Treating Pain Without Drugs


Published:

A new federal report revealed that the majority of U.S. adults (more than 54 percent) had some type of musculoskeletal pain disorder such as back, joint or neck pain in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics are available).1 Its prevalence is indicative of the significant price Americans pay for pain — it’s a leading cause of disability and major contributor to health care expenses and disability compensation.

Also revealing, people suffering from pain were significantly more likely to have used a complementary health approach compared to people without pain — nearly 42 percent versus 24 percent, respectively. The reason wasn’t addressed by the study, but time and again, conventional medicine fails to relieve many people’s pain.

Congressional testimony from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) stated that Americans consume 80 percent of the pain pills in the world,2 and in a survey of more than 2,000 pain patients in the U.S., most said they were taking a dangerously addictive opioid pain medication.3 Research suggests, however, that these drugs work for only about three months, after which changes in your brain may lead to increased feelings of pain along with added emotional upset, including feelings of hopelessness and desperation.4

Many pain sufferers have tried virtually every treatment that conventional medicine has to offer — medications, injections, surgery and more — only to find that their pain hasn’t gotten better and they may be struggling with treatment-induced side effects as well (one of the worst of which is opioid addiction). At that point (and for many far sooner), it’s only natural that you would begin to seek other options, which brings many people to holistic, complementary or alternative health care options for relief.

Science-Backed Natural Pain Relief Options

A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings evaluated several complementary approaches for pain relief.5 The options that follow have been scientifically proven to help with relief, according to the report.

ACUPUNCTURE One of the most common uses for acupuncture is in treating chronic pain. One analysis of the most robust studies available concluded that acupuncture has a clear effect in reducing chronic pain, more so than standard pain treatment.6 Study participants receiving acupuncture reported an average 50 percent reduction in pain, compared to a 28 percent pain reduction for standard pain treatment without acupuncture. It’s likely that acupuncture works via a variety of mechanisms. In 2010, for instance, it was found that acupuncture activates pain-suppressing receptors and increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter adenosine in local tissues7 (adenosine slows down your brain’s activity and induces sleepiness).

MASSAGE THERAPY A systematic review and meta-analysis, published in the journal Pain Medicine, included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.8 The review revealed that massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all.

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES Breathing exercises, guided imagery, meditation and other relaxation techniques may provide relief, especially from pain from tension headaches and migraines.

Research by an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson, found that people who practice relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation long term have more disease fighting genes switched “on” and active, including genes that protect against pain and rheumatoid arthritis.9

EXERCISE Among people who had experienced back pain, those who exercised had a 25 percent to 40 percent lower risk of having another episode within a year than those who did no exercise.10 Strength exercises, aerobics, flexibility training and stretching were all beneficial in lowering the risk of back pain. Motor control exercises (MCE), which help to improve coordination of muscles that support your spine,11 may also help. One systematic review found MCE led to reductions in pain and disability and improvements in perceived quality of life compared with minimal intervention.12

YOGA Yoga, which is particularly useful for promoting flexibility and core muscles, has also been proven to be beneficial if you suffer from back pain. People suffering from low back pain who took one yoga class a week had greater improvements in function than those receiving medicine or physical therapy.13 Yoga Journal has an online page demonstrating specific poses that may be helpful.14

MEDICAL MARIJUANA There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor. Research is still ongoing on just how extensive their impact is on our health, but to date it’s known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.15 Some of the strongest research to date is focused on marijuana for pain relief. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.16 Also revealing, in states where medical marijuana is legal, overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and 33 percent by years five and six.17

TUMERIC Turmeric was once most known for being a flavorful and colorful addition to curry, but in the scientific world, turmeric has earned a reputation for being a multi-faceted healer. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has notable anti-inflammatory properties. It can inhibit both the activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), as well as other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation. A 2006 study found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids (curcumin is the most investigated curcuminoid) blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the launch of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.18

Turmeric has been found to significantly improve post-operative pain and fatigue,19 and in a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added only 200 milligrams (mg) of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. Time magazine even published the story of one doctor who marveled at one of his older hip patient’s lack of pain and remarkably swift recovery from surgery. The patient took turmeric regularly, and the results so impressed the physician that he began taking the supplement himself.20

ESSENTIAL OILS Essential oils are concentrated, aromatic plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for emotional, cosmetic, medical and even spiritual purposes. One of their most popular uses is also for relief of chronic and acute pain. There are a number of ways to use essential oils, including via aromatherapy. Lavender aromatherapy, for instance, has been shown to lessen pain following needle insertion21 while green apple scent significantly relieves migraine pain. Other essential oils noted for pain relief, including relief from joint pain, include:22

