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Tackling Pain & Inflammation

Pain & Inflammation Pain & Inflammation
Longevity By Nature

Education and prevention are key to managing this persistent problem.

Achy back, hip, knee, shoulder pain and toothache are just a few examples of the various forms of pain and inflammation plaguing Americans. Unfortunately, pain and inflammation are incredibly prevalent problems that affect most people at some point during their lifetime. According to data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), approximately 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain—that’s one out of every five adults. The most common types of pains reported by Americans are back pain, headaches, joint pain and nerve pain, according to Very Well Health.

The discomfort that arises from pain can stem from a variety of causes, and inflammation often follows from there. Yamuna Zake, creator of the Yamuna Education and wellness tools, shared other examples. “Some of the main causes of pain that are associated with structural problems result from injuries either sports related, car accidents, or repetitive overuse of the body. There are also internal pains that are directly caused by organ or system problems. Headaches of all forms cause pain as well as misalignments and poor posture, which over time can cause pain, and inflammation.”

Mark Faulkner, CEO and founder of Tennessee-based Vireo Systems, added that the causes can run the gamut from medical indications to everyday accidents, but all pain and inflammation issues lead back to one root problem. “Many inflammation researchers now agree that the central pathway to all inflammation and pain is mitochondrial dysfunction, whether caused by oxidative stress (biochemical trauma) or some form of physical trauma,” he said. “If mitochondrial stability or resilience can be supported or increased, then there is an assuagement of protein “leakage” that otherwise catalyzes a cytokine storm and ignites the chemical messengers that result in the release of prostaglandins, which cause the inflammation and pain.”

Broadly speaking, there are three phases associated with pain. The first phase, nociceptors, is the moment when the body is alerted to danger—be it intense pressure or dramatic changes in temperature for example. The second phase, known as pain perception, is related to a person’s reaction to the initial stimulus. The final and arguable most important phase is the consequences of pain. That’s where practitioners typically enter the picture.

Natural Remedies for Pain

For as many types of pain and inflammation can impact the human body, there are also a plethora of natural remedies to consider. Of course, it’s largely dependent on the type of pain and inflammation a patient is experiencing what natural remedies would be best.

Let’s start with structural problems, such as stiff neck, joint pain and tired muscles. “When it comes to painful structural problems there are many natural ways to treat them,” Zake said. “Various forms of massage therapy, chiropractors, osteopathy, acupuncture, shockwave therapy, prolotherapy, (platelet-rich plasma) PRP treatment, stem cell treatment, and of course all the many natural formulations on the market which can reduce pain and inflammation.”

Centuries of experimentation and studies have also found a handful of natural ingredients and supplements that are beneficial. A few popular ones include:

Magnesium: The fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is a trace element that can particularly be beneficial for joint health. Studies have proven there are a range of benefits by adding magnesium to your diet including boosting exercise performance, and it possess anti-inflammatory benefits. Foods including dark chocolate, black beans, almonds and avocado are all great sources of magnesium.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids provide a variety of beneficial support to the body and brain, and therefore is an essential supplement. Benefits include improving eye, bone and joint health, helping fight inflammation, reducing menstrual pain and improving sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods including salmon, chia seeds, soybeans, Ahiflower and cod liver oil.

Glucosamine: In the body glucosamine naturally exists in cartilage and helps to repair cartilage when it is damaged. Studies have found various benefits including reduced joint pain and inflammation, and improved bone health. Glucosamine is not found in many foods, so supplements are the best way to up one’s glucosamine intake.

Boswellia: An herbal tree extract, boswellia is best known for its ability to reduce inflammation. Studies have also found it can be beneficial for those who have asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Additional studies have found it may be beneficial for those with certain cancers as well. Like glucosamine, boswellia is typically taken and found in supplements.

Turmeric: Turmeric is more than a wonderful spice to add to food, it can also offer consumers some health benefits. It is particularly beneficial to aid with inflammation and contains antioxidants. Research has shown turmeric has benefits for individuals suffering from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and metabolic syndrome.

