Chronic Pain is exhausting! It can rob you not only of comfort, but of vital life force which allows you the energy to participate in enjoyable events or even regular daily activities, such as functioning at work. Pain can also affect intimate relationships. For example, acting stoic all day to hide discomfort can be so draining that when returns home to their loved ones, the resulting chronic stress and run-down feeling causes one to be snappy and ill-tempered to the people they adore most.
Pain can be related to a variety of underlying conditions, including injuries and chronic diseases, such as cancer, degenerative diseases, and nervous system disorders. As an integrative practitioner, my job is to find the cause of these chronic diseases, usually this relates to underlying inflammation.
Many are familiar with the inflammatory response, the common symptoms of swelling, redness, and pain resulting after a broken bone or laceration is usually an unwelcome annoyance. Still, inflammation, when kept in check, is a natural healing response. During any acute or chronic trauma, chemical messengers (cytokines) are released to rush to the site of injury and to signal various white blood cells and mediators to the site of injury to aid in tissue regeneration.
However, if the immune system is not functioning effectively, inflammation continues and can become degnerative, not restorative. Chronic immune stimulation can be related to underlying chronic disease processes, hormonal imbalances, auto-immunity, bacterial overgrowth, or toxicity from environmental triggers and processed foods.
When inflammation is not toned down and these mediators continue to activate enzymes and other chemical signals, the result can be a break-down in various organ systems. Without treating the underlying cause of inflammation, the body will consistently send pain signals to the brain in order to bring attention to the healing site. This can cause drug dependency.
At the root of chronic illness is usually a gastro-intestinal imbalance. I have written many articles on this gut-brain connection, which has been linked to many autoimmune process and chronic inflammation.
According to Dr. Vergnolle:
The enteric nervous system (ENS) plays a pivotal role in inflammatory and nociceptive processes. Drugs that interact with the ENS have recently raised considerable interest because of their capacity to regulate numerous aspects of the gut physiology and pathophysiology. The present article summarizes recent research on proteinases and proteinase-activated receptors (PARs) as signalling molecules in the ENS. In particular, experiments in animal models suggest that PAR2 is important to neurogenic inflammation in the intestine. Moreover, PAR2 agonists seem to induce intestinal hypersensitivity and hyperalgesic states, suggesting a role for this receptor in visceral pain perception. Thus, PARs, together with the proteinases that activate them, represent exciting new targets for therapeutic intervention on the ENS.
What this means is that the gut releases inflammatory mediators in response to noxious stimuli, causing pain signals to travel from the gut to the brain.
Still, as the body’s underlying cause of pain and inflammation is being restored, what about dealing with the acute pain now? Recently, an article in webmd on chronic pain relief reported the link between chronic pain and neurotransmitters:
In past generations, people often heard that chronic pain was “all in their heads,” says Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, MPH, director of pain management at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
Today’s pain specialists understand how the sensation of pain occurs — how the nervous system, including the spinal cord, interacts with the brain to create that sensation, Gallagher says.
Insights into the neurotransmitter system — the chemical messengers that pass nerve signals — have opened the door for important new modes of chronic pain relief, he explains. In recent years, scientists have learned how to manipulate those chemical messengers to change the way they interact with the brain’s signals.
That’s led to use of antidepressants and other drugs that work with specific brain chemicals that affect emotions, and help with perception of pain. “We now have a whole new host of medications that are very effective” for chronic pain relief, Gallagher tells WebMD.
Recently, I have been integrating functional medical diagnostics and neurotransmitters in my practice with incredible results. By directly searching for imbalances in brain patterns and cellular biology, many chronic conditions that have been treated through supplement or drug roulettes, can be relieved- faster than expected.
For example, by supplying substances such as l-theanine, the mind can be calmed and inflammation can be stomped! Furthermore, supplying precursors to overall mood substances, such as serotonin, can affect inflammation from hormonal imbalances.
Finally, old emotional traumas and pain can cause chronic stress which increases inflammation. EFT can be very helpful for this. Click here for information on EFT from Dr. Mercola’s website.
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Maes M, Kubera M, Leunis JC. The gut-brain barrier in major depression: intestinal mucosal dysfunction with an increased translocation of LPS from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) plays a role in the inflammatory pathophysiology of depression. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Feb;29(1):117-24. PMID: 18283240
Inflammation & Mood Disorders: Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M.Sc., M.T. The Mucosal Barrier Function Test. Functional Medicine teleseminar experts 2009 (Sept) Sponsor: BioHealth Diagnostic.
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Dysbiosis causes an increase in the release chemicals and cytokines into the bloodstream resulting in inflammation Cytokines create imbalance of the TH1/TH2 immune response, increase of hydrogen peroxidase, free radicals, monocytes