When you are in pain you want nothing more than to end it. The Western approach is to reach for a pill. If this does not work then a trip to the MD for stronger pills, or even injections or patches. But what if all this fails, or you are simply wishing to avoid the unwanted side effects (the most dramatic being death via Aspirin).
Luckily there are alternatives to the sometimes dangerous ‘conventional’ approach – there is natural pain relief available to you.
The first step is trying your understand your pain. As any real pain expert will tell you – we don’t really know what sets it off.
For example we all know someone who has agonising back pain due to a slipped disc, but many people have slipped discs and no pain. Some who have surgery on the disc get better, some it makes no difference!
Pain would seem to be not just down to physical injuries and causes, but a complex interaction of thoughts, feelings, habits, lifestyle, posture, diet, biochemistry, and for some people even things like atmospheric conditions.
So how do you get to understand your pain in order to get natural pain relief?
Well, first of all you have to become aware of all the possibilities – which you are now. Next, try and find some professional help from an MD interested in more than medicine, or a chiropractor interested in more than adjusting your spine. Other alternatives would be Applied Kinesiologists, acupuncturists, naturopaths. It is probably good to find someone who is experienced in more than one field of natural pain relief – a good sign is if they know about Functional Medicine.
What are some of the natural pain relief alternatives?
A good chiropractor or osteopath should get your muscles and joints in shape using a combination of soft tissue techniques and specific spinal adjustments. Along with the manual techniques a good look into nutrition and your emotions may be in order.
Lets tackle some of the mental/emotional issues first.
Anything that stresses you out will tighten your muscles, so you need to get in control of that. There are a number of easy to do techniques that make traditional psychology look quite old fashioned. Try Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy for starters, and pick up a copy of Maxwell Maltz’s excellent book Psycho cybernetics. Again, having someone to guide you will help.
With nutrition there are a range of helpful supplements, but the first thing is to check your diet – you need enough water and vegetables, and less processed meats, wheat and sugar. Even things like tea and coffee can send some people into pain, but they don’t realise until they stop. One of my patients turned out to be suffering from years of back pain as she had an intolerance to eggs and coffee.
After your diet, supplement with pharmaceutical grade fish oil. You need these healthy fats to make your own natural pain killers and anti-inflammatories, as well as oil to lubricate your joints and sooth the nerves.
The spices ginger and cayenne pepper have shown good results in clinical trials for pain relief.
The humble pineapple is full of a natural pain killer called bromelain, which can be bought in pill form.
There is also SAM-e (short for S-adenosylmethionine) which has been shown to be as good as some drugs for arthritis.
Another is the herb arnica – often used in homeopathic form, which makes it safe for children. It comes as both a pill and a cream, and no matter what skeptics may say it seems to help.
One of my favourite tools I use in our clinic for helping to asses which nutrients and foods may be best for an individual is the Braverman Nature Assessment. You can find this easily online but you will need help interpreting what it means, so feel free to email the clinic!
Another way to help decrease pain and swelling is promoting the production glutathione. Glutathione is needed to detoxify, promote immune system health, and keep your cells producing energy.
Although glutathione is found in all foods it is destroyed by your digestive juices. You can however boost it with very specific supplementation.
How to raise glutathione will be the subject of another article – or see the resource box below.
Whatever pain you are struggling with I hope this short article helps.