Oxalates and Their Role in Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)

Oxalates and Their Role in Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)

Oxalates are non-toxic organic compounds naturally occurring in certain foods, mainly vegetables and fruits. An accumulation of oxalic acid crystals in the muscle and connective tissue cells may be the cause of the muscle aches and pain associated with FMS.

FMS can be a debilitating condition, involving many systems within the body. It stands apart from arthritis and autoimmune reactivity in that the muscles are not inflamed on biopsy. However, the pain can be every bit as bad and it is often resistant to treatment. Associated symptoms of FMS include chronic fatigue, headaches/ migraines, brain fog, yeast overgrowth, insomnia and hormone imbalance.

For many years, people with a condition called congenital hyperoxalosis have been prescribed low oxalate diets. These people have an accumulation of oxalates that may result in kidney stones and crystalline arthritis. It is also recognized that vulvodynia and vestibulitis (pain and inflammation in the vulvar area) may be associated with oxalate deposition in the tissues. So the idea of low oxalate diets is not new – it’s the association with Fibromyalgia that is under more recent investigation.

Dr. St. Amand, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia, promotes the use of a medication called guaifenesin to treat FMS. Guaifenesin was found to increase excretion of 60% phosphates, 30% oxalates and 30% calcium. The medication guaifenesin itself is fairly benign. The challenge with that protocol is strictly avoiding all salicylates (another organic compound found in foods, personal care products etc). Also, guaifenesin is not a quick fix remedy, may take months to show real benefits, and can cause a worsening of symptoms initially as the body dumps phosphates and oxalates. That being said, a number of FMS sufferers have found relief with guaifenesin. (For those interested in this protocol, I would recommend reading the book by Dr. St. Amand as a starting point).

There may be an interaction between calcium, magnesium and oxalate. People with high oxalate levels sometimes do not tolerate magnesium well, leading to irregular heartbeat, nausea, stabbing pains and increased muscular aches (this may also occur with Epsom Salts baths which are magnesium sulfate). Certainly, FMS sufferers should make sure to take calcium and magnesium in the citrate forms, which are best suited to block the absorption of oxalates and help excrete them from the body.

Another oxalate connection relates to candida and yeast overgrowth. Good bacteria in the gut help to keep oxalates in check by breaking them down. Bad bacteria in the gut can produce oxalates. Oxalates are said to suppress the immune system and make one more susceptible to candida overgrowth. Therefore, along with a low oxalate diet, addressing yeast is imperative to reduce the overall oxalate load.

There are even more implications of oxalates in the body. Oxalates deplete glutathione, one of the key antioxidants; oxalates change how zinc works within the body, which can affect immune function; and they also fuel inflammation which is a major issue in FMS.

If you suffer from FMS, Dr. McFadzean can get you started on a low oxalate diet as well as the correct supplements to minimize oxalate accumulation. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Comments

  1. For what it is worth, I’ve had Fibro (on SSD for 18 years now) and have tried every stinking ‘diet’ in the world for this. In looking back, I have already spent over a year eating low oxalate when I was doing the elimination diet for food sensitivities and noticed no difference whatsoever in symptoms – pain, soreness, fatigue or otherwise. I also noticed no difference in the symptoms that were supposed to be related to food sensitivities. So I have to ask…is this all just conjecture? All I know is there are a whole lot of people out there putting themselves on quite restrictive diets for no reason in the world and never discussing it once with an actual physician. What kind of damage is that going to do to them long-term?

  2. Excellent info & I have read Dr. St. Amand’s book & protocol. I also have all the symptoms you mentioned and more. My doctor has had 2 patient’s that followed the protocol & it helped one, but not the other. I have held off only because of the restrictiveness of it. Thanks for the info about the oxalates.

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