In a recent article from the ACP internist March 2021 volume 41 number 3 an article by author Charlotte Huff states that “roughly 40% of adult women develop some type of anxiety disorder during their lifetime compared to 26.4% of men” which is a quotation taken from the international journal of methods and psychiatry research.
In my medical practice, I frequently treat patients with the diagnosis of anxiety. Unfortunately, the Pandemic of 2020 drastically increased the occurrence of anxiety in my medical practice. The Pandemic has increased worry, and there are certainly many reasons to be anxious.
My own observations, which are not necessarily quantifiable or have any research to back them up, I am witnessing a sharp increase in patients presenting with anxiety or anxiety like symptoms. Interestingly, I noticed the biggest increase after the wintertime surges.
They’re actually many forms of anxiety. Generalizes anxiety disorder is the anxiety disorder I encounter most medical practice. Other forms of anxiety include social phobias, agoraphobia, or anxiety related to public speaking. Anxiety may also be a component of another psychiatric disorder such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder, is characterized by persistent worry that leads to life changing consequences that last over 6 months. The classification is important because the emotion of anxiety happens to all of us. The distinction must be made when these symptoms are impacting the quality of life.
The typical symptoms of anxiety include but are not limited to:
- Excessive Worry
- Inability to rest or relax
- Tense muscles
- Poor quality sleep
Anxiety can lead to many physical symptoms including:
- Excessive sweating
- Digestive issues
- Muscle spasms
Many factors can put a person at risk, but it seems the greatest risk factor is being female.
We all have times we feel anxious. Having transitory “butterflies in the stomach” or feeling on edge is a normal part of the human experience. It is when these symptoms persist, occur frequently, or interrupt daily activities that it may require management by a healthcare professional.
If you’re suffering from symptoms of anxiety, it is important to know where to turn to for help. If you have a relationship with a physician or care provider such as a Primary Care doctor, they are often more than ready to help you. If you do not, the next best step is to try to find someone to see on a regular basis. If you don’t have health insurance, many state agencies have helplines such as 211 that can help get you to resources. In any case, it is usually impossible to determine by yourself how to figure your symptoms truly if they require treatment.
A complete history and physical exam is recommended to make sure no medical diagnosis could be causing the symptoms.
Once anxiety has been confirmed with the diagnosis by healthcare professional, treatment options can include but are not limited to:
These treatment options require evaluation and recommendations of a healthcare professional. Treatment must be individualized and tailored to each person’s needs. Once treatment is selected, monitoring will need to continue potentially for several months.
Beyond what happens in the clinic, if you have been diagnosed with anxiety or are worried you may be at risk or developing anxiety that is clinical there are things that you can do for yourself at home to improve your symptoms.
- The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners
- The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation
- The Basic Elements of Meditation
- 3 Physical Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is the perfect compliment to medical treatment or therapy. Meditation often reduces the symptoms of anxiety immediately and when performed daily will help long-term.
If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of meditation I want to gently remind you that anyone can meditate. please now that even if on the inside your thoughts are racing and you don’t think you can find peace, just the attempt at meditation will reap benefits.
I frequently mention Yoga as a self-care modality that can be included with medication and with meditation when managing anxiety. Yoga has been clinically proven to help reduce the symptoms anxiety
One of the important aspects of Yoga that can help alleviate anxiety is the focus on breath work. individuals suffering from anxiety often have little to no awareness of how they breathe on a regular basis. Because they tend to breathe in a shallow manner they often don’t realize that they set the stage for anxiety attacks. The practice of yoga can help those suffering from anxiety learn how to work with their chest and their belly to breathe effectively in order to reduce the pulse. In this way is how yoga will help reduce anxiety in the immediate.
Aromatherapy has grown in popularity over the years. The science of aromatherapy involves engaging the olfactory nerve which has a very strong connection to the brain to create therapeutic benefits. Aromatherapy and the form of essential oils can be therapeutic and lower anxiety. Also, aromatherapy can be pleasing and pleasurable to the senses.
Essential oils can be very expensive. Because of this, I usually limit my recommendations to a few essential oils that are relatively well tolerated can be found in most natural food stores.
- Lavender next paragraph
If you are considering using aromatherapy, I recommend diluting essential oils and a high quality carrier oil and using a roller bottle. This makes carrying aromatherapy with you throughout the day much easier and less messy. this also allows for a very light application if you’re wanting to keep the smell in a limited area.
If you are managing anxiety it is important to realize that your anxiety may take a long time to improve. You want to be patient, gentle and caring with yourself. Do not rush yourself to “get back to normal”.
