Naturopathic Medicine Helps People Manage Chronic Pain Without Addictive Opioids

August 31, 2017

Washington, DC – As a medical discipline that emphasizes a holistic approach and natural treatments, naturopathic medicine offers safe and effective alternatives to highly addictive drugs for managing chronic pain. Licensed naturopathic doctors are trained to start with non-drug approaches to chronic pain management. Opioid painkillers are only used as a last resort. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ for consumers on how naturopathic medicine helps people manage chronic pain without addictive drugs, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).

The FAQ describes how licensed naturopathic doctors develop personalized pain management treatment plans. These plans take into account the root causes of each person’s pain and all its manifestations. Root causes can include lifestyle, nutrition, work and leisure activities, current and past stressors, and relevant previous injuries.

“Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths that involved opioids nearly quadrupled, with over 183,000 people dying just from prescription opioid overdoses,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND and Chair of the INM Board of Directors. “While strong pharmaceuticals such as OxyContin and even over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) certainly have a place in treating pain, they’re not the first choice of licensed naturopathic doctors. Instead, naturopathic doctors are trained to engage the inherent healing capacities of the human body. This can include dietary recommendations, nutritional supplements and botanical medicines that help reduce inflammation and the pain it causes.”

The complete FAQ, “How do naturopathic doctors help people manage chronic pain without highly addictive opioids?” can be found here.

Naturopathic Medicine Lowers Health Care Costs by Emphasizing Prevention and Well-Being

August 15, 2017

Washington, DC – Naturopathic doctors are trained to focus on prevention and well-being. Individually or as part of primary care teams, they can play a central role in lowering health care costs while improving outcomes. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ for consumers on ways naturopathic medicine lowers health care costs, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).

The FAQ describes how licensed naturopathic doctors treat each person holistically, emphasizing self-healing processes, and follow a unique Therapeutic Order to determine how therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for harm.
The FAQ also presents eight ways that naturopathic medicine lowers health care costs:

  1. Address the root causes of illnesses, rather than just their symptoms
  1. Offer less expensive diagnosis and treatments
  1. Reduce the need for expensive surgical procedures, when appropriate
  1. Decrease costs associated with adverse reactions to prescription drugs
  1. Reduce the incidence of illness and fatalities while patients are in hospitals
  1. Lower malpractice rates, resulting in reduced patient costs
  1. Offer disease prevention
  1. Reduce insurance costs

“The cost of health care in the United States is rising at more than double the current rate of inflation, yet Americans are sicker than ever,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND and Chair of the INM Board of Directors. “To reverse these trends, health care must evolve to focus on ‘wellness’ in addition to ‘sickness.’ This is a basic tenant of naturopathic medicine—at the heart of the training and education of licensed naturopathic doctors.”

The complete FAQ, “How does naturopathic medicine lower health care costs?” can be found here.

Education, Training, and Licensure Are the Most Important Criteria When Choosing a Naturopathic Doctor

August 2, 2017

Washington, DC – When choosing a naturopathic doctor, the most important criteria are whether the doctor 1) has a naturopathic medical degree earned from an accredited, four-year, in-residence, naturopathic medical college, and 2) has passed rigorous board exams as part of a licensure or certification process. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ with advice for consumers on how to choose a naturopathic doctor, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).

Twenty-two states and U.S. territories permit access to safe, effective, and affordable licensed or certified naturopathic doctors. For a map of these states and territories, as well as those seeking to regulate the profession, visit the AANP website here.

The new FAQ also describes what consumers can expect in their first visit to a naturopathic doctor, including their overall approach, the diagnostic tools they use, and the end result, which is a customized treatment plan and health strategy.

“Naturopathic doctors focus on understanding the root causes of health symptoms you might be experiencing and your overall health and wellness goals,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND and Chair of the INM Board of Directors. “This takes time—but it enables your doctor to get to you and recommend treatments and strategies that are right for you.”

The complete FAQ, “How should I choose a naturopathic doctor?” can be found here. In addition, the AANP provides a directory of licensed naturopathic doctors that are members and finder tool on its website, available here.

