Fibromyalgia researchers, it’s time to stop watching the flowers grow!

This article was originally published on Pain News Network and is being republished here with permission from the editor.

As a fibromyalgia warrior and blogger, I read a lot of articles about new research findings. I continue to be amazed by how much time and money are wasted by researching the obvious or studying the same treatments over and over again.

After all, how many times do we need to prove meditation can reduce fibromyalgia pain? Didn’t we figure that out years ago?

I really thought I’d seen it all until an article entitled “The Power of Flowers May Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms” showed up in my inbox.

As I read it, I literally said out loud: “Are you kidding me?” (Ok, I might have added a curse word in there, too, lol.)

In case you haven’t read the article, it summarizes a recent Israeli study in which 61 women with fibromyalgia completed a 12-week flower design course presented by a trained florist. As the end of the course, Tel-Aviv University researchers reported “quite amazing” improvements in the women’s fibromyalgia symptoms.

Yep, you read that right: The researchers claim arranging a few daisies and baby’s breath in a vase actually improves fibromyalgia.

Now, I don’t doubt for a minute that flower arranging is relaxing, and hence, it could have a calming effect on the central nervous system, and in turn, that could lead to a reduction in pain and other fibro symptoms.

But so could watching butterflies or painting rocks.

A recent Israeli study found flower arranging can improve #fibromyalgia symptoms. Yes, you read that right! Flower arranging! When will researchers finally take fibromyalgia more seriously? | Fed Up with Fatigue

While I think it’s wonderful researchers are looking at non-pharmaceutical treatments for fibromyalgia, studies like this completely invalidate the seriousness of our condition. These types of studies make it seem like almost anything will fix fibro, and that is just not reality.

Because of the stigma of fibromyalgia, we already struggle to prove to our doctors and loved ones that we’re really sick. What do you think the average person is going to think when they read flower arranging helps fibromyalgia? While I’m sure the researchers had good intentions, this study makes a complete mockery and joke out of an extremely painful, life-sucking condition.

In my mind, I think back to all of those doctors who tried to give me antidepressants and antianxiety medications when I complained about unexplained pain, fatigue, bladder urgency, neuropathy and a long list of other symptoms. The message was clear: “It’s all in your head. You’re just a stressed out, middle-aged woman who needs to chill out.”

A recent Israeli study found flower arranging can improve #fibromyalgia symptoms. Yes, you read that right! Flower arranging! When will researchers finally take fibromyalgia more seriously? | Fed Up with Fatigue

What happens when these same doctors read this Israeli study? I can envision them now referring their patients to the nearest community college for classes on cupcake baking and basket-weaving. As if we weren’t frustrated enough with the conventional medical system!

The truth is we don’t need more BS fibromyalgia studies like this one on flower arranging.

We need researchers to get serious! We need them to take a deep dive into the minds and bodies of fibromyalgia patients and figure out what causes us to feel like a three-day-old warmed over microwave dinner.

We need real solutions – treatments that get to the root cause of our illness – not a new hobby!

Now it’s your turn: What do you think of this study? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. james milne says

    Yep gardening helps to take my mind off of Fibro, the days in agony afterwards is the problem, then I get told to pace myself better, yeah right it doesn’t matter how much pacing I do I still get lots of pain in the aftermath, personally I think F/M is neurological but docs in that field don’t really want to dig to deep into that department.

  2. StevefromMA says

    Insulting but cheap to recommend. Why do expensive sophisticated research if you can tell people to arrange flowers. Powerful treatment for forty years of pain, no doubt. BTW, our own NIH is going to reduce fibro funding from the huge sum of 14 million per year to 12 million since current treatments work so well.

  3. Judith Lopez says

    I should begin by saying that I have ME/cfs not fibro, or so they say; the two conditions seem to have some factors in common. I’ve been following for several years all the supposedly high-level research being done at Stanford and other major institutions. Lots of symposiums at which papers are read by well-respected scientists They are always “almost” at the brink of some breakthrough that never quite materializes. So far no useful therapies have resulted, much less a cure.

