Central sensitization syndrome and microglial activation are very extensive topics that would take writing a book to fully discuss. But here’s a very simple overview.
Pain is the body’s way of saying that something needs attention. Think of it as the oil light on a car’s dashboard. When that need is not being addressed (chronic pain, I suspect from almost any cause), the body can then amplify the alert (pain). It does this in the form of amplifying the pain both through signals in the spine and in the brain. Basically, the pain is trying to get your attention. Just as if the oil light got brighter and more annoying as a car’s oil level dropped.
In the brain, this occurs when brain cells called microglial cells become activated. Think of the cells as the usually mild-mannered gardeners in the brain that tend to and nourish the brain cells. There are many things that can then make these “mellow gardeners” become very aggressive. For example, if the gardeners see bugs in the garden (think infections), something injuring their plants (think traumatic brain injury), or perceives another threat or need (think chronic pain).
Then the now manic gardeners start weeding frantically, over-stimulating the brain and the pain.
Although a gross oversimplification, I think you get the point.
So how do you get these gardeners to become mellow again and settle the microglial activation?
- — address any infections (viral or antibiotic sensitive).
- — get rid of the pain triggers in the periphery. In fibromyalgia, this is mostly muscle pain from chronic shortening initially, followed by secondary nerve pain (including small fiber neuropathy). Our SHINE Protocol www.vitality101.com/shine can be very effective for eliminating these pains, while optimizing energy and brain function.
- — you can use any number of medications or supplements to settle down central sensitization as well. Here are just a few of them: A — low dose naltrexone
B — doxycycline or minocycline
C — Hemp Oil (I recommend the one by Terry Naturally) helps numerous components of the pain cycle
D — Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) 350 mg 4 times daily for 2–4 weeks, then twice a day (or 3 x daily if more helpful)
E — Metformin
F — Lyrica, Cymbalta, Savella and Neurontin
Now you may have noticed that most of what you’ve heard about fibromyalgia pain is central sensitization, although this is just one of seven key types of fibromyalgia pain. And what you have heard about for treating it is Lyrica, Savella and Cymbalta.
Why? Because the companies making these three medications have spent about $210 million/year on advertising, compared to just a few million dollars a year that the NIH has for fibromyalgia. This does not mean these medications are not helpful. It just means that they are a very small part of the healthcare toolkit for treating fibromyalgia.
By treating the entire process with the SHINE Protocol www.vitality101.com/shine, our research shows an average 90 percent improvement in quality of life. This generally settles down central sensitization as well.
Hope this is helpful.
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Jacob E Teitelbaum, MD
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling books
- The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
- From Fatigued to Fantastic!
- Pain Free 1-2-3
- Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy
- The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction
- Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook
- Real Cause, Real Cure: The 9 root causes of the most common health problems and how to solve them
Dr. Teitelbaum knows CFS/fibromyalgia as an insider — he contracted CFS when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 25 years, he has dedicated his career to finding effective treatments.