the participants took the opposite treatment; however, neither participants nor observers knew which was which.
Participants experienced a statistically significant improvement when they were taking the Rhus tox as compared to when they were taking placebo. The number of tender spots was reduced by 25% on average, and the improvement in overall pain and sleep scores was marked when taking the treatment.
However, another small double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find evidence of benefit.2 In this study, 24 participants with fibromyalgia were given either placebo or one of three homeopathic remedies (Arnica, Bryonia, or Rhus tox) at 6c potency, prescribed according to traditional homeopathic indications. Participants took remedies or placebo twice daily for 3 months.
The results showed no statistically significant improvements in symptoms among those participants receiving homeopathic remedies as compared to those given placebo. However, researchers were able to find some evidence of benefit in a subgroup of participants. At the very beginning when the homeopathic practitioners chose the initial remedy, they noted whether the remedy was a close fit to the patient or not according to the principles of classical homeopathy. It turns out that if you look only at people whose remedy fit well based on the whole person symptom picture, then some benefits were seen.
This seems to indicate that properly chosen homeopathic remedies might be helpful for fibromyalgia. However, considering the very small number of people involved, it is really impossible to draw any conclusions.
In classical homeopathy, there are many possible homeopathic treatments for fibromyalgia, to be chosen based on various specific details of the person seeking treatment.
For instance, if you feel bruised as if you slept on a very hard bed and you are physically restless and irritable, as well as fatigued, then you may fit the symptom picture of Arnica montana. In addition, the use of Arnica is said to be particularly indicated when the cause of your current complaints can be attributed to a previous injury.
If you want to lie still because even a slight movement makes the pain worse and you prefer cool applications to warm ones, then your symptom picture may fit the remedy Bryonia. Other characteristics associated with this remedy include feeling extremely grumpy and not wanting anyone to disturb you.
Homeopathic Rhus tox is used under circumstances similar to those that indicate Bryonia. However, unlike the Bryonia recipient, who wants to lie still and is made worse by the least motion, the Rhus tox picture invokes a person who benefits from motion and wants to be active. In addition, the condition will worsen with exposure to cold and dampness and improve in dry warm weather.
1. Fisher P, Greenwood A, Huskisson EC, et al. Effect of homeopathic treatment of fibrositis (primary fibromyalgia). BMJ. 1989;299:365–356.
2. Fisher P. An experimental double-blind clinical trial method in homeopathy: use of a limited range of remedies to treat fibrositis. Br Homeopath J. 1986;75:143–147.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 12/15/2015