CBD: CBD has taken the industry by storm. Although it is newer to the market to help pain and inflammation, studies have shown that it can relieve pain, reduce cancer-related symptoms and may improve heart health. CBD can be used in a handful of forms including topically and orally as an oil.

Speaking of topical solutions, Jen Palmer, ND director of education of Colorado-based Charlotte’s Web, said there are many options available to help aches and pains. She noted a few. “Topical menthol and camphor ointments and creams can be beneficial for temporary relief of minor aches and pains. When provided in over-the-counter levels, these natural plant terpenes can penetrate the outer layer of skin and interact with sensory neurons to provide local pain relief. Topicals act quickly and help with patient retention.”

Of course, there are also many other examples of supplements that can be helpful. Ryan Benson, CEO of Florida-based Ceautamed Worldwide dba Greens First Pro, offers additional natural plant-based solutions for pain and inflammation. “Notably opioid receptor modifiers such as opium, cannabis and other psychoactive substances. Antipyretics like willow bark, feverfew and prickly ash, and musculoskeletal pain remedies like black cohosh, boneset and wild yam have traditional uses going back hundreds if not thousands of years. However, in parallel to traditional uses, scientific understandings of the physiological mechanisms of pain and inflammation advanced considerably and have shaped naturally-derived supplementation options across most categories of symptomatic relief.”

Advice for Practitioners

Pain and inflammation are an inevitable part of life; therefore, practitioners should work with patients to encourage choices that can help prevent terrible cases in the future. “Prevention is key. The earlier you begin self-help care with your patients the better,” said Zake. “I think all-natural health practitioners should include healthy movement therapies in their practice or refer patients out to people who can teach them. It is simply not okay to just tell your patients to go to the gym. There is standard exercise and then there are sensible approaches which can teach people how to keep their joints flexible with full movement, muscle tone and strength throughout their lives.”

She added, “This is what I teach and train practitioners to do. Most people who come to a practitioner have very little idea where to begin or what to do. If a person comes with pain or restrictions in his/her body it is presumed that you as the practitioner will fix this and recommend any supplements that will also support the therapy. It is important that people learn how to be proactive in their wellness. I think teaching clients self-help care is part of the job of any good practitioner. If a practitioner can’t do this then have a good referral list.”

Encouraging patients to stay active and/or get as much movement as possible is the first and most important preventative measure. “Strongly encourage lifestyle strategies/modifications, including healthy eating habits, stress management, physical activity/physical therapy, acupuncture and yoga,” said Crystal Gossard, DCN, CNS, LDN, and educational specialist for Florida-based Life Extension. “These modalities can make a big improvement on a person’s quality of life. Also recognize when an issue is not your area of specialty and refer your patients out to a practitioner who is more qualified in a particular area. Nutritionists, personal trainers or mental health professionals can be great partners to improve patient outcomes.”

By the time some patients decide to see a practitioner, it is often way beyond the point where prevention is useful. At this point, it’s important for practitioners to really hear their patient’s concerns and work with them to provide the best possible options.

To do this, Faulkner of Vireo Systems said staying educated is a must. “Practitioners should make sure they continue to study and read and be open to any and all new alternatives. Even naturopaths can get stuck in their own ruts of ‘well, I always use xxx.’ Rapidly assessing therapeutic responses in patients and being willing to shift and try something else if results are not adequate is a part of personalized medicine that natural practitioners are best positioned to employ. Also, really pay attention to positive clinical outcomes (or lack thereof). There are a number of “fads” that may not be all they are cracked up to be.”

Education doesn’t end with the practitioner. Gossard added that part of that education should include gaining knowledge of the supplements on the market and guiding patients on the best products to choose. “The future of the market is growing as pain is one of the leading reasons consumers seek the help of a practitioner. Retail shelves offer a wide array of products with little explanation and leave many consumers overwhelmed by what product is suitable for them. Practitioners have the training and understanding of the underlying mechanisms of inflammation and are in a prime position to educate the consumer and guide them to the right natural product for them. Natural products do often take a bit longer for noticeable effects but often target important underlying mechanisms. This education provides consumer understanding, correct use of the product, and overall higher satisfaction.”

