While prescription and over-the-counter medicines can provide relief from pain, non-pharmaceutical options with fewer side effects are available. Three experts discussed natural approaches to managing pain during a free wellness talk at the Institute in November.
When you’re seeking pain relief, consider these suggestions from our panelists:
Shift to the positive
Michelle Pearce, PhD, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, pointed out that when we’re in pain, we tend to focus on the negative, such as our limitations. Evidence indicates this can make pain worse. Dr. Pearce suggests we shift our attention to what we’re grateful for and proposes trying a 10- to 40-minute meditation focused on a positive memory. Visit healthjourneys.com for details.
Eat tart cherries
Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, shared scientific evidence that a species of tart cherries, Prunus cerasus, has anti-inflammatory effects and can relieve muscle pain and osteoarthritis symptoms. Tart cherry juice, available in some grocery stores, has been found to enhance melatonin and sleep quality. Chris advises being careful when selecting dried tart cherries; they may be highly sugar-sweetened.
Brian Jackson, LAc, a nationally certified Diplomate in Acupuncture who practices at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, explained that the evidence-based practice helps to stem pain by stimulating the body to produce natural pain killers, such as opiates and endorphins. It lowers nerves’ activation threshold, reducing their sensitivity, and increases blood flow, which can speed healing. Acupuncture has also been found to deactivate parts of the brain that are responsible for processing pain.