Licensed Naturopathic Doctors and Naturopaths Are Not the Same

June 30, 2017

Washington, DC – Even though the terms “naturopathic doctor” and “naturopath” are often used interchangeably by medical practitioners in other disciplines and the public, consumers seeking a naturopathic doctor should know they are not the same. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ on the differences between a naturopathic doctor and a naturopath, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM). Here are six things that make licensed naturopathic doctors different:

1. They are graduates of accredited, four-year naturopathic medical colleges

2. They are licensed or regulated by states

3. They must pass rigorous professional board exams

4. They can order diagnostic tests and, in some states, prescribe prescription drugs and hormones, and perform minor surgery

5. They must carry malpractice insurance

6. They must maintain a commitment to lifelong learning through continuing education

“Knowing the difference between naturopathic doctors and naturopaths can help you make informed decisions about which type of provider can best help you,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND and Chair of the INM Board of Directors.
The complete FAQ, “What is the difference between a licensed naturopathic doctor and a naturopath?” can be found here.

Six Reasons to Choose a Naturopathic Doctor

June 29, 2017

Washington, DC – Patients seeking a doctor who will boost their body’s natural healing ability and apply the least invasive diagnostics and therapies first should consider a licensed naturopathic doctor. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ on six reasons to choose a naturopathic doctor, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).

Here are the six reasons:

  1. You want a doctor who will treat all of you, not just your illness.
  1. You want personalized treatment.
  1. You want to treat the root cause of an illness, not just the symptoms.
  1. You want to actively participate in managing your own health.
  2. You have chronic pain and don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or highly addictive opioids to manage it forever.
  3. You have tried all conventional medical options for diagnosing and treating a health condition.

“Certain chronic health conditions that have symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, or gastrointestinal distress can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and can benefit from a holistic approach,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND. “NDs use diagnostic tools common in conventional medicine, such as detailed health, disease, and prescription drug histories, physical exams, and targeted laboratory testing and imaging. NDs also consider diet history, lifestyle habits and choices, exercise history, and social/emotional factors to assess patients’ needs. These approaches can open doors to new treatment pathways and options.”

The complete FAQ, “When should I choose a naturopathic doctor?” can be found here.

Naturopathic Medicine Treats Each Person Holistically to Establish Optimal Health

June 20, 2017

Washington, DC – Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and self-healing, treating each person holistically to establish optimal health. This is according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), which today released a new FAQ for consumers on the definition and focus of naturopathic medicine, in partnership with the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM).

The FAQ describes naturopathic medicine’s Therapeutic Order™, which identifies the natural order in which all therapies should be applied to provide the greatest benefit with the least potential for damage. From least to most invasive, these are the therapeutic approaches employed by naturopathic doctors:

  1. Remove obstacles to health
  2. Stimulate the self-healing mechanisms
  3. Strengthen weakened systems
  4. Correct structural integrity
  5. Use natural substances to restore and regenerate
  6. Use pharmacological substances to halt progressive pathology
  7. Use high force, invasive modalities (e.g., surgery, radiation, chemotherapy)

“Naturopathic doctors don’t just identify and treat illnesses; we treat patients holistically to restore them to good health,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND. “We do that by identifying the underlying causes of illness, and developing personalized plans to address them. In that regard, naturopathic medicine focuses on health care, not sick care.”

Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. While many naturopathic doctors are trained in primary care, like conventional medical doctors (MDs), some choose to specialize or focus their practices. Specialty associations currently exist for EndocrinologyEnvironmental MedicineGastroenterology, Parenteral Therapies, PediatricsPrimary Care Medicine, Psychiatry, and Oncology.
The complete FAQ, “What is naturopathic medicine?” can be found here.

Is Pomegranate Juice Really A Superfood?

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food-1867513_1920Only a decade or so ago, pomegranate juice was practically unknown in the US. However, in a relatively short time, it’s been the subject of a ton of research and the results have been so impressive that even mainstream medicine is paying attention. It’s listed within the integrative medicine section of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website (1), complete with research references showing that it suppresses inflammation, inhibits tumor growth and breast cancer cell proliferation, and benefits patients with everything from carotid artery stenosis to those with moderate erectile dysfunction.