    At this point I’m fed up not only with fatigue but with the direction of research, which approaches these conditions as if they were like the diseases of the past. This is not “find the bug, make the drug” stuff. An entirely new perspective is required. The traditional approach can really do the patient additional harm.

    So I have to say this in defense of flower arranging….at least it doesn’t make you worse!

  4. Suzanne Stubbs says

    Dear Donna,
    Yep, just when you have thought you’ve seen and read it all. Reminds me of one doc that told me the best thing for my “problem” is “exercise and socialize”. Now granted I can see that a flower arranging class may help with the socializing aspect and it could be a positive thing, but who can plan to go to a class when pain can rear its ugly head at a moments notice? In my case being told to buck up and get out and about was the worst thing for someone like me who needed to rest and revitalize in a quiet environment. Medical studies like this undermine any other works that may benefit and help those with fibromyalgia. Flowers? They went out in the 60’s; it’s a new millenium–scientists and doctors need to get a shift on.

  5. This is the most awful insult to date.This is a disease of the Nervous System. The Nervous System governs every other system. Why not look at the source? They know some, but I think we all need brain scans and MRIs. Are we that backward in our understanding of the most important system? Why do they not help us or at the very least try? Do they think we are all hypochondriacs? I’m so disgusted with the medical profession after 26 years of jackin’ around, I could and do, sometimes scream. It’s pathetic the way we’re shoved around and what ticks me off the most, is the waiting. Ten months later you still don’t have answers. Better yet, it’s years when nothing is done. Our disorders compound every year by 2 or three more. How can we continue on with this pathetic approach? It’s so unfair. So harsh. So unwarranted. So cruel. So demeaning. So patronizing. So futile. So terminal. God help us.

  6. Your reaction to this study was the exact same as mine.. I made a frustrated comment on medscape’s post about it. It is readily apparent that researchers are extremely puzzled… so many different causes being studied as potentials and I think that’s because it truly can be caused by many different things.

    Have you looked into bartonella infection? I have a chronic infection with bartonella henselae. Treating it has been the best thing for my mental health. I used to really need those psych meds and now 10 months of targeting this infection, I take nothing. In the past I had to admit myself to hospital numerous times because I was suicidal. Honestly feeling suicidal was a weekly occurrence. The rage issues that accompanied it were not me and nearly cost me a few of my most valued relationships. I’ve been working with an ND in BC Canada and can say it’s money well spent. I even have pain free moments sometimes — something I hadn’t experienced in over 3 years. The testing has problems quite similar to Lyme disease. I found a weak positive through Armin’s elispot (T-cell testing).

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Yes, I’ve been treated for bartonella as part of my Lyme treatment.

  7. May I take this opportunity to point out with love and respect that you have inadvertently written off a Japanese tradition over 1300 years old, with over 1000 schools (according to Wikipedia) at least as quickly and harshly than others have dismissed people with fibromyalgia. None of us knows it all, but we often forget that. I doubt that anyone has not made this mistake which is based on lack of knowledge or understanding. Few mean to be dismissive.

    You meant no harm or offense. I know you didn’t. I am not offended that you judged as worthless and completely disregarded the perspective of another. But, your post and their report just demonstrate the peculiarities of human nature, not a problem with research studies.

    Yes, doctors and many people dismiss people with fibro, often. Been there; hated it. Imagine being a young black man in a hoodie being stopped by a cop. How do you think that would go? How differently do you think the young black man and the white cop would look at it? We humans should not judge and dismiss others so easily. Yet we do. Mea culpa.

    There have been studies done on doing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, Epsom salts baths, aromatherapy, progressive relaxation and a tone of other topics that have been found to be helpful to a small group of study subjects. These studies don’t say that ANY of these things are the ONLY thing that helps fibromyalgia, just that it was found in A study to help THE majority of patients. The point you are missing is that the studies really just suggest what might help others. Clearly not you. But, it might help others with a different perspective, who do respect and enjoy the peace and oneness of some of these Eastern Traditions.

