You are in constant pain, so you find yourself always reaching for that Advil or Tylenol. Chronic pain can be debilitating and mentally exhausting. It can impact activities of daily living like brushing your hair, taking a bath, cooking, etc. Long term, it can also impact mental/emotional health and lead to extreme fatigue, insomnia and/or even depression. In order to effectively alleviate chronic pain we need to address all its components. Naturopathic Medicine involves targeting the root cause of pain, not just shutting off the pain signal, which involves a slue of side effects. In this article I will address alternative therapies to consider when dealing with chronic pain.
As mentioned earlier, one of the avenues Naturopathic Medicine takes is to address the root cause of pain. There is a link between chronic pain and Gastrointestinal (GI) imbalances. Our gut is made of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good” flora involves higher amounts of lactic acid bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria help with pain conditions. Higher amounts of pathogenic bacteria like Clostridia or Klebsiella can contribute to joint pain. Thus, consumption of specific probiotic strains can help to replenish the gut flora and have a positive outcome on pain related conditions. It is important to note that it is all about keeping a balance within your gut flora to keep everything in check!
2. FOOD INTOLERANCES
Undiagnosed food allergies and/or intolerances can lead to inflammation, which leads to chronic pain. Food intolerances or allergies can create holes in the GI tract lining which is what causes the inflammatory cells to come about. Common triggers include: cow’s milk, wheat, gluten, eggs and soy protein. So be sure to take this into account when dealing with chronic pain conditions.
3. MASSAGE OILS
Applying topical oils to your joints can be quite effective at lubricating them. Castor oil is a great example! It can reduce inflammation in arthritic joints and relieve pain. Warm the oil and massage it gently onto the effected joints. Wrap the area with a thin cloth and a heating pad to allow for deeper penetration. Leave this on all night. You can also try Boswelia, Camphor, Ginger and Peppermint oil. TIP: Mix both castor oil and apple cider vinegar in equal part and apply generously to affected areas.
4. BOTANICAL HERBS/SUPPLEMENTS
This can be very effective in easing muscle tension and relieving pain. Most naturals anti-inflammatories work in the same way as prescription medications without the side effects.
- Boswelia Serrata – Boswelia inhibits pro-inflammatory markers. Can help with pain and improving mobility. It can be used for Osteoarthritis (OA), GI issues like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Collitis, allergies and/or headaches.
- Curcumin – Curcumin is the active ingredient of Turmeric. It can be useful for OA, RA, dyspepsia, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, diarrhea, flatulence, hedahces and joint pain. Curcumin is poorly absorbed so it needs to be paired with phosphatidylcholine – so make sure to watch out for this when purchasing Curcumin!
- Natural Eggshell Membrane – Eggshell membrane contains natural glycosaminoglycans and proteins that are needed for healthy joint tissue. It is a natural source of collagen. It also known to reduce inflammation in the body, thus reducing pain.
If you are one who suffers from chronic debilitating pain, give one or all 4 of these tips a try! Be consistent with making changes and remember to stay positive! All changes begin with the right mind-set. Make sure you talk to your ND to ensure the dosage, quality is right and effective for you.
Written by: Dr. Saira Kassam | 2017