We’re not kidding about that last benefit. Research published in the Journal of Urology (2) actually examined the effect of long-term intake of pomegranate juice on erectile dysfunction (ED). They established that free radicals —rogue molecules that do terrific damage to just about everything in your body from your DNA on down— have a profound effect on ED. Pomegranate juice actually helps modulate this effect, because it’s been found to contain powerful antioxidants that actually fight free radicals and the damage they do. For this reason, pomegranate juice is sometimes called a “natural Viagra” (3).

Controversy exists about whether pomegranate extract in pill form “works” as well as the juice. The bulk of the research has been on the juice itself, but one study found that the juice and the extracts produced similar results (4).

The excellent website GreenMedInfo assembled 158 scientific abstracts of studies related to pomegranate (5), including (but not limited to) studies that investigated the effect of pomegranate on oxidative stress, inflammation, atherosclerosis, prostate cancer and hypertension. For the most part, the studies are uniformly positive. Pomegranate fruit extract contains a ton of polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that have notable health benefits, including the ability to help protect cells from damage and the ability to lower inflammation.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center website, pomegranates have been used as medicine for thousands of years (6). In Asia and in the Middle East, they use the bark, root, fruit and rind of the pomegranate tree as medicine, but in the west, most of the research has been done on the fruit and its juice.

Pomegranate also seems to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage, which is critical since cholesterol is only a problem when it’s oxidized. In one animal study, pomegranate juice slowed the growth of plaque (7). Other research has also shown that it slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells in the lab.(8,9). Preliminary evidence suggests that the juice may help lower blood pressure (10,11), improve cardiovascular risk factors (12, 13) and even enhance immunity. There’s even research suggesting that pomegranate’s ability to fight inflammation just might stall the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (14), and might have a preventive role in obesity (15). Finally, studies have shown that pomegranate fruit—as well as its juice, extract and oil—exert anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-tumorigenic properties, leading many researchers to investigate its potential as an agent in the prevention and treatment of skin, breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers. (16)

How much should you drink? There’s no standard recommendation dose, but studies (such as the ones mentioned above) have used anywhere from 2 ounces a day to 8 ounces a day with great results. There is a fair amount of natural sugar in the juice, so keep that in mind if you’re on a low-carb diet, or very sensitive to the effects of sugar. proceed accordingly.

For everybody else, pomegranate juice is a superfood. We recommend consuming it regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Ways to Get Firm and Cute by Lowering Firmicutes

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bacteria-1959386_1920Alan Christianson, NMD

One of the biggest myths about obesity is that it’s caused by laziness or indulgence. It’s not. It’s caused by your body reacting to stressors.

In response to stress, your body will store food to prepare for famine, and you will gain weight. Some stressors are obvious, but many are not. Some are as silent and invisible as the bacteria in our intestines.

In a startling study(1),  Dr. Gewirtz at Cornell University showed that the weight of mice could be changed by over 15 percent just by shifting their intestinal bacteria. Along with weight changes, the bacteria present changed the mice’s chemistry in ways that could predict heart disease, high blood pressure and risks for diabetes. Related work(2) has shown this same connection to intestinal bacteria also exists in humans. In fact, transplanting bacteria from the intestinal tracts of obese humans has been shown to trigger obesity in normal-weight mice.(3)

 

How can bacteria cause weight gain, and how can you make sure your bacteria do not?

First, it’s important to realize that 99 percent of our intestinal bacteria are unable to use oxygen. Bacteria that can’t use oxygen are called anaerobes. This is important because all the foods with bacteria (like sauerkraut and yogurt)— as well as all the bacteria in probiotic supplements– only contain bacteria that live in oxygen. These foods and supplements—terrific as they may be— have little or no effect on the anaerobes that run the show.

Of the many types of anaerobes, the two that are most directly involved with obesity are the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Most studies have shown that the more Bacteroidetes you have (compared to your Firmicutes), the leaner you will be. So, if you want to be firm and cute, you want more Bacteroidetes, and fewer Firmicutes.

