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Sodium-related symptoms of fibromyalgia
9 Replies
Liz G. - December 24

I am newly diagnosed with FM - having had symptoms for 4+ years. I am trying to learn about diet-related symptoms and would like to know if sodium in the diet increases the symptoms of fibromyalgia.


Jean - December 14

Hi Liz: I'm not exactly sure on that but too much sodium is not good for the body. Can cause high blood pressur as time goes on through life. Mostly sugar and high carb diets tend to flare the Fibromyalgia symptoms. But , before starting any diet make sure with your doctor. Some high protien diets will raise cholesterol levels and we do not want that. Always check with your doctor and exercise is also very good along with your diets. Winter is here and exercise tends to stop because of cold weather and it hurts some of us. So, good stretching exercises along with a diet your doctor recommends would be something you can look in to. Sometimes, as it did with me, the autonomic nervous system is involved which controls blood pressure, temperature, etc. So I would say watch the sodium intake. Happy Holidays :) smile


Liz - December 23

Thanks, Jean. I've been reading a good number of your posts on the other boards and you've provided a ton of helpful info. Happy Holidays to you and yours also!


Jean - December 24

Hi Liz. Thanks for your kind words. I am happy I could help. Enjoy the holidays.


Lisa1029 - March 18

I have noticed that after eating a salt-filled meal (ie: Corned Beef & Cabbage yesterday for st. Patricks Day) the muscles in my neck/shoulders are in knots/inflamed. I have also noticed the same result after eating spicy. Salt is definately a trigger for me. I am not sure if this is common or not.


Fantod - April 17

lisa1029 - Your reaction is probably more likely due to the nitrates in the corned beef. Nitrates are something that should be avoided by anyone with FMS. They can be found in lunchmeat, and red wine among other things. Take care.


kvc33 - May 18

Sodium is essential for good health and is one of the electrolytes. The heart depends on it. It has gotten a bad rap over the years because a lot of people eat a junk food diet that is loaded with salt and sugar. If you are eating a healthy diet you don't need to worry about getting too much sodium. I actually have to take salt pills because I have low blood pressure and a hair analysis showed my levels to be low.


georgene - February 18

Hi Liz,
I am newly diagnosed, too. I have symptoms similar to a flare up when I eat salty foods. I've been told to not eat table salt because it has a corn product in it. So, I've been experimenting with sea salt with no additives. Still not sure if it's going to cause problems or not. You are not alone. :-)


MagnumXL - September 9

I've been getting fibromyalgia-like symptoms on and off for a few years now. It's often only in certain muscle groups, but the past few days it's been bad all over. I discovered something last year when I was on a low-carb diet, though and that was that low carb diets can flush out sodium and low sodium leads to muscle pain (think runners or people in the gym needing electrolytes as they sweat). I discovered drinking a glass of bouillon cube water (chicken flavored here) got rid of the aches in less than 20 minutes at the time. I was shocked. I drank a mug of it each day I was on the diet and the pain stayed away.

Now I haven't been eating low carb lately, but I did visit my mother's house and she cooks with low salt due to high blood pressure and what not and I noticed my aches get a LOT worse (I couldn't even sleep at all as lying down would trigger pain all over). I figured I had nothing to lose so I drank a mug of bouillon again and sure enough most of the pain just stopped in about 20 minutes. I just did some searching and some of the research points to people with fibromyalgia symptoms having imbalanced sodium and potassium levels (typically high calcium and magnesium levels and low potassium and sodium levels, possibly related to adrenal gland problems).

Now I'm not saying everyone is the same, but seeing as fibromyalgia didn't seem to be known about or possibly exist as such (at least en masse) before the low-salt, low-fat craze diets of the 1980s (and the invention of certain new sugar substitutes), I can't help but wonder if there's a connection between one or more of these things. All I know is drinking about 800mg of salt completely wiped out the muscle pain in under 20 minutes so in my case, I'd say low salt levels are the most direct cause. Some on here indicate the opposite (that salt triggers the pain), but it could still be an imbalance of sorts. I just hate to see people suffer when some might benefit from a simple glass of salty water. Most never try something like that because doctors have everyone believing salt is evil when it seems to me that going overboard on low salt diets could potentially be the cause of the so-called fibromyalgia symptoms, at least in some of the cases.


Ethele - January 20

I realize that the original post here is probably about two years old, but this thread still shows for a search on fibromyalgia and sodium. I wanted to add what I have read (IANAD - I Am Not A Doctor).

From what I've read (and my own experience aligns with this), people with FMS tend to have hypotension - low blood pressure. POTS (blood pressure dropping when you change positions, e.g., on standing up) is also more common among people with FMS than among the general population

Taking salt in a near-supplementary fashion seems to be a fairly common practice among those who have had FMS for a while, if they don't have high blood pressure and especially if they have low blood pressure or POTS. A relatively unrefined sea salt seems to be preferred - some folks swear by Celtic sea salt, specifically. Something with naturally high levels of iodine is generally recommended, and some sea salts can have other trace minerals that are also believed to be beneficial. It's worth a bit of research, as sea salt sold in the store has often been refined so that most of the trace minerals (including iodine!) are gone.

I recently went through a period of weeks where I was having trouble sleeping. I finally connected the dots between the symptoms I was experiencing (frequent urination, frequent thirst, restless legs) and the symptoms of inadequate salt intake. I eat a near-pescatarian diet of mostly home-prepared (relatively unprocessed) fish, veggies, and some dairy and berries, and apparently I had been forgetting to salt my food. I ate a batch of sunflower seeds with extra Himalayan salt, then dipped hand-warmed dark chocolate into the remaining salt until the salt stopped tasting good. I also drank water with lemon, to ensure the salt had some water to hold in my system. I slept very well that night for the first time in weeks.

I can also vouch that I feel much better when my blood pressure is closer to the textbook 120 / 80 than when it is at 90 / 60 (as it will get sometimes if I don't work to keep it up by eating extra salt).

Your milage may vary. If your doctor is worth a darn, consult them before introducing extra sodium into your diet; otherwise, do some of your own research before making a decision. I have yet to find a doctor worth running things by, so if you have such a doctor, tell her how wonderful she is (or he is).

Additional note: I suspect someone with normal to high blood pressure might have a near-opposite experience to my own, so definitely approach this with some caution and awareness of your blood pressure tendencies. High blood pressure can apparently cause inflammation, and I'm among those who suspect that inflammation plays a major role in FMS. So if you have normal-to-high blood pressure and you increase salt, you could increase inflammation, and then FMS may cause your body to overreact in its response to the inflammation - which results in greater pain than normal from that inflammation, and then that gets coupled with greater pain sensitivity from FMS... a small increase in blood pressure could, theoretically, suck like a vacuum cleaner inhaling your favorite necklace. And could explain the different responses to the impacts of sodium here.

Making sodium reactions possibly a great example of why FMS is so hard to treat.



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