Oct 23, 2014 09:25PM
Although emotional and physical pain can have many causes, the experience of pain is “in the eyes of the beholder.” Healers who address the mind, body and spirit levels of their patient’s suffering are addressing both sides of this equation; they diagnose and treat possible causes or risk factors, and they also address the perception of pain, which in most patients, especially for those suffering from emotional pain, is the most important factor.In looking at the physical body, most patients who suffer from chronic pain actually suffer from a more generalized condition—inflammation, which classically exhibits four symptoms: redness, heat, swelling (edema) and pain. These symptoms are often the observed effects of a systemically (whole body) activated immune system which tends to get directed at a localized injury.
If an acute traumatic injury like low back strain or an acute infection does not resolve, usually inflammation has set in. Swelling is an attempt of the body to dilute the toxicities from dead or injured tissues or germ toxins, analogous to how toxic waste spills are handled environmentally. Specifically, “the solution to pollution is dilution” as diluting toxins lessens the harmful effects. Swelling (edema) can cause pain by putting pressure on nerves which must pass through small openings between and around bones and cartilage.
The cause of chronic pain from inflammation can have localized symptoms, but it is usually caused by a systemic challenge to the immune system, which when activated, will direct its wrath toward any part of the body which appears suspicious. When severely activated, even autoimmune symptoms can occur and various parts of the body are attacked for no obvious reason.
Activation of the immune system which causes chronic inflammation and pain is usually derived from four kinds of infections. Diagnostic testing is available to rule out these causes so that they can be properly treated:
1) Gastrointestinal overgrowth of unfriendly flora like candida or parasites, which also is worsened by “leaky gut” which causes food allergies.
2) Dental infections from root canals and cavitations (abscesses in tooth sockets, often caused by anaerobic bacteria)
3) Chronic, year-round, non-seasonal nasal congestion and sinusitis (caused by candida and other fungi)
4) Tick-borne germs like Lyme, Babesia and Bartonella
Activation of the immune system from chronic infections is often referred to as immune stress. All stress—immune, psycho-emotional, metabolic (e.g., hypoglycemia)—can wear down our coping, stress hormones and neurotransmitters, and when these are diminished, emotional and physical pain is much harder to deal with.
Testing for the precursors for neurotransmitters and hormones such as amino acids and their metabolites can be done to determine if these pain-relieving and sleep inducing molecules are able to be synthesized. Addiction to pain-killers and psych meds is caused by a wearing down of these natural molecules by immune stress, such as endorphins (the brain’s natural heroin), serotonin (the brain’s natural Prozac), GABA (the brain’s natural Valium), dopamine (the brain’s natural Ritalin) and acetylcholine (the brain’s natural nicotine).
The experience of pain, whatever its cause, can cause mental resistance and “contraction.” No one appreciates pain and there is a tendency to deny it or push it away. To intentionally “let go” of resistance to pain and “open one’s heart” to it is counterintuitive, but using pain as an “object” of meditation, as opposed to escaping pain by using the breath or a mantra, can have amazing benefits and provide astonishing relief of pain. Experientially, one can discover that most physical or emotional pain is actually derived from the mental resistance one has to it. Experientially, pain is just pain—a sensory experience, a sensation of heaviness, burning, achiness somewhere in the body, and working with pain means letting go of the intellectual explanations for it and just being with the experience.
On a more practical basis, when the brain gets connected to pain by an intentional focusing on it, the brain’s role as the command and control center for the immune, endocrine and nervous system gets clear messages from the body as to exactly where and what the problem is. Like any good computer, if the information is clear, the processing can occur and a solution can result. If the brain is cut off from the experience of emotional or physical pain, as often happens by medicating or numbing it with pain or psych meds, the information of pain from the body never gets to the command and control center and the corrective mechanisms which can alleviate the cause of pain never happens. Chronic pain is a message from the body to pay attention—something is wrong and something needs to be done.
Astonishing relief of pain syndromes, physical or emotional can result from letting go of the resistance to it. A competent healer, who is hired to be the one to do the intellectual work, to find and treat the immune, endocrine, allergic, psycho-emotional, energetic, metabolic and genetic causes, can free you to let go of the resistance to chronic emotional and physical pain, knowing that your advocate is doing the thinking and worrying for you.
Dr. Chas Gant, M.D., Ph.D., is an author, physician and practitioner, specializing in functional medicine, molecular health and healing. For more information, call 202-237-7000, ext. 104 or visit DoctorChasMD.com.
To learn more about “Overcoming Pain” from Dr. Chas, attend the free seminar on Tuesday, November 18 from 6:30 to 8:30, with discussion beginning at 7 p.m. at Roberta’s Natural Food Market at 9424 Main St. in Fairfax. To register, click here.