While the U.S. remains one of the most over-medicated countries in the world, there has been a dramatic shift from mainstream medicine and popping pain pills to the side of integrative and natural alternatives for pain reduction. The increased number of people that are rejecting medications and seeking natural alternatives is increasing on almost an exponential basis.
It is believed that the Baby Boomers are the main reason for the uptick in interest in CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) as they are a generation that has a history embedded in thinking outside the realms of the norm. The popularity of such notables as Andrew Weil, MD and Dr. Oz have escalated alternative therapies and modalities, addressing all levels of pain relief and management, without the side effects due to the use of drugs.
There are many different forms of natural alternatives for pain medication therapy, and most have a basis of scientific evidence for proof that they work. Since humans are each uniquely different, we also have variations in response and success and each person needs to select what is best for their own needs.
Massage goes beyond just loosening the muscles. The action of massage increases the body’s natural pain killers, serotonin and endorphins, and is believed to also encourage the reduction of stress hormones as well as turn the genes that are associated with inflammation on and off. Massage is an excellent choice for those that suffer from neck pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, back pain, surgery-related discomfort and tension headaches.
The ancient Chinese method of acupuncture addresses pain through the light stimulation of the energy flow of the body, called the ‘Chi or Qi’. Used for thousands of years, the purpose is to realign the energy flow to correct the imbalances by the insertion of small needles in specific power points of the body. While there may not be scientific evidence for proof of acupuncture, there are reports showing that it does create adenosine activity, which is the amino acid within the skin that activates to ease pain after an injury. Patients that suffer from migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia, tension headaches and osteoarthritis might want to consider acupuncture for pain relief.
Herbal remedies have become quite popular in the last number of years for use in pain management. Prior to making any changes in your dietary regiment, it is advised that you consult with your primary care physician. Mainstream medicine is examining and accepting that many of the patients that have added omega-3 fish oil supplements have experienced relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed that increased levels of inflammation acts as an accelerant for the existing pain and reducing inflammation is a method to ease the problem.
Other supplements of choice include turmeric, vitamin D and ginger.
Yoga is a mind body discipline that has been used in various cultures for centuries. It combines stretching and movement with breathing exercises that relax and de-stress. The meditative practice sessions of only twice per week have produced results in published studies that show a 42% reduction in lower back pain. The American Pain Foundation now recommends yoga as one of the methods for lower-back pain treatment.
Each therapy brings a different attitude and approach and selecting a therapy that works for your type of pain is a personal choice. The purpose of alternative and natural treatments is to address and assist in the reduction of the causes of pain, as well as any additional situations that may be accelerating it. Pain reduction through natural sources and therapies is designed to bring you back to a quality of life.
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