Now that we have a pretty good idea of how chronic, systemic inflammation can be generated (see parts one and two of this series), we can delve into what holistic pain relief solutions are available to us in our every day lives. Please remember, these ideas are not meant to replace anything recommended by your personal physician. You should discuss the addition of any complementary therapies with your physician to ensure they are a good fit with your current treatment plan.
Let’s face it, this is a HUGE topic. Not a day goes by that I don’t see at least 20 ideas in my Facebook feed about how to have better health. And a lot of them talk about inflammation these days! So I’ll be breaking this down into two more blog articles. The first will cover things we can add into our daily habits. The second will changes to make and things we might not want to do any more.
The reason I start with things to add in is because it’s often easier to do a small handful of new things. Taking habits AWAY feels like more work, so we do that after we’ve made some progress towards reduced inflammation and more pain relief.
1. Herbs like turmeric are getting a lot of attention in more mainstream sources these days. Ancient therapies like Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine and medicinal herbalism have utilized the power of plants for healing for thousands of years.
I’ve used an anti-inflammatory supplement blend with turmeric as a main ingredient for years, and I’m a big fan. This is just one example—turmeric is available as a cooking ingredient, as an essential oil and also in capsules. As with everything, please double check interactions with any medicines or supplements you currently take. You need to evaluate the best way to include in your life!
2. Adding a short, daily 10-minute meditation to your life can bring big benefits. Just like adding herbs, this idea draws on ancient wisdom. Prayer and meditation are a big part of many different traditions, so you can find a style that feels comfortable to you. Whether you’re on a pillow, a chair, your knees, or curled up on your couch, slowing your mind down helps create pain relief. Sometimes it feels like the hardest thing in the world, but finding some quiet time is worth all the effort. There are podcasts, apps and so many ways to get started. And the opportunity for holistic pain relief is a good bet!
3. Remember when you were a kid and you had art class every week? I don’t know about you, but it was always a favorite part of my school life. For a lot of us creativity and art stop being a part of our lives as we get busy with career and kids—and with chronic pain. But it can actually help relieve chronic pain to express your creativity! Look around at the tools you have nearby: can you find a way to incorporate some creativity and art in your life? Singing with your kids is creative and can be so healing. Maybe you’ll even dance together some days! For me, my iPad is near me most of the time. And there are so many fun little apps that let me be creative, even when my energy level might be too low for something more ambitious.
4. Studies have found that having enough Vitamin D in your body inhibits inflammation. Not having enough can be pro-inflammatory. Please consider asking your physician to order a D3 blood test so you can tell where you stand. And then take measures to ensure your Vitamin D levels are high enough—supplementation can be pretty easy. You can also spend a small amount of time (10-20 minutes) in the sun without sunscreen on your forearms each day—weather permitting. Some foods also contain Vitamin D, but it’s hard for your body to absorb enough from food sources. This is such an easy pain-relieving step, it’s worth a try to get started.
Next time we’ll look at a few more changes you can consider to decrease inflammation and increase pain relief holistically!
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