Product Spotlight

The manufacturers who spoke to Natural Practitioner shared some details on their best-selling products below:

• Charlotte’s Web: CBD CLINIC Level 03 Cream targets localized sources of discomfort where your patients are experiencing minor pain. The fast-absorbing cream with menthol (4 percent) penetrates deeply through the top layers of the skin to interrupt the pain signals in the brain. In addition, it contains natural emollients, including hemp oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and clove oil.

• Standard Process Turmeric Forte combines turmeric rhizome and fenugreek seed extracts to support a healthy inflammatory response, maintain healthy joints, support healthy liver function and digestion, and provides antioxidant activity. This product is particularly beneficial for active individuals and supports overall musculoskeletal health.

• Ceautamed Worldwide dba Greens First Pro offers Greens First PRO and Ahiflower Vegan Omega Oil PRO, which use the most effective types of fruits, vegetables, alkaline minerals and plant-based omegas in their ideal delivery forms for bioavailability. These combine to help the body fight off the incessant onslaught of excess endogenous acids produced in the body daily. This protocol can lead to reducing or eliminating the excess pro-inflammatory response in the body. That means less joint pain and stiffness, decreased fatigue and increased energy and mobility.

• Life Extension Curcumin Elite Turmeric Extract is a best-seller for the brand. Active ingredients include curcumagalactomannosde (CCM) complex, a proprietary blend of curcuminoids and galactomannans from fenugreek seeds. The curcumin used in the Curcumin Elite is sourced from a multitude of responsible farming collectives in India. Curcumin Elite is created with a patented, environmentally friendly, water-based extraction technology, called FenuMAT. There are no solvents or chemicals used during the combining of curcumin with the fenugreek fiber. FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved benefits statements: Promotes healthy inflammatory response, delivers 45 times more bioavailable free curcuminoids and 270 times better absorption of total curcuminoids when compared to unformulated curcumin, and supports cardiovascular health, brain health and immune response.

• Vireo Systems AminoActiv was created with athletes in mind to relieve pain and inflammation for those with high performance goals. It’s available in both capsule and topical cream form. AminoActiv works with the body to help prevent pain, promote rapid recovery from an injury, reduce lactic acid buildup and relieve overall pain and inflammation. “There are really no other products on the market that are true anti-inflammatories for exercise induced inflammation,” said Faulkner. “Alpha-GEE is a very unique compound in terms of its direct therapeutic effect on the release of prostaglandins in the wake of vigorous activity. It has provided an incredible alternative for many people.”

• TJz Balm is a first of its kind organic OTC (over-the-counter) topical pain relief medicine formulated with seven purposeful botanicals for muscle and joint pain, with a skin-safe formula for the jaw area. Recommended by TMJ specialists for jaw pain and TMJ pain relief. There are no other topical pain relief medications that are made with 100 percent clean ingredients. TJz Balm is good for the delicate skin around the jaw area. They company’s customers say that nighttime use helps prevent morning TMJ headaches.

Healthy Take Aways

• Pain and inflammation affect one in five adults in the U.S. and is a problem many are likely to encounter and seek help from a practitioner for at some point in their lifetime.
• Due to the prevalence of pain and inflammation, practitioners should work with patients early and recommend preventative measures before problems get worse.
• Natural ingredients that can help with pain and inflammation include turmeric, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and CBD.
• Topical supplements can be useful for temporary relief to target aches and pains.

For More Information:

Charlotte’s Web, www.charlottesweb.com
Life Extension, www.lifeextension.com
Ceautamed Worldwide dba Greens First Pro, www.greensfirst.com; www.naturescrops.com
Standard Process, www.standardprocess.com
TJZ Balm, https://tjzbalm.com/
Vireo Systems, https://vireosystems.com/