Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Can Improve Health Conditions in Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Patients

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Can Improve Health Conditions in Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Patients

Researchers at the Gottfries Clinic, affiliated with the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Gothenburg University in Sweden recently published in the journal PLoS One that therapy based on vitamin B12 and folic acid can improve to some extent the overall health status of patients with chronic conditions like myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and fibromyalgia. The study is entitled “Response to vitamin B12 and folic Acid in myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia.

ME, which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a complex disorder characterized by extreme, remitting/relapsing fatigue that interferes with a person’s well-being and is not relieved by rest or recovery. Other symptoms include post-exertional malaise, muscle and/or joint pain, headaches, loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes and unrefreshing sleep.

ME shares features with fibromyalgia, a medical disorder characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, headaches, sleep disorder and mood alterations. Both disorders can affect people’s ability to conduct simple daily tasks, compromising their quality of life. Women are usually more affected than men.

Vitamin B12 and folic acid are known to be important factors to maintain a good health status and ME patients have been reported to positively respond to frequent vitamin B12 injections combined with oral folic acid. In the study, researchers assessed 38 ME patients with or without fibromyalgia who received B12 injections at least once a week for a period of six months up to several years. Patients were grouped into good (15 patients) and mild (23 patients) responders for B12/folic acid therapy. 80% of the good responders had only ME, whereas 52% of the mild responders had ME and fibromyalgia.

Researchers found that good responders had received more B12 injections with a higher dose and for a longer period of time, as well as a higher daily amount of oral folic acid. Good responders reported not using strong analgesics to manage their disease symptoms, whereas 70% of the mild responders used analgesics like opioids on a daily basis and still reported more pain than good responders. Fibromyalgia patients were found to be more likely to find relief from strong analgesics, but the team suggests that opioid analgesics may negatively interfere with B12/folic acid treatment. Good responders were also found to be more often under treatment with thyroid hormones, suggesting that this treatment could perhaps also contribute to the positive effect of B12/folic acid therapy. Good responders considered their health status “very much” or “much” improved, while mild responders rated it as “much” or “minimally” improved.

The research team concluded that the dose-response relationship and long-lasting effects of high-concentrated B12 injections and a daily dose of oral folic acid indicates an overall positive health response in a subset of patients with ME/fibromyalgia. Researchers suggest that analgesic use and co-existing thyroid dysfunction should be taken into account when designing clinical trials for ME and fibromyalgia patients.

5 comments

  1. Adrianne Lay says:

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in October ,2015. My dr put me on gabapentin and it’s not helping, I take B12 injections once a month and folic acid tabs once a day with multi vitamins, also 2000mg of calcium, all be cause I am also a Gastric Bypass patient that was done March 12, 2012. I also have an autoimmune disorder and I’m allergic to a lot of meds as well. I seen the side effects that go along with lyrica, I will not be taking that. So what type of help is out here for someone like my self. Not much.

  2. Adeana says:

    In reponse to Adrianne;
    I too was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2015, after a year of diagnostics which followed after I dropped to the floor with suspected TIA. Turns out I have Dissociative Seizure Disorder. It took them about a year after my first “seizure” for them to diagnose me with Fibromyalgia. Since then I have been given a multitude of diagnoses. I also have Hypermobility Syndrome, diagnosed after too many subluxations and meeting 4/5 of the Beighton-score! After numerous MRIs for different reasons they also discovered a severely prolapsed disc C6-C7 and bulging from L3 to S1. ? because of hyper mobility, but after failed nerve block and facet joint block injections they have no option but to operate on my neck. I too was started on gabapentin initially, which was gradually increased to 900mg TID after fibro diagnosis, I was also on amitriptyline and duloxetine. This did not work for me, despite the high dose. I was swapped onto pregabalin. It works better than gabapentin, but you do have to be on a mood stabiliser. I was on sertraline but we have been reducing it to swap onto citalopram, and wow have I noticed the negative mood side effects of pregabalin! I am still a long way from having any control over my conditions and it has completely changed my life. I can’t work and I barely leave the house!
    I have been reading a lot recently about Vit B12 and I find it interesting. In as much that I was diagnosed with a deficiency maybe 8 years ago, which was treated with injections weekly. This was only stopped because I was working away and my doctor refused to give them to me (as I had been injecting myself mostly, I’m a nurse) unless I came in every week to see the nurse, which I wasn’t able to do with work. I wonder whether this has had any impact on the position I’m now in. I am planning to discuss this with my doctor imminently in the hopes he is willing to trial me back on the injections to see if it relieves any of my fibro symptoms!! Here’s hoping for something that will give me my life back!!!

    • Tracy W. says:

      Adeana, it sounds like you could be becoming B12 deficient all over again. You may want to be tested for pernicious anemia (PA). However, the tests for it aren’t terribly reliable as the intrinsic factor antibodies test can yield false negatives and the parietal cell antibodies can give false positives. But if the IF antibodies test is positive then you have PA. Those who have PA require B12 shots for life as it is no longer absorbed in the stomach from food.

      For an accurate B12 test you need to stop supplementing it for 4 months or the results may be skewed too high. This is the time it takes to replenish all of your blood cells. B12 should be in the upper half of the range or you may be deficient, particularly if you are having neurological symptoms. If it is below 500 ng/mL then you may be deficient, even though your doctor may say it is normal (the normal range is terribly outdated for some reason).

      Risks for B12 deficiency include: vegan/vegetarian, use of acid reducing drugs like omeprazole/Prilosec, taking metformin (diabetes med), gastric surgery, or family history of pernicious anemia. To properly absorb B12 you need intrinsic factor (made by the stomach lining) and stomach acid. Only animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) contain B12. If any of these are factors are missing you can become deficient.

      Many of us with PA need to inject B12 more frequently than our doctors are willing to prescribe or our symptoms return. So we end up buying it on our own and self-injecting. It is possible to purchase B12 from other countries where it is sold OTC. There are PA groups in Facebook and other internet sites you can join that maintain lists of where to purchase B12 by mail, depending on the country in which you live.

      • Adeana says:

        Fortunately, despite my “normal” B12 levels following testing, my doctor (given my history) agreed to restart my B12 injections. (Also after discussing the research papers saying that fibro patients have low CSF B12 levels!!)A loading dose of six injections over two weeks and I’ve also managed to persuade him to give following doses q8w rather than q3m!! YAY!
        Initially, I felt really good, for me. Now, a month post the loading dose, not so good. Although I mustn’t discount the fact that I’ve managed codeine free since starting B12 which is incredible!!!
        As I can’t get injectable B12 in this country other than through my doctor, I decided to see if supplementing myself with a comparable dose via sublingual absorption through a spray. I’m only three days in so its difficult to make a judgment call on it. I’m wondering if anyone else has any experience with this and if they found it beneficial?
        I’d appreciate any advice or info, thank you xx

        • Stacy Lein says:

          my name is Stacy and I have fibromyalgia for about 23 years I’ve been getting worse and worse over the last year and was very close to go onto disability my mom came across an article on takeing B12 so I started taking it and im now on B12 5000 milligrams under my tongue every morning and I have noticed a big Improvement would definitely recommend

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *