A study that compared women with and without fibromyalgia has confirmed, for the first time, a link between gut bacteria and the disease and its main symptoms.
Canadian researchers identified 19 species of gut bacteria that were present in varying amounts linked to individuals with fibromyalgia.
“We found,” says Amir Minerbi, of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at McGill University in Montreal, “that fibromyalgia and the symptoms of fibromyalgia — pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties — contribute more than any of the other factors to the variations we see in the microbiomes of those with the disease.”
The findings were published in the journal, Pain, which Minerbi is the first author.
“We also saw,” Minerbi adds, “that the severity of a patient’s symptoms was directly correlated with an increased presence or a more pronounced absence of certain bacteria — something which has never been reported before.”
What is unclear from the study is that the findings do not show whether the changes in gut bacteria are just markers of the disease, or whether they contribute to or cause its development.
The hope offered in this study is that further studies are required to help diagnose the condition and eventually lead to its cure.
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating diseases that causes widespread pain to sufferers along with fatigue, tenderness, difficulty sleeping, and other symptoms. The symptoms do not go away but their intensity can change over time.
Senior study author Yoram Shir, Director of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at McGill University, explains, “People with fibromyalgia suffer not only from the symptoms of their disease but also from the difficulty of family, friends, and medical teams to comprehend their symptoms.”
Using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence (AI), to analyze the microbiomes in the samples provided, the team was able to identify which participants had fibromyalgia with close to 90% accuracy.
The article closes on a hopeful note by a comment made by the Senior study author, Yoram Shir:
“This is the first evidence, at least in humans, that the microbiome could have an effect on diffuse pain, and we really need new ways to look at chronic pain.”
The full article can be accessed on Medical News Today’s website here: