What a Pain in the Neck! Alternative Options to Treat Nagging Aches
Pain is a difficult sensation to define, but for the purposes of this article, I will describe pain as any unpleasant sensory experience associated with inflammation or tissue damage. It cannot be measured in the blood and the feeling cannot be standardized. I know bee keepers who can shrug off getting stung ten times while someone else may be unable to bear the bite of a mosquito.
Pain is a big problem! Americans alone consume 16,000 tons of aspirin tablets a year, equaling 80 million pills. Advil, Aleve and Tylenol each sold over $330 million dollars in the USA in 2018. Further, the use and or abuse of pain relieving medications can have serious consequences. Ibuprofen, an inhibitor of COX (the enzyme that regulates intestinal blood flow) can disrupt the mucosal integrity of the stomach lining. In susceptible individuals, they may progress to peptic ulcers. Do you prefer Tylenol? In 1999 one study documented 16,500 mortalities per year due to GI bleeds associated with use of analgesics such as Tylenol. Side effects of these medications are not limited to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. After GI distress, depression is the second most common side effect associated with Ibuprofen use and these over-the-counter medications may reduce kidney function by as much as 23 percent.
You might be thinking that while all those statistics are unfortunate, what is a person supposed to do about their joint pain or headaches or muscle cramps? After all, you might not be delighted about taking Ibuprofen, but the bottom line is, the danged pills are the only thing that seems to help. Perhaps if we are talking about one headache, consumption of ibuprofen is fine. But the statistics above expose the fact that American society relies on these drugs far too often. It is worthwhile considering alternative options.
Eat more alkaline foods and limit carbohydrates. Inflammation promotes acidification of tissues. Alkalinization, therefore, helps to reduce inflammation. Vegetables are extremely alkalinizing as are many fruits. Consume warm foods that are easily digested such as soups rather than salads. Consider avoiding animal products, which contain a great deal of arachadonic acid, a constituent that leads to inflammation. If you are reluctant to give up meat, consider this: If you are willing to do this for even three days -only 72 hours- I’m willing to bet you will notice the benefits. This program will help to alkalinize your tissues and change the physiologic milieu that leads to inflammation.
Alkalinize your tissues. Mix into one quart of water 8 Tbs each of apple cider vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice and raw honey, 1 Tbs of baking soda and 1 tsp of juice from freshly squeezed ginger. If you can obtain some pH paper, strive to make your urine about a pH of 7.0. Interestingly, sodium bicarbonate can be particularly helpful in diminishing pain when administered intravenously. The therapy is called the Huang protocol and can be remarkably effective at reducing even severe, chronic pain in a very short period of time. Many naturopathic physicians offer this therapy.
Fast for 13-18 hours a day. Ample studies, easily found on the internet, substantiate the benefits of intermittent fasting upon health and inflammation. After dinner, do not consume anything except water and do not eat breakfast until 13 hours after finishing dinner. If you choose to fast for a longer period of time, make sure that you do not become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar).
Tai Chi. Continue to move daily. Do mild activity. Water aquatics and tai chi are forms of movement that are extremely gentle. Both will increase blood flow that will wash away inflammatory compounds.
Vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, MSM, selenium, N-acetyl-cysteine, fish oils and zinc are extremely beneficial. It is helpful to employ the services of your local naturopathic physician; often times doses recommended on the internet or on labels are too low. One study showed that 50 mg of zinc three times a day was more effective at decreasing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis than standard medications yet seldom are patients advices to take this dose (be advised that zinc must be taken with the appropriate amount of copper; the dose described here may be helpful in the short term but it should be taken only under the supervision of a physician)
In summary, if you suffer from chronic or cyclic pain, consider that many inexpensive and easily incorporated options are available to you.