healing ways

brain’s gatekeeper, and the brain’s ability to register pain,” explains Zeidan. Yoga: Strongly positive effects have

been reported in several studies, including one on 150 veterans with chronic low back pain from the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System. It showed that 12 weeks of yoga classes reduced pain and opioid use, and improved functionality of participants; many of them had suffered back pain for more than 15 years. Acupuncture: Te ancient Chinese mo-

dality that’s been used to treat all types of pain for millennia has become such a main- stream treatment that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that healthcare providers learn more about it to help patients avoid prescription opioids. “All pain starts with imbalance,” says

THAN OPIOIDS Natural Ways to Reduce Pain by Kathleen Barnes


hronic pain affects 100 million Americans, with annual treat- ment costs reaching $635 billion,

according to the Institute of Medicine. Worse, opiate-derived pain medications, conventional medicine’s go-to treatment for chronic pain, are addictive and deadly. Te Annals of Internal Medicine reports that an estimated 2 million Americans suffered from opioid use disorder involv- ing prescription drugs as of 2016 while 12 million admitted to misusing them. Legal and illegal opioids killed 64,070 Americans in 2016, 21 percent more than the previ- ous year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some opioid addiction stems from use

of illegal recreational drugs like heroin and cocaine, but the National Institute of Drug Abuse testified to the U.S. Senate that as of 2014 more than four times as many Amer- icans were addicted to prescription opioids (2.1 million) than heroin (467,000). Natural approaches, less harmful in

32 NA Triangle

relieving pain and thereby preventing drug addictions, are addressing and amelio- rating long-term back or neck, nerve and even cancer pain, and saving lives. Te first step in preventing dependency

is to avoid opioids completely, says Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., assistant professor of neu- robiology and anatomy at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston- Salem, North Carolina: “Opioids don’t work for chronic pain. Tey may be effective for acute pain, such as right aſter an injury or surgery, but they are ineffective and addic- tive in the long run.” Here are several better ways to feel better. Mindfulness meditation: Zeidan

recommends mindfulness meditation and cites a University of Massachusetts study of people with chronic pain in which pain lessened by at least 65 percent aſter 10 weeks of this practice. “Mindfulness meditation is about

discipline and regulating one’s attention. It appears to shut down the thalamus, the

Terri Evans, a doctor of Oriental medicine in Naples, Florida. “Acupuncture is about creating balance in the body and in releasing the fascia, where pain patterns get locked.” Marijuana: All forms of marijuana,

or cannabis, are illegal on the federal level, but medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. In a study from San Francisco General Hospital published in the journal Neurol- ogy, researchers found that smoking the first cannabis cigarette reduced pain by 72 percent in a group of patients with painful

Let the Sunshine In

Just getting a little natural sunlight can have a strong effect on chronic pain, according to a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Hospital patients fortunate enough to have beds on the sunny side of the building cut their need for opioid-based pain meds by 22 percent just one hour aſter spine surgery.


Zdenka Darula/

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