Supplement builds strength in fibromyalgia trial- chicagotribune.com
Creatine, a supplement favored by bodybuilders, modestly boosted muscle strength in patients with fibromyalgia, Brazilian researchers report.
Apart from helping with muscle weakness, though, the treatment had little effect on other symptoms of the mysterious disorder, such as chronic pain, fatigue, memory loss, depression, anxiety and sleeplessness.
"The improvements in muscle function did not reflect improvements in general symptoms as we hypothesized," said senior study author Bruno Gualano, a professor at the University of SÃ£o Paulo School of Physical Education and Sports in Brazil.
Previous research has found that brain and muscle tissues in fibromyalgia patients have reduced levels of creatine - a chemical critical to cells' ability to generate energy - which might explain the weakness and neurological symptoms, Gualano and his colleagues note in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
One study found that creatine supplements improved general fibromyalgia symptoms, but the research was not rigorously done, which made the results difficult to interpret.
So Gualano's team conducted a 16-week double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, the gold standard for medical research, in which fibromyalgia patients daily consumed either creatine (15 patients) or placebo pills (13 patients).
Neither the trial staff nor the patients knew who was getting the real supplement, or even what substance the supplement was supposed to be, until after the study period was complete.
At that point, the creatine-supplemented group showed modest strength improvements when tested on leg presses (10 percent improvement) and chest presses (8 percent improvement).
But, participants were also surveyed on an array of other symptoms, including their pain levels, moods and sleep, and those in the supplement group didn't report any changes in overall quality of life.
"It was a well-done study, but not very exciting," said Dr. Don Goldenberg, rheumatology chief at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the study.
Most researchers consider fibromyalgia a disease of the nervous rather than muscle system, Goldenberg said.
"Muscle strength is not a primary problem for people with fibromyalgia; it's chronic pain and fatigue," he told Reuters Health.
He wasn't surprised that creatine supplements didn't affect a host of other symptoms.
"I would encourage people to do strengthening exercise rather than to use a supplement to strengthen," Goldenberg said. "To say that (creatine supplementation) is something that I'm going to recommend to my patients? No."
While I find it interesting that Previous research has found that brain and muscle tissues in fibromyalgia patients have reduced levels of creatin it is clear the supplement does very little good in regards to symptoms. However, exercise is very difficult for us so maybe a little boost of this might help with an exercise regiment if you are doing one and find muscle fatigue to be an issue. Other than that... most of us only do mild to moderate exercise anyway and work our way up so I doubt this would be of any real use.