5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

A disease that is linked to chronic fatigue and is characterised by aching and tender muscles over a long period of time. Also common in fibromyalgia are- insomnia, headaches and joint pain. Low serotonin levels are a common feature in fibromyalgia patients and the quality and amount of sleep is proportional to the amount of pain experienced. Researchers have consistently shown that 5-HTP supplementation can dramatically increase serotonin levels in fibromyalgia patients, and that this results in decreased pain and fatigue. 50 patients with fibromyalgia were given either 5-HTP or a placebo in a double blind study of the efficacy and tolerability of 5-hydroxytryptophan. All symptoms were found to be improved in the 5-HTP group and only mild transient side effects were noted.

St John’s Wort

Studies suggest that the combination of SJW and 5-HTP is better than using either one on its own. SJW may help to improve serotonin levels in the brain and therefore one of the primary benefits with St. John’s wort {and 5-HTP) relates to its ability to improve sleep quality. One of the key findings in patients with fibromyalgia is a reduced REM sleep and an increased non-REM sleep. In addition, the deeper levels of sleep (stage III and IV) are not achieved for long enough periods. As a result people with fibromyalgia wake up feeling tired, worn-out, and in pain.


Magnesium deficiency is common in fibromyalgia. It is required for a variety of cellular functions and is a co-factor nutrient in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body, many of which are associated with energy production. Magnesium also supports serotonin function. Studies suggest that magnesium may be an important factor in the support of fibromyalgia patients, and is especially beneficial when used in combination with 5-HTP. Magnesium in citrate or aspartate forms are the best for this condition.


Although specific research on the use of rhodiola in fybromyalgia is currently lacking, there are a number of reasons that scientists are interested in studying it in relation to this disorder. Rhodiola has been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, a key factor in fybromyalgia protocols. Rhodiola may also improve energy production and its adaptogenic properties make the body more resistant to stress, a major factor in both chronic fatigue and fybromyalgia.


Studies suggest a role for D-ribose in fatigue and myalgia. Fibromyalgia is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome and is characterised by muscle aches and stiffness in multiple sites around the body. Scientists think that it may be associated with a muscular imbalance between adenosine diphosphate and adenosinc triphosphate (ATP), and as a key component of the nucleotide adenosine, D-ribose is thought to promote proper energy metabolism and thus help restore normal muscle function.


Fibromyalgia Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) (1)

St. John’s Wort (0.3% hypericin) (2)

Magnesium citrate or aspartate (3)

Rhodiola rosea extract (4)

D-Ribose (5)

50-1 OOrng three times per day (empty stomach)

300 – 900mg per day

200 – 600mg pare day .

250 – 750mg per day

3 – 1 Og per day


Refined/processed foods


Caffeinated beverages

Pesticide exposure

Artificial additives/preservatives


• Complex carbohydrates

• High quality proteins

• Vegetables (esp. dark leafy green)

• Fruit

• Nuts and seeds

Lifestyle Factors

Take gentle exercise

Minimise impact of stress (use stress management techniques)


1. May increase risk of sclero’derma-like symptoms in susceptible individuals. May cause serotonin

syndrome If combined with antidepressant drugs that increase serotonin levels – avoid concurrent use. Best avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

2. May cause photoscnsitivity (increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light), especially with regular use of high doses. Avoid using St. John’s Wort anti-depressant drugs.

3. High doses may cause loose stools.

4. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. Concurrent use with anti-depressant medication under medical supervision only.

5. May cause increased uric levels so should be avoided by those with gout. May cause hypoglycaemia so diabetics should use with caution and under medical supervision. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.