Product Focus - Pain Management
Describing pain can often feel like an exercise in futility. Is your headache ‘throbbing’ or ‘splitting’? Is your stomach ‘cramping’ or ‘stabbing’? Does your shoulder ‘tingle’ or ‘ache’? Many people struggle to convey sensation because pain is subjective. Even modern medicine falters when it comes to interpreting a person’s pain.
Semantics aside, we’re only just beginning to uncover the mechanisms behind the experience of pain. And it isn’t as simple as injury + tissue damage = pain. Your biology, emotional and psychological health, and socioeconomic factors can also influence the perception of pain. In other words, the same stimulus – a broken wrist, for instance – may lead to higher levels of distress in some people, while others will barely regard the break as painful.
What causes pain?
Pain is a warning signal designed to protect your body. The brain interprets danger messages from the body when there’s an injury and generates a feeling of pain. However, this isn’t always a failsafe, reliable system. There can be miscommunications between the body and the brain. Sometimes, the brain can create pain when the body is fine. In other words, there’s pain from injury (and injuries heal), and there’s pain that presents as a false alarm.
How can pain affect your life?
Pain – especially when chronic and disabling – can sit at the epicentre of your life. It can make it hard to go about your everyday activities. It can get in the way of your social commitments. It can affect your psychological and emotional health. It can feel overwhelming, all-consuming, and exhausting.
It should come as no surprise that pain can make sleeping exceedingly difficult. To relax into sleep, your nervous system needs to wind down. But experiencing pain puts it into overdrive, affecting your ability to fall asleep, as well as your sleep quality. You may also find yourself in a self-perpetuating cycle of pain, anxiety, low mood, and insomnia.
Experiencing pain can make it hard to fulfil certain roles that are fundamental to your identity, such as holding down a full-time job, playing a sport, or being a parent. And this can feel hugely disheartening.
Living with pain often depletes your time, energy, and attention. Getting out of bed, making breakfast, walking to work, and doing the washing can become monumentally difficult tasks.
Pain and mental health conditions often go hand in hand. If you experience pain, you’re at an increased risk of stress, anxiety, and low mood. And there seems to be a bidirectional relationship at play here, too. Just as pain can compromise emotional health; poor mental health can lead to pain. And this vicious cycle can be hard to break.
Pain can also come between relationships. If you live with pain, it might be challenging to meet expectations around domestic labour or parenting. There may also be financial strains, as well as problems with intimacy. At work, you may struggle to communicate your needs to colleagues and line managers and may face challenges with what is often perceived to be an ‘invisible condition’.
Eating to manage pain
What you choose to eat can have a huge impact on your mood, sleep, immunity, digestion, and, yes, even your experience of pain.
Wholefoods for the win
Eating a mainly whole-food diet is one of the best ways to support your health and manage pain. Highly processed, overly-greasy, ultra-refined foods can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, which is associated with pain. Try to live by this rule: if it grows, eat it; if it doesn’t, think twice before putting it in your shopping trolley.
Think more plant-based
Embracing a plant-focused diet may also support pain management. This approach is touted to reduce symptoms in two ways: firstly, a plant-based diet eliminates animal-based products, like butter, cheese, and milk, which contain saturated fats that may contribute to an inflammatory response in the body and lead to pain. Secondly, plant foods are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are known to support good overall health.
Go with your gut
Gut health is having its moment in the wellness space for good reason. Aside from supporting immune function, digestion, and skin, the gut may also influence pain. Thanks to a little thing called the ‘gut-brain-axis’, a healthy gut means a healthy brain. And the brain, of course, is what controls feelings of pain.
Feed your gut
• Aim for 30 grams of fibre each day (most people only get 17 grams!)
• Eat the three k’s: kefir, kombucha, and kimchi
• Consider time-restricted feeding (eating your food in an 8-12-hour window)
• Get 7-9 hours’ sleep every night
Spice it up
Practitioners of Ayurveda medicine have long recognised the importance of herbs and spices to support the reduction of pain. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic come highly recommended, so cram them into your food.
A critical mineral, magnesium supports muscle function. It’s a great choice for people experiencing discomfort.
Glucosamine has become one of the most popular supplements with millions of people choosing to take it on a regular basis.
PEA is an endocannabinoid-like compound found in almost every cell, tissue, and fluid in the body. A member of the N-acylethanolamine (NAE) family, PEA is found in almost every cell and vital for chemical signalling in the body. An alternative to CBD, PEA is a popular choice to tackle those niggles that might hold you back.
Vitamin C supports normal muscle function, as well as normal collagen formation and function of cartilage, making it a useful addition for those struggling with stiffness and discomfort.
Vitamin D3 plays an important role in muscle and bone function. It’s a critical nutrient for good overall health, especially if you’re less active than you used to be.
Found in oily fish and microalgae, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for good overall health. They’re often recommended as the perfect partner to Devil’s Claw.
Devil's Claw is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of backache, rheumatic or muscular pain, and general aches and pains in the muscles and joints.
Prized as a 'super-fruit' by herbalists, rosehip contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative damage. It’s often recommended to people who take Glucosamine or Devil’s Claw.