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The Opioid Epidemic and Natural Solutions

“Overall, the results indicate that the medical profession is doing a poor job of appropriately prescribing opioid painkillers. Even though the rates have leveled off, we have a long way to go in improving medical care so these are not as overprescribed as they are currently … [T]here are a lot of leftover medications. In many cases, physicians could write smaller prescriptions, or avoid them completely for those who benefit from ibuprofen or acetaminophen.”

– Dr. Wilson Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1)

Prescription opioids are medications that are typically prescribed by dentists, family doctors and hospitals as a response to acute pain.  The medication is only supposed to be used for a short period of time, but studies have found those who are prescribed opioids can take them from 2 weeks to 10 years or more. Opioids are chemically similar to endorphins, which is a substance our body makes naturally to relieve pain. Opioids can be made naturally from plants, be a blend of natural and synthetic compounds or completely synthetic.

How do Opioids Affect the Brain?

Opioids attach themselves to receptors in the brain. The chemical structure of opioids mimics our natural neurotransmitter. With the two being very similar, the body is unfortunately fooled into locking the opioid into a receptor site which activates the nerve cells. Once the opioid is attached into place, the body starts to experience what is known as the “Opioid effect”. This is where the body starts to slow down breathing rates, reduces or blocks pain and creates an overall calming effect. (7)

Opioids also target our body’s reward system. Opioids open the flood gates and overwhelm the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter located in parts of the brain that help with emotion, cogitation, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. This constant overstimulation of our rewarding system leads to an increase of misuse and addiction to opioid medication. (7)  An article posted in the CBS news in June 2017 stated the alarming fact that opioid overdoses are the leading cause of deaths in Americans under the age of 50. (8)

Are there Side Effects of taking Opioids?

Some of the most common side effects of taking opioids include: constipation, itch, low blood pressure, excessive constriction of the pupil of the eye (miosis), nausea, sedation, urinary retention and suppressed respiration.

Natural Non-drug Solutions for Pain Relief

Reduce Sugar in the Daily Diet:

Sugar consumption has a direct correlation to inflammation.  A rise in blood sugar causes a cascade of events which includes the release of inflammatory chemicals. There are multiple inflammatory chemicals released, including histamines, prostaglandins and interleukins.

These inflammatory chemicals cause an internal response that requires the immune system to step in and respond to the cleanup process. Elevated levels of inflammation dramatically accelerate degeneration in the body and can lead to a host of cell damaging diseases that greatly reduces longevity. (2)

Take a High Quality Animal- Based Omega 3 Fats:

Omega- 3 fats block the chain of events that cause inflammation and regulate the migration of inflammatory cells and chemicals to the sites of inflammation.  Consumption of Omega 3 fats are found in dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, walnuts, butternuts, salmon, halibut, tuna, and avocados. By taking the natural route, one is unlikely to experience the side effects of gastro-intestinal or cardiovascular systems mentioned before that are common when taking anti-inflammatory drugs. (3,4)

Supplement with Bromelain:

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples. Although mostly used as a digestive aid, it has been linked to analgesic properties which have been documented to have influence on pain mediators such as bradykinin. (6)  Bromelain accounts for many therapeutic benefits like the treatment of angina pectoris, bronchitis, sinusitis, surgical trauma, and thrombophlebitis, debridement of wounds, and enhanced absorption of drugs, particularly antibiotics. It also relieves osteoarthritis, diarrhea, and various cardiovascular disorders. (5)

Supplement with Curcumin:

The anti-inflammatory properties of Curcumin has been shown to help with Osteoarthritis. Curcumin inhibits multiple pro-inflammatory molecules such as cytokines and prostaglandins. The effects of curcumin have been documented in many clinical trials demonstrating its ability to prevent or reduce cellular death and oxidative stress. (9) Clinical trial dosages between 200mg-3,000mg for curcumin have shown benefits depending on the case. It is important to talk to a physician about appropriate dosage per case.

Importance of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is an important vitamin in the body that helps the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for overall bone and muscle health. (11) Levels less than 32 ng/mL have been shown to reduce intestinal calcium absorption, reduced bone density, reduced immune system, increased insulin resistance and risk of many types of cancer. Sources of vitamin D include sun exposure, food intake and dietary supplement of Vitamin D3.

Vitamin C:

A study was conducted by Dr. Zollinger et al, in a double blind random study with participants with reflex sympathetic dystrophy post wrist fractures. Vitamin C was given pre-surgery and demonstrated no reports of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The participants were given a daily dosage of 500mg 2 days prior to surgery and continued with vitamin C 7-week post-surgery.

Vitamin C is considered an anti-oxidant and is needed to manufacture collagen and work with the immune system. Collagen is needed to support the connective tissue, tendons and cartilage. It is also needed to prevent poor wound healing and supports healthy gums. (14)

What do do now?

