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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Promising Pain Relief Therapies

Sep 02, 2021 06:00AM ● By Ronica O’Hara

In the offices of holistic practitioners and in some medical centers, a wide range of integrative modalities to treat chronic pain are healing the afflicted. Some commonly used options, which can be part of a multipronged approach or effective individually, include:

• CBD. Studies show this cannabis-derived substance, the non-mind-altering form of marijuana, acts on multiple pain targets in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It has demonstrated pain-relieving effects for neuropathy, some cancers, arthritis and irritable bowel disease, among other conditions. A University of Michigan study of 878 people with fibromyalgia that had used cannabidiol (CBD) products found that more than 70 percent had substituted it for opioids or other pain medications, with many stopping them altogether as a result. With research mounting, almost every state now allows CBD use in some form.

• Turmeric/curcumin. The Indian spice that makes curry yellow has potent anti-inflammatory properties, especially in formulations that combine it with piperine (black pepper) to enhance bioavailability. A meta-analysis in Oxford Pain Medicine of eight randomized controlled trials of curcumin involving 800 patients with muscle pain, osteoarthritis or postoperative pain found that it effectively lowered pain levels without adverse reactions, outperforming nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol (ibuprofen) for knee osteoarthritis pain. 

 Hypnosis. By lowering the fear and anxiety that aggravate pain sensations, hypnosis reduces pain as effectively as many other approaches at a relatively low cost. A meta-analysis of 18 studies found that 75 percent of people, including those with both acute and chronic pain, received substantial relief from hypnotic techniques without side effects. In a University of Washington study, patients kept practicing self-hypnosis after completing the study even if it had not relieved their pain, saying it gave them better sleep, lower stress and a greater sense of calm and well-being. Hypnotherapy treatment usually involves four to 10 sessions and is often covered in full or in part by insurance companies or Medicare.

• Low-dose naltrexone. When taken at levels of 50 to 100 milligrams (mg) daily, this medication weans people off opioids and alcohol, but when used at low doses of less than 2 mg, research suggests it can ease the pain of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. Stanford School of Medicine researchers reported it significantly reduced pain for 32 percent of fibromyalgia patients and also improved mood and life satisfaction, noting, “The medication is widely available, inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated.” 

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