Let’s hear from the experts as they weigh in on the main causes of pain and how to promote wellness through anti-inflammatory herbs, therapies and supplements.
Some of the strongest herbal pain relievers that reduce bodily inflammation include white willow, black cohosh, and valerian, says Kaley Burns, ND.
There are so many types and causes of pain. Is inflammation the underlying factor in most types?
Yes, chronic, subtle, systemic inflammation is often a factor in persistent pain. Moreover, the inflammation itself can have many underlying causes, from genetics to a autoimmune diseases, allergies, smoking or other biological stresses, chronic infections, and even the process of aging.
What are some of the most common reasons for chronic pain, like neck and back problems, sciatica, or knee and hip problems?
Of course, any past traumas or operations are on the list, but also lifestyle factors such as nutrition, activity level, occupation, etc., play a role in chronic pain. Most people I see have sedentary jobs, are lacking in optimal nutrition, and are not allowing their bodies to recover from stress.
Poor posture, carrying extra weight, and mood conditions are significant factors to evaluate when it comes to pain. New technologies are contributing to unnatural body mechanics. Driving can cause neck, shoulder, or back pain due to bad posture and bumpy roads, combined with stress.
It’s also important to be aware of medication side effects—some prescription drugs are notorious for affecting joint and/or muscle pain as a side effect, including statins, bisphosphonates, and fluoroquinolones.
What are a few surprising or hidden causes of chronic pain and inflammation?
Metabolic dysregulation is a big factor that can be overlooked. Epidemiological studies and meta-analyses report a strong relationship between chronic pain and abnormalities in glucose metabolism. Insulin resistance and abnormal blood sugar pave the way for inflammatory pathways, resulting in chronic pain.
Magnesium deficiency is another that comes to mind. Magnesium helps to block the brain’s receptors of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that may cause your neurons to become hypersensitive to pain.
Intestinal integrity is one that many people don’t think to connect to their pain. However, high-quality food choices are crucial for managing pain due to the way they influence gut health. Substances in grains may increase intestinal permeability, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, and other molecules to enter the bloodstream, which can influence inflammation and chronic pain.
What are your favorite natural remedies for general types of pain and inflammation?
One of the products I like mixes bromelain, curcumin, and quercetin. This powerful trio provides enhanced support for maintaining a healthy inflammatory response to reduce pain. Another favorite is a blend that contains essential nutrients the body needs to repair and recover, along with potent herbal pain alleviators, including black cohosh, white willow bark, valerian, and devil’s claw. Lastly, I suggest a high-potency proteolytic enzyme product combined with rutin. This supports the body’s natural processes for tissue and joint recovery. The enzymes work synergistically with rutin to naturally boost muscle and tissue repair.
What are some other successful therapies for pain at your clinic?
My personal preference is regenerative injection therapy (RIT). This is a non-operative, therapeutic approach to pain reduction that involves multiple small injections into a joint to encourage the body to initiate healing methods. Through the process of concentrating and injecting specific substances, such as prolo, PRP, or stem cells at the site of injury, the process of regeneration and remodeling is facilitated and a robust healing response is achieved.
Can you suggest remedies to enhance liver health if someone is taking prescription and over-the-counter pain medications (notoriously taxing on the liver)?
Milk thistle is probably the most well-known. However, other things such as dandelion, artichoke, turmeric, beet, glutathione, and NAC hold a lot of power as well. Hydration is also critical for supporting clearance.
Dandelion can help protect the liver from the damaging side effects of some pain medications.
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