Managing chronic pain is a difficult road to navigate and can significantly affect your daily quality of life and overall happiness.
Whether you have joint, intestinal, head, or pelvic pain many pharmaceutical medications are great at providing temporary relief but if taken long-term can wreak havoc on your health. For example, readily available, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen are used almost routinely for pain, however, taken for even as little as 5 days in a row can cause stomach issues like gastritis, ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome.
We need to change our approach to pain management and aim for more natural solutions. Below are some helpful steps towards relieving your pain.
Look for the root cause of your inflammation
Pain and inflammation don't just appear out of nowhere - often something deeper is triggering this inflated immune response.
As a naturopathic physician I don't believe in solely relying on medical band-aids to treat my patients. Instead, my approach is to always delve deeper to understand what the drivers are to your pain, inflammation, or any health condition you may be struggling with.
In my experience, some common disorders that may lead to pain are: food intolerances, celiac, stress and poor sleep, thyroid dysfunction, hormone imbalances, Vitamin D deficiencies, mood disorders, structural issues - to name a few.
My favourite supplement for relieving pain and inflammation
For pain (especially joint and arthritic) I often prescribe this herbal supplement, with great success!
Curcumin is the medicinal extract from the turmeric root and has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-pain effects. It also has other health benefits to boot, including cardiovascular protection, cancer prevention, and anti-aging properties.
When shopping for a curcumin supplement, it is imperative to choose the right one (there are many curcumin products available) in order to ensure it is well-absorbed and effective. Curcumin Active is by far the most effective curcumin supplement I have used in my practice to date and is often the one I turn to for chronic pain and inflammation.
Caution: I strongly advise consulting with myself or another naturopathic physician before taking this supplement or any other natural medication.
Note: I have no affiliation with AOR or any other company.
Tackle pain and inflammation with food
Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is essential for pain management.This type of diet includes foods high in essential fats, anti-oxidant rich fruits and veggies, and immune boosting superfoods. Minimizing pro-inflammatory foods such as wheat, dairy, sugar, trans fats, and processed foods, is also advised.
Here are some examples of anti-inflammatory superfoods to start incorporating into your diet today. I've also included an easy and yummy anti-inflammatory recipe to try.
1. Small oily fish - sardines, trout, and wild salmon are my faves. These fish are high in essential fatty acids and are low in toxins like mercury. Have 2-3 servings a week: as the protein in your salad, or the main dish at dinner.
2. Turmeric spice - add this anti-inflammatory spice to your salad dressing or try cooking a simple curry. For ease, you can reach for a pre-made cold-press juice with fresh turmeric root or sip a turmeric latté.
3. Flaxmeal - rich in healthy fats and also provides a great source of gentle fiber and lignans (which benefit women's hormonal health). Sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp daily on your morning oats, soups, or salads.
4. Green leafy veggies - kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula - get them in! A good trick is to throw them into your smoothies or pick up a green juice. I advise 3-4 large handfuls of greens every day.
5. Brazil nuts - often overlooked, Brazil nuts are a powerhouse of the micronutrient selenium. Selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function and for glutathione production (the main antioxidant in our body). Due to modern agriculture and poor soil quality, most of us are deficient in this important nutrient. Munching on 2-3 Brazil nuts per day is all we need to meet our selenium quota.
One pan salmon, kale, and cabbage
- 6 cups green cabbage (roughly chopped)
- 4 cups kale leaves (roughly chopped)
- 3 tbsps avocado oil
- 8 ozs salmon fillet
- sea salt & black pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup fresh dill (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking pan with foil.
- Add cabbage and kale to the baking pan and toss with 1/3 of the avocado oil.
- Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and stir.
- Pat the salmon fillets dry and season with salt and pepper. Lay the salmon over the cabbage and kale. Bake together for 10 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining avocado oil, dill, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to a small mason jar. Cover with the lid and shake before serving.
- Divide salmon, cabbage and kale onto plates. Drizzle with your desired amount of dressing. Enjoy!
No avocado oil - use olive oil instead.
No apple cider vinegar - use lemon juice instead.
Use other veggies if sensitive to cabbage or kale.
Leftovers - Keep covered in the fridge up to two days.