Natural Pain Remedies
Unpleasant as it is, pain is necessary at times. The human body is in fact "wired" to experience pain: We're equipped with pain receptors throughout the body. Information from these receptors is transmitted along the sensory nerve to the spinal cord, which then sends the signal to the brain, which in turn sends signals to initiate a response. That response might be withdrawing your hand from a hot surface, or it might be the realization that you've probably broken a bone. Without this information, your body would be unaware of injuries, or the extent of the injuries.
Not all pain is "necessary," in the sense of serving notice that something is amiss. Aches and pains from headaches, sore muscles, pinched nerves, or chronic conditions such as arthritis often persist long after the body has gotten the message. Low back pain, for example, is the second leading cause of absenteeism from work.
A variety of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs are available to provide relief-but there may be side effects ranging from mild to severe. The recent news that Vioxx, an arthritis drug, was being pulled from the market due to its potential for doubling the risk of heart attack or stroke is only the latest and most dramatic illustration of these complications. Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may lead to liver injury or gastrointestinal bleeding if used on a long-term basis.
"One way to keep from getting caught up in the chronic pain cycle is through pain management," write authors Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C, and James F. Balch, M.D. in Prescription for Nutritional Healing. "Often, the reduction of physical pain can prevent the cycle from starting:"
Here are some measures you can take to manage pain:
- Chiropractic seeks to eliminate pain by realigning the spinal column, thereby allowing the nervous system to regain its normal function and enabling the body to heal itself. Chiropractors are the third-largest group of licensed health care professionals in the U.S.
- Massage can take many forms, ranging from deep tissue massage, which is used to release chronic muscular tension, to reflexology, in which pressure is applied to different points on the feet, hands, and ears in a correlation with the body's organs.
- Relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery, can ease pain by releasing tension.
- Herbs and homeopathic remedies have a long history of use to relieve pain. Feverfew has been used traditionally for headaches, migraines, and other bodily aches and pains. Arnica has been used homeopathically to treat bruising and reduce swelling. Boswellia serrata, an Ayurvedic remedy, has been clinically proven to reduce symptoms of arthritis.