Lavender
Spruce
Marjoram
Chamomile
Sandalwood
Wintergreen
Fennel
Clove
Ginger
Frankincense

Indian frankincense, or boswellin, has even been found to significantly reduce inflammation in animal studies and work well as a natural painkiller for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other essential oils that may be particularly beneficial for relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation include peppermint, orange, ginger, myrrh and turmeric.23 For relief of chronic muscular pain or joint aches, try mixing 15 to 60 drops of your chosen essential oil with 1 ounce of carrier oil, then massaging it into the painful area. You can also mix three drops of thyme oil with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to use as massage oil and apply on your abdominal area to relieve pain. This may be used as a massage oil to treat other types of pain, including insect and animal bites and stings. You can also use essential oils in the bathtub to relieve pain. Add 2 to 12 drops (depending on essential oil) into a teaspoon of honey, whole milk, vegetable oil or other dispersing agent then add to the bath once you are in the tub.

HOMEOPATHY FOR LOW BACK PAIN Homeopathic solutions contain miniscule doses of plants, minerals, animal products or other compounds that cause symptoms similar to what you are already experiencing. The remedies have been diluted many times over, and the idea is that the substance will stimulate your body’s own healing powers. One study of 129 people with chronic low back pain found traditional homeopathic treatment was effective for treating low back pain, leading to improvements in health-related quality of life and decreases in the use of conventional treatment and health care services. The number of patients using drugs to treat their back pain was cut in half after homeopathic treatments.24 It’s best to work with an experienced homeopath to guide you in treatment for pain relief, however some common homeopathic remedies for back pain include:25

  • Aesculus, for dull pain with muscle weakness
  • Gnaphalium, for sciatica that alternates with numbness
  • Colocynthis, for weakness and cramping in the small of the back
  • Arnica Montana, for pain as a result of trauma
  • Lycopodium, for burning pain, especially with gas or bloating
  • Rhus toxicodendron, for stiffness and pain in the small of the back

Finding The Right Balance Between Relief And Healing

If you’re in severe pain or struggling with chronic pain, it can quickly sideline your life. You’ll need relief fast in order to function, which is why I recommend seeking the help of a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments. A knowledgeable practitioner can help you to both relieve pain in the short term while also facilitating healing by identifying the underlying causes of your pain. It’s important to understand that medications are not the only option for pain relief, nor are they frequently the best such option. When used cautiously and correctly, prescription pain relievers do have their place in medicine, but they become dangerous when used long term.

For many people, lasting relief comes not from one modality but several, and it often includes making dietary changes as well. It may take a process of trial and error for you to find what combination works for you — but please stay hopeful. You can break free from chronic pain and, ultimately, many people find they don’t need drugs to do it.

Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician and New York Times bestselling author. He is a popular natural healthcare expert for many major news networks, health shows and magazines. Visit www.Mercola.com for more helpful health articles.

See also:
Balance Your Body To Relieve Pain
Bringing Cannabis Out of the Shadows and Into the Light

Sources and Notes

National Health Statistics Reports, October 12, 2016, cdc.gov
Mayo Clinic Proceedings, September, 2016, mayoclinicproceedings.org
University of Maryland Medical Center, Low Back Pain, umm.edu
Nutrition Facts, November 9, 2015, nutritionfacts.org

1 National Health Statistics Reports, October 12, 2016, www.cdc.gov
2 Congressional Testimony May 24, 2011, www.asipp.org
3 Pain News Network October 14, 2015
4 MinnPost October 31, 2014
5 Mayo Clinic Proceedings September 2016
6 Archives of Internal Medicine 2012 Sep 10:1-10 [Epub ahead of print]
7 Nature Neuroscience 13, 883–888 (2010)
Pain Medicine May 10, 2016
PLoS One. 2008 Jul 2;3(7):e2576.
10  JAMA Internal Medicine January 11, 2016
11  Medicine Net January 7, 2016
12  The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews January 7, 2016
13  Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(9):569-578.
14  Yoga Journal, Poses for Back Pain
15  Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006;46:101-22.
16  CMAJ. 2010 Oct 5;182(14):E694-701.
17  Reuters August 25, 2014
18  Arthritis & Rheumatism November 2006: 54(11); 3452-3464
19  Surg Endosc. 2011 Dec;25(12):3805-10.
20  Time July 13, 2009
21  Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 Feb;20(1):1-4.
22  Chicago Tribune May 6, 2016
23  RheumatoidArthritis.org Essential Oils
24  Clin J Pain. 2009 May;25(4):334-9.
25  University of Maryland Medical Center, Low Back Pain

