Before we jump into some of the ways we can overcome pain naturally- let’s take a quick history lesson. Does the name John D. Rockefeller ring a bell? Wealthy influencers from the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller and Abraham Flexner were incredibly involved with many aspects of Western civilization. One thing specifically that they spent a great deal of time involved with, was modern medicine. An article from the Herland Report points out that because of Rockefeller’s and Flexner’s influences in the medical field, “new requirements were introduced, and a very large number of medical schools had to get out of the way and close down. The reform especially impacted the schools graduating predominantly African American doctors and the schools teaching what is known today as ‘alternative medicine.’” It also goes on to say that “Flexner clearly doubted the scientific validity of all forms of medicine other than that based on scientific research, deeming any approach to medicine that did not advocate the use of treatments such as vaccines to prevent and cure illness as tantamount to quackery and
charlatanism. Medical schools that offered training in various disciplines including
electromagnetic field therapy, phototherapy, eclectic medicine, physiomedicalism, naturopathy, and homeopathy, were told either to drop these courses from their curriculum or lose their accreditation and underwriting support. A few schools resisted for a time, but eventually most complied with the Report or shut their doors.” In the spirit of eliminating competition, the fields of holistic medicine that were previously regarded as “normal” in society, became artificially discredited — which cleared the markets for the Rockefeller interests through the promotion of oil-derived medications and Rockefeller education-shaped doctors who felt that they were “smarter” than the so-called “quacks” because their professors told them so.”
In other words, in an attempt to squash out competition, Rockefeller and Flexner destroyed the medical sub-field of natural and holistic methods. They created a culture in America that natural, holistic methods of healing shouldn’t be trusted, when in fact, most of these methods build off of things that your body does naturally! Whatever your opinions on the effect that Rockefeller had on the medical field, there is plenty of evidence to date supporting the fact that natural and holistic methods are incredibly effective, despite what some of Western civilization would have you believe. That’s why we’ve put together ten possible solutions you can do to regain your autonomy and take back control of your health, and your pain, along with a quick synopsis of how your body structurally holds itself together.
Explaining how the body works with all of its intricate pieces can be quite complex but on the
premise of keeping it simple, I will explain it like this: your body is a tensegrity structure,
meaning, you can not affect one part of the body with a weight-bearing load without affecting another area through a process of push and pull. Compensation is the term we use when one area can’t do its job properly after an incident such as an injury, and in turn, pulls in another area to pick up the slack. That is why you can get a knee injury and then two months later feel the stress in your hip. Or there is our most common predicament with modern life: hunched over the computer. A forward hunched position over your computer is often responsible for misalignment in your anterior neck, and core muscles, which will put unnecessary strain on your back, shoulders, and neck. Putting a strain on your back, shoulders, and neck will be where the pain will manifest, but as we now know, that is not where the problem will reside. Let’s get going on the damage control we can do to reverse the effects of these adverse habits.
If there’s one self-regulating thing we can do to influence our structure and come back to our
own intuitive awareness of what is happening in our body it would be stretching and yoga. The
physical practice of yoga has the same effect of a great massage, but sometimes better
because we’re the boss. Just a couple of pro tips: If you’re not finding relief, practice using the
counter-intuitive approach we discussed earlier by stretching the place opposite your pain.
Example: Neck and shoulder pain? Stretch the anterior portion (front) of your neck. Low back
pain? Stretch out your rectus abdominis and a deeper abdominal muscle called the psoas.
Practice being in your body. Get to know the different areas in your body that hold tension under the radar of your everyday awareness. On top of this, it’s important to remember to stay moving. Studies show being active decelerates the aging process, protects the brain, increases
circulation, promotes detoxification, and boosts endorphins, and 15-20 minutes of intense cardio strengthens the heart muscle allowing it to work a lot less in the span of a lifetime. All of this activates our body’s ability to self-heal and slow down the stress of our day-to-day lives. Aka, relieve pain.
