My patient Brian came in with pain in his foot and heel that limited his ability to run, bike or even walk without discomfort. Plantar fascitis is a common injury I see frequently in the clinic, particularly in active, athletic people with jobs requiring they sit for hours at a time. Brian came in at the early stages of his injury and committed to twice weekly acupuncture- so it took only 4 sessions for his pain to completely disappear. He was thrilled and is now an acupuncture convert, scheduling monthly “tune-ups” even when he’s not in pain, as he leaves the office feeling more balanced and better able to sleep at night. “I’m convinced acupuncture helps me prevent injuries and illness now,” Brian said recently after running his second Dipsea race. “I’m also amazed that a needle in my hand can stop pain in my foot!”
Many ask us how a needle inserted into one body part can stop pain in another area and heal the body. Some think it must be a placebo effect or “all in your head”. However numerous clinical studies have shown that acupuncture affects the body in measurable, scientific ways — reducing blood pressure and inflammation, for example, and increasing the circulation of endorphins- our body’s own natural pain-relieving chemicals. Scientists have identified many of the physiological mechanisms at work, and there's evidence that the insertion of needles into designated acupuncture points speeds the conduction of electromagnetic signals within the body. These signals may increase the flow of hormones and other pain-relieving chemicals, as well as immune system cells, which aid healing.
So the next time you or a friend is in pain, think acupuncture!
Other Natural Pain Relievers
Hops. The hops flower, which has been used in Western herbal traditions for inducing relaxation and sleep (and making beer), seems to have significant potential for pain relief that rivals some medications, and with fewer side effects.
Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system.
Ginger. Ginger extract may help with joint and muscle pain because it contains phytochemicals which help stop inflammation. Few side effects have been linked to ginger when taken in small doses.
Feverfew. Feverfew has been used for centuries to treat heatdaches, stomachaches, and toothaches. Nowadays it's also used for migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women should avoid this remedy.
Turmeric. This spice is used to relieve arthritis pain and heartburn. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is usually safe to use, but high doses or long-term use may cause indigestion. Also, people with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric.
To your pain-free summer,