No Pain…..No Gain….NoSAIDs
A report this week warned that regular use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) increases heart attack and other cardio-vascular risks by about 40%-huge for people with any other existing risk factors. So, do you suffer, which also increases stress, or take the chance? Short of opiates, there are not lots of plants that stop pain. But then, neither do medications “stop” pain.
Pain control is not one of nature’s strong suits for a reason. Pain is a message that something is wrong and needs to be addressed, and NSAID’s put a gag on the message rather than requiring that we deal with the issue. They block the production of prostaglandins, some of which trigger the inflammation that leads to pain-but which also form the foundation for the production of other, critical hormones. (Could their use then also be connected to our infertility, diabetes, and other glandular-imbalance epidemics?) It is amazing what happens when you support the body functions instead. One of my clients dealing with a serious condition found that oxycodone was not managing her pain; she added large amounts (20-30 capsules a day) of magnesium complex which took care of it to the extent that she now uses the drug only occasionally at night. Magnesium coats the nerve endings and helps with the assimilation of calcium, which is essential for healing. Willow barks ( white, purple, etc.) are high in salicylates, and the original source of the salicylic acid that became aspirin; they are also astringent herbs, which tone tissues and thereby reduce inflammation and pain. High acidity damages nerve endings, so chlorophyll (always at least 30 minutes from a meal to prevent it from interfering with digestion!) and safflowers can be helpful. Remember that consuming refined sugar acidifies the body so will increase both pain and inflammation; high blood sugar is what destroys nerve endings in diabetics. Ironically, NSAID’s negative effect on cardiovascular health may be, in part, that they tend to make breathing more shallow; deep, focused, breathing alone has been found to reduce pain significantly by getting more oxygen to the cells. Herbs like blessed thistle and chamomile, and lavender and clary sage essential oils probably have been used traditionally for headaches and other pain largely because they increase oxygenation through relaxation! Getting adequate B vitamins, digestible fats, and calcium is likely to strengthen the nervous system overall, making you less susceptible, in a sense, to pain.
Inflammation is also protective. Pain results from inflammation of the nerves in response to something going on internally, which is why it has to be addressed. Think about a joint that hurts, say your elbow. It swells to prevent you from moving and injuring it further, but you’ve got a tennis game tomorrow so you take the pills and move it anyway, and eventually end up needing surgery for a greater injury. A better response is to be sure you support the function of the adrenal glands and others involved in the inflammatory process, which may be why licorice root is sometimes called “nature’s cortisone”(actual corticosteroids stress the adrenals). I love Everflex, which is marketed for joint issues, but which I find is actually primarily beneficial to the adrenal glands and works great for many of my clients. Essential fatty acids like those in black currant, borage, and “Omega” oils lubricate the joints, so can reduce associated pain. Lymphatic massage, stroking the inside of joints near the inflamed area toward the heart, is a huge help, especially if you also use Tei-Fu (I like to add chamomile as well) or other essential oils to increase circulation through the area. Move!