The reason these bacteria affect our weight is because they regulate how much fat we absorb. Imagine two identical twins eating exactly 2,000 calories, but with different ratios of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes. The one with the higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes will absorb more calories than the other and be more apt to gain weight while eating  the exact same diet. (4)

In light of the growing rates of obesity, a good question to ask would be, “what is causing these bacteria to shift in ways that would lead to weight gain?

One explanation is the remarkable changes in our lifestyle over the past few decades. We now:

  • Use more antimicrobial soaps and hand sanitizers.
  • Are exposed to more environmental pollutants.
  • Live under higher amounts of stress.

It’s easy to see the effect of the hand santizers and environmental pollutants. Antimicrobial soaps and hand sanitizers are problems because they kill good bacteria as well as bad ones. Environmental pollutants are toxic to good bacteria, just as they’re toxic to us.. But the connection of stress to bacteria is less obvious. How could stress affect bacteria?

Here’s how. Mental and emotional stress triggers the release of adrenal stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones act on the brain and stimulate the vagus nerve, an important nerve that forms a kind of circuit between the brain and the heart, lungs and, tellingly, the gut .. Stress reduces the blood supply needed to properly digest foods and manage the balance of bacteria. And this tie between your brain and gut is a two-way street, because stress hurts your digestion, and poor digestion makes you feel more stressed. When this vicious cycle gets rolling, your Bacteroidetes are reduced, and you gain weight more easily.

 

Here are some things you can do to help yourself right now:

  1. Eat a high-fiber diet with good carbs. Because Firmicutes are needed to absorb fats, higher fat diets cause you to have more of them, leading to weight gain.(5)
  1. Avoid sugars and processed carbs. Firmicutes are so well-suited to grow on sugars that they’re known to grow rampantly in factories that process sugar-cane into table sugar.(6)
  1. Raise your intake of beans. Beans are among the very best foods to raise your Bacteroidetes.(7)  If you can’t digest beans, that’s likely a sign that you have too few Bacteroidetes. But rather than avoid beans completely, studies(8) have shown that if you add beans into your diet slowly, and stick with them, the symptoms will go away. To train your bacteria to digest beans well, I encourage you to add just 1 tablespoon of pinto beans daily to the evening meal for two weeks. After two weeks, most people are able to digest more typical amounts.
  1. Sleep and eat on a regular schedule. Cutting-edge data(9) have shown that our intestinal bacteria have a rhythm that changes throughout the day just like our sleep-wake cycle. Shift work, jet lag and erratic meal times can hurt our good bacteria just like antibiotics can.

 

The old way of thinking was that you could only get healthy through strenuous effort and deprivation.

That wasn’t fun, and it didn’t work anyway.

The new way of thinking about health is very different. Far from being based on pain and suffering, being truly healthy, lean and energized turns out to be a product of being at peace— and in sync with the world around you.

 

 

REFERENCES

Do you have hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s?

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matches-1856621_1920The thyroid got a lot of attention in the media back in 2007 when Oprah Winfrey announced she had a thyroid condition which, she believed, was the cause of her inability to lose weight.

 

The problem is that over 90% of people conventionally diagnosed with hypothyroid are, in fact, suffering with something else: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Though related to hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s is actually a very different condition and requires a very different approach.

 

Hypothyroidism is a problem with your thyroid gland; Hashimoto’s is a problem with your immune system. In Hashimoto’s– as in all autoimmune diseases– the immune system gets confused and mistakenly attacks a part of your own body, kind of the metabolic equivalent of “friendly fire”. In this case, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, ultimately destroying thyroid tissue and leading to a reduction in thyroid hormone.

 

Why do conventional doctors often miss Hashimoto’s? It has to do with the standard testing for thyroid function, a blood test called the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). When TSH levels are high, thyroid hormones are low, and conventional docs will generally prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone and consider the condition treated.

 

But the TSH test doesn’t tell the whole story- far from it. When your immune system attacks the thyroid, thyroid tissue is destroyed and thyroid hormones can randomly get dumped into the bloodstream. Even though your TSH levels may be “normal”, at any given time you might actually have elevated levels of thyroid hormones (with the accompanying symptoms of anxiety and increased heartbeat). “I’ve seen people mis-diagnosed with bipolar disorder, panic attacks, anxiety attacks—all because thyroid hormones can really put you on an emotional roller coaster”, says Dr. Izabella Wentz(1), author of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding the Root Cause.

