Coping With Pain

There is no human alive who has not experienced some sort of pain or other, and coping with it depends on exactly which sort they have. Pain is nature's way of telling us something is wrong (no Brownie points for guessing that!), but without it we would ignore the broken wrist, the skin burn, the wonky hip etc. and carry on heedless of the consequential damage.

Why is a Herbalist talking about pain when the majority of people reach for the paracetamol, aspirin and/or Ibuprofen? Each of these drugs have their place now and again, but long term use can cause a long list of unpleasant side effects. There are less hazardous alternatives, not only to take as medicines, but as naturopathic treatments like hydrotherapy (water methods), breathing and relaxation techniques, visualisation and self hypnosis to name a few. A mixture of therapies such as herbal medicine, osteopathy and acupuncture is very effective. These can be mixed with the GP's painkillers if necessary, and will probably lead to a reduced dose. Here are a few suggestions:-

HEADACHES - Find the reason. Head pain can be caused by stress, digestive upset, physical and emotional trauma, dehydration, temperature extremes, eye problems and many more. Migraine, however needs professional help. For a first-line treatment of an occasional headache, sit in an upright position in a darkened room and gently massage the whole head, especially the temples and under the scull bone at the back of the neck. Diluted lavender oil will help considerably. Sip herbal teas every two hours. Choose from Rosemary, Valerian, Lemon balm or Lime blossom. One called Tranquillity is good.

TOOTHACHE - For immediate relief, use oil of cloves or tincture of myrrh directly onto the tooth and gum. If an abscess is present I would prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory herbs until dental treatment is available. Some herbs have a powerful cleansing effect without the need for chemical antibiotics. However, it is up to the patient to choose the treatment.

BACK & JOINT PAIN - (none-arthritis) - This can be excruciatingly painful and disruptive to a person's life, but can be managed, depending on the severity and duration of the injury. With Herbal Medicine and gentle manipulation, the sufferer can gain relief from relaxing into their pain instead of tightening' against it which causes spasm. For this the herb Viburnum opulus (cramp bark) will do its stuff admirably! But please don't self medicate as best results usually need a combination of herbs according to your needs.

Also, a combination of therapies such as herbalism, osteopathy and acupuncture certainly help some people.

FOR MINOR SPRAINS such as ankles, knees etc, wring out a wet cloth and wrap it around the elevated joint and rest it on a piece of plastic to prevent leakage. After five minutes, turn the cloth so that the outside is next to the skin and leave for a further five minutes. Repeat this procedure for 25-30 minutes. This will draw out the inflammation and is much kinder than using the out-dated ice pack. Do this as often as you can until the pain subsides. Applying arnica or comfrey cream will reduce bruising.

PAIN REQUIRING IN-DEPTH CONSULTATIONS because of each patient's different needs are as follows:-

Hormonal such as period pains, breast tenderness and ovarian pain - testicular, prostate and penis.

Kidney, gall bladder, urinary tract and abdominal pain.

Arthritic and fibromyalgic (muscle pain)

Severe migraine and chronic head pain

In conclusion, pain affects people in different ways and some people can tolerate much more than others. Patients who are in constant pain can be very irritable and snappy, which affects those around them, and for carers, it can be very wearing. There are a few pain clinics in the UK (far too few in my opinion) which help people deal with chronic pain. I often hear patients saying since I had my bad hip, I haven't felt the pain in my elbow - is this the body trying to influence the person into addressing the most need? Perhaps the mind can help in alleviating pain more than we allow it to?

Both these women are very strong-minded and their determination to overcome their predicament, to look forward and embrace changes in their attitude to life, I think had a lot to do with their recovery.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries on this topic and, as always, seek professional help before embarking on any treatment.

For more detail email Bett Partridge

Bett Partridge DBTh MURHP
Registered Medical Herbalist.
Nutritional Therapy
8 Coombe Brook
Wookey Hole
Somerset BA5 1BL
Tel: 01749 673 069