Most people have pain somewhere in their body.
Whether it’s an OTC pain reliever or a prescription medication both only provide temporary relief. Over time, many people become dependent upon these medications just to manage daily, chronic pain.
If you are on immunosuppressing drugs remember that “IS treatment alters innate antimicrobial defenses and disrupts the gut microbiota, which leads to overgrowth of indigenous E. coli and facilitates colonization by opportunistic pathogens.” 1 These drugs are commonly used to treat a range of autoimmune conditions and cancer.
Pain is a symptom and is actually a warning sign. Pain is the body’s way of communicating a problem and asking for help.
Because pain is driven by inflammation when you uncover the source of inflammation you can dramatically reduce pain. This is a foundational concept when following a functional approach to health.
Alternative pain management
- Ditch inflammatory foods
Many commonly consumed foods can trigger inflammation. These include gluten, dairy, soy, corn and for some eggs.
I’ve written extensively about how gluten is very inflammatory and how much eliminating it from my life helped me improve my health.2
If you have pain you should try to avoid dairy too and see if it helps. Remember whey based protein powder products are made from milk which is dairy. Dairy is one of the most common food sensitivities. Dairy is also very mucus forming.
I also suggest avoiding soy based protein powders and all soy products as soy is an endocrine disruptor and this is especially damaging to the thyroid. Better protein powder option are use pea or rice bases for vegan options and bone broth based options for non-vegan options. Each has its distinctive advantages.
Food sensitivity testing can provide a more bioindividulized list of your personal inflammatory foods. I do both the IgG and the MRT testing in my office.
Additionally, there are naturally occurring substances in certain types of foods (especially when eaten in large amounts or on a regular basis) that drive up pain and inflammation in many people. Some of these can be tested for – but not all. When I work with clients I always look for specific foods in their diets that are known to trigger pain. This is huge factor in nearly all of the people I work with who have pain.
Many foods that are thought of as very healthy such as greens, nuts and some vegetables actually drive up pain in people with load issues to naturally these occurring substances. That’s what I look for.
- Address detox pathways
Very often pain is increased because of nutrient imbalances and in particular an issue with low folate or problems with making the folate conversions needed to support these detox pathways . If you don’t eat enough vegetables this is makes it more difficult for your body to properly move through the detoxification process.
Vegetables are micronutrient powerhouses and loaded with folate. Folate rich foods help support the body’s ability to detoxify. Folate has many functions and many of us do have genetic mutation(s) that cause the complex conversion pathways involved with folate to malfunction at some point. This in turn creates significant inflammation in many places in our body.
So now for the geeky part of how folate works…
Folate converts homocysteine, into methionine which is then converted to SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine). SAMe is a methyl donor for numerous reactions. One of those reactions causes SAMe to become SAH (S -Adenosyl Homocysteine), which is then converted to homocysteine. Homocysteine is either converted back to methionine, or it enters the transsulfuration pathway to form other sulfur-containing amino acids.
~ Many people have a conversion “glitch” in this pathway and homocysteine doesn’t get converted and it builds up. This increases inflammation and risk for stroke and cardiovascular problems.
Folate also converts to Vitamin B9, which aids cell division, is required for red blood cell production, stimulates neural transmitters, and is essential for proper fetal development.
To summarize folate (methyl-folate) activates, synthesizes, and repairs DNA. Folate also helps support your body’s natural detoxification process. The better your body is able to detoxify the less pain you experience.
Folate is found in all leafy green vegetables and something most of need more of. Supplementation is best using a B-complex that contains the Methyl-folate (not folic acid) and B 12 Methyl cobalamin forms.
- Optimize magnesium intake
Magnesium activates over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, translating to thousands of biochemical reactions happening on a constant daily basis. Magnesium is crucial for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation.
Clinically magnesium is used to treat many conditions such as muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, high blood pressure, constipation and chronic stress. Most of us are woefully low in magnesium.
Magnesium comes in many forms. Magnesium oxide is the best form that is orally absorbed. Magnesium citrate is typically used to help those with constipation. Some people should avoid certain forms if they have specific conditions.
Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin so taking Epsom salts baths is an excellent way to get more magnesium. These baths also help sooth sore muscles and joints and aid in sulfation pathways.
High food sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, flax seed, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, rice and oat bran, beans, rice and avocados, cod, halibut, kale, and spinach.
- Boost healthy fats and drive down inflammation
EFA’s (essential fatty acids) are natural anti-inflammatory fighters. Avocado, flax seed & oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, nuts and seeds, coconut oil and olive oil are examples healthy essential fatty acids from plant sources.
DHA is found in highest concentrations of cold water, wild caught fish. Most people don’t get nearly enough EFA’s in their diet so supplementing is very helpful. It’s a good idea to Supplement with both plant and clean, fish based sources. Most people require therapeutic dosages of 4 – 6 grams a day to help with inflammation and pain. Vegans can find algae based DHA products.
- Eat Real food not ready made/packaged or take out food.
Replace convenience and packaged foods with organic, wild caught and pasture raised real foods. Most convenience foods and snacks are loaded with inflammatory ingredients like sugar, gluten, soy and table salt. They also contain other non-food substances that often trigger inflammation and pain.
Finding the right foods for your bioindividual needs is essential. This means uncovering food sensitivities and your personal inflammatory foods. Just because a food is being touted as a super food does not necessarily make it the best one for YOU.
5. Herbal Helpers
Finally, there are many wonderful herbal preparations that are quite effective to manage pain. These are much less likely to have unwanted side effects or cause dependency. I have written about some of the options here: Herbs to reduce insomnia and chronic pain
Need help finding the RIGHT foods and plant based herbal solutions for your unique bioindividual needs?Let’s talk~
Fill out my Are We a Fit? form and let’s have a short conversation to see if I can help you.
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