    Ikebana “arranging flowers” or “making flowers alive” is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. The tradition dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at altars. Later, they were placed in the tokonoma (alcove) of a home. Ikebana reached its first zenith in the 16th century under the influence of Buddhist tea masters and has grown over the centuries, with over 1,000 different schools in Japan and abroad. It is one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement (tea and the tea ceremony is another and one with incense is the third).

    I had the opportunity to learn a lot about East/West differences and some of the wonderful practices treasured by those from the East while living in Hawaii, for over 2 decades. I studied spirituality and healing practices there. I suffered from fibromyalgia there. You would be surprised at just how peaceful and rewarding it is to focus fully on something as lovely and delicate as a few flowers and to arrange them according to ways discovered over hundreds of yes, by millions of people to be the most beautiful, l and then to take them home where you can enjoy them and reflect on the experience of fellowship and peaceful learning, and/or see if you can continue to improve on the arrangement. These lovely groups are no less valid and helpful to their members, students, and guests than any other group or practice.

    What would a creature from another planet think of Pilates machines or so many other things that only seem odd because of not being familiar with them? a bottle of beer?

    • Kimberly B says

      I’ll add a comment (and not drag in my political opinion) that I agree this study is demeaning to all people who truly suffer from Fibromyalgia.
      With soooo many people who have pain saying “I have Fibromyalgia” when they actually have something else it is not surprising that some people would be helped by a relaxing hobby. I’ve recently met 2 people who said they have fibro. One turned out to have a severe vitamin D deficiency and the other had a kidney problem. Once they were diagnosed properly and treated their “fibro” symptoms went away. I’m so tired of hearing anyone who has a pain declaring they have FM. As y’all know first-hand, pain is ONLY 1 symptom. However, if you truly have Fibromyalgia flower arranging may be a distraction but by no means would it be a cure. I’m speaking as a woman who has suffered for 43 years with fibro. I’ve had it since I was 5. I was hospitalized as a teen trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I saw multiple doctors and specialists when I kept getting worse. Luckily at age 26 I was diagnosed so I had an answer to what was going on with my body. Too bad there hasn’t been any effective medication for me in all these decades. I rely on round the clock pain meds to keep me from commiting suicide. I’ve heard the arguments against pain meds for fibro & for those like me who benefit from them I say doctors should listen. Of course, those are the doctors that don’t listen to patients who’ve had Fibromyalgia for decades who tell them it is progressive & the doctors say it isn’t. I’ve spoken with many who’ve had it for a long time & they’ve all agreed with me about it getting worse.
      Btw: I did take flower arranging. I wasn’t less stressed. I was more stressed cuz the @#&$ flowers wouldn’t cooperate & do what I wanted them to! Lol.

  8. Jean Bruce says

    Hi,Donna, you are so right.
    I just been offered a pain management program to go on,as here in the UK ,this is the only thing that there is,on th NHS,had Fibromyalgia for 50yrs,l am pleased to be offered something,it makes a change, from being ignored, and pills that don’t work, but not sure about taking it on,we all need a cure, nothing less will do….

  9. This study is an insult to all of us with fibro!

  10. Maureen M. says

    Id like to know how much flower design can you learn over 12 weeks! to begin with?! Reall?!
    Thank you for posting this and your feelings on it Donna. It is wasted studies like this that are so useless! I hope you are doing much better these days. Keep strong warrior!

  11. I’ve had Fibro since 1990, I tried hobbies, which are great to focus away from the pain, but it didn’t eliminate it, I have a parrot, a dog and I just adopted a cute kitten and while they make me happy, the wonderful 80 symptoms of FMS are still going strong. There are many natural remedies that lessen some symptoms, but not all : (. They can stick their flowers where the sun don’t shine.

  12. Yes, thank you! These types of studies drive me nuts. If only it were that easy to fix my pain!

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