I was honored to be asked to contribute again to the Natural Awakenings publication, this time writing about natural ways to manage pain. A special shout out to my fave folks Jeanne and Robert who provided some of their expertise as well.
Here’s the article in full:
Pain can be acute or chronic. It can be the result of an injury or accident. Sometimes the cause can be easily identified, such as a fall down the stairs. Other times, it can be seemingly mysterious, such as when we wake up with a new pain and no idea where it came from. Pain can also be a gift. Although it may not feel that way when in the throes of it, it is a powerful communicator.
At its core, pain is a construct of the brain but that doesn’t mean it’s all in our head. The pain is real. However, pain originates in the brain. A good illustration of this is the pain felt by an amputee. Often after an amputation, the individual still senses pain in the amputated limb, even though the body part is no longer there. Some experts believe that this can be explained in part by mixed signals that are coming from the brain.
While there are as many remedies for pain as there are types of pain, there are some natural solutions that can be effective for managing and even alleviating chronic pain.
These options are may not negate the need for conventional medical treatment or medications. Consider adding one or more of these natural approaches to a self-care regimen when dealing with chronic pain.
The MELT Method, created by Sue Hitzman (MELTMethod.com), is a simple self-treatment that helps people get and stay out of pain. Using gentle tools such as small balls and a soft foam roller, participants employ simple techniques to reduce the effects of accumulated stress and tension caused by daily living, and repetitive motions and postures.
MELT enables the body to regulate sympathetic to parasympathetic tone, which allows the body to repair itself, thereby reducing pain and improving performance. While that may sound complex, MELT is actually simple and accessible. Results can be achieved with only 10 minutes of “MELTing” three times per week.
Essential oils are growing in popularity for their abilities to support physical and emotional issues. This makes them an especially powerful tool as chronic pain often marches with emotional stress, anxious feelings and feelings of self-doubt or sadness.
Essential oils can provide relief for many serious chronic pain sufferers through their ability to penetrate cells quickly, providing oxygen and improving circulation to inflamed joints.
Peppermint oil is frequently used for pain conditions because of its cooling, anti-inflammatory properties. Other favorites include marjoram, lemongrass, cypress, copaiba and frankincense, to name a few. Since essential oils have hundreds of compounds, the options are vast. There is also a bio-individuality with oils. What works for one person may not be the best choice for another. There may be some experimentation involved to find the right essential oils to best support each of us.
However, not all essential oils are created equal. Quality is important, especially since the essential oil industry is not regulated. Anyone can label an oil “pure” or “organic”, so seek out a reputable company that conducts third-party testing of their oils.
A gentle yoga practice can be invaluable for addressing pain.
Fairfield’s Yoga 4 Everybody’s Robert Ortner, ERYT-500, is a yoga therapist with decades of experience as a yoga therapist and teacher. He explains, “As we begin to listen to how the body actually feels in response to movement and yoga postures, we can cultivate a deeper awareness of how closely cause and effect are related within us, and possibly piece together any restrictions that play contributing roles in any pain we may be experiencing. Movement is truly the key.”
Our relationship to food is complex, including the direct relationship between our food choices and physical pain and discomfort.
As mentioned earlier, pain is a construct of the brain. Since it is now well-documented that our gut is considered to be our “second brain”, it stands to reason that how we nourish ourselves plays a role in managing pain.
“Gut health is ultimately behind so many autoimmune symptoms and pain conditions, so it’s often a good jumping off point for lifestyle change,” says Jeanne Blodi (EssentiallyJeanne.com), a functional medicine certified health coach. “Something you’ve been eating your whole life might be causing inflammation in the body and manifesting as a pain condition. Try slowly eliminating common allergens like gluten, sugar, dairy, corn, artificial sweeteners and food additives; observe if the pain begins to change.”
Chronic pain can be debilitating, but there are accessible simple natural alternatives to integrate into your lifestyle on your journey to live pain-free.
Thanks Natural Awakenings! Check out the full October edition here: Natural Awakenings
PS If you want to explore any of the natural solutions further, let’s talk! I have a few upcoming MELT Method workshops happening in the area this month and am offering complimentary essential oils wellness consultations.