After writing about iodine and fibromyalgia recently, I received an email from Julie asking about a similar health condition. She asked: "Do you think iodine would help Polymyalgia? I'm on 2 mgs of steroids daily, but increased to 3 mgs a few days ago due to the pain in my left shoulder, lack of strength in my arm, and the difficulty to lift."
Polymyalgia is an inflammatory disorder of the muscles and joints. It can cause pain and stiffness, particularly in the shoulders, arms, neck, and buttock/hip area. And it can affect both sides of the body. As Julie experienced, it can cause you to lose strength in your arms. What's more, it almost always develops in people over 65. So we need to look at aging issues to find relief.
As to your question, Julie, the answer is maybe. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, potassium iodine was the standard treatment for polymyalgia. But steroids came in during that time, and doctors quickly shifted to the fast-acting steroids. So we don't have a lot of information on its effectiveness. Any time there are issues with muscles, particularly pain and stiffness, I always look for mineral deficiencies. It could be iodine, potassium, or magnesium. I recommend these three minerals for just about everyone. But if you're severely deficient in iodine, you may need higher doses like those with fibromyalgia. You should talk to your doctor about having a blood test to see if your iodine levels are low. .
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Next, I would look for an infection. The inflammation and sometimes fever can indicate some type of bug is causing the problem. Your doctor can do a thorough screening to rule out an infection.
Since steroids have such a dramatic effect, I would look to hormones to see if there's something out of balance there. There's some evidence that progesterone can help. And, since it's an autoimmune disease, I would look toward hydrocortisone. Ask your doctor if either of these would be a good option for you. Please note that long-term treatment with steroids carries a number of serious risks. These include weight gain, diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, and osteoporosis. So it's better to look for natural alternatives that boost your own natural steroids.
Inflammation is a major symptom of polymyalgia, so your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs. I've detailed the potential problems with these in past issues. So I would encourage you to look toward natural anti-inflammatories for relief. These include omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. One study found that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the pain and inflammation, and it can even increase the ease of movement. And the omega-6 essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), found in evening primrose oil capsules and borage oil capsules, can reduce morning stiffness. One study found that it is particularly effective with polymyalgia. You can get a wonderful blend of both fatty acids in Advanced EFA Formula.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.
Atherosclerosis 1990;81: 209-16
Cl Immunol Immunopathol