Fish and Fibromyalgia

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  • Post category:B12 / Fish
Dear Dr. Ruth,
My question: I listened to your program on the radio this past Sunday & you were talking about poisoning from fish which contributes to fibromyalgia (FMS). I was diagnosed with FMS in 1999. Could you tell me more about this?  What kind of poisoning is it?  How does one get tested for it? What is the treatment?
Thank you.

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Dear Irene,
Thank you for your question and it makes me happy to know that someone is
listening!Your question brings up just one of the many reasons fish should not be known as a “health food.” Although ciguatera poisoning was not directly linked to FMS, but to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), I suspect both are very much related and difficult to differentiate.

As far as specifics are concerned, this is cutting edge research so doctors won’t know much about this yet. This was a fairly recent discovery by Dr. Hokama at the University of Hawaii and was published in a couple of psychiatric/neurologic journals.

The treatment is to stop ingesting the ciguatera toxin which, of course, means quit eating fish of all types. The toxin originates in the algae which is eaten by small reef fish which are then eaten by larger fish — and larger fish, until you get to the tuna, or whatever fish is being caught for consumption by humans. So it’s impossible to say which fish have it or which don’t because the testing is difficult and expensive. It can even be in fish oil capsules.

The diagnostic testing was actually done here at the University of Hawaii from blood samples from all over the country. They measured the levels of ciguatera toxin in the blood of patients with CFS, hepatitis, and controls (those with no symptoms) and found toxic levels in 97% of those with symptoms. The researchers are also suspecting links to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Recovery, which, of course, can only start after the stopping of eating contaminated fish, may take a long time, in fact, years. Large doses of Vitamin B-12 may be helpful in regenerating nerves.

Go to and follow the links for ciguatera toxin
poisoning. You can also read the original UH paper by Dr. Hokama at

Hope this helps,

Dr. Ruth