Pain is something that all of us suffer from at some stage or another, and it can be a very useful communication tool! Yes – it’s uncomfortable by its very nature, but it’s our body’s way of signalling important factors that it needs us to listen to and preferably learn from. Obviously this is especially relevant if it’s long term, recurrent chronic pain – rather than labour pain, or discomfort from accident/injury.
I spend a great deal of my time in clinic, going through detailed medical history and lifestyle consultations to help people get to a fundamental understanding of what their symptoms mean, what their body is trying to tell them. Many get to the point where they’ve had all the health checks and everything has come back clear. Still their body is not happy! Once you’ve started to explore the root causes of the issues each person is experiencing – then you can work on a plan of action together. I always believe people recover – or improve their quality of life, if they can be involved in being part of their own solution.
Many people would like to try different forms of Natural Medicine to help resolve pain and discomfort, but they are not sure what therapy/therapies might be most relevant to their needs.
So, what do these pain signals mean and which therapies can you try? Often – it’s remarkably simple, but identifying the cause/s is the key to helping your body help itself:
Headache – possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:
- Dehydration (drink more water)
- Neck misalignment (Osteopathy)
- A reaction to food your body doesn’t like – food intolerance/allergy (Applied Kinesiology)
- Nutritional deficiencies – especially B Vitamins, Iron and Magnesium (Nutritional therapist)
- A reaction to alcohol/excess caffeine
- Liver congestion (Detox)
- Thyroid issues (Medical test)
- Muscular tension – especially in the back, neck/shoulders (Aromatherapy massage)
- Eye strain (Optician)
- Lack of Sleep
- Anxiety/emotional tension. (Aromatherapy, CBT, Hypnotherapy/TFT)
Back Pain - possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:
- Spinal misalignment (Osteopathy)
- Muscular tension (Aromatherapy/Acupuncture/Reiki)
- Poor posture (Alexander Technique/increased exercise regime)
- Injury (Depends on the type of injury!)
- Anxiety/emotional tension (Aromatherapy, CBT, Hypnotherapy/TFT, Reiki)
- Muscle Spasm (Aromatherapy Bath/Acupuncture)
- Arthritis (Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture/Aromatherapy/Nutritional Therapy)
- Nerve damage/inflammation (Acupuncture/Tens Machine/Aromatherapy)
Digestive Pain – possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:
- Recurrent constipation (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional therapy/Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy/ Chinese Medicine/Western Herbal Medicine)
- Recurrent diarrhoea (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional therapy/Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy/Chinese Medicine/Western Herbal Medicine)
- Period problems (Acupuncture/Chinese/Western Herbal Medicine)
- Stress/tension/anxiety (Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, Reflexology)
- IBS “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional Therapy/Slippery Elm/Relaxation Therapies such as Aromatherapy – if stress related – which is usually the case)
- Trapped wind – eat more slowly – could be allergy/food intolerance issues (Nutritional Medicine)
Pain and inflammation almost always goes hand in hand. Inflammation is caused by injury or acidity – and always causes degeneration and or pain. Almost all ageing and degenerative disease is caused by acid levels increasing – leading to the breakdown of cellular activity or the very cell structure itself, as well as our normal, healthy metabolic processes.
Whilst many therapies – including aromatherapy – can present effective therapeutic options – the fundamental key to reducing pain and inflammation is almost always to reduce acidity in your body. Our normal healthy pH levels internally are around pH 7. So what causes an increase in these pH levels – and why is it so common?
Acidity levels typically increase due to the following:
- High levels of stress
- Insufficient sleep
- Poor diet (high levels of refined foods)
- High blood pressure
- Hormone imbalances
- Lack of exercise
- Candida albicans
- Certain nutritional deficiencies.
- Certain forms of medication
So – how can we create a lifestyle that helps us reduce those acid levels?
Here’s the typical type of plan – that forms the basis of most people’s “Plan Of Action” – to help regeneration, revitalisation and the reduction of pain and inflammation. Obviously this basic plan would then be orientated around each individual’s specific conditions.
- Rehydration – the quickest way to reduce the concentration of acidity if you don’t drink enough – or drink too much alcohol /caffeine – try 1.5 litres of warm water plus freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Herb teas- such as Peppermint, Chamomile, Fennel and Nettle will help reduce inflammation and increase detoxification.
- If your digestive system is inflamed, a few weeks – 1 month on Slippery Elm – which naturally and gently lines the gut – taken 20 mins before eating (BioCare’s excellent “Slippery Elm Complex” is in capsule form and easier to take than the powder) A dose of Pro-biotics is often indicated too – to help repopulate the intestinal flora that may be out of balance following antibiotics, high stress or a poor diet.
