Naturopathy and Chronic Pain
Addressing pain relief through Naturopathic measures can offer not only outstanding long term benefits, negative side effects are rare. Our Naturopathic approach is often multifaceted and includes, addressing inflammation, ruling out food allergies and/or food intolerances, balancing eicosanoids, along with combining herbal and nutritional support.
If a patient is combating a food intolerance or food allergy they are unaware of we can see almost miraculous results by simply taking the offending food out of their diet. Further, we often see a drop in a patient’s pain level when they simply eliminate dairy, regardless of any food intolerances. When an offending food is present in the body the patient’s immune system is called to deal with the “offender”. As our immune system battles the offender, inflammation is created. Just think what happens when you get a splinter in your finger! When inflammation is present the end result is often chronic pain do to this heightened inflammation.
Balancing our eicosanoids requires limiting harmful fats that cause inflammation in the body while at the same time including fats known to offer anti-inflammatory support. While entire books have been written on this very topic here are a few basics to consider. EFAs (Essential Fatty Aids) are polyunsaturated oils – the “good” anti-inflammatory fats. They are essential because your body does not manufacture them. Fats called EPA, DHA, and GLA all fall into this category. They are our “look good, feel good” nutrients. Along with proper saturated fats such as coconut and palm oil, these nutrients are responsible for cell flexibility and integrity.
When we consume too many of the “bad” hydrogenated fats, biochemical pathways that promote pain and inflammation are encouraged. These pathways are often referred to as PGE2, while the pathways that do not promote inflammation are often referred to as PGE1 and PGE3. The cox-2 enzyme drugs (many of which have been taken off the market) work by blocking the inflammatory PGE2 pathway. Unfortunately these drugs, along with other pain medications, also suppress the anti-inflammatory PGE1 and PGE3 pathways. If you find relief with pain relieving drugs it’s a good bet you are suffering from too much inflammation in your body and following natural measures crafted to lower inflammation will be of benefit when attempting to lower your level of pain.
Through diet and whole food supplements the human body can naturally select the pathways that do not promote pain! One of the easiest ways you can achieve this is to ensure daily supplementation of EPH/DHA and GLA and limit the pain promoting fats such as hydrogenated oils and trans fats.
There are also many herbal preparations that assist with chronic pain. We have found that, boswellia and white willow bark top the list. Boswellia, an Ayurvedic plant which is also referred to as frankincense, contains anti-inflammatory triterpenoids called boswellic acids. Boswellic acid and its derivatives have anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and blood lipid lowering activities. Dried extracts of Boswellia have been used since antiquity in India to treat inflammatory conditions.
White willow bark, another natural, effective analgesic and anti-inflammatory herbal product, working much like the cox-2 inhibitors medications – without the dangerous side effects. The primary active compound in white willow bark is salicin. In the body, salicin can be converted into salicylic acid, which has powerful effects as an anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Until synthetic aspirin could be produce in large quantities, white willow bark was the treatment of choice for reducing fevers, relieving headache and arthritis pain and controlling swelling. As with other cox-2 enzyme inhibitors, white willow bark takes up to 4 weeks to begin to work.
St. John’s Wort, well known for it’s beneficial support in mild to moderate depression, has also been shown to be very useful when dealing with nerve pain such as sciatica, facial neuralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome. It also has anti-viral benefits – an added bonus.
Last, but certainly not least, we have glucosamine. Each person and animal produces a certain amount of glucosamine within their bodies. As we grow older, our bodies lose the capacity to make enough glucosamine, so the cartilage in your weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, and hands is destroyed, then hardens and forms bone spurs, causing pain, deformed joints, limited joint movement and limping.
Glucosamine helps maintain cartilage and contains the building blocks for joint construction and has been shown to be beneficial to sufferers of osteoarthritis pain - both humans and pets. It has been proven effective in easing osteoarthritis pain, rehabilitating cartilage, renewing synovial fluid, and repairing joints that have been damaged from osteoarthritis.
The LIVE Method and Pain
Terms such as “heartache” and “gut wrenching” are more than mere metaphors: they describe the experience of both physical and emotional pain. When we feel heartache, for example, we are experiencing a blend of emotional stress and the stress-induced sensations in our chest—muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected. And in the same way that in some people injury can cause long-lasting chronic pain, science now reveals why some will never get over such heartbreak.
Heartache and digestive pain are not the only way emotional and physical pain intersect in our brain. Recent studies show that even experiencing emotional pain on behalf of another person—that is, empathy—can influence our pain perception.
Although the biological pathways underlying these connections between physical and mental pain are not well understood, studies revealing the function of substances called neuropeptides may play a major role. Neuropeptides, discovered in 1975 by Dr John Hughes and Dr. Kosterlitz, are credited with allowing us to “feel”. Neuropeptides control our mood, energy levels, pain and pleasure reception, our ability to solve problems; they also form memories, affective behavior, appetite, and inflammation, and regulate our immune system.
The LIVE Method Transformational Rereats offer a unique opportunity to access the psyche of the individual suffering physical pain. Often the core issue precipitating pain has its roots in familial groundings. Unresolved hurts from our childhood can leave deep, invisible wounds and once revealed we are free to release them once and for all. Utilizing The LIVE Method Transformational Retreats, joy takes the place of heart ache, forgiveness takes the place of anger, love takes the place of resentment, peace takes the place of fear, acceptance takes the place of grief and our yoke becomes lighter.