In the medical community, the subject of natural pain relief is a point of crossover between mainstream and alternative medicine.
While conventional medical doctors don’t want alternative or holistic practitioners getting involved in major diseases or treatments (what they consider their “territory”), their view when it comes to pain is rather more relaxed.
Anything that can help a patient find relief and improve their overall quality of life is welcome.
The reason is that some patients have no apparent “cause” for their pain. There isn’t an injury or a surgery to point to and say, “Ah, that’s why they’re hurting.”
The pharmaceutical drugs doctors have to treat pain are a temporary solution at best, usually highly addictive, and don’t work at all for many patients. No matter how odd the alternative solution, if it works for a patient’s pain, everyone gets behind it.
The Prevalence of Pain
A lot of people around the world are hurting. In their comprehensive study, BMC Public Health stated, “Pain is an enormous problem globally. Estimates suggest that 20% of adults suffer from pain globally and 10% are newly diagnosed with chronic pain each year.” They called chronic pain a global public health priority.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in their study about persistent pain and how primary care deals with it explained, “Pain is one of the most common and among the most personally compelling reasons for seeking medical attention. Pain interferes with daily activities, causes worry and emotional distress, and undermines confidence in one’s health. When pain persists for weeks or months, psychological health and performance of social responsibilities in work and family life can be significantly impaired.”
If you’ve ever experienced terrible, ongoing pain, I’m sure you can relate to this at a deeply personal level. You should always be in total control of your health but never so much as when it comes to pain. You must have a firm hand on the reins.
Doctors tend to brush off reports of pain if the drugs they prescribe don’t work. They are easily frustrated when they have no real answers so they downplay what a patient might be feeling or suggest it’s psychological. Natural pain relief options never even cross their minds.
You must push past this resistance.
The Ladder of Analgesia
When you suffer from pain, here is a simplistic four-rung ladder of over-the-counter and prescription analgesic use, depending on the severity of the pain.
- Level 1 Pain – this is mild pain that should respond to soluble aspirin (or a combination acetaminophen/paracetamol product if you’re sensitive to aspirin).
- Level 2 Pain – this is pain that is slightly more noticeable that should respond to aspirin with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen.
- Level 3 Pain – this is pain that interrupts your day (but isn’t chronic) that should respond to aspirin, an NSAID such as ibuprofen, and/or acetaminophen/paracetamol in a combination product with a weak opioid such as tramadol.
- Level 4 Pain – this is severe pain (acute or chronic) that stops your ability to do anything else. Certain medications work better for acute pain, others are better for chronic pain, and some for both. Acute pain medication is for rapid onset of pain such as from an inflicted trauma or to treat post-operative pain. Chronic pain medication is for alleviating long-lasting, ongoing pain. At this level, if you don’t seek natural pain relief options, you’ll need a doctor’s assistance.
Generally speaking, when the pain is severe, doctors should switch to opiates, such as tramadol (mild) or morphine (stronger). The potential for addiction is not nearly as great as supposed and inadequate treatment of severe pain is poor medicine and shows lack of compassion.
Most doctors readily reach for their prescription pad when the patient mentions any degree of discomfort. There are probably hundreds of prescription-only medications that are said to tackle pain, though only a couple of dozen are regularly chosen.
That’s as far as most doctors will go. Few ever look for real causes and they have a battery of off-the-cuff diagnoses that mean they won’t have to do a work-up on the case. They mention things like lumbago, myalgia (which means nothing), fibrositis (which means even less), dysmenorrhea, arthritis, a touch of sciatica, and (if all else fails) it’s your age.
Note: It will surprise you when I say there are only two pain-control drugs you ever need to consider: aspirin or morphine. If a significant dose of aspirin does not stop the pain, your doctor should switch to morphine. It’s as simple as that.
Both are from natural plant sources and each has a long and honorable history. Anything to the contrary is just disinformation, bad science, and poor clinical skills.
The truth is that almost all pain drugs are just derivatives of these two classes of substances, derived from plant families: aspirin or opiates.
You know how drug corporations like to make money by tweaking a simple molecule, patenting their new “invention,” and then selling it. Aspirin (salicylic acid) and morphine are basic plant molecules that cannot be patented and paracetamol/acetaminophen is long out of patent, so pharmaceutical companies don’t take them seriously.
Instead they waste their ingenuity coming up with variants that can be patented and sold at an enormous profit. Based on their booming business, it’s working like a charm.
This discovery (along with penicillin) must be one of the most famous medicinal substances of all time! It began life centuries ago as a folk herbal concoction, taken from the bark of the willow tree. Only in the nineteenth century did “aspirin” tablets become available. The Egyptians and Hippocrates knew this remedy well – particularly to reduce fever.
Aspirin’s popularity declined after the development of acetaminophen in 1956 and ibuprofen in 1962. Now there are legion alternative painkillers on the market, enough to easily confuse a patient in need of help.
However, as the inherent toxicity of these “safe” alternatives has become known, aspirin is making something of a comeback. Forget all the manufacturer’s attempts to “dress up” simple aspirin. All you need is one product: soluble aspirin. The easily-dissolved version causes far less gastric irritation and is probably the safest of all the over-the-counter painkillers.
Alternative Methods of Pain Control
Instead of simply the masking of discomfort, I believe in attempting to understand and heal the problem that causes the body to transmit pain signals. There is always a cause. The body does not create pain purely spitefully, just to hurt you. Pain is your body demanding a solution be found. The body rewards you immediately when the pain goes away.
We should not be treating the pain, but solving the causes of pain.
Any other approach smacks of folly and is unlikely to succeed in the long-term. Simply masking the symptom makes as much sense as blanking out the oil warning light on an automobile and declaring, “There, problem fixed!”
It’s not good medicine to cover up warning signs.
I discuss many natural pain relief strategies in my book “The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pain Relief” but aspirin has long been forgotten and overlooked for fancier, flashier, and far more expensive drugs on the market (OTC and prescription). The truth is…it’s still one of the best options when you need (or prefer) to take a pill.
If you have mild to moderate pain, save your money, ease the pain with good old-fashioned aspirin, and get on with your day.