Is Natural Pain Management Effective?

Is Natural Pain Management Effective?

So, today I have lower back ache.

I was fortunate that for a period of 10 years previously, I had remained unaffected by back problems or the back aches that I spent my childhood and teenage life with, but for a number of reasons, some of the old, niggling pain had gradually resurfaced again.


Why was this happening now?


Well, this period of change came about 5 years ago when I temporarily veered away from a natural and holistic practice in favour of receiving drug therapy for my autoimmune condition.

To begin with, this appeared to have been the right decision to make but as months went by, I began to experience a return of old symptoms or the start of new ones.


My body was reminding me of how sensitive it is to foreign, artificial substances and I wasn’t surprised. After all, this was the reason why I turned to natural therapies in the first place!

So, I again accepted that I would now need to safeguard the condition of my immune system where possible by minimizing or illuminating the use of pharmaceuticals.

So, what is the safest way to manage pain?

These days, I rarely turn to the use of pain killers to manage persistent pain because their effectiveness goes as far as dulling the pain but very often leaves me with unwanted side effects; a bad sense of taste, skin irritations and irritable bowel (IBS) for example.

Instead, I reserve pain killers for the times when I need a full arsenal of pain busting relief and by turning to them sparingly, I increase their effectiveness, reduce the unwanted side effects and greatly minimize any chance of becoming so dependent on them that they no longer work at all when I need them the most!

In any case, before I reach for pain killers, I follow a few steps to assess how bad pain really is.

Well, I work on a scale in my head…a scale of 1 to 5 – where 1 is normal or a little pain and 5 is unmanageable. I briefly acknowledge the pain I’m experiencing only so that I can create a plan of action to ease things.

I notice that however much pain I’m experiencing, the first thing I find helpful to do is to move around in a way that confronts the area that’s affected; instead of trying to avoid it. I touch, massage, stretch and connect with my painful site.

Although this can often be uncomfortable, I remember how important it is to ensure the movement of blood and oxygen to damaged areas to prevent premature cell death and permanent damage while promoting repair.

The plan also usually calls for me to ‘up’ my physical activity, so I make an extra point of walking around my home-using the stairs- pausing on each step to stretch out my limbs. Stair rails, ledges, shelving, chairs and tables become even more useful as makeshift exercise equipment! I also begin to focus on and look forward to a swimming session and imagine the weightlessness and freedom I feel as I move through the water.

It’s amazing how focusing on these strategies has the subtle ability of downgrading the initial pain and discomfort I felt in the beginning. It’s almost as though I have developed a distraction strategy that works long enough for my body to become more relaxed and ready to begin the process of healing.


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Can mind and brain be separate?

Can mind and brain be separate?

I was 9 years old and was having emergency major surgery to fuse vertebra in my spine.

I could see myself lying, shrouded on the operating table and there were other people in the room. Some of them were standing over me.

I could hear music and a low, softly spoken voice of authority. The voice sounded like a man’s voice and I remember thinking that he sounded like Mr Kelly, my head teacher at school.

I drifted away from that thought and tuned in to the faint sound of some music I could here on a radio but I couldn’t quite make out what was playing.

It didn’t seem to matter that I couldn’t identify the music anyway because an inner thought had already moved me on to create a rhythm that merged this music with the bleeps from monitors in the room. I was enjoying this game. It was fun!

I felt no pain; just an excitement that maybe I was being a bit naughty-getting away with eavesdropping on BIG PEOPLE’S conversation. I could see and hear them but was sure they had no idea of this.

So, there I lay… feeling completely relaxed but suddenly, the music was being drowned out by loud voices and noises and I started flying around the room to try and get a better view of what was happening to me.

I was on the operating table but I was no longer responsive. The bleeps were replaced with the sound of a continuous hum. They made a number of attempts to revive me but I was lost.

Shortly after this, a member of the medical team informed my mother that there had been complications but somehow, somewhere, ‘I’ was not done yet. A faint pulse pushed its way through, leaving doctors perplexed but without a second to spare, I was rushed off to the intensive care unit for emergency treatment and observation. I remained there in a critical condition for a number of days.

I learnt that I suffered a massive, life threatening reaction to a drug I was given during the operation and had quickly developed a condition called Malignant Hyperpyrexia.

Later in life, during a conversation with my mother, I found myself talking quite casually about what I experienced all those years ago. For a long time growing up, I had some idea that the operation caused problems but I didn’t know what these were and I was not sure how my version of events would be received by anyone. Would my story be thought about as ‘farfetched’ or a little crazy?

We continued talking as my mother got up and walked across the room to a cabinet where she looked through some papers to pull out one of my old medical reports that detailed what happened. As I read the information, my mother looked at me and said “you went through so much. You were a strong and incredilbe child”.

So, did I have an out of body experience (OBEs)?

