By Kimberly Zurich, ND, LAc

he CDC reported that 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain (meaning on most or all of the days in the past six months). Add to that the amount of people that suffer from episodic pain or injuries and we have a lot of hurt- ing people out there. What happens when we are in pain? Most likely we are reach- ing for painkillers. Drugs such as NSAID’s (ibuprofen), painkillers ranging from Acetaminophen to opioids, and steroids like prednisone are all increasingly com- mon for people to take in order to reduce inflammation and combat pain. These medications are not very safe to be on for long amounts of time, nor do they do much healing in the body.


NSAID’s such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can be caustic to the lining of the stomach, eroding the beneficial mucosal layer allowing for gastritis, ulcers and bleeding. Long term use of steroids can lead to obesity, insulin resistance, lowered immunity and more. Acetaminophen can lead to liver damage. Lastly, opioid pain- killers have become a national concern as more and more people become addicted, and many end up losing their lives. Con- stant pill popping just masks the pain while we continue to wear out our bodies.

10 ELM™ Maine - May/June 2019

Finding Freedom from Pain Suffering needs to be addressed in a

way that gives us hope that someday our bodies will be able to function in a way that gives us our lives back; in a way that takes the power away from the pain for good. Pain is so limiting to our lives, our work, even our sleep. Chronic pain does things to the mind as it wears one down: anger, grief, exhaustion, hopelessness.

Acupuncture Treatment for Pain

Acupuncture has been proven effective to eliminate pain by thousands of years of practice as well as current evidence-based methodology from numerous research studies. It offers a safe, effective alternative to the pain killer predicament that we face today. How can tiny little needles do so much? Our body is filled with connective tissue; akin to a spider’s web, where vibra- tions and manipulations are felt throughout the entire system. Acupuncture helps send messages to the nervous system to change the way the body relates to pain and the way the brain recognizes discomfort. It balances the nervous system and has a calming effect, switching us out of “fight or flight” mode. Endorphins, the feel-good molecules, are released. These effects calm the mind and relax the body.

On a local level, acupuncture in-

creases circulation to the affected area, bringing fresh oxygen, nutrients and re- moving wastes from the inflamed tissues. Studies have even shown acupuncture to stimulate the growth of cartilage in people suffering from osteoarthritis. Acupuncture does a wonderful job of reducing pain, stimulating the healing of the tissues, and restoring the emotional trauma associated with the suffering.

Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements Additional treatments can be added to

the mix. Who hasn’t heard of the benefits of turmeric? Natural anti-inflammatories are nature’s way of helping us out when the inflammation stews too long and becomes chronic. They will not overwhelm your adrenal glands and cause intense side ef- fects like corticosteroids do. Other ways to reduce inflammation include taking fish oil that provides a high source of omega 3 fatty acids. Proteolytic enzymes (such as brome- lain and quercetin) will destroy proteins that cause inflammation when they are taken on an empty stomach.

Along with anti-inflammatory com- pounds, I usually suggest other nutrients that help serve as building blocks so the

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