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Pain management is often translated to mean addictive pharmaceuticals such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. These medications, while effective, can make managing chronic pain a risky endeavor. Alternative options are few and far between, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness if you’re suffering from chronic pain yet have concerns about addiction.

Holistic medicine is unique in that it looks at the entirety of the patient, all the facets of the body and the mind, before suggesting a treatment. For chronic pain, a holistic practitioner would look beyond the illness and find a pain management plan that is right for you. Here are a few holistic ways you can start to manage your pain.

Yoga and Meditation

Exercise is one of the top alternative ways for people to manage chronic pain. Exercise works against chronic pain by improving muscle strength, joint flexibility, and calming the nervous system, allowing it to relax and reduce the likelihood of flare-ups.

Yoga is the ideal exercise for those with chronic pain as it focuses on flexibility and strength throughout the entire body without overexerting it. Yoga also combines the benefits of meditation with its physical workout.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Diet has an enormous impact on how we feel. Altering diets can be used to treat a wide range of medical issues, including chronic pain. Certain foods can act as anti-inflammatories including salmon, almonds, colorful vegetables like peppers, and beets.

Other foods may actually be making your chronic pain worse by exacerbating inflammation. Some food ingredients to avoid might be white, refined grains, heavily processed, pre-made meals like fast food, meats like beef and chicken, synthetic sweeteners, and food additives.

Acupuncture

acupuncture chronic pain

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain by about 50% via 29 different studies encompassing 18,000 participants. While most insurance companies and plans will not cover the costs, if you are able to see an acupuncturist, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Traditionally, acupuncture was thought to correct the body’s natural energy flow. Today, however, it is believed to work by pinpointing neurotransmitters or the immune system.

Herbal Remedies

The market for natural remedies is skyrocketing, and capsules of just about every herb imaginable can be found in your local grocery store. True herbal remedies (NOT homeopathy) can have a very positive impact on certain ailments, including some chronic pain.

Capsaicin, for example, is the component in pepper that makes them hot, and it’s a common ingredient in a few over-the-counter, topical pain relief agents. A topical capsaicin gel can be applied to the painful area such as joints or muscles, creating a tingling sensation while reducing the sensation of pain.

Turmeric is an ancient remedy that can be beneficial in treating a number of conditions. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and can simply be taken by mixing the powder into your food. A popular alternative is Golden Tea, a delicious drink that can also satiate sugar cravings.

Holy Basil, also known as tulsi, is another ancient remedy used for reduction of inflammation. It is most often made into a tea and is fairly easy to find in your local grocery store.

Treating chronic pain does not have to mean pharmaceuticals. Taking an addictive substance on a regular basis can be extremely detrimental, making the potential side effects worse than the chronic pain. Rather than risking your wellbeing, try more natural remedies such as exercise, meditation, acupuncture, herbs, or even simply cleaning up your diet. You might be surprised to see how much better you feel.

Jennifer McGregor is the co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary.org, which was made for one of her pre-med classes as a project. With the site, she intends to provide various resources pertaining to medical inquiries and general health. When Jennifer is not busy being a student, she enjoys walking her dog through the park.

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