Saturday, March 29, 2014

It Doesn't Hurt: Natural Ways To Treat Pain

HealthLine.com has contributed a guest blog post on Natural ways to treat pain, and I am thrilled they chose this blog. I hope you all find this informative and professional. Thank you, Leslie Vandever, for the thoroughly researched submission. Enjoy! Namaste.

It Doesn’t Hurt: Natural Ways to Treat Pain

By Leslie Vandever
It’s in the news: a lot of Americans are addicted to narcotic painkillers. Teens steal them for parties, people “doctor-shop” so they can get a steady supply to sell at a huge profit on the streets, and some people plague the emergency rooms, faking pain to score pills for a weekend high.

News like that makes the rest of us a bit leery of taking painkillers. We don’t want to get addicted!

The fact is that opiate-based painkillers are very effective at relieving severe pain—and that most people never become addicted or dependent on them. Still, it’s worthwhile to explore other, more natural—and less controversial—ways to relieve pain.

First, though, let’s look at what hurts. Is your pain the result of an injury? Is it joint pain from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis? Did you strain your low back muscles carrying that 20-pound bag of dog food from the car into the house yesterday, or do you hurt because you have fibromyalgia? Is your pain mild? Moderate? Severe?

Different pain circumstances—and different people and their perceptions of pain—can mean different treatments. For instance, a capsicum- or camphor/menthol-based salve that you rub into the skin (for its heating or cooling sensations) can soothe sore muscles nicely. But the same salve might be only slightly effective on a joint flaring with rheumatoid arthritis—if it works at all.

Some topical, applied-to-the-skin remedies for muscle and low back pain include the above mentioned salves (made with natural ingredients), and cold or heat packs. These can be as simple as a bag of peas from the freezer. Just wrap the bag in a dish-towel and apply it to the sore place for 20 minutes. Then get that nice, grain-filled cloth bag you got for Christmas and heat it in the microwave. Apply it to the sore spot for another 20 minutes. Alternating cold and heat can be very effective at relieving muscle and back pain.

Some foods can be helpful in relieving pain, too.  Inflammation in the body and around the joints is behind much of the pain of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Research has shown that turmeric, the deep yellow, powdery spice used in Indian cuisine, can lower inflammation levels in the body somewhat. It’s important to understand which foods alleviate pain and what are the foods that cause inflammation.

There is also some evidence that the paleo diet can lower inflammation in the body. With paleo, you are free to eat lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits (sparingly), nuts and seeds, and healthy fats, like olive and canola oil. You eliminate dairy products, foods made from grain, beans and legumes, any processed foods or foods containing sugar, starchy foods, and all alcohol.
According to the American Nutrition Association, “Common dietary staples, such as cereal grains, beans, and legumes, contain lectins. These have anti-nutritional properties that influence enterocytes (cells that line the intestinal wall) and lymphocytes (cells in the blood, lymph, and lymphoid tissues that are part of the immune system).”

Lectins can quickly cross the gastrointestinal barrier. They enter the bloodstream intact, spreading easily throughout the body. In rheumatoid arthritis, they directly interact with the synovial tissue (the lining between the joints), causing inflammation and, in due course, stiffness, swelling and pain.

Eating a nutritious diet to maintain a healthy weight, getting plenty of sleep, taking time to get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise four days a week, and using topical cold and warmth all work toward lowering pain levels. When pain is severe, though, talk to your doctor. She may have some good ideas for treating both the pain and what’s causing it, too.

For more information on this and other health subjects, click here.

Leslie Vandever—known as "Wren" to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

References:
·         Exercise Helps Ease Arthritis Pain and Stiffness. (2013, Feb. 14) Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 10, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/ART-20047971
·         Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis. (1999, Aug. 30) Cordain, L. Toohey, L., Smith, M.J., and Hickey, M.S. British Journal of Nutrition. The Nutrition Society. Retrieved on March 11, 2014 from http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=880104&jid=BJN&volumeId=83&issueId=03&aid=880100&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RV&fileId=S0007114500000271
·         Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Frassetto, L.A., Schloetter, M., Mietus-Synder, M., Morris, R.C., and Sebastian, A. (2009, Feb. 11) European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved on March 11, 2014 from http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v63/n8/full/ejcn20094a.html
·         Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis. (n.d.) Nutrition Digest. American Nutrition Association. Retrieved on January 7, 2014 from http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/diet-rheumatoid-arthritis-0
·         Using Heat and Cold for Pain Relief. (n.d.) Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved on March 11, 2014 from http://www.arthritistoday.org/arthritis-treatment/natural-and-alternative-treatments/remedies-and-therapies/heat-cold-for-pain-relief.php



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