A British doctor in her 40s suffered from a range of problems that all started around the same time:
My legs ached and tingled, I felt tired and my mood was flat. I slept badly — I suffered from restless legs and my muscles kept twitching — and couldn’t concentrate during the day. . . I stopped enjoying going out and couldn’t get enthused about seeing friends. . . . In December 2010, I had great trouble climbing into the loft to get the Christmas tree, having neither the strength nor the enthusiasm for it. . . . I longed to retire early, so I could stay in bed all day.
The muscle pains were worse after eating carrots, potatoes and parsnips. My son’s girlfriend made a delicious parsnip soup for a dinner party last year, and I enjoyed a big bowlful. The following day my legs were aching worse than ever, and I felt terrible. . . . [Using a food diary, I learned] I was also badly affected by potatoes, green beans, carrots, almonds and tomatoes. I searched the internet and found that, among many different theories, some suggested a link between fibromyalgia and dietary oxalate, though this isn’t recognised by the medical profession.
I tried a low oxalate diet, cutting out virtually all ‘healthy’ food — I avoided most fruits and vegetables, salads, beans, nuts, wheatgerm, soya — as well as tea, coffee and chocolate.I could eat meat, fish, dairy, cheese, white rice, white pasta and only low-oxalate fruit and vegetables, such as bananas, peas, mushrooms, onions and cauliflower. Within a few days the symptoms were totally gone; I could walk without pain and sleep normally. My motivation came back — in the eight months since starting the diet I’ve painted the house, landscaped the garden and booked a holiday. Having suffered from the need to pass water frequently, my nocturnal trips to the bathroom have ceased. And, bizarrely, my teeth have felt clean all day long. . . . I’ve found eating any high-oxalate food results in tingling legs and muscle pains within a matter of hours. I’ve become so adept at noticing the signs I can tell what foods and drinks have oxalates in a short time after ingesting them.
Would her discovery help others? She suggested the diet to five women in her practice.
They had all presented with at least four of the following [eight] symptoms: muscle pain, tingly legs, fatigue, irritable mood, bladder irritation, poor concentration, restless legs and poor sleep.
I asked them to score the severity of these symptoms before and after changing to a low oxalate diet. . . . . Out with bran-based cereals, nuts, spinach and smoothies, and in with Rice Krispies, sausages, shortbread and cola! . . . All the patients improved significantly — on average their symptom score halved after three weeks of the ‘unhealthy’ diet.
This surprises me. I would have thought that a condition as vaguely defined as fibromyalgia would have more than one cause.
In any case, this is extraordinary progress — published in The Daily Mail. Surely more important than any of the 7000 peer-reviewed articles on fibromyalgia I found via PubMed. A PubMed search for “fibromyalgia oxalate” turned up nothing.
More about a low oxalate diet. Thanks to Dave Lull.