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

October 22, 2019

The morning gets a glorious sendoff from the Leo Moon’s sextile to Mars. The invigorating aspect has a heartening effect and sets the tone for a fruitful and enjoyable day. Excitement and anticipation are shared with partners and co-workers. Folks tend…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2019

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
View map »


Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Are you considering, going through or recovering from divorce? Join us at our free Daytime Divorce Boot Camp, and we’ll help you get into shape! In response to requests from people...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Are you separated, divorced, considering divorce, or in the process of divorce? Please join us for a special evening intended to help you and your family have a smooth and easy transition through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Burns & Levinson
1 Citizens Plaza
Suite 1100
Providence, RI  02903
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

October 23 & 30, 2019, 7–9pm Instructor: Judith A. Swack, Ph.D. Register at http://www.newtoncommunityed.org Do you have a fear of flying, heights, public speaking or other...

Where:
Needham, MA


Sponsor: Healing from the Body Level Up
Telephone: (800) 310-6549 / (781) 444-6940
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

It's everyone's favorite night! Eat, drink, laugh, dance, connect and meet providers! Women's health seminars  Mini spa treatments  All-natural...

Cost: Free

Where:
Groton Wellness
493-495 Main Street
Groton, MA  01450
View map »


Sponsor: Groton Wellness
Telephone: 978-449-9919
Website »

More information

Are you separated or divorced, considering divorce, or in the process of divorce? Join us at our free workshop to learn how to plan for your finances during divorce discussions and afterward....

Cost: Free

Where:
Kellem Mahoney Family Law & Mediation Group
100 Recreation Park Drive
Suite 201
Hingham, MA  02043
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Attend a brand new class on awaking and accessing your authentic self! We are brought up in a world where it is difficult to know how to connect to, and express our whole and authentic selves....

Cost: $45

Where:
The Graduate Institute
171 Amity Rd
Bethany, CT  06524-3435
View map »


Sponsor: The Graduate Institute
Telephone: 203-874-4252
Contact Name: The Graduate Institute
Website »

More information

Prana Vidya is a powerful Yogic technique, based on scientific principles, that helps us connect to the most fundamental, throbbing energy of the cosmos. The system uses the concept of Chakras, to...

Cost: $40 before Oct 22 ($45 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

We are proud to welcome Swami Maheshananada Saraswati, a world- renowned Yogi to Boston after 10 years.  Swami Mahesh is a wandering yogi from India. He has a degree in engineering and a...

Where:
SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“Consciousness does not just passively reflect the objective material world; it plays an active role in creating reality itself.” —Stanislav Grof MD, from The Holotropic Mind...

Cost: $150. $175 after October 19

Where:
Unity Somerville
6 William Street
Somerville, MA  02144
View map »


Sponsor: Allen Howell, M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

October 26th and 27th Deepen your knowledge and practice of Reiki. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher) This two-day Level II Training enhances your...

Cost: $250

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Prana is the universal life force, the essence of all motion, and the basis of all manifestation in the Cosmos. It is the essence of life and existence itself. The yogis and the Seers have...

Cost: $45 before 10/22 ($50 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Yoga is a science of total health and harmony. The science of Yoga is dedicated to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing of mankind. A proper approach to yoga brings...

Cost: $40 before 10/22 ($45 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

We are excited in the midst of our favorite holiday season! Join us for an evening workshop preparing your own take home potion and lotions. As we prepare for the close of the next harvest and...

Cost: $30 pre-reg. or $35 at the door

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stile Rd.
Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Mount Kailash, the Crown Chakra of the Earth, the abode of Lord Shiva and the Holiest pilgrimage for Hindus! Located at 18,000ft in High Himalayas, Mt Kailash is as real as it is mythical and...

Cost: pay-what-you-want ($20 recommended)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

October 26–27 Weekend workshop with David Dalton, founder of Delta Gardens. Explore the art of vibrational flower and gem essence healing with a master crafter of essences. Email...

Cost: $360

Where:
Roots to Wings
Newbury, MA


Telephone: (603) 601-6929
Website »

More information

October 26–27 Saturday 9:30–10 am registration, 10 am–5 pm class Sunday 10 am–5 pm class This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
Spirit Dancer Books & Gifts
125 South Winooski Ave
Burlington, VT  05401
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

With Nicci Goot Build a foundation of essential virtues for developing altruism, compassion and loving kindness for living a life of harmony and joy. 4 session-program

Where:
State of Grace Yoga
104 E. Hartford Avenue, Unit A
Uxbridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

We are proud to welcome Swami Maheshananada Saraswati, a world- renowned Yogi to Boston after 10 years.  Swami Mahesh is a wandering yogi from India. He has a degree in engineering and a...

Where:
SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags