Pain is never pleasant, and if you suffer from a condition that causes chronic pain , you know how seriously that can impact your quality of life. Not only does it affect you physically, it often causes feelings of depression and anxiety. It is like an albatross hanging around your neck, and you may feel hopeless at times. Whether you are hoping to complement your conventional treatments, such as medications, or employ a completely holistic approach, here are a few strategies that may help.
When it comes to managing health problems naturally, no matter the issue, diet is an absolute cornerstone. Healthy foods contain all the nutrients your body requires for normal and healthy functioning. Eating not-so-healthy foods can exacerbate health problems in numerous ways, from affecting our hormones to affecting the production of chemicals involved in the pain response. If you suffer from chronic pain, limiting inflammation is a must, and diet is one of the best ways to do this naturally. Keep sugar and processed carbohydrates to a minimum; limit your intake of fats high in omega-6 fatty acids; while these substances offer health benefits, they contribute to the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals when consumed in large amounts, such as in a typical American diet. Oils high in these fats include soy, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, and mixed vegetable oil.
Some have reported that giving up caffeine has made a difference in pain levels, as has eliminating nightshade vegetables from the diet, such as potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes. Additives such as aspartame and MSG may affect various processes in the body that are linked to increasing pain sensations and your sensitivity to them.
A host of natural supplements have a long history of use for treating pain. Herbs that are known for fighting inflammation are a particularly good choice, such as turmeric, ginger, willowbark, cat’s claw, devil claw and rosemary . Research suggests that turmeric may be the best choice among herbs that naturally fight inflammation in a way similar to NSAIDS. Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for easing inflammation; fish oil is usually recommended over plant sources of the fats, such as flax seed, when it comes to using it therapeutically for pain management. Research suggests it may be most effective as a supplement to other anti-inflammatories, such as turmeric, rather than using it on its own. Insufficient levels of vitamin D have also been linked to increased pain in the body—this is one of the most common deficiencies, and unless you are living in a year-round sun soaked destination, chances are good you could use a supplement.
Also, when it comes to natural substances, experiment with topical treatments meant to ease pain; for example, there are many topical Chinese herbal remedies for chronic pain that may offer relief.
You may wonder how something like sitting still, observing the thoughts and feelings in the moment without judgment and focusing on the moment may help treat pain, but many studies have found it does. Meditation appears to work in various ways, from affecting brain chemistry to simply helping people view their discomfort in a way that reduces the suffering that comes with their conditions. It has been tested in people with all sorts of chronic pain conditions from arthritis to back pain. Two health centers in Toronto developed a program with such effective results, that the province-administered health insurance offers complete coverage for patients who want to undergo the mindfulness meditation training. If you have never meditated before, you may find the process uncomfortable; you will not be used to just sitting with your thoughts and you will want nothing more than to just get up and go do something else. Start off slow, just a few minutes at a stretch, until you get used to it.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all things natural health; she recommends visiting SolsticeMed.com for more information on Chinese remedies for pain and other conditions.