Have you ever had chronic pain?
It can make your days miserable, sap your concentration, and literally change your personality. The closest I ever came to chronic pain was a back sprain and I couldn’t focus for a week. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to deal with pain, day in and day out.
What I do know is that there’s always a root to chronic pain, and if you want to get better, it’s essential to find it. As an integrative medicine doctor, I’ve spent the last decade treating thousands of women, many of whom had chronic pain.
My strategy for managing chronic pain always starts with understanding the root of it. Is it structural? Is it inflammatory? Is it from oxidative stress, or from a nutrient deficiency?
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, don’t assume that you’re stuck with it. Instead, follow these steps to relieve (and possibly even reverse) your pain.
1. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can make a huge improvement when it comes to chronic pain [1,2]. Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, gluten (if you’re sensitive to it), alcohol, and oxidized oils.
Instead, eat plenty of healthy fats and antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits. Make sure you get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish — omega-3s are as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin when it comes to relieving chronic pain , and colorful fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols and antioxidants that calm inflammation and pain.
2. Take supplements that relieve inflammation
You can also take supplements to ease chronic pain. Two of my favorites are:
- Curcumin, a component of turmeric that soothes inflammation. Patients with chronic joint pain saw marked improvements in their level of pain after taking a daily curcumin supplement . Make sure you get a curcumin supplement that also has black pepper extract in it; it increases the amount of curcumin you absorb by 2000% .
- Boswellia serrata, which comes from the Boswellia tree native to India. Boswellia reduces pain and inflammation, particularly from colitis (an inflamed colon) that’s common in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease .
3. Make time to relax and destress
Stress is one of the most common triggers of chronic pain, and it can sneak up on you if you don’t consciously set aside time to relax.
Check in with yourself at least once a week and notice how stressed you are. Be on the lookout for emotional, physical, and mental stress. If you’re feeling stretched thin, pamper yourself and relax. A few good ways to destress are:
- Enjoying a magnesium soak with calming essential oils
- Getting a massage
- Spending time with friends and loved ones
- Playing — whatever it is you love to do
Managing stress will go a long way toward easing chronic pain.
4. Learn how to sleep deeper
Chronic pain can make it hard to get a restful night’s sleep. The good news is that there’s quite a bit you can do to calm your body and reach the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. Getting better sleep can also relieve your pain.
Here are two simple ways to get deeper sleep:
- Black out your room. Light inhibits melatonin, your body’s sleep hormone, and low melatonin makes it harder to fall asleep and reach deep sleep. Cover up your alarm clock, smoke detector, WiFi router, and every other source of light in your room. Your goal is to make your room so dark that you can’t see your hand when you hold it in front of your face.
- Take a quality sleep supplement. A sleep supplement can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less often, and spend more time in deep stage sleep. I recommend Sleep Savior, which has magnesium, melatonin, and magnolia bark — three clinically backed sleep aids that help your body rest and recover.
Chronic pain doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Use these natural tools to relieve your pain and get back to your healthy, happy self. And if you want to learn more about natural ways to support your body and brain, try taking my Power Type Quiz. It will give you personalized lifestyle recommendations to help you become the superhero version of yourself.
- Rondanelli, M., Faliva, M. A., Miccono, A., Naso, M., Nichetti, M., Riva, A., … & Perna, S. (2018). Food pyramid for subjects with chronic pain: foods and dietary constituents as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. Nutrition research reviews, 31(1), 131-151. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29679994
- Towery, P., Guffey, J. S., Doerflein, C., Stroup, K., Saucedo, S., & Taylor, J. (2018). Chronic musculoskeletal pain and function improve with a plant-based diet. Complementary therapies in medicine, 40, 64-69. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30219471
- Maroon, J. C., & Bost, J. W. (2006). ω-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical neurology, 65(4), 326-331. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187
- Chandran, B., & Goel, A. (2012). A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytotherapy research, 26(11), 1719-1725. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.4639
- Hewlings, S., & Kalman, D. (2017). Curcumin: a review of its’ effects on human health. Foods, 6(10), 92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29065496
- Hartmann, R. M., Fillmann, H. S., Morgan Martins, M. I., Meurer, L., & Marroni, N. P. (2014). Boswellia serrata has beneficial anti‐inflammatory and antioxidant properties in a model of experimental colitis. Phytotherapy research, 28(9), 1392-1398. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24619538