People resuscitated on the operating table speak about having an out of body experience and being drawn toward a brilliant light and while I definitely felt like I was both inside and outside of my body at the same time, I wasn’t drawn to a bright light

For centuries, people have documented “Out of Body Experiences” or Astral Projections; where the spirit is said to leave the body and float above it on another plane.

OBEs can be caused by many different things; brain trauma, sensory deprivation and simple hallucinogenic for example.

Since my brush with death at 9 years old, the subject of OBEs has continued to fascinate me and even though Science and religions may have their own explanation about where or how OBEs are created but I am of the opinion that each experience is triggered by different combinations of a whole event.

Surely, this must mean that every incident is unique and is therefore a journey into the complete unknown that cannot always be explained.

Did you know that…

The term out-of-body experience was introduced in 1943 by G. N. M. Tyrrell in his book Apparitions and was adopted by researchers such as Celia Green and Robert Monroe as an alternative to belief-centric labels such as “astral projection”, “soul travel”, or “spirit walking”. OBEs can be induced by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some.

One in ten people have an OBE once or more commonly, several times in their life.

So, what are your views?


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Bad Inflammation & the Stranger that comes with it! (Part1)

Bad Inflammation & the Stranger that comes with it! (Part1)

Part 1

“I was too busy to think about what might be going on. Whatever it was, it could wait…right?”

So, while I tried to ignore the signs of a medical catastrophe-as it lay quite still and fairly dormant- occasionally bubbling to the surface, it happened and just like a volcano erupting, my immune system was raging and out of control.

So, there it is…You can no longer ignore, brush aside or pretend it’s not happening and you know that its impact will be significant enough to alter and change your future ‘landscape’ just as hot molten lava destroys everything in its path.

What would become of you if you were no longer able to be that person you’ve grown up with your entire life-the reason being because of a sudden accident or progressive medical condition that significantly impacts and changes your landscape?

-It happened to me-

It was the gradual, progressive kind of medical condition that during the first episodes (mild tremors), was easy enough to ignore because symptoms were fleeting and didn’t have a lasting impact on me. But these episodes were accumulating-becoming more frequent and together revealed pockets of damage that were building in a subtle way.

These pockets of damage created a bigger problem that soon told a different story about the state of my health.

Ok, so I already knew what it was like to face health challenges of one kind or another but this one was really taking over. The stranger was in the driving seat! I imagined what it would be like if my condition was not the gradual type, but instead came without warning from having an accident. How utterly devastating this would be, so I counted my blessing that I- at least had the opportunity to gradually adjust to my limitations but I was kidding myself thinking like this, because the truth is…


Look out for part 2

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Bad Inflammation & the Stranger that comes with it! (Part 2)

Part 2

-It happened to me-

Before the tremors of disease, I loved life! Sharing good times and places with family and friends and making plans for the future. I was an energetic designer and ran a bespoke business that depended on me for survival but I was gradually losing the ability to keep things going.

Now, a sense of loss, panic, fear, denial, anger and doubts about my self-worth held me in a place where ‘that’ person I grew into and knew very well had slowly become a stranger.

Well, I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I was always told not to trust or talk to strangers but here I was-feeling forced to live with the stranger in my disease-never knowing when it was happy or angry but knowing that my life would be affected without a minutes notice regardless.

Maybe your personality and character were once filled with strength, determination and a vision-seen and felt throughout personal and business life but the unpredictability of your medical position now leaves you feeling overwhelmed and undermined. I know that for a while, I sat in a state of confusion wandering when ‘I’ would return to my normal level of wellness. I just wanted the stranger;- the invader to go away.

So what can you do in a situation like this?

You could go head to head with your disease by launching an attack using a combination of drugs. Surely your previous good strength and determination would suggest that you’d come out on top!

Unfortunately, the body registers many of these drugs as invaders and releases a barrage of chemicals to fight them off and this creates more ‘fire’ (inflammation) in the body. The inflammation causes unfavourable symptoms and attacks the nervous system creating further damage which in time becomes the reason why many diseases or condition progress.

I have come to learn and understand the importance of preventing those ‘fires’ from taking hold in the first place because with the absence of inflammation, disease is not fuelled and further damage is prevented.

So it’s safe to say that staying as close to our body’s natural makeup in terms of what we eat, drink and use when treating complaints, conditions and diseases creates a much better environment for us to maintain wellness in and initiate repairs without the interruptions from inflammatory triggers brought on by many artificial remedies.

We are all very different so our experiences with inflammatory triggers will vary but there are some that most of us could do with avoiding all together.

Sugars . Vegetable Oil . Fried Foods . Refined Four . Dairy . Artificial Sweeteners . Artificial Additives . Saturated Fats . Prescribed medicines . 

These culprits might appear relatively harmless and with occasional use, the body might be able to manage their negative effects but consider their ability to create inflammation each time we encounter them and then remember that reoccurring inflammation leads to damage and disease.

You see…as long as we continue to keep bad inflammation down, there will be little reason for us to entertain the stranger that only exists with diseases and conditions.

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