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Natural Solutions to Chronic Pain

In today’s society, where stress and anxiety are on the increase and western diets are skewed towards inflammatory omega 6 fats, it is not surprising to see the incidence of chronic pain disorders on the rise.

Chronic pain has many causes, from musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, reproductive disorders such as endometriosis and adenomyosis, neurological conditions such as shingles and migraine headaches or gastrointestinal and urological disorders such as IBS, constipation and cystitis.    

Thankfully, there are a number of ways a Naturopath can support people experiencing pain and there are various nutritional and herbal medicines available that can offer safe alternatives, or additional support to medical pain management strategies.

When supporting patients with pain, a Naturopath will look at the body as a whole and search for the underlying cause and drivers of the pain, considering issues such as –

1. Aid repair of damaged tissue and improve circulation through the use of wound healing nutrients and connective tissue and circulatory stimulating herbal medicines such as gotu kola and ginger.  Analgesic herbal medicines are also available to help reduce the sensation of pain

2. Decrease inflammation through the use of natural anti inflammatory medicines (such as EPA, turmeric and bromelain).   Indentify other areas in the body that may be contributing to the production of inflammatory cytokines (such as poor digestion or reproductive or cardiovascular disorders). Educate patient about anti inflammatory diet and discuss the negative effects a highly processed, saturated fat and carbohydrate dense diet can have on pain and inflammation.   

3.  Address other drivers of pain such as nervous system dysfunction and neurotransmitter imbalances that may be up regulating the brain’s sensitivity to pain.  This may involve nutritional medicine to support the healthy production of serotonin, noradrenaline and / or dopamine or herbal medicine to calm the nervous system. A Naturopath may also discuss the benefits of meditation techniques such as yoga nidra.  

4. Restore tissue pH – as acid receptors found on nerve endings can become activated to amplify pain signals in some patients. Altered pH can also affect bone health and the development of osteoarthritis.

5. Improve sleep quality –to support patients coping mechanisms and promote the production of Growth Hormone which is produced during Non REM deep sleep and is involved in the wound healing process.

 6Support Immunity –Whether that be immune support for an allergy, infection, trauma or an auto immune condition there are various herbal medicines available to support or modulate immune function.    
Correct nutritional imbalances – such as low magnesium that may be involved in muscle related conditions such tension headaches or TMJ pain.  

 8. Address others issues such as normal imbalances, mitochondrial dysfunction, suboptimal liver function and toxicity.

When pain is involved, the Naturopaths role in supporting the patient may be in conjunction with other health care professionals such as Doctors, Osteopaths, Massage therapists, Acupuncturists, Physiotherapists and Hypnotherapists.

It is also important to note that no two patients are ever the same and many natural medicines are contra indicated in certain cases and can interfere with the action pharmaceutical drugs, especially anti inflammatory and anti depressant medications. So, it is always recommended patients seek professional advice from a qualified Naturopath or Nutritionist when considering natural medicines. If you would like to know more please contact Sydney Naturopath Kathleen McFarlane.