31.10.2016 Eastern Healing

Treating Inflammation

Avoiding the side effects of long-term painkillers is yet another reason to consider alternative treatments for pain, says Olivier LeJus

One of the most common causes of pain is the result of inflammation in the body. In most cases, getting an inflammatory response is actually a positive, being a sign that the body’s immune system has been activated and that it is defending itself against harmful bacteria, irritants, or pathogens. Without inflammation, infections and wounds would never heal.

As soon as a potential threat to our health is detected, a comprehensive defence process is triggered.

The first stage of inflammation is often called irritation. The body’s smallest blood arteries, the arterioles, immediately dilate to speed up the delivery of protective white blood cells and specialised agents, called microphages, which seek and destroy harmful substances.

Unfortunately, the expansion of these little blood vessels pushes them against the nerve endings, so the area soon becomes very sensitive to pressure. The increased blood supply also causes the skin to become red and hot to touch, while the extra fluid supply makes it swollen, causing restriction of movements.

Inflammation is followed by the discharge of pus. Finally, there is the granulation stage, which is the formation of a network of new fibres crisscrossing each other to create new tissue and skin over the existing wound.

Unfortunately, when chronic inflammation remains for long periods of time and is not treated adequately, it can cause long-term damage to the cells, which are the basic structures of the body. This results in degenerative conditions, such as coronary artery disease, arthritis, cancer and others.

While taking anti-inflammatory medications can be effective to stop the pain, the natural recovery process is disturbed. In addition, the medication itself is a toxin that needs to be eliminated through the same pathway responsible for detoxifying our cells.

Other common side effects of long-term painkillers include stomach pain, internal bleeding and drug interactions.

When the liver gets overloaded, it becomes damaged. This explains why anyone on a long-term prescription of these drugs needs to undertake a liver function test on a regular basis. Other common side effects of long-term painkillers include stomach pain, internal bleeding and drug interactions.

Humans have been seeking herbal remedies to relieve pain and assist healing for thousands of years. Many of these herbs are still used today, and some of them have attained an almost mystical status.

Myrrh and frankincense

Myrrh and frankincense are little shrubs commonly seen in the Middle East. Despite their commonplace status, these two plants have a spiritual significance in religion. In the Bible, the Three Wise Men deliver offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Myrrh is also used to soothe his dying body after the crucifixion.

We see these herbs, which were valued like gold in these ancient times, mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament. Myrrh was also been used in Egypt for embalming the bodies of Pharaohs.

Centuries later, myrrh and frankincense are still an integral part of both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

These valuable plants, which had been traded throughout the Middle East since 1500BC were gradually introduced into China and India. Frankincense soon became a major component of incense used for spiritual worship in Indian temples. Centuries later, both herbs are still an integral part of both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

These two plants have historically been used together due to their synergetic action, as each plant increases the therapeutic action of the other. Myrrh is neutral, bitter and draining in nature. It disperses swellings and is effective to stop the pain and increase blood circulation, while frankincense is more warming and acrid.

In Oriental medicine, myrrh and frankincense are prescribed for the treatment of wounds, stomach pain, painful periods, arthritis, as well as scars and skin inflammation due to Qi stagnation and blood stasis.

Indian-born Dr Mohammed Majeed, a graduate of the Indian University of Kerala, has undertaken intensive research studies into the pharmaceutical affects of these two substances. According to his findings, myrrh has a chemical component called guggulsterone, which lowers blood lipids, including cholesterol. Frankincense has a high concentration of boswellic acid, a chemical component with potent anti-inflammatory activity, which is now considered to have anticarcinogenic properties.

Effect of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is also well known for its neuralgic effects.Specific acupuncture points have been prescribed for the treatment of pain for millennia, but it has always been very difficult to explain how it actually works. Now a recent Western medical study published in Molecular Neurobiology journal indicates that acupuncture causes a special biochemical response that reduces inflammation and muscle pain. According to the authors of the report, “Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted.”

Another reputable study on the same topic concluded, “The use of acupuncture as an adjunct therapy to conventional medical treatment for a number of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases seems plausible and should be validated by confirming its cholinergicity.”

It is worth considering that with acupuncture, Ayurveda and Chinese herbal medicine, all the side effects of taking Western anti-inflammation medications are avoided, and the body is assisted in the road to recovery, which is really what nature intended to do in the first place.

Olivier Lejus

Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com