Fibromyalgia. Shorthand for Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Also referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Medically, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms, and with fibromyalgia it is an extensive list with its different manifestations in the unfortunate sufferers of it. The term itself is derived from the Latin fibro (relating to fibrous tissue), my, meaning muscles, and algia meaning pain.

Just reading that hurts.

Microbiome refers to the collective genomes of the microorganisms in a specific environment. Microbiota is the community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms themselves.

Studies of twins show that although there is indeed a genetic component to gut microbiota, environmental factors related to diet, drugs, and anthropometric measures are actually larger determinants of microbiota composition. So nurture, not nature, is the dominant influence.

Gut microbes are key to many aspects of human health including immune, metabolic and neurobehavioural traits. Different levels of evidence support the role of gut microbiota in human health, from animal models and human studies.

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa microorganisms exist in the human gastrointestinal tract – approximately 100 trillion of them. Most interestingly, there are also 100 trillion cells that make up the human body.

That may be why the microbiome is now considered a virtual organ.

A new megascience endeavour is imaging and cataloguing each one of those cells. Called the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) it came hot on the heels of the Human Genome Project of the 1990s and 2000s. The University of Florida, for instance, is one of five participating tissue mapping centres and is responsible for delineating the thymus, lymph node, and spleen – key components of the immune system. It’s an effort that will discover the basis of all diseases, and upon completion will dramatically impact human health in terms of medical condition prevention and treatment.

It’s our health of the future – which is great, and not much help to those suffering now.

But microbiome abnormalities are. Identifying bacteria levels greatly assists symptom severity in relation to many physical afflictions. The prestigious Canadian publication Journal of Pain has published a study that found a link with chronic fatigue for women where significant differences in 19 species of gut bacteria in fibromyalgia sufferers were identified. Two substances released by that bacterium subsequently resulted in levels found in the blood that were considered highly anomalous. The more abnormal the microbiome, the more severe the symptoms. The same study found that microbiome will eventually be used as a predictor of fibromyalgia.

The human genome consists of about 23,000 genes. Microbiome encodes over three million genes. This produces thousands of metabolites, which replace many of the functions of us, the host, and consequently influences fitness, phenotype, and health.

For the very first time, fibromyalgia has been linked to abnormal gut microbiome. Researchers are now convinced that this will lead to a diagnostic test, and ultimately to much improved treatments for those dealing with the challenges of this debilitating syndrome. Some pain management experts are intrigued with the possibility of addressing fibromyalgia from a much broader perspective as part of the gut-brain axis.

Finding naturopathic relief for fibromyalgia that involves your microbiome signature a promising tool. It would allow clinicians to understand to what extent the gut is promoting the condition, as well as altering the microbiome via planned interventions of diet, prebiotics and probiotics makes it.