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Pain. As a Bio-Energetic Chiropractor for over 37 years, I have seen how pain is a great motivator for most people. It gets your attention. Whether your pain is caused by cancer, chemo treatment, or a toothache… when you are under its influence, pain can significantly decrease the quality of your life.
According to recent statistics put forth by the National Institutes of Health, “pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.” It is cited as the most common reason why a person accesses the traditional health care system.
Over 76 million individuals in the United States (that is one in every four Americans) have experienced pain that lasts longer than 24 hours. Millions more suffer from acute pain every day. No one wants to live with the mind-numbing effects of pain, but is popping highly-toxic pharmaceutical drugs the only way to alleviate suffering that it can bring? Are there natural pain management techniques that can be just as effective?
Opiate Addiction is Out of Control in the U.S.
As the above statistics prove, the “pain problem” has clearly reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. And so has the problem of addiction to opiate drugs − the primary pain management solution put forth by traditional western medicine since the mid-1800s (other opiate-derived drugs soon followed). Besides morphine, there are now dozens of opiate-derived pain medications that can be easily obtained by prescription.
Some of the most common pain relievers include:
- Hydrocodone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oycodone (Percocet and derivatives)
According to 2016 statistics gathered by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), approximately 1.9 million individuals in the U.S. have a substance abuse disorder involving prescription medications. That is approximately four times as many people who are addicted to street-variety heroine alone.
The connection between the two is clear, however. Four out of five new heroin users began their addiction by misusing prescription painkillers. In fact, according to the ASAM, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids in 2012. This is enough to give every adult in the U.S. their own bottle of pills.
The problem of prescription pain medication addiction is so grave that politicians have taken notice. The Obama administration appears to be cracking down on doctors and patients who abuse the system when it comes to opioids. In the summer of 2016, Obama signed into law the (CARA), which addresses opioid abuse in the country. CARA outlines recommendations for heightened law enforcement measures against abusers (both patients and doctor). It is believed to be the first step in the possible appropriation of funding as well, to the tune of a 50% increase for such programs next year and a 93% increase in funding for 2018.
Pain Meds Can Have Deadly Side Effects
In addition to being highly addictive, prescription pain meds come with a laundry list of side effects (sometimes after just a few days of use). According to a 2008 comprehensive report, these include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, [increased] tolerance [requiring a higher dose or a change in meds], and respiratory depression.”
Long-term effects include severe digestive imbalance, hormonal dysfunction, immunological impairment, and muscle rigidity. Even over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol come with their own issues. Besides gut flora imbalance, long term use of Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) can lead to fatal liver damage and kidney cancer. A 2013 psychological study conducted by the University of British Columbia also found that Acetaminophen may affect areas of the brain that determine moral judgment.
7 Alternatives to Addictive Pain Meds
There are natural substances and techniques, however, that can gently affect pain receptors in the brain and ease suffering without all the nasty side effects. The following 7 natural remedies have been shown to do just that:
#1. Cannabis: By far, one of the most effective (if not THE most effective) natural substance for pain is the measured use of medical marijuana. Cannabis works on the subtle systems of the body through the endo-cannabinoid system. THC and CBD working synergistically in various amounts has been shown to numb pain receptors. Cannabis has been used for pain management for thousands of years in cultures all over the world. Both anecdotal and scientific evidence has linked it to pain relief. Indeed, it is often the “medicine” of choice for those suffering from chronic pain as well as those undergoing harsh traditional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
#2. Chili Peppers: In particular, capsaicin found in cayenne pepper can have an effect on “Substance P” which is a chemical found in nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin in topical form is particularly effective.
#3. Moringa: Moringa oleifera is fairly new to the west, although it has been part of the ancient healing cornucopia in Africa, Central and South America, and India for centuries. One French study found that Moringa root, as a powerful anti-inflammatory, was effective for relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory conditions such as bronchitis in laboratory rats.
