Fibromyalgia Action UK
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Supplements vs drugs

Hi everyone I hope you are having a decent Sunday.

I was diagnosed with FM in January. My consultant has recommended certain drugs (amyltriptyline and Duloxetine) but I want to try out a natural approach first so see if this works. I'm so sensitive to drugs that I want to avoid taking a daily dose of something if at all possible - the list of side effects sound like FM itself ! I find the flu-like aches, headaches, nerve pain and fatigue quite challenging most days.

I found lots of interesting articles about how FM is possibly due to low levels of seretonin, which has knock-on effect on sleep, mood and sensitivity to pain. Here's a link to an interesting site:

So I'm going to try: Serotonin 5-HTP, St Johns Wort, and Magnesium salt baths daily. I'm also trying to get out and walk for 10-20mins a day.

Has anyone else tried these out? I've read that they work best in combination.

Have you tried any of the drugs I mentioned - do you get side effects?


16 Replies

Yes, my GP was a qualified homeopath who wasn't averse to suggesting complementary therapies :-) Tried those above along with many, many more. I'm afraid the only thing which works for me are the conventional drugs :-(

Magnesium salt bath are great as long as at least 500g of salts are used and at least 20 minutes soak :-)

I didn't get on with amitriptyline and haven't had cymbalta.

Good luck :-)


Hi there, just to let you know it's still Saturday. Lol 😃 I don't like taking a lot to drugs either and only take painkillers, st Jones wort is usually used for depression I used to take it years ago when I went through a bad patch, I take regular Epsom salts baths for the magnesium which I find really good, gentle walking is good, we have a small dog so got to get out with him, Not tried serotonin. I'm going to have a look at that site now, all the best 😃

Do let us know how you get on


Lol! :) is it still Saturday??


Hi Dryad - yes, I try to manage my illness by natural means as far as I can. I am on a low daily dose of pregabalin (plus the occasional naproxen for any extra pain), but apart from that I try to manage with supplements, etc, too as I'd hate to take high doses of potentially addictive drugs.

I take serotonin 5-HTP which helps me greatly with sleep in particular. If I were you I'd just double check that you can take BOTH 5-HTP and St Johns Wort together. I know that 5-HTP can't be taken with any anti-depressant drugs, so it may be that you can't take it with St Johns Wort either as this is basically an anti-depressant. Just be careful with that - you might have to try one or the other.

I've heard that magnesium is good for fibro but I haven't tried it yet. I'm also taking high-dose vitamin D3, iron, and a few other things like that.

And, yes, a little exercise and fresh air is a must! I do gentle stretching, pilates (including a class run by a physio), and walk a little every few days (I want to increase it to every day again once the better weather arrives).

Distraction techniques (whether it's a hobby or a little part-time work like I do) and relaxation are good too.

Good luck with it all! But do double-check whether you can take both 5-HTP and St Johns Wort together.


Ok I'll double check that. I read on the website link that it's good to take them together but I should probably double check like you say.

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Doctors advise not to take St. John's wort with conventional anti depressants like duloxetine either. Am going to check out the serotonin link, thanks


Hi Dryad.... I tries st. Johns wort 20 yrs ago because of my depression i have had forever. Didnt like it. I felt like it made me worse. I will have to admit i was home with a baby and a toddler full time, and my depression is worse in the winter. I take 4000 iu of vit d and find that works better than anything else for depession.

I tried melatonin supplement to help me sleep because it seems that sleep deprivation could be a problem. It made me very dizzy, and i almost walked into a wall while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

I started coconut oil and lavender oil on the back of my neck, my lower back and feet to help me sleep. I seem to be sleeping better. I have been doing this routine for over a month.

I also read someone on this site say something about adrenal fatigue and researched that. I started taking adrenal support supplement, but didnt like the way it made me feel. Like it was too strong and too much. So, i researched more and decided to try one of the ingredients in the adrenal support, and it was holy basil. A supplement to reduce cortisone production, and support the body through aging.

I am sleeping more (use to wake up after 4 hrs and couldnt get back to sleep.) i am now sleeping 8 or more hours and feeling more rested.

I was getting really bad nerve pain in my feet. I noticed that has subsided. Not sure if there is a connection. I have only been on hold basil for 2 weeks.

I do believe my body produces too much cortisol. Stress hormone.

I am a little achy in my shoulder joints still, and having trouble with my finger locking , but i believe that is from my kidney damage of too much uric acid in the body.

My ear pain has subsided too. I still have an itchy scalp.

I probably still have low serotonin. I have been on anti depressants in the past for depression. Dont like side effects plus long time use has never been researched.

Good luck with the st johns wort. I am curious to know if it helps you. I think it is a very powerful herb. Please be careful of the dosage.


With Fibromyalgia setting your own energy envelope at a level that causes fatigue rather than using a set 15 - 20 min walk regime, personalised medicine is the future so I am told so finding what works for your own condition will be largely trial and error which helps if a doctor can reduce the errors.


I have never tired anything like this myself but I want to genuinely and sincerely wish you all the best of luck with this. The only word of caution I would give is to ensure that certain products can be taken together without causing adverse reactions.

All my hopes and dreams for you



Looking to see if it was safe to take 5-HTP and St Johns wort together I got this:

"I take 300mg or 5-htp daily & rant on about it all the has worked wonders for me. However my knowledge is that it should not be taken with St Johns wort as they both contain the same ingredients practically and increase serotonin levels. I have done a lot of personal research on this remedy and i have interpreted that it should not be taken with St johns wort as it can lead to Serotonin syndome in some cases. This is basically an overload of serotonin levels which can heighten many anxiety symptoms and can also be very dangerous.

