By Kristy Lee Rackham Registered Nurse, Holistic Health Coach & Writer
I have known pain, but not so much anymore! Apart from helping others to deal with pain through my work, I’ve also been faced with the reality of daily pain for years on end and have found effective ways to treat it, without the use of daily medications.
Research is strongly showing that when dealing with, and healing pain, a top to bottom, inside to outside approach can have the best outcomes for you. However, in today’s society, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only way to manage pain is to take pharmaceutical medications. There are many problems with this approach:
They often don’t work for chronic or neuralgic pain
They don’t heal the underlying cause of the pain
They add (often dangerous) additional toxic load to an already struggling body
Over time you will likely need more medication and higher doses
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that sometimes pain medication is necessary, often for our own sanity! However, there are a plethora of non-toxic, effective, scientifically proven methods of pain management out there, and more are being discovered every day.
My top 10 holistic tool-kit of non-med pain methods below are best used at the initial onset of pain when your levels are at about a 2 or 3 out of 10. If you live with 5/10 or higher levels of pain, you might like to try these in combination with your pharmaceutical medications to lower your pain threshold and your medication intake to a more manageable level over time.
So, before automatically reaching for the meds, go ahead and explore these methods to send pain packing.
1. Lavender Oil: Your grandmother knew about this one! A good quality organic (free of pesticides) lavender oil works wonders for instantly lowering stress levels, reducing tension headaches, easing body aches and for minor burns. Rub a drop onto your temples and base of the skull, neat for headaches. Mix with a carrier oil such as organic coconut oil and rub gently into bruising or aching muscles, sprains and strains.
2. Ice/Heat: We often forget this simple method of pain management! Depending on the problem, use ice to relieve swelling and numb pain, heat to reduce muscle spasm and aching bodies. Check with a health practitioner if you’re not sure which one to use.
3. Rest / Self Care: Speaks for itself… or does it? Set yourself up on the couch or in a cosy, cushion-filled bed with your favourite, a collection of pens and colouring books, a movie or audiobook you love and nurture yourself. Pain is made worse by a negative emotional response to it. Taking time out to rest your body and look after your mind can work wonders.
4. Massage/bodywork: It’s one of the best cures for a headache and general aches and pains. If you have a willing giver, sit with your head in their lap and have them gently rub temples, scalp, forehead and base of the neck, and feel your face smooth out and pain frowns disappear. Otherwise, a regular relaxation massage will keep circulation flowing, release stagnant toxins and soothe emotions that can all contribute to pain.
5. Arnica/Hypericum, ‘Zen’: These are natural herb formulas that come in the form of creams, tinctures and pilules. They’re available at good holistic pharmacies and can go a long way to easing aches and pains, relieving swelling and redness, and treating bruises. Keep in mind, they actually work on tissue regeneration and repair, so this is a more long-term approach to pain problems.
6. Epsom Salt Bath: I love this one. There is nothing better than sinking into a warm, essential oil bath laced with a cup of high-quality Epsom salts to ease joint pain, relieve inflammation and reduce highly sensitive pain receptors. Epsom salts are a form of magnesium and work brilliantly to relax and relieve. Available in bulk at natural food stores, or in a box at the supermarket.
7. Water: Seems simple. It is! Headaches are often caused by a lack of hydration to the brain – the brain’s lining becomes tight and shrinks in on the brain, and the cells of the whole body shrink and no longer function optimally. Vertebral disc pain can also be exacerbated by dehydration; the discs themselves can shrink causing pressure on the nerves. Recommendations suggest a minimum 2 litres of FILTERED water per day. Tap water contains bacteria, chemicals and other organisms that can add to your body’s toxic load.
8. Infrared Light Therapy: Highly researched and used extensively in Europe, infra-red light therapy is new to Australia. It is soothing, non-invasive and extremely gentle! It increases blood flow to tissue which leads to higher blood oxygenation and nutrient transportation to cells, thus encouraging a vast array of biochemical processes that promote healing and regeneration at a local, and systemic level.
9. Mind Sciences: This collection of mind plasticity tools are ESSENTIAL if you want to relieve chronic pain. Mind Sciences re-wire the brain for less pain by modifying the way you think, lowering your stress response, and helping you to adapt your lifestyle in ways that support your mind, body and soul. Learning Meditation is a fundamental way to literally ‘change your mind’ about pain and give yourself a solid mental platform on which to stand as you embrace changes that will benefit your health. Included in the Mind Sciences are Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), EFT Tapping and Matrix Reimprinting. These re-framing techniques can uncover the unconscious programming that is affecting your pain levels, and help you to redesign the way you think to reduce and, yes, even eliminate pain!
10. Electrical Impulse Devices: Devices such as personal TENS or ENAR are extremely useful for pain relief in place of pharmaceutical medications. Both these devices work using frequency to interfere with pain signals to the brain. The ENAR is a biofeedback device so it can read your unique body signals and adapt its frequency input specifically to your needs and help to rewire neuropathways for less pain over time.
Of course, there are many more ways to relieve pain without medications, but I trust this will get you started on a new path of exciting discovery.
Remember, if pain persists, make an appointment to see your treating health practitioner. Please also remember that you know yourself better than ANYONE. If the quality of your pain changes or you get a gut feeling there is something more serious going on, please trust your instinct and seek help. Don’t give up until you find the help you need… I truly believe it is possible to be free of pain!
This is not a sales pitch, but to learn more about relieving pain without medication, please visit www.myholisticnurse.org or if you are interested, you can call 0487 769 629 to arrange a free ½ hour ‘Stop the spiral’ consultation with Kristy to discuss your unique situation.
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