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- What are the Natural Medicine Alternatives to Pain Medication? - June 20, 2023
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Pain is a common and complex condition with chronic pain affecting in 1 in 5 Australians. Unfortunately pain medications, such as opioids, can be addictive. Plus, long term usage of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Nurofen carries the risk of developing a number of side effects, the most common being an increase in stomach ulcers.
Natural alternatives to NSAIDs and other pain medications can help to manage post exercise inflammation, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as well as osteoarthritis, and general wear and tear of the joints. Up to two-thirds of people with arthritis say their condition has affected them emotionally therefore the need to prescribe safe and effective treatments for these conditions becomes imperative.
You may have heard about Collagen for great skin, but in fact most of our tendons are made of 60-80% collagen. Interestingly most athletic injuries occur at tendon sites. Fortigel is a clinically trialled collagen which has been shown to influence cartilage tissue regeneration and support improved tendon strength and elasticity.
Fortigel has also been shown to:
- reduce osteoarthritis symptoms (pain, stiffness)
- improve joint function
- reduce post-exercise joint pain in young athletes
- improve ankle stability
Turmeric is said to have an ‘NSAID sparing effect’ meaning you can use a lower dosage of NSAIDs when Turmeric is prescribed alongside it.
Turmeric works on the same inflammatory pathways as NSAIDs without the negative side effects.
It also inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines such tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin (IL) 1, 2,6, 8, and 12.
The pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha plays an important role in the regulation of immune cells and the development of systemic inflammation, and has been implicated in a variety of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.
Even though you can eat Turmeric in your diet, to be able to obtain therapeutic amounts we always recommend a clinically trialled form of Turmeric. This nutrient is hard to absorb so for best results, always use a form which has been manufactured to be more absorbable than standard turmeric. We recommend BCM 95 (TM) forms of Turmeric.
Only recently available in Australia, PEA was identified in the 1950s as an anti-inflammatory agent.
PEA is naturally found in a number of common foods including cow’s milk, breast milk, beans, peas, tomato, alfalfa, corn, soy lecithin and peanuts.
PEA is a bioactive lipid that directly modulates endocannabinoid signalling, indirectly increasing cannabinoid receptor activity throughout the nervous system.
PEA regulates pain and inflammation through multiple physiological pathways including:
- increasing production of your own (endogenous) anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective compounds
- Upregulates expression of cannabinoid receptors
- inhibit mast cell migration and activation (how our body regulates the initial stages of inflammation which when unresolved can lead to chronic pain)
The beneficial effects of PEA on chronic and neuropathic pain symptoms have been confirmed in numerous clinical trials.
It may be surprising to learn 70% of Australians are magnesium deficient. It plays a key role in nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction, with muscle weakness and cramps a symptom of a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is an important mineral when it comes to pain treatment because it blocks the central sensation of pain, inhibiting both acute and chronic pain.
Magnesium can be found in nuts and seeds, red meat and bananas; however with 40% of Australians not consuming enough magnesium in their diet, it is my most commonly prescribed supplement.
The dosage of magnesium is dependent on a number of factors:
- how much exercise someone does
- the level of stress they are under – we excrete more magnesium when stressed
- dietary intake.
Pain medications – try a natural alternative instead
It’s good to know there are alternative and effective treatments for both acute and chronic pain. Nutritionists are trained in using vitamins and minerals as therapy and can help you choose the right nutrient to help repair, regenerate or prevent injury.
References available on request.
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Sonya is a passionate and down to earth Nutritionist and Life Coach with over 14 years industry experience.
During this time in the natural health industry Sonya has held numerous roles including training, presenting and writing for both the general public and Practitioners.
Sonya practices from Studio You, Birchgrove which was named ATMS Clinic of the year 2019.
Sonya’s specialties include the Ketogenic diet and its potential applications, with clinical experience using the Ketogenic diet in Fat loss and Epilepsy.
She is also loves working with Paediatric and adult patients with digestive complaints, most specifically with finding the underlying causes of constipation.
As a parent of a child with additional needs Sonya is passionate about helping these families live their best lives by using food, vitamins and minerals as therapy.