Something important to know about stretching is it’s important to do it consistently. Establishing a habit of just 15 minutes of stretching per day can be hugely beneficial to your health over a long period of time! www.health.harvard.edu shared the following: “As you age, stretching continues to be important, even if you’re less active. Your joints become less flexible over time. Inflexibility puts a crimp in daily acts, making it harder to walk, raise your arms overhead, or turn your head while backing up the car. It undermines balance, too, which can cause life-altering falls. As with all types of exercise, you need to engage in stretching regularly in order to reap lasting benefits. If you only stretch occasionally, the effects are short-lived. One study found that the greatest increase in hamstring length occurred right after the stretch and began to diminish within 15 seconds, though there was a noticeable effect for up to 24 hours. A daily regimen will deliver the greatest gains, but typically, you can expect lasting improvement in flexibility if you stretch at least two or three times a week.” www.mayoclinic.org shared the following as well: “Research has shown that stretching can help improve flexibility, and, as a result, the range of motion of your joints.”
Better flexibility may:
● Improve your performance in physical activities
● Decrease your risk of injuries
● Help your joints move through their full range of motion
● Increase muscle blood flow
● Enable your muscles to work most effectively
● Improve your ability to do daily activities
Another important natural and holistic habit to establish is staying hydrated and getting the right nutrition. Did you know that 75% of the people in the United States are chronically dehydrated? The National Library of Medicine states: “Body water is lost through the skin, lungs, kidneys, and GI tract. The loss of body water without sodium causes dehydration. Water is lost from the skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. Dehydration results when water losses from the body exceed water replacement. It may be caused by failure to replace obligate water losses.
There are several forms of dehydration. Isotonic water loss occurs when water and sodium are
lost together. Causes of isotonic water loss are vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, burns, intrinsic
kidney disease, hyperglycemia, and hypoaldosteronism. Hypertonic dehydration occurs when water losses exceed sodium losses. Serum sodium and osmolality will always be elevated in hypertonic dehydration. Excess pure water loss occurs through the skin, lungs, and kidneys. Etiologies are fever, increased respiration, and diabetes insipidus. Hypotonic dehydration is mostly caused by diuretics, which cause more sodium loss than water loss. Hypotonic dehydration is characterized by low sodium and osmolality.” Basically, drink more water than you lose!
First and foremost, dehydration can be the culprit of many mishaps in the body. A huge part of today’s culture is how “cool” it is to drink soda. Everyone is constantly getting sodas with their meals, and getting way more caffeine than their body needs. Since the body is made up of
mostly water, dehydration can lead to headaches, muscle soreness, fatigue, and muscle cramps. Hand-in-hand with hydration, electrolytes are another one we’d be remiss to overlook. Electrolytes are minerals that travel in the bloodstream responsible for transmitting and receiving nerve impulses which in turn activate muscles. The loss of electrolytes in the
bloodstream can often lead to similar symptoms such as aching, cramps, and fatigue. Common
electrolytes are potassium, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Easily attainable sources are bananas, sea salt, and green leafy vegetables. Protein is often heard of, but a no-less-important facet of nutrition and recovery. A protein is a complete amino acid. Our body makes protein from the amino acids we ingest from our food which is why eating a variety of foods is so essential to optimal health. Protein is the foundation of many bodily functions from creating enzymes for digesting food all the way to repairing and rebuilding torn muscles.
Another interesting (and mentally difficult) natural/holistic method of pain relief, is Ice Baths! I’m sure everyone has seen tons of bodybuilders and Weightlifters advocate the usage of Ice Baths, but why should we do them? Ice Baths have been getting a lot of hype the past little while, and for good reason. Studies are showing that cold water has the ability to constrict blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and push out waste. As soon as your body starts warming up again the increased blood flow is like removing a dam from a river allowing the flow to push out toxins and inflammation keeping you happier, healthier, and stronger. Dr. Dominic King, a sports medicine physician from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic gave the following benefits of Ice Bathing:
– Ice baths can reduce pain and inflammation. “It can numb pain receptors and bring
down inflammation, so you can almost think of it as like a drug-free anesthetic,” King
said. Patients who have inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, may find that cold water immersion helps reduce swelling or discomfort from flare-ups or after
workouts, he added.