It is important to meet with a qualified clinical nutritionist to review your personal health information to determine proper supplements and dietary recommendations. At our practice, we use a complement of diagnostic testing to put together a natural health plan to address your individual needs. Traditional chiropractic care and acupuncture work together with our nutritional advice to create a plan to get you out of pain and back to living your life with optimal wellness. Contact our office today to see how we can help!

Works Cited:

  1. Han B, Compton WM, Blanco C, Crane E, Lee J, Jones CM. Prescription Opioid Use, Misuse, and Use Disorders in U.S. Adults: 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 1 August 2017]:. doi: 10.7326/M17-0865
  2. Ballentine, Robert. CHRONIC PAIN,www.holistichealthservices.com/research/chronic_pain.html.
  3. “Nutrition and Pain Management: Omega 3 & 6.” New York Pain Medicine, Dr. Douglas Allen, 14 June 2012, nypainmedicine.com/nutrition-and-pain-management-omega-3-6/.
  4. “Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Pain Management | Health Plus Wellness Center.” Welcome to Health Plus Wellness Center, 16 Sept. 2016, healthpluswellnesscenter.com/omega-3-fatty-acids-and-pain-management.
  5. Rajendra Pavan, Sapna Jain, Shraddha, and Ajay Kumar, “Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review,” Biotechnology Research International, vol. 2012, Article ID 976203, 6 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/976203
  6. Cohen A, Goldman J. Bromelain therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Pennsylvania Medical Journal. 1964;67:27–30. [PubMed]
  7. “The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment.” How Do Opioids Work in the Brain?, The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, Dec. 2008, www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=6.
  8. Reynolds, Dean. “Overdoses Now Leading Cause of Death of Americans under 50.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 6 June 2017, cbsnews.com/news/overdoses-are-leading-cause-of-death-americans-under-50/.
  9. “How Curcumin Relieves Pain And Aches.” Turmeric for Health!, 3 Aug. 2017, turmericforhealth.com/curcumin-benefits-and-dosage/curcumin-for-pain.
  10. Kragstrup, Tue Wenzel. “Vitamin D Supplementation for Patients with Chronic Pain.” Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care1 (2011): 4–5. PMC. Web. 22 Aug. 2017.
  11. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2011; 96: 1911–1930.
  12. Besse JL, Gadeyne S, Galand-Desmé S, Lerat JL, Moyen B. Effect of vitamin C on prevention of complex regional pain syndrome type I in foot and ankle surgery. Foot Ankle Surg. 2009;15:179–182. [PubMed]
  13. Zollinger PE, Ellis ML, Unal H, Tuinebreijer WE. Clinical outcome of cementless semi-constrained trapeziometacarpal arthroplasty, and possible effect of vitamin C on the occurrence of complex regional pain syndrome. Acta Orthop Belg. 2008;74:317–322. [PubMed]
  14. Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy 12th Ed. 12th ed. England: W B SAUNDERS (FL/MO)-ELSEVIER Science HE, 2008. Print.

The Terrible T’s

If you have come into our office you have probably heard us talking about the “Terrible T’s” quite a bit. But what are the terrible T’s and what impact do they have on your health? The 3 terrible T’s are traumas, toxins, and thoughts. Each one plays a pivotal role in health in its own unique way. Let’s break these down individually and dive into how they each can affect you.

We will start with traumas. Traumas are probably the most obvious T when it comes to the impact they have on your health. Traumas are defined as any injury, accident, fall, bump, scrape, bruise, etc. Traumas are the things you usually can easily remember. They are things that happen that you know caused some sort of pain or dysfunction in the body. For example you recall falling off your bike and hurting your knee or getting in a car accident and suddenly having neck pain. But sometimes traumas aren’t quite as obvious. Think about some repetitive traumas you go through daily. Do you sit at a desk all day? That’s a trauma for your low back. Every time you look down at your phone that’s a trauma for your neck. We are starting to see more and more cases of repetitive traumas causing problems for our patients. So how do we correct for these traumas? Chiropractic adjustments are wonderful for restoring proper joint motion and function following biomechanical injuries to the body. We love seeing the results our patients get even from just a few adjustments of the spine or even extremities! Chiropractic adjustments help to reduce pain, restore range of motion, and get people back to feeling like themselves.

The next T I would like to talk about is toxins. Toxins are things that get into your body and cause massive inflammation. That build-up of inflammation can lead to wide spread pain and discomfort. Most commonly toxins are found in our environment in the things we eat and expose ourselves to. Think of your daily routine getting ready. Do you use clean shampoo, do you use deodorant with aluminum, are you using toxic makeup products? It’s important to make the switch to clean and natural products for all of the above to make sure you are protecting yourself. Now think about the foods you eat? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? A majority of people are not. Do you eat fast food? Gluten? Dairy products? These things are commonly very toxic and inflammatory for people. This inflammation from food is not always present as symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort. Sometimes inflammation from food can show up as joint pain, back pain, or even nerve pain. We have seen multiple people who don’t seem to respond to chiropractic care suddenly start to see amazing improvements when we start looking at what toxins are in their environment and remove them. Our bodies were made to thrive and heal and be healthy as long as we remove toxins interfering with that process!

