The lack of a single medication to treat all the symptoms of fibromyalgia has led many people to pursue alternative approaches, including dietary supplements. Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and probiotics are among the most common types of supplements.

See Characteristic Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties have shown to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. See Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis

Typically sold in pill form—but also available as capsules, liquids, or energy bars—supplements are used to treat a wide range of physical and psychological issues. Fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, sleep disruption, fatigue, digestive issues, depression, and anxiety may respond well to supplements.

See Dietary Supplements for Treating Arthritis

Supplements may be natural, but that doesn't mean they are always harmless. Choosing a supplement carefully and keeping the doctor informed about supplements being taken is advised.


What to Know About Supplements

While supplements may sometimes be used—like medication—to relieve pain and other symptoms, it is helpful to understand some important differences.

See Medications to Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Unlike medications, supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The government does not ensure that supplements are effective before they are sold. The FDA inspects facilities where supplements are manufactured, but does not determine whether a supplement’s potency is the same from brand to brand, or within brands.

See What You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia

Consumers can get some guidance from seals of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia,, and NSF International. These seals are related to manufacturing quality, though, not safety and effectiveness. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) is another seal to look for that supports quality assurance for the product.

The need for care in selecting a supplement was underscored by a study using DNA analysis of the ingredients in a number of supplements sold in the United States and Canada. The study found that the ingredients on the container often did not match the label. 1 Newmaster SG, Grguric M, Shanmughanandhan D, Ramalingam S, Ragupathy S. DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products. BMC Med. 2013;11:222.

How the Doctor Can Help with Supplements

The doctor can be a useful resource when taking supplements. In one survey of 101 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were taking at least one nutritional supplement on the advice of a health care provider. The women surveyed also reported that magnesium was the supplement their providers were most likely to recommend. 2 Arranz LI, Canela MÁ, Rafecas M. Dietary aspects in fibromyalgia patients: results of a survey on food awareness, allergies, and nutritional supplementation. Rheumatol Int. 2012;32(9):2615-21.

See How to Get a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis


Consulting the doctor about specific types and brands of supplements is advised. A prescription-strength supplement may be recommended in some cases, and is more likely to be covered by health insurance. The doctor can also:

  • Determine the best dose of the supplement. Dosages for supplements are not as clear-cut as with medications, and too much of a supplement may be harmful.
  • Alert the patient about dangerous interactions. Supplements can limit the effectiveness of medications or interact in other ways with medications and other supplements. Bringing a list of all medications and supplements—and the dosages—to medical appointments is recommended.
  • Explain the risk of side effects. Supplements can cause major or minor side effects. Anyone experiencing a serious reaction to a supplement should contact the doctor, who may report the incident to the FDA. Individuals can notify the FDA of a harmful reaction themselves by calling 1-800-FDA-1088 or visiting

See Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Side Effects

It is particularly important to consult the doctor before a dietary supplement is taken by children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers, because many supplements have not been thoroughly tested in these populations.

See Doctors Who Treat Fibromyalgia

Dr. Vijay Vad is a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where he specializes in back pain, knee arthritis, frozen shoulder, and general sports medicine. He previously served as a physician for the professional men’s tennis circuit and on the Westchester Classic of the PGA Tour.