– They lower body temperature. Not surprisingly, ice baths can cool your body down
very fast. In some cases, this can be lifesaving. “Historically, we’ve used [ice baths] in
medicine to treat things like heat stroke,” said King, adding that it’s common to have tubs
filled with ice on the sidelines of marathons. “We’ll get a lot of runners … and their core
body temperature is 105, 106, 107 … and you need to bring down their core temperature
very quickly,” King said. It’s important to note that while ice baths are used to treat heat
stroke, “we don’t rely on an ice bath to just reduce a fever from an illness,” said King.
“When you have a fever, the most important thing to do is to figure out where the fever is
coming from, it could be an infection or another life-threatening condition,” said King,
adding that you should see a healthcare provider.
– Ice baths may help with focus and meditation. Another benefit of ice baths that King
has heard from patients is that this helps with focus. “People sometimes do this as
almost a post-workout meditation, so it helps them kind of focus on recovery and slow
their heart rate,” King said.
-They may help you relax and sleep better. Cold water immersion may also help you feel more relaxed after a tough workout, King said. “Some people note that it helps them actually sleep better, so after getting really hot, really sweaty, and doing (an ice bath) they just feel rested,” he added.
Another great method of natural and holistic healing is Acupuncture/Acupressure! Acupuncture and Acupressure are another couple of words that have begun to receive lots of rave in the western world for their pain-relieving, self-healing effects. It’s an ancient Chinese practice designed to stimulate the body’s own self-regulating and healing mechanisms. The Eastern Theory is that the body has energy channels, often referred to as meridians, that run the surface of the body, and pressing certain places stimulates the flow of this energy. The Chinese believe when we have blocked energy, it causes stagnation, an improper flow of important nutrients getting to organs, and a decrease in energy. All can manifest as different physiological issues.
The Western world believes much of the same thing except that the theory leans a little closer to the idea that the physiological response of stimulating the nervous system is what
communicates to the brain to release a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that alter
the effect of pain and healing. The difference between acupressure and acupuncture is
acupressure points are simply pressed, generally with fingers. In acupuncture, needles are injected superficially to the skin and often hooked up to electrodes. Numerous studies have shown the following data, “An analysis of data from 20 studies (6,376 participants) of people with painful conditions (back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, or headaches) showed that the beneficial effects of acupuncture continued for a year after the end of treatment for all conditions except neck pain.” (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat the following:
● Nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy
● Dental pain after surgery
● Menstrual cramps
● Tennis elbow
● Myofascial pain
● Low back pain
● Carpal tunnel syndrome
● It may also help with stroke rehabilitation.
When choosing whether or not to do Acupuncture Therapy, it’s important to find a licensed practitioner with the proper qualifications. Dr. Wagner here at Dixie Chiropractic is Acupuncture certified!
One final method of natural and holistic healing: Epsom Salt Bathing! For those of you who can’t take the cold of an Ice Bath (or those of you who can!), Epsom Salt Bathing is an incredible way to reduce pain and inflammation in your body! Here is some info from the Mayo Health Clinic: “Epsom salt is one of many naturally occurring mineral salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfate in rock-like formations. The name “Epsom salt” is a nod to the town of Epsom, located a stone’s throw away from London in England, where the salt was supposedly discovered about 400 years ago. While it resembles table salt, it has a very bitter taste and isn’t really meant to be consumed. Most users dissolve it in a warm bath for a soak with the hope of relieving stress or sore muscles.” Taking baths in Epsom Salt is becoming quite common in this day and age, and everywhere you look you can find hundreds of people giving testimonials on the effectiveness of them!
It doesn’t matter what Rockefeller and Flexner tried to do to push away the usage of Natural and Holistic health remedies- the effectiveness of these remedies can still be clearly seen, especially with the numerous studies backing them up. We here at Dixie Chiropractic love teaching people more about the benefits of natural healing, nutrition, and more. Book your appointment today to bring your health and your family’s health to the next level!