Natural and Non-Addicting Alternatives to Opiate Painkillers
For millions of people around the world who need treatment for pain-management, often the general approach involves the use of opioid painkillers. The problem with using these types of painkillers is the accompanying issues that manifest themselves even with short-term use. The side-effects of these medications are just one aspect that needs to be managed when using these drugs - there is also the issue of addiction that many people will face and/or struggle with when turning to these medications for treatment. And if not addiction, there will be a physiological dependence created within the body whereby it relies on the frequent administration of these drugs, and in many cases escalating doses are also required to continue to achieve similar pain-relieving results (increasing tolerance).
So the question we should first be asking is what natural painkillers are available and what type of non-addicting painkilling alternatives are out there that can be used instead of opiate-based pain-relievers. This article will expose you to a broad range of potential painkilling treatment options that can be used as alternatives to opioid medications. As always, we recommend that you discuss your treatment options with your doctor, and don't be afraid to voice your concerns regarding opiate painkillers and to also discuss the below alternatives as part of your treatment plan. Without considering all of your options - how can you really know what will work best for you and for your body regarding pain-management?
Below we will look at natural alternatives to opiate painkillers first, followed by non-addicting options for pain-management. The non-addicting alternatives will primarily deal with western-based medicine or evidence-based medicine.
Natural Alternatives to Opiate Painkillers
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These natural acids can be found in a range of foods or supplements but are particularly potent from the following sources: Fish Oil, Krill Oil and/or Green-Lipped Mussels. The two crucial acids are known as EPA and DHA and are primarily found in fish and certain seafood. The value of these elements can be found in their anti-inflammatory properties which when taken in high enough doses can assist sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, joint stiffness and joint pain. Natural sources of these elements can be found in mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, as well as anchovies.
Palmitoylethanolamide: This compound also known by the trade-name Normast is an endogenous fatty acid amide. Its abbreviated name is PEA and the compound has been shown to play a role in reducing chronic pain and inflammation in the body. Clinical trials have demonstrated PEA to be effective in treating peripheral neuropathy, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatic pain, osteoarthritis, lower-back pain, dental pain, and neuropathic pain in stroke and multiple sclerosis. It is found naturally in foods such as milk and eggs.
Heat/Cold Therapy: The benefits of using hot or cold-based therapies for certain pain conditions have long been established. Generally, heat therapy or thermotherapy is administered for chronic pain and/or an injury that is already a day or more old. Types of heat therapy include hot water bottles, heating pads, moist heat and heat wraps. Cold therapy or cryotherapy is generally administered by using ice packs that can be applied for acute pain and/or newly-swollen or inflamed areas across the body. Cold therapy is not only useful for acute muscle/tendon pain, strains and inflammation but also for burns to the skin and body. When using cold therapy for a burn ensure running cold water is used rather than applying ice to the area as ice will not induce or promote burn-wound healing.
Acupuncture: The use of acupuncture is wide and varied and has shown benefits across a broad area of health-related ailments. Specific studies have concluded that acupuncture reduced pain and improved function and mobility among patients suffering osteoarthritis of the knee. Other research is showing acupuncture can aid in reducing pelvic pain - specifically for the condition in young women known as endometriosis. Overall, research has shown that acupuncture affects a range of biological systems in the body, including releasing hormones, disabling receptors and activating anti-inflammatory chemicals - all important elements in reducing and managing pain-related injuries.
Exercise: The power of exercise for pain-management should never be discounted. Research shows that exercise can improve your pain threshold, and those that exercise are able to manage their pain much better than those who don't. Cardiovascular exercise is associated with a reduction in lower-back pain and knee pain - and strength training has been shown to improve both joint pain and back pain as well. In addition, exercise also induces the release of the endorphin hormone which helps to block pain by acting on morphine receptors in the brain.
Physiotherapy: This natural pain treatment has been shown to assist in the treatment, healing and also prevention of injuries and disabilities/ailments. Generally, a trained physician known as a Physiotherapist uses a range of tools such as Heat/Ice Packs, TENS Units (Electrical Nerve Stimulation), Ultrasound, and other aids to improve a range of health-related factors in the patient (range of movement, body/limb function, improved strength, and prevention of further injury/pain).
Non-Addicting Alternatives to Opiate Painkillers
Paracetamol: Also known by the trade-names Acetaminophen, Tylenol or Panadol - this drug is a non-addicting painkiller which works by affecting chemicals in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that are released in the body in response to an illness or injury. Paracetamol acts by blocking prostaglandins and therefore reducing the pain associated with the stimuli. It is generally used for mild pain including examples such as headaches, strains and sprains or to control a fever. It is important to always follow dosage requirements as overdose can be hazardous to the liver and can be fatal if too much of the drug is ingested.
NSAIDs: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are a class of drugs that reduce inflammation by blocking the effects of specific enzymes such as Cox-1 and Cox-2. These enzymes play a role in producing prostaglandins - and by administering an NSAID, there is a reduction in prostaglandin production which reduces swelling (inflammation) and pain. Types of NSAIDs include medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen and COX-2 Inhibitors (such as Celebrex). These medications are widely used and can be used in combination with paracetamol as a dual-approach to pain-management.
Topical Anaesthetics: These agents are particularly effective when applied to the skin and can be used on a variety of conditions and ailments. A common topical anaesthetic is known as Lidocaine which is used in a variety of contexts including injuries such as sunburn, insect bites, poison ivy, poison oak, minor cuts, scratches and burns. Other preparations of Lidocaine gels can be used for mouth, gum and tooth pain which are effective at blocking pain in those areas through local anaesthesia.
Anticonvulsants: Types of drugs included in this category are Gabapentin (GABA) - usually known by its trade-name Neurontin. It is primarily used as an anticonvulsant and an analgesic. It is particularly useful in treating neuropathic pain as well as restless leg syndrome.
Antidepressants: It is thought that the painkilling mechanism by which some antidepressant medications work is by increasing neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that help to reduce pain signals. This is not an immediate solution; it can take up to a week or more before any pain relief is noted or experienced. Generally, this medication will provide mild to moderate pain relief, and the most common type of antidepressant medicine used for pain-management are Tricyclic antidepressants.
Skeletal Muscle Relaxants: This class of drugs, most notably known by the name Baclofen achieve analgesia by inhibiting the release of presynaptic excitatory amino acids. It's primarily indicated as a muscle relaxant to help stop muscle spasms and can aid in conditions such as restless leg syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
By no means is this list of natural and non-addicting alternatives to opiate painkillers exhaustive. However, these alternatives have a well-established combination of evidence-based research in regard to their efficacy for pain-management as well as large amounts of anecdotal evidence for their effectiveness in reducing pain. Consultation with your doctor and/or pharmacist to develop an effective treatment plan for your circumstances should always be your primary consideration when determining your best course of action for alternative and non-addicting pain-relief.
Check if CalmSupport May Be Helpful at Reducing Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
In addition, when you purchase CalmSupport - you also receive a free 17-page eBook to assist you in your recovery and transitioning to your new lifestyle. You can find more information regarding the Opiate Recovery Lifestyle Guide here. You may also be considering whether you should quit 'cold-turkey' or if you should 'taper' (gradually reduce) your opiate intake. You can find more information on tapering from opiates to determine what recovery-path is best suited for your situation.