- Relaxation therapies – especially aromatherapy – can help ease the acidity levels by calming the body and mind. Oils that soothe the senses and reduce inflammation are indicated – such as Lavender, Neroli, Yarrow, German and Roman Chamomile, Peppermint, Fennel, Marjoram, Clary Sage, Plai, Black Spruce and Frankincense. Try regular massage and aromatherapy baths with the inclusion of Dead Sea Salt, and Moisturising Cream with the appropriate oils for specific complaints.
- Exercise – and not always fast and furious! Many of those who suffer from pain and inflammation need to access exercise regimes that are about increasing flexibility and the capacity to relax. These could include swimming/aqua aerobics, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga and meditation.
- A gentle detox diet – with more “Clean Eating” and less congestive sludge! The body thrives on food that it can digest easily and that provides the energy and nutrients that are easy to access. For most of us – this is whole food – a diet low in carbohydrates and sugars – and high in fresh vegetables, fruit and clean proteins – such as lean meat (game is excellent), fish, nuts and seeds.
Specific treatment programmes can then also be included in the plan – according to what type of pain and inflammation you are experiencing. A check with your GP is always advisable in the beginning, but then for long term chronic conditions, medication/surgery should be an absolutely last resort – after natural, more holistic approaches have been tried first – as you will often manage to resolve the issues proactively, with a little help from nature’s treasure trove!
If you do need natural pain killers beyond Essential Oils, Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Herbs and Tens Machines – there is a relatively new range of natural painkillers sold by nutritional companies. One such supplement is called “Nurocyte” – produced by “Nutrigold” – an effective painkiller based on natural hop alpha acid extract. Most natural pain killers may take a little longer to work – but can still provide good pain control – without the same side-effects of many drug based medications.
Certain nutrient based supplements can also be helpful as a painkillers, especially if there’s a deficiency – Magnesium can be one of them – but seek advice of a Nutritional Therapist first, as it often needs to be taken in conjunction with Calcium in order to create the right action.
Safety note: Always remember to check the contra-indications of herb/nutrient based supplements as well as drug based medication.
Recommended aromatherapy recipes:
Take 3 drops Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
Drink 2 glasses of warm water with fresh lemon juice.
Massage the scalp with your finger tips to encourage blood supply to the surface.
Massage back of neck, temples and jawline with 50ml Moisturising Cream, 2 drops Neroli, 1 Peppermint, 3 Plai and 15 Lavender.
Muscular pain from stress related tension:
Warm aromatic bath with 1 cup Dead Sea Salt plus 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 2 drops Neroli, 4 Marjoram, 2 Plai and 2 Roman Chamomile. Following bath, massage affected area with 20ml Sweet Almond Oil (warm oil before using ) plus 3 drops Frankincense, 3 Black Spruce, 1 Roman Chamomile and 5 Lavender.
Muscular pain/stiffness from physical exertion:
Following a shower in which you alternate the temperatures to boost the circulation, use massage oil with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil and 5ml Argan Oil, plus 3 drops Rosemary, 3 Black Spruce, 5 Marjoram and 5 Lavender.
Arthritic pain (Osteo-arthritis):
Following a shower with alternating temperatures, or a cool compress, massage this gel into affected joints: 20ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml Rosehip Seed Oil, 2 drops Yarrow, 2 Plai, 1 Peppermint, 4 Black Spruce and 15 Lavender.
Period pain (Lower back/abdominal aches and pains):
Try gentle stretching exercise and a warm shower or bath with 15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 3 drops Marjoram, 3 Clary Sage and 3 Geranium. Make up the following massage blend: 15ml Grapeseed Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 2 drops Plai, 4 Clary Sage and 4 Marjoram. Massage in clockwise rotations around abdomen and into the lower back and upper buttock areas.
Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea or take herbal capsules.
IBS Pain (Abdomen)
Take Slippery Elm Complex (BioCare) 20 mins before eating if stomach is inflamed (i.e. during a period of sensitivity) and drink Peppermint Tea immediately after a meal. Consider a month’s course of Bio-acidophilus Forte (BioCare) to help re-balance intestinal flora. If constipation is recurrent (typically in between spates of diarrhoea ) take 1-2 pieces of liquorice daily to help maintain regular bowel movements. When pain occurs, try a warm hot water bottle on abdomen, or a warm Lavender compress (1 litre hot water, 20 drops Lavender – place muslin in bowl, squeeze out excess water and place on lower abdomen. Reapply once muslin cools down). Massage tummy in clockwise rotations with warm oil: 20ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil plus 1 drops Plai, 5 Marjoram, 5 Lavender, 4 Sweet Orange and 2 Peppermint.