Is Fibromyalgia Linked To Gut Health?

Here at Healthpath, we’re proud to offer evidence-based advice. However, we’re aware that science can seem a bit impenetrable and dry. Boring, even.

We also believe that education is the first step to regain control. We read a lot of scientific papers, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a digest (no pun intended) of some of the key research.

We hope these plain-English versions bring the science to life and—even more importantly—help you address your symptoms for good.


“Fibromyalgia syndrome: A Metabolic approach Grounded in Biochemistry for the remission of symptoms”


What’s the title in plain English?

An article on fibromyalgia and gut health.


What did they do?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that’s associated with musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and mood disturbances. The cause is poorly understood, which means diagnosis and management can be a challenge for both patients and doctors.

The author of this paper looked at lots of different studies on fibromyalgia. Based on the available research, they propose that low serotonin levels and fructose malabsorption can indirectly trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia. They then discuss how dietary changes could support those with fibromyalgia.

Free gut health consultation with an expert


What are the take-home points from the study?

1. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) involved in regulating several physical and emotional processes within the body. It’s created in the body using a protein building block known as tryptophan. Consequently, variable intakes of tryptophan-rich food and problems with tryptophan absorption can affect how serotonin is made by the body.

2. Fructose malabsorption is the inability to absorb fructose (a type of sugar) when broken down in the gut. The author proposes that this, along with low concentrations of tryptophan, interferes with how the body makes serotonin. This influences symptoms of fibromyalgia in susceptible people.

3. Dietary treatment that includes a fructose-free diet combined with tryptophan-rich food may be a possible treatment strategy for those with fibromyalgia. However, as this paper was a literature review, the evidence to support this theory would need to be robustly tested in a clinical trial with fibromyalgia patients.


The Healthpath view

A large component of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut.  A dietary approach that focuses reducing fructose—which is found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) products, fruit, honey and soft drinks—may be necessary for some. However, dietary recommendations would need to be accessed based on an individual’s symptoms and history.

Read the full published study here.

Tegan Philp BA PgDip MSc is a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Passionate about all things gut-related, her master’s dissertation was on the role of the microbiome in cardiovascular outcomes. Tegan has over eight years’ experience working for leading nutrition colleges in both Australia and the UK. You can learn more about Tegan on her practitioner page or connect with her via LinkedIn.

Ref: Lattanzio, S.M., 2017. Fibromyalgia syndrome : a Metabolic approach Grounded in Biochemistry for the remission of symptoms. 4(November), pp.1–8.

Other articles you might like