In 2008, I wrote a post theorizing the connection between fibromyalgia and gluten. At that time I could find no published medical evidence of this connection, but comments from readers (over 200 of them) confirmed my belief, that many people with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FM) may really have celiac disease (CD) or gluten-sensitivity and that a gluten-free diet would alleviate some, if not all, of the symptoms. In many cases, it may not be just gluten, but other food intolerance as well.
I am pleased to see a new study out of Spain that examined 20 patients with fibromyalgia who tested negative for celiac disease but that got better on a gluten-free diet. They concluded at the end of the 16 month study that
remarkable clinical improvement can be achieved with a gluten-free diet in patients with FM, even if CD has been ruled out, suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying treatable cause of FM syndrome
They found in their study that
The level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of FM.
Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life.
In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine, and depression also improved together with pain.
Two patients, both with oral aphthae, went into complete remission for psoriatic arthritis and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.
For some patients, the clinical improvement after starting the gluten-free diet was striking and observed after only a few months; for other patients, improvement was very slow and was gradually observed over many months of follow-up.
For eight patients, the intake of gluten was followed by clinical worsening, which subsided after returning to a strict gluten-free diet.
You can download the entire published study here: Fibromyalgia and non‑celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia
If you or someone you know is suffering from fibromyalgia, consider celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as the cause of the symptoms. Trust me, a change in diet is a small price to pay for feeling better!