Background: Fibromyalgia engulfs patients in a downward, reinforcing cycle of unrestorative sleep, chronic pain, fatigue, inactivity, and depression. In this study we tested whether a mostly raw vegetarian diet would significantly improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Methods: Thirty people participated in a dietary intervention using a mostly raw, pure vegetarian diet. The diet consisted of raw fruits, salads, carrot juice, tubers, grain products, nuts, seeds, and a dehydrated barley grass juice product. Outcomes measured were dietary intake, the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), SF-36 health survey, a quality of life survey (QOLS), and physical performance measurements.
Results: Twenty-six subjects returned dietary surveys at 2 months; 20 subjects returned surveys at the beginning, end, and at either 2 or 4 months of intervention; 3 subjects were lost to follow-up. The mean FIQ score (n = 20) was reduced 46% from 51 to 28. Seven of the 8 SF-36 subscales, bodily pain being the exception, showed significant improvement (n = 20, all P for trend < 0.01). The QOLS, scaled from 0 to 7, rose from 3.9 initially to 4.9 at 7 months (n = 20, P for trend 0.000001). Significant improvements (n = 18, P < 0.03, paired t-test) were seen in shoulder pain at rest and after motion, abduction range of motion of shoulder, flexibility, chair test, and 6-minute walk. 19 of 30 subjects were classified as responders, with significant improvement on all measured outcomes, compared to no improvement among non-responders. At 7 months responders' SF-36 scores for all scales except bodily pain were no longer statistically different from norms for women ages 45-54.
Conclusion: This dietary intervention shows that many fibromyalgia subjects can be helped by a mostly raw vegetarian diet.