Research is showing that chronic pain, regardless of the cause, is associated with loss of brain volume and likely dementia. The more areas of chronic pain, the more the risk. Five or more areas of pain was associated with changes reflecting eight years of excess brain aging compared to controls.1
With 20 to 33 percent of adults suffering needlessly with chronic pain, this is a major public health problem.2 And most pain can be very effectively treated. Unless somebody goes to their standard physician. In that case what they will likely get are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), acetaminophen, antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), serotonin/dopamine agents, or operated on. With this being pretty much the entire toolkit available to most physicians, it is not surprising that chronic pain is poorly treated.
This article will review three key areas:
1. A quick overview on eliminating pain,
2. Key information for preventing dementia in general, and
3. Using low-dose naltrexone (LDN) to prevent pain-induced dementia.
Secrets to Pain Relief (and Healing in General)
People do best with a comprehensive pain management. This means addressing:
1. Biochemistry: e.g.—nutrients, herbals, medications
2. Biophysics: e.g.—frequency specific microcurrent, acupuncture and energy medicine
3. Structural: e.g.—osteopathy, myofascial release and chiropractic
4. Mind/Body/Spirit: e.g.—releasing old emotions stored in muscles and the brain, and eliminating things that are a “pain in the back” (or even lower!)
In this article, we will focus on the biochemistry of pain relief and dementia prevention.
Why Do We Have Pain?
The first step in eliminating pain is realizing that it is not meant to be an enemy. Rather, it is like the warning light on our car’s dashboard telling us when something needs attention. When our “Pain Oil Light” goes on, standard medicine uses the medication/surgical approach I mentioned. Put a Band-Aid over the oil light or cut it out. And then when the motor burns out, they think it was just coincidence.
But what if instead, we treat the flashing oil light by adding oil?
This works wonderfully!
What Is Pain Asking For?
There are several pain biochemical warning lights asking for different things. The most common things to address behind the pain are:
1. Low tissue energy. When muscles don’t have enough energy, they get locked in the shortened position, causing pain. It takes more energy for a muscle to relax, than to contract. This may seem counterintuitive, but consider how your muscles feel after a heavy workout. They don’t go loose and limp but are tight. Chronic low tissue energy causes myofascial pain—present in most chronic pain. Even if not the original cause of the pain.
2. Inflammation or immune imbalance. This is generally present in the conditions that end in “-itis.” Such as arthritis, and many autoimmune illnesses. For arthritis, the herbal mix Curaphen in head on studies was as effective as Celexicob. Glucosamine and chondroitin was also highly effective, likely by feeding the joints.
3. Nerve pain. Interestingly, this has been shown to be associated with uncontrolled firing of pacemaker like cells in the nerve, which then also deplete energy. Common triggers include nutritional deficiencies, low cellular energy from diabetes, fibromyalgia or hypothyroidism and infections. Lipoic acid 300 mg and acetyl-L-carnitine 1,000 mg (both given 2x day) can be helpful after at least three months of use.
4. Central or brain pain. This is triggered by most kinds of chronic pain and is associated with the microglial activation discussed below. Shutting down the microglial activation with low-dose naltrexone (or other treatments) can be very beneficial.
5. Sympathetically maintained pain (CRPS/RSD). This is beyond the scope of this article but is now treatable. Feel free to email me for a CRPS information sheet as well.
Basics for Pain Relief
Although my books Pain-Free 1-2-3 and From Fatigued to Fantastic discuss countless helpful treatments tailored to the type of pain, and many of these can also be found in the free Cures A-Z phone app, in general I start with:
1. General nutritional and herbal support. Especially important would be high levels of B vitamins and magnesium (a multivitamin such as “Essential Multivitamin” two tablets a day) to restore tissue energy. Then omega-3s and herbals to balance inflammation. For the omega-3 support I use EurOmega 3, as one pill replaces seven large fish oil pills. I also then add Curaphen (1-2 caps 3x day). This pain relief miracle contains a unique highly absorbed curcumin to balance cyclooxygenase (COX), boswellia to balance lipoxygenase (LOX), DL phenylalanine ( DLPA) to increase endorphins and nattokinase to dissolve the inflammation.
2. For arthritis or traumatic pain, I add topical Comfrey (TraumaPlant) cream three times a day. Give this and the Curaphen six weeks to see the full effect. The supplements can be combined and also taken with other pain medications.
All the above are available from EuroMedica. For information on how to eliminate fibromyalgia and long COVID symptoms and pain, email me at FatigueDoc@gmail.com and ask for the free fibromyalgia information sheets. Please let me know that you are a practitioner, so I can include the free treatment questionnaires and checklists. For how to address each type of pain (e.g. arthritis, migraines, etc.) simply download the Cures A-Z phone app. This quickly reviews each of the most common health conditions and how to use the best of natural and prescription therapies for them. It’s kind of like having my brain in your pocket—but less messy.
