I can summarize what I was taught about chronic pain in medical school in 2 sentences. Use Tylenol and/or Motrin –like medications. If the patient has cancer, you can use narcotics if you have to. It is no surprise then that pain patients flock to alternative therapists so they can get relief. Fortunately, most chronic pain can now be effectively treated!
Pain is not the enemy!
Pain is often simply an important indicator of underlying problems that need to be taken care of. In fact, pain can be viewed as the red, flashing, warning light on your dashboard telling you that something urgently needs your attention. To simply mask the pain with medication would be like covering up your “low oil” warning light because it was annoying you. Therefore, in addition to teaching you how to turn off the pain signal, we will also help you to understand what the pain is trying to tell you that your body needs. When these are addressed, the pain usually goes away! While the underlying problems that need attention are being addressed, it is then also very important to turn off/mask pain so that you can be comfortable.
So how do I treat the underlying problems causing the pain?
There are usually four key areas that need to be treated to eliminate muscle/myofascial and nerve pain. It helps to remember the acronym "S. H. I. N.". This stands for Sleep, Hormonal support, treating Infections, and Nutritional support. We will briefly review each of these areas and natural tools that will make it easier to treat them.
1) Nutritional inadequacies - First you need to give the body the nutritional building blocks it needs to heal. Otherwise, it cannot even begin to get well. B Vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, selenium and amino acids (proteins) are especially important. There is a product that contains over 50 key nutrients in one scoop of a good tasting powder and one capsule taken daily. It is called the Energy Revitalization System (from Enzymatic Therapy) and supplies an excellent, easy and affordable foundation for nutritional support for almost everyone -- including those with pain. It is easy to use and literally replaces the need for 35 capsules of nutritional supplements a day. We have even seen patients’ chronic pain go away simply with this nutritional support.
Next, although the powder has most of what your body needs, joints require other specific nutrients for healing in addition to what’s in the vitamin powder. So for arthritis, get Glucosamine Sulfate (500 mg 3 x day) and consider MSM (1.5-3 grams a day). Within 6 weeks, most people’s arthritis markedly improves and these actually help to heal your joints! For nerve pain, add lipoic acid 300 mg 3x day for at least 6 weeks.
2) Sleep - Pain patients frequently have insomnia- which is often profound. This contributes to pain. Your body’s repair cycle occurs during sleep and you need 8-9 hours of sleep a night for optimal healing. Put differently, your pain will simply not go away until you regularly get 8-9 hours of deep sleep a night!
Many natural remedies that are very effective for sleep also directly help pain. My favorite is the combination of 6 herbals contained in the Revitalizing Sleep Formula by Enzymatic Therapy. Other natural remedies that help sleep when taken at bedtime are magnesium (e.g. 100 -- 300 milligrams), calcium (500 -- 600 mg), 5-HTP (100-300mg-takes 6 weeks to work), &/or melatonin (3/10-1mg) at bedtime.