By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND
Inflammation is a major issue for many pain sufferers, leading many to look for alternatives to conventional medications. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories are effective, but many lose their place in patient care if tolerance to the medication or side effects occur. In natural health, the following approaches may be an option. Please consult with your medical or naturopathic doctor.
Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is showing evidence of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties within the constituents of its oil. It works best when consumed with food and black pepper. It can cause digestive upsets for some and should not be used by those with gallstones, ulcers, high stomach acids or taking blood-thinners.
This pineapple extract is often used as a digestive enzyme when taken with meals, but when taken between meals may help swelling, inflammation, and, in conjunction with rutin and trypsin, for osteoarthritis. Bromelain may interact with blood-thinners and should be avoided by those with pineapple allergies.
Food sensitivities are believed to be a delayed-type of allergy. When our digestive tract cannot break a food down, our immune system becomes involved, often creating inflammation as a by-product. Many patient report an improvement in pain after reducing their exposure to certain foods. The most commonly seen food triggers include dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, and citrus. Active Sports Therapy offers food sensitivity testing through Rocky Mountain Analytical.
Caffeine has multiple effects throughout the body. If we consider that coffee is often used to increase wakefulness or alertness, it wouldn’t surprise most to see how it can heighten our perception of pain. Coffee mimics stress responses in the body, which often heightens pain. Coffee stimulates the central nervous system and possibly interacts with neurotransmitters, such as the “feel-good” hormone and those implicated with anxiety or depression. Caffeine is also a diuretic, and dehydration can also contribute to unhealthy tissues and pain.
Finally, our hormones can play a part in pain and inflammation. When certain reproductive hormones are off balance, inflammation increases as seen in pre-menstrual cramps and back pain. A little-known symptom of an underactive thyroid gland is tendon and ligament pain and weakness. And, in the direction of caffeine, the stress hormone in our body is definitely implicated in pain, metabolism, and our healing time.
Asian acupuncture and IMS, though different in many ways, share strong evidence in studies looking at their effects on the body. We know now that acupuncture can block pain receptors, encourage blood flow, and increase healing properties in the areas it is used. In 2003, the World Health Organization published a list of conditions that acupuncture had strong research for, many of which were musculoskeletal concerns.
If pain and inflammation are consistent issues for you, consider seeking out specific advice on any of these individualized approaches. In my office, I continually witness people with pain improve. Sometimes it is as simple as reducing their dairy or caffeine intake!
Call AST to book an appointment with Dr. Gayle Maguire