 

All this should point to the importance of getting a thorough evaluation. Any treatment for an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s should take a hard look at food sensitivities, diet, stress, sleep, digestion, nutrient deficiencies and inflammation, all of which can cobble the immune system in significant ways.

 

Take stress, for example. When you’re under stress, your body secretes a hormone called cortisol, which can actually save your life in an emergency. But cortisol has a dark side. High levels of cortisol directly impair the functioning of the immune system(2,3), so a treatment plan for Hashimoto’s should always include a plan for managing the stressors in your life. Constant stress weakens the immune system at exactly the time you need to be strengthening it.

 

Diet matters as well. In a study(4) published just this year, Italian researchers put 180 overweight people with Hashimoto’s on either a low-carb diet or a low-calorie weight loss diet. After only 21 days, those on the low-carb diet saw a significant drop in their thyroid antibodies, while those on the low-calorie diet saw their thyroid antibodies rise. In this study, diet reduced thyroid antibodies by a whopping 40% or more.

 

Deficiencies of nutrients—particularly selenium— can have a big effect on both thyroid hormones in general and Hashimoto’s in particular. Several studies have shown significant reductions in thyroid antibodies after supplemention with 200 mcg of selenium (5,6,7)

 

Hashimoto’s can be managed with the right treatment plan– your life can be put back on track. (Just ask the well-known biohacker, entrepreneur and athlete Dave Aspery– inventor of Bulletproof Coffee– who’s had Hashimoto’s all his life.)

 

But first it needs to be correctly identified. Because naturopathic physicians are trained to look well beyond the standard TSH test, they are uniquely qualified to identify and treat difficult and multifaceted conditions such as Hashimoto’s.

 

 

REFERENCES

  1. https://blog.bulletproof.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Transcript-Dr.-Izabella-Wentz-Hashimotos-Thyroiditis-The-Root-Cause-256.pdf
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
  2. http://www.apa.org/research/action/immune.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028075/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17696828
  5. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jcem.87.4.8421
  6. http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/190/1/151.full

Naturopathic Strategies for Pain Relief

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lemon-906141_1920Anyone who has ever suffered with pain knows how debilitating it can be, particularly when it’s chronic. Yet the conventional solution—strong, pharmaceutical medicines—are turning out to be worse than the problem. They certainly get rid of pain— but at what cost?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the US is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths that involved opioids nearly quadrupled, with over 165,000 people dying  just from prescription opioid overdoses (1,2,3).

And that’s just the hard stuff. Consider that 107,000 patients are hospitalized annually for NSAID-related gastrointestinal complications, and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year just among arthritis patients alone (4). To put this number into context, it’s about the same number of people who die from AIDS every year. “If deaths from gastrointestinal toxic effects from NSAIDs were tabulated separately in the National Vital Statistics reports, these effects would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the US”, says a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (5).

What’s particularly frightening is that that report was written in 1999. The problem has gotten exponentially worse since then (6).

Even such common over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin are not without their problems.  The excellent website GreenMedInfo has compiled a list of 71 studies that link aspirin to a broad range of side effects ranging from gastric ulcers to cerebral bleeding to H-pylori infections (7,8), and 24 studies linking Ibuprofen to adverse health effects that include anemia, DNA damage, hypertension, and miscarriage (9,10). There have been at least five studies that claim NSAIDs cause heart problems, and one—published in the journal Circulation—showed that NSAIDS can greatly and quickly increase the risk of death in those who have already suffered one heart attack (11).

Tylenol (acetaminophen) has problems of its own. Acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.(12). Ironically, the standard treatment for acute liver failure is N-acetylcysteine, a relative of the amino acid

L-cysteine, and a regular part of any licensed naturopathic doctor’s treatment arsenal (13).

While strong pharmaceuticals (like OxyContin and Vicodan) and over-the-counter NSAIDs (aspirin, Alleve, Motrin, Advil) certainly have a place in treatment protocols, they’re not the first choice of a naturopathic physician. Many herbs, botanicals, spices, supplements like fish oil and complementary treatments like acupuncture, have a long history of effectiveness in lowering pain and inflammation. Here is a sampling of some effective natural treatments for pain.

