Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2016

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Page 13 of 43

E very second, millions of people suffer debilitating pain, and for some it's an ongoing fact of life. Well-intentioned doctors write prescriptions for painkillers, but an alarming number of patients (including, allegedly, music legend Prince) end up with life-ruining addiction or overdose. As Pres. Obama noted in March, more people die every year from opioid overdose than traffi c accidents. Opioids are highly addictive drugs that include prescription painkillers, such as codeine and morphine, and illegal narcotics such as heroin. The Centers for Disease Con- trol has issued national guidelines for prescription painkillers that in- clude prescribing ibuprofen or ac- etaminophen where appropriate, but these also can have disturbing side effects. Moreover, opioids interrupt the body's built-in pain manage- ment by inhibiting feel-good beta-endorphins. And according to a study with post-operative patients, over time, opioids may actually prolong and increase pain. Fortunately there are a number of safe alternatives. Acupuncture In 2012, after a study that included 17,922 patients with back and neck pain, osteoarthritis or chronic headaches, the Ameri- can Medical Association found that, "Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option." More recently, in September 2015 researchers with Massa- chusetts General Hospital/Harvard University found repeated acupuncture treatment lowers or eliminates the need for opi- ates by balancing key brain regions, and altering pain-related attention and memory. Acupuncture is mostly painless, especially with repeat treat- ments, and surprisingly relaxing. Don't be surprised if you fall asleep. Medical marijuana Researchers from the University of Michigan found that patients who use medical pot decreased their opioid meds by 64 per- cent. However, it tends to work better for moderate pain than for severe chronic conditions. Mindfulness meditation A study published in Journal of Neuroscience found that mind- fulness meditation can slightly lower pain. In this mind-body approach, patients learn to focus on breathing, while blocking out external sensations and subsequent negative thoughts. Brain imaging studies suggest mindful meditation achieves its pain-relieving effect without en- gaging the opioid receptors in the brain. Progressive relaxation and biofeedback can also be helpful. Spinal manipulation Chiropractic may help people with back issues, chronic tension or cervicogenic (neck-related) head- aches, as well as prevent migraines. Exercise Exercise is always important and releases natural opiates, such as endorphins and other chemi- cals. The positive effects begin during exertion and usually last a while. T'ai chi is gentle, as are certain forms of yoga, such as Iyengar and Restorative. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AND HERBS Back pain A 2006 review found that devil's claw, willow bark (taken orally) and capsaicin (applied to skin, may burn at fi rst) help relieve lower-back pain. Arthritis Glucosamine, chondroitin, DMSO, MSM and SAMe may help osteoarthritis, while omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may relieve symptoms in rheuma- toid arthritis. Turmeric, ginger and Boswellia serrate (Indian frankincense) are also useful. Headaches Preliminary studies suggest ribofl avin, coenzyme Q10, and the herbs butterbur and feverfew help migraine sufferers. Used alone or in conjunction with lower-dose opiates, natural pain relief options improve quality of life and have few or no side effects. Most importantly, they're non-addictive. healthy living By Laura G. Owens ALTERNATIVES TO ADDICTIVE OPIOIDS No one should have to live in constant pain 14 wholelifetimes.com

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