Pain is an epidemic in the United States: it affects more people than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. It is the predominant reason Americans seek health care, and costs the U.S. up to $635 billion a year according to a study by Johns Hopkins University. Pain is a complex and debilitating condition that has sent Americans searching for comprehensive, holistic approaches to health. In many cases this includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, and chiropractic solutions.
How Chinese Medicine Approaches Pain Management
In Chinese medicine, practitioners incorporate the use of herbs, acupuncture, and comprehensive changes to diet and lifestyle to reduce and manage pain, that afflicts over 100 million Americans. The majority of patients seeking acupuncture and Chinese medicine care are interested in treatment for acute and chronic pain conditions, including pain from traumatic injury, arthritis, headaches, migraines, menstrual pain, and nerve pain. Generally speaking, Chinese medicine views pain as a condition where the energy of the body (Qi) has become stagnated or stuck or an area where the qi flow has become diminished.
Acupuncture is the process of stimulating specific parts of the body called acupuncture points or acupoints with very fine, sterile needles.
Studies have shown that acupuncture reduces pain by stimulating peripheral nerves that send messages to the brain to release endorphins. These morphine-like compounds block pain pathways in the brain. This endorphin release is also what leaves most people deeply relaxed during and after an acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture has proven helpful with managing chronic pain in various areas of the body. One study of 17,922 patients suffering from chronic pain found significant improvements in pain management with acupuncture in the following areas:
- chronic headache
- shoulder pain
- labor pain
Acupuncture has also been shown to help with labor pain. In a study compiling 13 trials and 1,986 women, researchers found that, with acupuncture and acupressure, women experienced less pain and the need for shop/pharmacypharmaceutical pain relief during labor was reduced significantly.
Herbal Medicine Treatments
The Chinese medicine pharmacopeia contains thousands of ancient herbal formulas for varieties of diseases. There are various Chinese herbs to help with the treatment of pain.
Corydalis (Yu Jin) is a tuber that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is dug up, ground, and boiled with hot vinegar for the treatment of chronic pain. It contains a pain-relieving compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB). DHCB has gained national attention because it does not generate tolerance and build up like the popular opioid morphine does.
Another effective herb for pain is Curcumae (Jiang Huang), which has gained popularity in recent years in remedies for chronic inflammation. Jiang Huang is beneficial for pain from traumatic injury as well as abdominal and menstrual pain.
Alleviating Pain & Improving Lives
The use of Chinese medicine is spreading, and for good reason. Chinese medicine provides treatment methods that relieve many health problems while promoting a comprehensive look at healthcare. Even the U.S. Army has been incorporating acupuncture and alternative medicine, and in two years saw a decrease in the use of pain medication. According to a 2013 study of 3,200 physicians, more than 50% reported that they planned to add alternative medicines, including Chinese medicine, to their practices.
Want to help people naturally? Be a student of Chinese medicine and learn to help heal people safely and holistically. At Daoist Traditions, we believe in treating the person entirely – through mind, body, and spirit.
If you are interested in a natural approach to pain management, contact our college clinic to make an appointment.