#4. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): According to a study conducted in 2006 at the Southwest College Research Institute in Tempe, Arizona, “MSM (3g twice a day) improved symptoms of pain and physical function during the short intervention without major adverse events” for sufferers of knee pain associated with osteoporosis.
#5. Acupuncture: Acupuncture consists of the insertion of small needles in exact locations (or meridian points) in the body. It has been used for thousands of years in China for the healing of countless ailments and for the general balancing of “Chi” in the body. Some Chinese doctors are even able to perform complex surgery with just the use of acupuncture as anesthesia. The latest scientific study on the relationship between acupuncture and pain management resulted in a collaborative 2012 report published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The report pooled the research findings from close to 30 previous studies. Overall they found that acupuncture relieved pain by about 50%.
#6. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping): Emotional Freedom Technique works with the principles of energy “meridians” obtained, again, from Chinese medicine. EFT can help balance the “subtle energy system,” help heal emotions and aid in the unblocking of energy, causing sometimes an instant relief from pain. It also works with the emotions to help resolve subconscious negative emotional patterns that may be enhancing the pain.
#7. Curcumin (turmeric): Curcumin is an herbal powerhouse when it comes to healing on all levels. Not only have recent studies confirmed curcumin’s effect on cancer tumors, this substance found in the Indian spice turmeric is also a natural pain reliever by the effect it has on inflammatory markers. A study published in the International Journal of Cell Biology found that curcumin can regulate cytokines, protein synthesis, and enzymes which are linked to inflammation in many neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary and autoimmune diseases. In addition, a 2011 study conducted by Cheiti-Pescara University in Italy found that a proprietary blend of curcumin and soy phospholipids was shown to relieve pain as well as increase mobility in people with osteoarthritis.
Using Pain Management Techniques for Chronic Pain
There is definitely a time and a place for pharmaceutical anesthetics. For acute trauma, injuries and surgeries, it would be hard to imagine what such experiences would be like without them and their ability to rapidly block pain response.
Danger exists when pain, and the use of toxic pain meds, becomes chronic. This is where the power of natural substances can come into play. There are dozens of natural modalities and substances that have been proven effective at alleviating pain with zero side effects.
Other natural alternatives for pain management besides the ones already mentioned above include: meditation, the TENS unit, acupressure, magnet therapy, yoga, Indian Frankincense, Bromelain (found in pineapple), Omega-3 fish oils, Evening Primrose oil, ginger, colloidal silver, and arnica (especially arnica cream).
Research has even found that simply giving or receiving a hug, holding someone’s hand, or laughing can subdue pain, since these pleasant activities lead to the release of endorphins (the natural hormones secreted by the body that decrease pain and increase feelings of wellbeing).
Many of the above substances and modalities have an effect on both hormonal balance and inflammation levels. You are doing your body a huge favor by working with its natural mechanisms for healing instead of reaching for the latest pharmaceutical drug for your pain.
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Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined and is cited as the most common reason why a person accesses the traditional health care system.
No one wants to live with the mind-numbing effects of pain, but is popping highly-toxic pharmaceutical drugs the only answer? Are there natural pain management techniques that can be just as effective?
Opiate drugs such as morphine are the primary pain management solution offered by doctors. There are also dozens of opiate-derived pain medications available by prescription. Nearly 2 million individuals in the U.S. have a substance abuse disorder involving prescription medications.
In addition to being highly addictive, prescription pain meds can have numerous side effects including: sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, respiratory depression, severe digestive imbalance, hormonal dysfunction, immunological impairment, and muscle rigidity.
Here are 7 natural substances and techniques that can gently affect pain receptors in the brain and ease suffering (see the article for more info on each):
- Chili Peppers
- Moringa oleifera
- MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping)
- Curcumin (turmeric)
Additional natural alternatives for pain management include: meditation, the TENS unit, acupressure, magnet therapy, yoga, Indian Frankincense, Bromelain (found in pineapple), Omega-3 fish oils, Evening Primrose oil, ginger, colloidal silver, and arnica (especially arnica cream).