 

Omega-3s

“Fish oil is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties”, says Michael Cronin, ND, a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, Az., and past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  A study comparing ibuprofen and the omega-3s found in fish oil (EPA and DHA) “demonstrated equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain” (14). The authors concluded that fish oil supplements “may be a safer alternative to NSAIDs” for some patients.

 

Curcumin

Curcumin is a wonderful example of a natural medicine. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric, the bright orange spice used in Indian food and curries. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been studied for its beneficial effects on the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis(15) and as an anti-inflammatory agent in neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases (16). Since curcumin is not terribly well-absorbed, it’s best to look for products that use the BCM-95 form of curcumin, such as Curamin by Terry Naturally, widely available in health and vitamin stores. Studies show that BCM-95 curcumin is somewhat better absorbed than the garden-variety kind.

 

Capsaicin

Capsaicin comes from hot chili peppers, and has a long history of use in the practice of natural medicine. It decreases substance P—a compound involved in the transmission of pain signals (17)—and has been shown to be effective in diabetic neuropathy, postsurgical pain, and Guillain-Barre’ syndrome. (18) Patients at the New England Center for Headache were able to significantly decrease the intensity of both migraine and cluster headaches after using capsaicin cream inside their nostrils. (19)

 

Spices, botanicals, and herbs

Many other spices, botanicals and herbs have a long history of medicinal use. The American Pain Foundation lists, for pain management, ginseng (for fibromyalgia), kava kava (for tension headaches), St. John’s Wort (for arthritis and sciatica) and valerian root (for spasms and muscle cramps.) Ginger contains potent phytochemicals which help flight inflammation. Feverfew, a medicinal herb, has been used as a headache remedy for centuries, as has butterbur. Some over-the-counter products meant to ease pain (like InflaTera or Zyflamend) are mixes of herbs and botanicals like turmeric, ginger and holy basil. Your naturopathic physician will be able to customize combinations of natural substances in the correct doses for your individual situation.

 

SAMe

SAME-e (S adenosylmethionine) is well known for its effect on mood, but it also helps with joint pain by reducing inflammation. One study showed that SAM-e was as effective as most NSAIDs in reducing arthritis-related achiness. (20)

 

Heat and ice

Heat and ice have long been used as traditional remedies for pain. Personal trainers are taught the acronym RICE for dealing with typical athletic injuries: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  According to the University of Rochester Medical Center Website, heat and cold are the two most common types of nonaddictive, noninvasive, non-toxic pain-relieving therapies both for joint pain and for muscle pain. (21). Ice decreases blood flow to the injury (lowering swelling and inflammation) while heat opens up blood vessels, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the area and relaxing sore muscles.

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture originated 3000 years ago in China, and has a long history of being used for pain. (22) Guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians recommended that acupuncture be considered as one of several nondrug approaches physicians should consider with patients who have chronic low-back pain. (23)

 

Resveratrol

Reseveratrol is a good example of a natural medicine that can be used in conjunction with conventional pain treatments, making those medicines even more effective (and, hopefully, reducing the amount of those medicines needed to be prescribed.) Resveratrol has been investigated for decades for its multiple beneficial effects on everything from aging to inflammation to insulin sensitivity. But in the last few years, it’s been recently noted that resveratrol preserves the pain-relieving effects of morphine (24,25), making a dose of that powerful (but potentially dangerous) medication last a lot longer so you need less of it. Resveratrol also seems to have the ability to lower substance P—a compound in the body that transmits pain impulses. (26) Animal studies show that resveratrol lowers neuropathic pain by balancing the release of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. (27)

 

Summing Up

This is a far from complete list, but it should give you an idea of the range of available pain treatments that do not require toxic and dangerous drugs with their significant potential for addiction.

 

Though there are certainly MDs who are aware of some of these treatments, most are not. Naturopathic physicians, by the very nature of their training, are deeply familiar with all of them, and will develop an individualized, multi-modal, non-toxic treatment plan before reaching for the “hard stuff”.

 

 

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References