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It appears to shut down the thalamus, the 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 modal- ity 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


Terri Evans, a doctor of Oriental medicine in Naples, Florida. “Acupuncture is about creat- ing 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 Neurology, researchers found that smoking the first cannabis cigarette reduced pain by 72 percent in a group of patients with painful


neuropathy. Te body’s endocannabinoid system, found in the brain, organs, connec- tive tissues and immune cells, is one of its natural pain-coping mechanisms, and is most affected by cannabis. Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., associate


professor of clinical psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, author of Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence and a member of the advisory board of the National Organiza- tion for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is an advocate of medical marijuana. While regarding it as helpful for chronic pain with little risk of addiction, he concludes it’s “great for a small handful of conditions, but it’s not the cure-all that some are suggesting.”


CBD oil: Dr. Hyla Cass, of Marina del Rey, California, an integrative physician expert in psychiatry and addiction recovery, and au- thor of Te Addicted Brain and How to Break Free, is more comfortable with CBD (can- nabidiol) oil. It’s a hemp product legal in 45 states, provided it qualifies in non-addictive levels of THC, the component of cannabis that induces euphoria (see TeCannabis Industry.org/state-marijuana-policies-map). Some CBD oils contain trace


amounts of THC, not enough to induce a “high” or contribute to addiction, but there are also products that contain no THC at all. By definition, hemp’s THC content is less than 0.3 percent versus marijuana’s 5 to 35 percent. “CBD oil won’t make you high,” says


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 after spine surgery.


Cass. “In and of itself, CBD oil is very potent. You don’t need the THC for pain relief. Tere’s no need to go down the slip- pery slope of using an illegal substance.” In addition to CBD oil’s pain-relieving


effects on the endocannabinoid system, says Cass, it’s a powerful anti-inflamma- tory, which contributes to its effectiveness in addressing the underlying causes of chronic pain, confirmed by University of South Carolina research.


Kathleen Barnes is the author of numerous books on natural health, including Food is Medicine. Connect at KathleenBarnes.com.


July 2018


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