Basics of Dementia Prevention
It is remarkable how much research shows that the risk of dementia can be dramatically decreased. And medicine simply ignores the research because the treatments are not expensive medications. But here are some basics (remember the mnemonic MIND):
Metabolic: This means optimizing bioidentical hormone levels. For example:
1. Low normal thyroid levels were associated with a 240 percent higher risk of dementia in women. Borderline elevated thyroid had as much as an 800 percent higher risk in men.
2. Every 50 percent increase in free testosterone in the bloodstream was associated with a 26 percent decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Men who went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease had about half the free testosterone in their bloodstreams as men who did not.
Infections: Check for silent bladder infections. Consider candida if there is a lot of postnasal drip (throat clearing) or gas
Nutritional Support. Have people take a good multivitamin such as “Essential Multivitamin” to:
1. Optimize folate, B12 and B vitamins and vitamin D. Check a vitamin B12 level (keep over 540) and homocysteine level (Keep under 9). The value of these nutrients in preventing dementia has been shown in a number of studies. For example, in the VITACOG study people taking this lost less brain compared to people who had elevated homocysteine and normal vitamin levels.3 In a recent study, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of dementia.4
In the Harvard COSMOS study, a simple daily multivitamin significantly improved cognition, lowering brain age by the equal of of three years versus placebo.5
2. Do not supplement iron if the ferritin is over 60.6
3. Take a special highly absorbed form of Curcumin called CuraPro. Take 750 mg 2x day (it would take 14-600 caps a day of other forms to get the same effect, so brand matters). The prevalence of Alzheimer’s in India is 70 percent lower than in the U.S., and this has been traced to the curcumin in the diet, which shows promise in many neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s.
Medications: Get people off unneeded ones.
1. Avoid PPI (proton pump inhibitor) acid blockers. In a study of more than 73,000 elderly, taking PPIs, such as omeprazole and pantoprazole, was associated with a 44 percent increased dementia risk.7 Famotidine does not seem to carry a similar risk.
2. Anticholinergic (AC) Meds (diphenhydramine, tricyclic antidepressants, incontinence meds) are especially problematic. Risk for cognitive impairment was increased by 50 percent in adults receiving at least three mild ACs for more than 90 days and by 100 percent in those receiving one or more severe ACs for more than 60 days.
3. Blood pressure pills can be protective however, especially beta blockers (like Inderal and ace inhibitors).
For a more detailed information sheet on preventing and addressing dementia, you can request this by emailing me at FatigueDoc@gmail.com.
Chronic Pain May Trigger Preventable Dementia
As noted at the beginning of this article, chronic pain is associated with decreased brain volume and likely dementia risk. Added to earlier research, the literature suggests that an old low-cost treatment, low-dose naltrexone (LDN), could easily prevent tens of millions of cases of dementia. While alleviating chronic pain. For detailed calculations and references, email me at FatigueDoc@gmail.com for the “LDN and dementia info sheet.”
What if this disaster could be averted? At low cost and risk?
The research suggests that this may be the case.
Numerous studies (references 8-10 are a small sample of the literature) show that a common denominator between chronic pain, fibromyalgia and shrinking brain size is a condition called microglial activation.
Microglial activation is a key factor in Alzheimer’s development,8 chronic pain9 and fibromyalgia.10 Microglial cells in the brain can be viewed as the brains “gardeners.” Normally they are mild-mannered and simply tend to the needs of brain cells. But when something goes amiss in the brain, including viral infections or chronic pain, these mild-mannered microglial “gardeners” get activated, start “weeding,” and can damage our own brain tissue. Causing brain shrinking and decreased volume.
The silver lining? At doses of 3-5 mg a night, LDN settles down microglial activation.11 See my article on the use of LDN, or email me for the information sheet.
Low dose naltrexone has been shown in numerous studies and clinical experience to help to eliminate pain and other debilitating symptoms in numerous different chronic pain conditions. There is a high probability that by shutting down the microglial activation, it can also prevent the increased dementia risk seen in chronic pain.
Pain can usually be effectively treated, and many cases of dementia can be prevented. Often fairly easily. Hope this is helpful for you.
6 JAMA Neurol. 2017;74):122-125.
A recognized authority on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum is medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers nationally, and does phone consultations with CFS/fibromyalgia patients worldwide. He is the author of the popular iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” and author of the best-selling books From Fatigued to Fantastic! (4th revised edition, Avery/Penguin Group) and Pain Free 1-2-3—A Proven Program for Eliminating Chronic Pain Now (McGraw-Hill). His newest book is Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! (Fairwinds Press; 2010). Dr. Teitelbaum does frequent media appearances, including Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News Channel, the Dr. Oz Show and Oprah & Friends.