Letter from the Publisher
May 25, 2017 11:02AM
This month, we are all about chronic pain. I was startled to read that a majority of Americans experience pain on a daily basis and that so many of our neighbors (and perhaps, friends and family) are addicted to powerful opioids to alleviate this pain. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 people are treated daily in emergency rooms for misusing prescription opioids. In 2012, 2.1 million of our fellow citizens were abusing opioids, according to the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Senate testimony—and that number has only increased in the past five years.
It is a tragic scenario which seems to be fueled by the medical establishment (and powered by insufficient health insurance) that is more interested in quickly treating symptoms rather than finding the cause or exploring alternatives to pharmaceuticals. My indictment is not to cast blame, as most physicians I know feel stymied in this system within which they work—but the system is only part of the problem. Mainstream medicine and insurance has been reluctant to explore or support alternatives to chronic pain relief.
The most telling quote from this month’s feature on the topic, in my opinion, is from Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Pain Free 1-2-3. He notes, “Pain is like the ‘check oil’ light on a car’s dashboard. It signals that something needs attention. If the oil light goes on, putting a Band-Aid over it or smashing it with a hammer won’t help.” There must be another way—and fortunately, there are many ways to deal with chronic pain.
In this issue of Natural Awakenings, we have set out to provide a range of options as well as practitioners that provide pain relief. We have two articles about inflammation in the body; one from the naturopathic physician, Isabel Sharkar, and the other from integrative nutritionist, Elizabeth McMillan, that offer insights to the role of inflammation and the body’s inability to heal itself. There are a host of ways to manage inflammation, through diet and taking charge of your gut, that will provide the relief.
For those who find themselves in chronic pain, there is extremely promising support shown through the use of legal cannabis products. Patricia Frye, M.D., of Takoma Park Alternative Care, has been treating patients from all over the world for pain relief, and thereby enabling her patients to greatly reduce, and in some cases, stop all together, the use of prescription opioids. Her article this month provides great promise for anyone, not just D.C. or Maryland residents, who is seriously looking for a medical professional to guide them through pain management safely and legally.
There is also growing support for the use of yoga therapy to manage pain. Marlysa Sullivan, a professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health and founder of the Center for Integrative Yoga Studies, reports on the growing body of evidence of yoga therapy’s ability to manage and overcome pain. From the interview with Dr. Coy Roskosky, of NIHA, we learn about the capacity of integrative chiropractic care, one that seeks to uncover and deal with underlying issues, to provide relief.
Of course, preventative care is always appropriate. Angela Blueskies offers a piece on the use of Sound Medicine to manage one’s inner being for balance and wholeness. Keeping us all moving, particularly in the later years in life by playing the hottest new sport, Pickleball, helps as well. We offer a list of just a few of the 100 (or so) places to play in our area.
There is a lot to share on this topic so please, devour this issue and learn all you can to educate yourself. Surely, we will all experience chronic pain at some point. Knowing the alternatives, and some of the ways to prevent it, is the first step to a better, healthier life.