Published in HüK Magazine
Chronic pain is an issue that is really beginning to gain national attention. There are about 1.5 billion people worldwide who suffer daily from chronic pain, usually caused by what we call “invisible diseases;” conditions that cause internal effects, but exhibit no external symptoms. These can be hard to understand. It can be challenging to take seriously what you cannot see. However, these illnesses are extremely real, and deserve to be treated as such.
Chronic pain can be caused by many conditions, from Lyme disease to Osteoarthritis, to Fibromyalgia, to Multiple Sclerosis. The list most certainly does not end there. This day-in-day-out pain can cause or exacerbate conditions like depression, fatigue, digestive issues, and mental clarity. There are hundreds of prescription medications designed to help. However, as with most things, throwing a pill at the situation is not always the answer. For some, these drugs can bring about short-term relief, but the body soon adapts and the medication is no longer effective, so the number of pills and dosages increase. For example, I have Fibromyalgia. After 3 years my doctors had me on twenty-seven pills a day. The side effects were unbearable. Weight gain aside, which worsened the pain I already had, I was extremely depressed, I was having muscle spasms which lasted up to an hour at a time, my mental function and cardiovascular health was reduced, and I was still walking with a cane on the days I could walk at all. That was when I started on my naturopathic path. So let’s talk about what can be done to naturally help chronic pain.
A few lifestyle changes that can be very beneficial are: get at least 10 minutes of sunshine a day. This helps you get proper vitamins and minerals, and reduces depression. Educate your friends and family about your condition. The more they understand, the more they can help and support you. Remain socially active. And as much as it hurts, keep moving, at least a little every day. But possibly most importantly is a healthy diet. Not a diet plan, but a healthy dietary lifestyle change. Cut the sugar, drop the processed foods, and eat lots of bright, beautiful things from the earth!
There are many herbs that can help as well. However, I must state the importance of seeing your natural healthcare practitioner or herbalist before you start any herbal regimen.
Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia piscipula), native to the southern U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, is a natural anti-inflammatory, analgesic (“pain relieving”), and sedative. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. A study from the University of Georgia showed that raw ginger can reduce muscle pain by as much as 25%. In another study, Ginger was found to be more effective in the reduction of pain than Ibuprofen and cortisone. Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is a traditional Chinese herb used for relief of pain and cramping, due to it’s ability to increase blood circulation. Topically, salves made with Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) can help increase blood flow to sore muscles and joints.
There are also many herbs to help aid in depression, mental clarity, nerve and musculoskeletal health. Talk to an herbalist or naturopath for more information.
These facts and opinions are those of a certified Master Herbalist, Reiki Master Teacher, and a Natural Health Consultant, and are for educational purposes only, and not intended to replace consult with your healthcare practitioner.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this article, please contact me or your natural healthcare practitioner immediately.