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5 natural alternatives to painkillers

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc., on 20 April 2017, Muscle and joint
painkillers

Having pain every day can be overwhelming.

When you experience chronic pain, you may reach for just about any remedy that will lessen the debilitating physical suffering… 

More than one in 10 adults suffer from chronic pain. To get through the day, many are taking painkillers – powerful drugs that interfere with the nerve signals responsible for perceiving pain. In fact, a recent report indicates that in 2015, more adults used prescription painkillers than cigarettes, tobacco, and cigars combined.

Painkillers strength

Painkillers vary in strength for different levels of pain. For comparison, prescription fentanyl – an opioid – is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. And morphine is up to 360 times more powerful than acetaminophen or aspirin.

In recent years, opioid addiction has resulted in a deadly drug epidemic in both Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canada ranks as the world’s second largest consumer of prescription opioids. In British Columbia – the hardest-hit province in the opioid crisis – the number of overdoses in 2016 rose by nearly 80 percent compared to the year before.

5 pain management options

A large prevalence of chronic pain sufferers and use of painkillers highlights a need for effective and safe alternatives for pain management. Fortunately, many natural alternatives exist and can help control daily pain. Below are pain management options that can be incorporated into your lifestyle:

  1. Consider acupuncture. Acupuncture is an integrative health modality that applies Traditional Chinese Medicine in which licensed practitioners insert very thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in reducing pain for a variety of health conditions. In one meta-analysis from 2012 that included over 17,000 patients, acupuncture was found to be an effective treatment for chronic pain.
  2. Overhaul your diet. It may sound questionable, but what goes in your mouth has a large influence on your pain levels. Inflammatory foods high in arachidonic acid such as red meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal fats – which release of a variety of biologically active substances in the body that produce pain or inflammation – should be on your radar. Instead, ensure to incorporate foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, like avocados, nuts and seeds, chia, and green leafy vegetables, which have been found to help lower inflammation.
  3. Exercises. For those who suffer with joint pain, studies have found that people who exercise are able to manage their pain better than those who don’t. And, keeping the weight off by regularly exercising can relieve pressure on the joints.
  4. Get symptomatic relief. The root of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) contains powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and has traditionally been used for joint and muscle pain of all types. For symptomatic relief, consider Joint Pain Relief Devil’s Claw.
  5. De-stress. Chronic stress leads to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to pain, and vice versa. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, tai-chi, and breathing exercises may help reduce stress and pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain or find yourself taking painkillers, it is important to work with your primary healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works best for your pain.

References:
https://nccih.nih.gov/news/press/08112015
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/fentany
lhttps://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm
https://www.nhms.org/sites/default/files/Pdfs/Opioid-Comparison-Chart-Prescriber-Letter-2012.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965186
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16805330
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/exercise-relief#1

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