eastern medicine

things that i’ve done to help my pain that have a questionable scientific foundation

I’m not the biggest fan of Western medicine. I’m not going to use this blog as an opportunity to shove my beliefs down your throat so I won’t explain why, but I am sharing this bit about me because it’s the reason it took many years for me to succumb to taking pain medicine. Without pills to fall back on, I tried anything and everything anyone (even a stranger I met on the street) would suggest with the hope that it would help. I’m sharing my list with you below in hopes that you will share with me something you’ve tried, whether it’s worked or not.

Two disclaimers : First, I really wanted this list to be of ten things, but I ran out of things to say at number nine. I figured you’d prefer it if I didn’t come up with one last lame point to round it out, so you’re welcome? Second (and this one is a real bummer for me) : I do not get anything for directing you to the following links. I have had a blog for less than one week, so no one cares whether I plug their product. Including the links is nothing more than a simple way to share exactly what I’m using and credit the source.

  • Reiki : This is a practice of spiritual healing that involves holding hands above or on someone as a way of transferring energy. It’s said to promote relaxation and reduce stress as well as encourage healing. I went to a licensed practitioner and truly enjoyed it, but it was a bit expensive so I stopped after six-or-so sessions.
  • Meditation : We all know it, but few are able to do it correctly (including me). I’ve even had the opportunity to listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama teach for three days, and I still got nowhere. I’m not sure why I was surprised after that failure that I couldn’t figure it out with an app I downloaded on my phone.
  • Float in a sensory deprivation tank : 800 pounds of Epsom salt and 200 gallons of water heated to 98°F are in a tank that, once closed off, is pitch black and silent. I floated for 90 minutes and went into a bit of a trance. You float on the water’s surface because of the high salinity, yet you don’t feel the water because it’s the same temperature as your skin. It was relaxing and a little trippy even, but again it was just too expensive to keep up with. My one experience, though, was quite comical, and I hope to share it with you one day when I can really get into it.

float tank collage

  • Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet : So much goes into this, but here are the basic rules : No wheat, dairy, nightshades, refined sugar, processed foods, foods high in trans fats, coffee, red meat, alcohol…it’s a real doozy. In addition, there are inflammation-fighting foods of which you should eat plenty such as turmeric, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, etc. I’ll be the first to say that my body as a whole is better off eating this way, but it wasn’t easy to make the change, and I’m not sure how much it does to decrease my hip pain. I even drink this gross anti-inflammatory tea which consists of green or rooibos tea, raw garlic, raw ginger, raw turmeric, and a little honey all steeped in a French press. No surprise, but it makes your breath smell like death. I’m going to say right now that I do not comply to this diet all the time. I currently have a little dried barbecue sauce on my steering wheel because of a run-in with some chicken nuggets a couple of days ago, but I really do try to follow the rules.
  • Increase my Vitamin D : Apparently most people in the United States have insufficient Vitamin D. My levels were really low, which I was told has some connection to chronic pain. I’m working on bringing them up, and I love that I have a good excuse for lying in the sun all day.
  • Take a long list of crazy supplements : I’m not even going to name them, but there are a little over a dozen supplements I take each day. I only use two or three brands that one of my physicians deems “legitimate,” and of course, they cost a small fortune (whereas I pay almost nothing for my pain pills).
  • Take salt and pepper baths : I take an hour-long bath nearly every day. If my schedule allows, it’s the first thing I do when I get home from work. Floating in the water helps my hip pain, and it’s crazy relaxing. On really bad days I take a salt and pepper bath which consist of three cups of Epsom salts and six drops of pepper essential oils. I read somewhere this was a thing; has anyone else heard of it?
  • Use a grounding sheet : If you have no idea what this is, here is the link to the one which I own. Grounding is said to have many positive impacts, the first of which is to diffuse inflammation, and the second is to reduce / eliminate chronic pain. How could I not give it a go?? I sleep on top of this every night and plug it into my outlet as instructed, but I’m not sure it does anything. I have heard positive results from even the greatest skeptics, however, so don’t knock it just because I’m not its biggest supporter.
  • Read : I feel a tremendous responsibility to be my biggest advocate. Once I got out of my teen years and out of college, in particular, I started feeling like an adult. One consequence of this was to take the reins in regards to my health. The internet is a great source for information from all over the world (if this blog isn’t proof of that I don’t know what is), but it doesn’t replace books. The books which I’ve found the most beneficial: Pain: The Science of SufferingPain: A Political HistoryThe Bulletproof Diet, and Bad Pharma.

books collage 1



Float tank images left to right: http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/July-2014/Free-Floating/ ; http://www.livecypressfitness.com/things-i-like-float-tank-therapy/

Remaining images courtesy of respected sites as noted.

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