The last T we need to discuss is thoughts. This is one of the most difficult T’s for most of our patients to wrap their heads around. Our thoughts are so powerful when it comes to our health. Patients who have a positive outlook on their health generally see much better results in our office. In Chinese medicine they discuss in depth how each emotion effects each organ. Anger congests the liver. Fear can cause problems in the kidneys. Sadness can affect the lungs. In our office one of the most common things we see is stress. Stress is often carried in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. We can help biomechanically by adjusting the neck and stretching the musculature but unless we address your stress levels we may never find the results you are looking for.

At Ply Family Wellness we always look at our patients as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. We don’t take neck pain as just neck pain. We will dig to the root of what exactly is causing that neck pain. Was it an accident? Was there some sort of trauma? Is there a toxic overload coming from your environment? Are you overly stressed and holding it in your neck and shoulders? Could it be something else entirely? At our office we won’t settle for just relieving your pain. We also want to make sure that it doesn’t come back. If you are interested in finding out what is causing your ailments please give us a call. We would love to work with you.

 

Written by: Kameron Bavender, DC

Top 5 Benefits of a Chiropractic Adjustment

  1. Pain Management

This is one of the most common reasons people seek chiropractic care.  Chiropractic adjustments have been proven to reduce neck pain, back pain, and headaches over and over in the research.  Chiropractic care has also been shown to decrease pain from injuries to the shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles.1  Many studies are now showing that the use of chiropractic can even reduce dependence on pain medications.  If you have pain of any kind be sure to see your chiropractor to see what they can do for you.

  1. Improved Sleep

If pain isn’t what is keeping you up at night it is likely stress. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to reduce stress levels which, in turn, leads to more restful and restorative sleep patterns.2  Many patients report getting the best night of sleep they can remember following chiropractic adjustments.  This is because of the relaxing response of the nervous system following the chiropractic adjustment.  If you aren’t sleeping well, you should absolutely see your chiropractor for regular adjustments.

  1. Stimulates the Immune System

A chiropractic adjustment stimulates the nervous system which is directly linked to the immune system.  This stimulation has been shown to awaken the immune system to help the body fight off colds and flus and other illnesses.3 It has been shown that the subset of the population that gets regular chiropractic adjustments gets sick far less often than the rest of the population that does not get adjusted.  If you want your immune system functioning at its highest capability you should call your local chiropractor today!

  1. Improvements in Behavioral and Learning disabilities

Chiropractic care targets the nervous system.  We like to relate it to a dimmer on a light switch where if the spine is out of alignment it is as if the nervous system is being dimmed.  There is still messages getting through but not as fast or optimally as we would want.  This symptom often presents as behavioral or learning disabilities.  Chiropractic adjustments will realign the spine to remove the interference with the nerves thus removing the dimmer and getting the power turned back on at full force.  Many parents report seeing an improvement in their child’s behavior and ability to concentrate once they begin getting adjusted.4

  1. Normalizes Blood Pressure

At least one in every three adult patients we see is on some sort of blood pressure medication.  Hypertension has become an epidemic in this country.  Luckily, chiropractic adjustments have been shown to have a significant impact blood pressure.  While the mechanism of why is still not fully understood, it has been shown in the research that chiropractic adjustments are just as capable of normalizing blood pressure as some of the more common medications are.5

 

Chiropractic adjustments have so many benefits these listed are just the tip of the iceberg.  It is hard to narrow down to just the top 5!  Some benefits not listed also include chiropractic for wellness care, chiropractic for pregnancy, reduction in allergies and asthma, reduction in gastrointestinal issues, improvements in athletic performance, and so much more. If you aren’t sure if chiropractic can help you please call our office today and find out!

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Salehi A, et al. Chiropractic: Is it Efficient in Treatment of Diseases? Review of Systematic Reviews. Int J Community based Nurs Midwifery. 2015 Oct; 3(4): 244-254. PMCID: 4591574
  2. Kang DH, McArdle T, and Suh Y. Changes in Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Across Cancer Treatment and Relationship to Stress, Mood, and Quality of Life. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Nov; 20(11): 853-859. PMCID:4238248
  3. Kanga I, and Steiman I. Chiropractic management of a patient with breast cancer metastases to the brain and spine: a case report. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2015 Sep;59(3):269-78. PMCID:4486990
  4. Karpouzis F, Bonello R, and Pollard H. Chiropractic care for pediatric and adolescent Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A systematic review. Chiropr Osteopat. 2010; 18:13. PMCID:2891800
  5. McMasters KL, et al. Blood pressure changes in African American patients receiving chiropractic care in a teaching clinic: a preliminary study. J Chiropr Med. 2013 Jun; 12(2): 55-59. PMCID:3730295