S.H.I.N.E. Away Your Pain
With my "How to Stop the Pain" segment on The Ricki Lake Show scheduled to air this Friday, I thought it would be a good time to review a few thoughts you should know about on natural approaches for managing pain.
The first thing to always remember is that pain is not your enemy! Just as your car's dashboard lights up to tell you it needs an oil change, pain can be a helpful early warning that your body has a health issue that needs attention. Annoying though they may be, both signals are a way to get your attention so that you can deal with a situation before it becomes worse. So feelings of pain can actually be your friend.
The difficulty comes in when you can't identify the root cause of your pain. The sting from a paper cut has an obvious source, but other pains — particularly when they're chronic — can be the result of very subtle heath issues that aren't so easy to pinpoint. This is particularly true in folks who have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, and it's one of the reasons I created the S.H.I.N.E. protocol.
Remember that S.H.I.N.E. stands for Sleep, Hormonal support, treating Infections & inflammation, Nutritional support, and Exercise. When you take proper care of yourself in each of these fives areas, you create a truly holistic approach to helping your body avoid unnecessary pain from hidden causes. Let's briefly review each and remind you of a few natural alternatives that can help you stay pain free.
Get Adequate Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can often contribute to developing ongoing joint and muscle discomfort. That's because your body uses sleep to repair the daily tissue damage that results from muscle overuse. Though most people in today's hectic world find it tough to do, you really should make it a priority to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. It's not enough to skip out on good sleep night after night and then "catch up" on the weekends — because catching up on sleep is a myth. It doesn't work.
A few tips to help you sleep better include:
- Don't drink alcohol near bedtime or caffeine after 4:00 pm.
- Don't use your bed for problem solving or doing work.
- Take a hot bath before bed.
- Lower your bedroom temperature at night.
- If your partner snores, consider a separate bedroom.
If you still have occasional difficulty falling or staying asleep, try using an herbal mix designed for sleep support. Look for herbal formulas that contain ingredients such as theanine, Jamaican Dogwood, wild lettuce, valerian, passionflower and hops. (Two herbal sleep formulas I recommend are Fatigued to Fantastic! Revitalizing Sleep Formula and Sleep Tonight!, both made by by Enzymatic Therapy.)
Promote Healthy Hormones
Unexplained pain can sometimes be the result of hormonal deficiencies. Underactive thyroid function, in particular, can be an undiagnosed issue that leads to ongoing physical discomfort, as well as unusual weight gain.
Fortunately, an underactive thyroid is often easy to treat. If you experience chronic fatigue and have achy muscles and joints, heavy periods, constipation, easy weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, thin hair, a change in your ankle reflexes (called a delayed relaxation of the deep tendon reflex, or DTR), or a body temperature that tends to be on the low side of normal, you should see a physician and consider asking him to prescribe a low dose of Armour thyroid hormone.
Herbal alternatives that can help maintain normal thyroid function also exist. Generally referred to as "thyroid grandulars," these natural supplements provide essential nutrients and synergists for support of normal thyroid function. Ingredients should include a high quality glandular extract and supporting nutrients such as iodine, zinc, copper and L-thyrosine. (An excellent thyroid glandular I recommend is BMR Complex by Integrative Therapeutics.)
Protect Against Infections & Overactive Immune Function
An undetected infection within your body can sometimes be the source of unexplained pain. In my practice, I frequently find yeast overgrowth to be the culprit. To avoid this, it can be helpful to take an herbal mix designed to help regulate normal levels of the body's yeast production, and avoid excess sugar.
An overheated immune system can also contribute to soreness and aches. Herbal formulas can help provide relief for occasional muscle discomfort and other pains. Good blends should include boswellia and white willow bark. A relatively new herbal that's been getting a lot of attention for its pain soothing properties is curcumin. (Herbal formulas I recommend for these, respectively, are Fatigued to Fantastic! End Pain Formula by Enzymatic Therapy, and Curamin by EuroPharma.)
Ensure Daily Nutritional Needs Are Met
The typical modern diet is notoriously deficient is providing the complete set of daily nutrients your body needs. And without adequate nutrition, your body has a tough time trying to keep tissue healthy and bodily systems running smoothly. The fuel just isn't there. One of the easiest and best habits you can adopt to ensure nutrition doesn't contribute to unnecessary aches and pain is to simply take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement (best to use a powder form of multivitamin to get the equivalent of dozens of vitamin pills in a single tasty drink mix!).
Another daily supplement you should consider taking is called ribose. I've mentioned this in numerous other articles, but I'm so impressed with the benefits of taking ribose that I find it important to include a mention of it whenever I discuss daily nutrition. Ribose not only helps you maintain healthy energy levels, but studies show that it may also help reduce muscle stiffness, soreness and fatigue that results from muscle overuse. (My recommended daily vitamin powder, as you all know, is Fatigued to Fantastic! Energy Revitalization System by Enzymatic Therapy. I recommend Corvalen by BioEnergy Labs as a great source for ribose.)
Exercise as Able
Though muscle overuse can produce pain, moderate exercise to keep your muscles reasonably conditioned is essential for avoiding pain. If you haven't been getting exercise in a while and your condition is less than it should be, ease into a new program only to the extent you are able. Start with a nice regular evening stroll. Over time, work your way up to longer distances as you are able to comfortably tolerate them.
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