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Myositis (Muscle Aches)

Myositis refers to “inflammation of muscle,” specifically to pain and swelling of different muscles that may be caused by various infections, injuries, autoimmunity, and nutritional deficiencies.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Read & Watch


Although there are many variations and manifestations of myositis, the most common diagnoses involving inflammation of muscles are the two inflammatory myopathies: dermatomyositis and polymyositis. Both involve progressive, proximal, symmetric weakness of muscles, but dermatomyositis differs because of the development of specific skin rashes on the eyelids and joints. The prevalence of these disorders ranges from 2 to 33 per 100,000 people.1

The symptoms and signs of these inflammatory myopathies include:

  • Muscle weakness, usually of shoulder and hip, making it difficult to lift objects, comb hair, or get up from chair
  • Weakness of neck muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Morning stiffness
  • Cardiac and pulmonary involvement in 40-50% of patients (arrhythmias, heart failure, and interstitial lung disease)
  • Skin rashes in dermatomyositis

The causes of myositis are multifactorial:

  • Inflammatory myositis are immune-mediated and involve auto-antibodies which attack our own muscles
  • Viruses such as coxsackie, influenza, Epstein Barr, herpes, HIV
  • Medications such as statins and steroids
  • Medical conditions such hyperthyroidism
  • Alcohol use
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Low nutrient, highly processed diet with excessive animal products contribute to oxidative stress and cellular toxicity
  1. Meyer A, Meyer N, Schaeffer M, et al. Incidence and prevalence of inflammatory myopathies: a systematic review. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2014.

Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian diet will provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which aid in cellular repair, up-regulates detoxification, and decreases oxidative stress and inflammation. With strict adherence to a Nutritarian diet, I have seen many patients resolve their myositis.
  • Avoiding animal products is important in most patients with autoimmune diseases.1 Some patients also do better with lower amounts of fructose and avoiding gluten and beans. Squashes, intact non-gluten grain, and other high starch vegetables should be the main source of calories.
  • Green-based vegetable juices with added carrot and beet, as well as large green salads daily are important.
  • Consuming nuts and seeds, as well as supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA-EPA Purity or purified fish oil, can help decrease inflammation. Sometimes, high dose fish oil and high dose probiotics can be helpful for these patients, and a trial of such is indicated.
  • After the initial 3 months, most patients on long-term steroids should be able to be slowly weaned off over months by their physicians, and then the focus should be on rebuilding muscle and bone (the prevention of osteoporosis) by ensuring adequate Vitamin D levels and performing weight bearing daily exercises. See my Osteoporosis Protection for Life video.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is helpful in preventing and contractures in diagnosed patients.

Find additional help

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  1. Song MS, Farber D, Bitton A, et al. Dermatomyositis associated with celiac disease: response to a gluten-free diet. Can J Gastroenterol 2006, 20:433-435.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


I have been diagnosed with polymyositis. I eat a large green salad everyday plus beans (or occasionally chicken or turkey or pacific salmon), and in a blender, I mix up a protein drink that I drink throughout the day. In it I combine creatine powder, pure egg white protein powder (unflavored, unsweetened), apple, banana, cod liver oil, flax seed, cabbage, broccoli slaw, and water.

With this wasting muscle disease, should I be taking in even more protein to slow down the


I have had numerous patients make complete recoveries from this condition. We did it via my protocol for autoimmune disease. The increased protein (especially animal protein) fuels the autoimmune issue and is the opposite of my approach for this condition. The extra protein fuels the excessive immune response and increases, not decreases, the attack against your muscles. You should be taking high strength fish oil, not Cod Liver Oil, which is too high in Vitamin A. Read my Nov 2004 newsletter on autoimmune disease.


I am 5’4", 269 pounds, and have Polymyositis. Currently, I take Prednisone, Zetia, Ursodial, vitamin E, turmeric, green tea, and calcium with Vitamin D.

What can I start doing immediately that would help me gain better control over my myositis and possibly eliminate the need for Prednisone?


I have had many patients make complete recoveries from this issue. It just takes time. Of course, your recovery does not hinge on eating more vegetables, it hinges on not eating any animal products, processed foods, and oils. In other words, you have to eat nothing but vegetables, and a small amount of fresh fruit.

These types of diseases are triggered from oxidative stress and cellular toxicity. So, everything that goes into your mouth should contribute to your healing. Plus, you are not going to be able to cleanse your body unless you drop weight. You should also work with your doctor to eventually stop the Zetia and Ursodial.