I personally was unfortunate in experiencing this myself having been prescribed sertraline back in march. It did not agree with my body & i ended up in hospital for 24 hours as i had awful problems. Hence the research on a natural remedy for myself to take instead of the synthetic meds on the market.

However i suggest that if you are in doubt & would like to try combining the 2 i would maybe get the advice of an alternative medicine dr...or another health professional to clarify your concerns.

Best Wishes



Nicola Butcher (Registered Nurse)

The link to the 'no more pain' forum is this:

I think I'll just take the 5-HTP and Magnesium togther as that looks like the safest option. Thanks everyone for the warning. xx


Serotonin syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is an uncommon, but potentially serious, set of side effects linked to SSRIs and SNRIs.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when the levels of a chemical called serotonin in your brain become too high. It's usually triggered when you take an SSRI or SNRI in combination with another medication (or substance) that also raises serotonin levels, such as another antidepressant or St John’s Wort.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome can include:



muscle twitching




If you experience the symptoms listed above, you should stop taking the medication and seek immediate advice from your GP or specialist. If this isn't possible, call NHS 111.

Symptoms of severe serotonin syndrome include:

a very high temperature (fever)

seizures (fits)

irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)


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Just to piggyback on the previous comment regarding serotonin syndrome. I had to choose not to get on an antidepressant with my Rheumatologist because I wanted to continue taking the tramadol. He told me, prior to handing me the prescription for the Atriplen medicine which is one of the additional choices for Fibro sufferers(forgive...can't remember name of anti depressant properly)...he told to be on the lookout for a rapid heartbeat and sudden horrible headache and to contact him right away if that should happen. That it would be the onset of serotonin syndrome because of the antidepressant paired with tramadol... that's the risk of taking

atriplen medicines along with tramadol. After I left his office and I sent the prescriptions to my 90 day Pharmacy via the mail. When they received it, a pharmacist called me personally, which I have never had them do in 7 years... To advise me of the Contraindication of taking that atriplen medicine (serotonin uptake) medicines with the tramadol...that the likelihood of serotonin syndrome happening is elevated and the results would not be good... I do not know if my recollection is 100% correct but the inferrence that it could bring it to serotonin syndrome level which could result with onset of a stroke... that he advises NOT mixing the two medicines together. I asked him if that is what my Rheumatologist was inquiring and informing me about the rapid heartbeat and the sudden bad headache? And he said yes. So I went back to the rheumatologist and told him I was not going to take the medicine. That the benefit did not outweigh the risk. And so then I said what the next? Meaning I wasn't going to do it, so what other options did I have? I was already taking preglabin and tramadol, and at this point refusing the Atriplen medicine... he told me that is were my only options. He had no problem with me not taking it. Although he thought it would help me quite a bit. Honestly, he was not offended, but he did seem to not want to contradict the pharmacist call concerning about the contra indication of the medicine being taken together... The tramadol and that serotonin antidepressant Atriplen (again,apologize for being off alot on spelling). One more thing, I did ask my Rheumatologist what I was supposed to do if I had taken the medicine and begin having a rapid heartbeat and a sudden bad headache?... What could be done? And he said really nothing to stop that incident_ but it would indicate to stop the new medicine right away. Nope, noot worth it to me. This is just a FYI to ask pharmacist with their opinion of taking medicines together as before you take the medicine. The pharmacist told me that doctors are not as up on pharmacology as they appear and I'll to give to medicine hoping for an increase in an effect... Like additional sleep and often that it can do the opposite. And that is when I found out taking the preg live in, Lyrica and the tramadol within the same hour before sleeping can actually cause me to have interrupted sleep more so than I would if I separate them by 2 + hours. Please note I'm not a doctor or pharmacist and take what I'm saying with a grain of salt,but do always check out things for yourself with a pharmacist versus trusting a doctor one hundred percent. I believe doctors do their best for us personally....but, on occasion it MAY NOT BE THE BEST ..for us, the patient. I apologize for this reply as it is all kinds of scrambled... It's late and I have not slept much or well for several days... You guys know how it can be... Sorry about the flow of my reply. :)


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I've been given amyltriptaline after a diagnosis last week but I've only taken it twice so far because it made me feel unbalanced the next day and I have issues with balance and coordination without any drugs, I was only on 10mg but like you I am very sensitive to side effects, I am going to try half tomorrow and see if that makes any difference, my doctor gave me some good advice, he said that there is no one treatment that suits everybody and it might take a few months to find what works for me,but to be careful about reading too much on the internet and keep him informed if I decide to try natural remedies.

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Hello Dryad, The 5-HTP will help with your overall good progress and gives you a lift,,,I have been taking this and feel better,,,,,, the St.Johns Wort,,is a mood uplifting supplement, and if you are taking the Amyltriptyline could cause a concern,,,this needs to be decided if one or the other is taken, the magnesium baths will be good as a supporting daily treatment.

Have you considered the mineral MSM which can be used without the gloucosamine/chrondroitin,,, also Rose Hip is also good in support the condition,,look up on the Holland&Barrett website and read the information given. There are other vitamin suppliers on the web, I just use the H&B as they are on the high street and on the web.

Magnesium and Zinc together are also a good support providing combination, which may help you.

I hope this helps with your choices and options,,,ttfn from Karen.

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Thanks for the tip about MSM. I found this info about it:


Just a further warning about some makes of St John's Wort - apparently there's been a recent recall of some batches due to contamination with toxins. See the BBC news report here for info on the batches which are affected and which shouldn't be used:

Dryad - I see from the above that you've discovered that it isn't wise to take both St John's Wort and 5-HTP at the same time. Glad you've done the research and found that out. I wasn't totally sure, but thought that might be the case. Good luck!

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