No one ever died of a prescription deficiency. On the other hand, 115 people die every day from opioid painkillers. Prescription drugs often come with dangerous side effects, and with opioids, addiction is a very real danger.
If you’re starting to feel like modern medicine doesn’t hold the answers to your pain, it’s time to start looking for alternatives. Eastern medicine is a broad term that encompasses many treatment types, and it’s definitely worth investigating.
Here are six things you need to know about eastern medicine for pain relief.
1. There are at least 7 eastern medicine therapies that can be used for pain relief.
Each therapy is very different from another, and many can be used in combination. If you’ve tried one of the following without success, it doesn’t mean that eastern medicine is ineffective. One therapy may work better for your pain than another.
- Acupuncture – Uses thin needles inserted into the body to address pain, improve hormonal balance and combat stress.
- Massage – A form of soft tissue manipulation to improve blood flow.
- Cupping therapy – Special cups are placed on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. Used to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and wellbeing.
- Herbal medicine – Uses herbal remedies to control inflammation and boost liver function.
- Thunder-Fire Moxibustion – Dried plants are burned on or near the skin’s surface to warm and invigorate the Qi in the body.
- Nutrition – Prevents and addresses nutritional deficiencies to help return the body to a state of normal functioning.
- Exercise – Uses traditional eastern movements like Qi gong or tai chi to address flexibility, strength and concentration.
2. Qi is vital to Chinese medicine.
Qi, pronounced “chee”, roughly translates to vital energy and is essential for overall health. Practitioners believe that Qi circulates through the body along pathways called meridians. Through acupuncture, practitioners access meridian points to treat pain in various areas of the body.
3. Four herbs have been proven to address pain.
- Devil’s claw root may ease low back pain and common arthritis discomfort. The research suggests taking 30 to 100 milligrams to address this type of pain, but keep the dose low if your stomach is sensitive.
- Capsicum from chili peppers in a skin cream may soothe back pain when applied directly to the area.
- Comfrey skin cream has been shown to be effective against lower and upper back pain, but avoid taking it by mouth because it may be harmful to your liver.
- Glucosamine studies are mixed, but some people find that it helps with arthritis pain.
4. Eastern medicine therapies typically have few or no side effects.
Unlike prescription pain medication’s long list of dangerous side effects, eastern therapies are generally considered safe. One of the biggest concerns with herbal remedies is drug contradictions. This is why it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any herbal remedy. For example, ginkgo biloba should never be taken along with medications that slow blood clotting (like aspirin, naproxen ibuprofen or diclofenac) and St. John’s wort interferes with drugs like warfarin digoxin and theophylline.
5. Traditional Chinese Medicine practices may reduce inflammation and offer cancer protection.
According to a review published by the Journal of Traditional & Complementary Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices, including herbal treatments and medicinal mushrooms, can have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This means that these treatments help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which protects cells, tissues and organs from disease. Even modern medicine acknowledges that inflammation is at the root of most diseases, including cancer.
6. Acupuncture is proven and time-tested for pain relief
Not only are there studies to support the use of acupuncture for pain relief, but this eastern therapy has been used for more than 3,500 years. Acupuncture is used to treat various conditions, but it’s most commonly performed on people looking to address chronic headaches, arthritis pain, or neck and back pain. Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture is a viable solution for pain management, including one from Memorial Sloan Kettering that found that patients undergoing acupuncture experiences less neck and muscle pain, and fewer chronic headaches than patients in the placebo group.
If you’re not completely sold on ditching the prescriptions, it’s okay. Talk to your doctor about coming up with a plan that complements your prescription painkillers. Possibly, over time, you may be able to wean yourself off of the prescriptions in order to avoid nasty side effects.
Also, there are other types of medical treatment that don’t involve prescription drugs. Eastern medicine may be effective because it treats the body as a whole. If you can address the underlying issues through modern medicine, you may be able to rid yourself of pain without having to pop pills for an indefinite time.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.