If you’re one of the millions of people living with a chronic illness, you’ve probably tried just about everything for pain relief.
Whether it’s a prescription drug, a supplement, a copper bracelet, or a special diet, you’ve probably been through the gamut of possibilities. Some may have helped, some may have made things worse, and others may have been a waste of time and money.
Whatever the case may be, trying this, that, and everything under the sun to ease chronic pain is perfectly rational. After all, nobody wants to live with chronic illness, and mainstream medicine can only offer so much.
Check out these 7 uncommon ways to ease the pain of chronic illness. (There may still be something you haven’t tried yet!)
Flotation tanks, also called sensory deprivation or isolation tanks, have been shown to ease chronic pain. Dr. Darren Weissman, a holistic physician who has enjoyed weekly floats since 1986 explains, “I really feel that it’s a result of floating and getting myself out of the way that I saw how all these multiple disciplines that activate the healing potentials of the body actually work together.”
Research suggests that flotation tanks encourage mindfulness, the ability to maintain one’s attention on only the present moment.
Furthermore, those living with chronic pain often experience sensory overload, and flotation tanks can be an excellent way of reducing this.
According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, a method called restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) appeared to significantly lessen the discomfort of 41 patients reporting severe pain intensity. It also helped reduce anxiety and depression while elevating mood and helping patients fall asleep more easily.
There’s nothing quite like a cute baby, puppy, or kitten to take your mind off your troubles. That’s because looking at or playing with cute things triggers a flood of dopamine in your brain, which eases anxiety and relieves pain.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Neuroscience, individuals living with fibromyalgia were unable to release dopamine in their basal ganglia during painful stimulation, whereas control subjects could.
While looking at cute baby and animal videos won’t provide a cure for chronic pain, they can certainly lessen its intensity by filling your brain with feel-good chemicals.
So, the next time you think you’re wasting time watching a YouTube video of a puppy playing in a pool, just remember, it’s medicine!
According to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which studied the effects of comedy videos on participants living with chronic pain, pain tolerance was significantly higher in the experimental (comedy) group than the control (neutral video) group. Moreover, it is believed that social humor can have an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, a class of opioid peptides produced by the central nervous system that acts as both neurotransmitters and pain relievers.
So, read, listen to, and watch more of whatever it is you find funny. You’re helping yourself heal, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Got a cat? Can you borrow a cat? Then you’ve got a natural pain reliever on four legs! Not only are cats cute, and sometimes funny, checking off two of the seven methods on this list, their purring may have a healing effect.
A cat’s purr vibrates within 20 to 140 Hz, levels which have been said to be medically therapeutic.
A 1983 study published in Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, found that vibrational stimulation between 50 to 150 Hz relieved suffering in 82 percent of people suffering from acute and chronic pain.
Over the next 20 years, multiple studies confirmed that low-frequency vibrational therapy was beneficial for joint mobility, muscle growth and repair, wound healing, swelling, and pain relief.
After a 30- to 45-minute vibrational therapy session, many patients experienced pain relief lasting anywhere from three to 12 hours.
If you don’t have a cat, or are allergic to them, consider a low-frequency TENS machine.
Have you gotten into this whole ‘adult coloring’ thing? If not, you should check it out. According to a study published in the Journal of Pain Symptom Management, art therapy provided significant reductions in emotional distress for patients in treatment for cancer.
The repetition and attention to patterns and detail during coloring seem to provide an effect similar to that of meditation. Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, believes that this deep and focused concentration may help the colorist replace negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones.
Chocolate contains magnesium, which induces feelings of calm. Also, chocolate seems to have the ability to boost brain levels of endorphins (natural opiates) and serotonin (a mood-altering chemical) in both the brain and gut. This, in turn, can help balance your immune system.
The only catch about eating chocolate for pain is it has to be the good stuff, meaning organic dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cacao. And you only need one ounce of it a day, so there’s no need to binge.
It has been scientifically proven that emotional tears have special health benefits. According to biochemist and “tear expert”, Dr. William Frey, reflex tears (watery eyes from an allergy, for example) are made up of 98 percent water. Emotional tears, on the other hand, contain stress hormones that are released by the body through “a good cry.”
Chemicals present in emotional crying include the protein, prolactin, as well as adrenocorticotropic hormones, and the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which reduces pain.
Additional research also suggests that therapeutic crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural painkiller and “feel-good” hormones.
If you’re living with chronic pain, and you haven’t yet found relief from conventional or alternative methods, don’t despair.
In my book, Life Beyond Chronic Pain – The Step-By-Step Guide to Healing Chronic Illness Naturally, I offer practical tips on how to put your chronic condition into remission by healing your body in an order that it will understand and respond to.
The methods outlined in my book are how I stabilized by chronic conditions, and they can do the same for you.
Click on the banner below to learn more.
Woman floating in tank courtesy of Flickr/Miles Cave
Crying eye courtesy of Flickr/Augusto Serna