Going to level deeper, as you journey through your experience of anxiety you may want to sit with the feeling to learn what the anxiety is teaching you. Anxiety rarely occurs for no reason at all. With the help of a skilled therapist, it is likely you will learn more about yourself and the way you exist in the world that has led to your experience with anxiety. Anxiety can become a learning opportunity for your soul. Anxiety is going to teach you something, so if possible try to learn what it is that you need to about yourself.
As a thank you for spending time learning about a difficult topic you may download my channel negative emotions meditation I created. There are many ways that you can meditate. This particular meditation I created to harness the energy of unwanted emotions and channel them for the greater good.
Reiki is a healing modality that can be done in person or done at a distance. This can be done in a variety of ways. Distance Reiki sessions can be done by phone, video conference, email, or by setting an agreed upon date and time in which the session will be performed. Those that are unfamiliar with the treatment modality this seems odd that something that’s meant to heal the mind, body and soul can be done without the healer and receiver being in the same room.
Due to the pandemic, we are discovering that care can happen virtually and be effective. Telemedicine which was always available prior to the pandemic became the mainstay of care throughout the pandemic. I personally cared for many patients infected with coronavirus through virtual medicine throughout the pandemic.
Reiki II Practitioner
There are three degrees of Reiki training. First degree practitioners can perform Reiki on themselves. As a secondary practitioner has the training and attunement to perform Reiki on others as well as themselves. This separation of degrees implies that the Reiki II practitioner should have more experience, at least by treating themselves, and hopefully has experience with meditation. The Reiki II practitioner is the level in which Reiki students learn Distance Healing. This is important because the recipient can have trust that the healer has some experience. Reiki II practitioners devote a significant time in their training learning how to deliver Reiki through space and time.
How Does Distance Reiki Work?
Reiki is channeling of energy that is pure, loving and healing. Reiki Energy, like any other energy, is not limited to a specific time and place. We are surrounded by energy frequencies of all kinds, from radio waves, to Wi-Fi signals to infrared waves. These energies are invisible to the human eye, just as Reiki is. It takes some acceptance of Reiki as a form of purse energy to accept that it can be delivered in person or distance with equal efficacy.
When to Consider Distance Reiki
Distance Reiki Sessions are a powerful antidote to lack of access to healing. There are no limits on how Reiki Clients may find healers, and the use of technology further eases this. Reiki can be delivered by telephone, video chat, text message, or without direct communication.
In my Reiki practice, I was able to treat clients that were infected with Coronavirus while they were infectious using Distance Reiki. This experience was powerful, knowing that I could help without putting my safety or my families safety at risk.
Distance Reiki has endless possibilities when treating hospitalized patients or patients undergoing surgery. This can be arranged before a planned surgery or procedure. If the client agrees to receive Reiki during this time, then all that’s left is for the session to start at the agreed upon time.
“What if I don’t know Reiki, can I send Healing Energy?”
Yes! Reiki is a healing modality that involves mental training. However, if you want to help someone and don’t know Reiki, yes you can send healing energy.
If you have a spiritual practice, use a prayer session to help the person. I recommend praying in the fashion you feel most comfortable. There are many clinical studies showing that prayer
If you don’t engage in prayer, you can use a Healing Intention, which can send wherever it’s needed. You can write down what it is you want healing for, then meditate, visualizing
Distance Reiki’s Role in a Post Pandemic World
The healing energy of Distance Reiki can and will help many of us recover from so many changes in our world after the pandemic. As life become gradually safer, it can still be nerve wracking to think of leaving home for in person services. Have a practice such a Distance Reiki Provides the ease and security of an in person session without having to wear person protective equipment.
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I recently had the honor of speaking with Sara Alavi. Sara has an incredible story, having overcomes Multiple Sclerosis and heart disease by pursuing her own personal healing journey of meditation, Yoga, Reiki, and many other healing modalities. Sara created Yoga Home of Therapeutics, a yoga studio that has trained many Yoga Instructors, Reiki Healers and other healers that have worked across the globe. She has instructed thousands of students in Yoga meditation as well has treated thousands with her Intuitive Healing services. Sara is my personal Guru. I was blessed to have been introduced to her by a dear friend when I began attending her studio where I was fortunate to train as a Yoga Instructor, Reiki Healer, as well as many wonderful workshops. Sara is now providing her amazing healing skills on her website Sara Alavi Intuitive Healer. She is offering many powerful healing techniques, including Yoga Therapy. I often share with my patients and clients the importance of Yoga and how it can help in bringing balance to the body.
I really wanted to go deeper into Yoga Therapy and what is offered with this service. The following is our discussion on the role Yoga Therapy plays in healing and resilience.
“What is Yoga Therapy?”
Sara shared with me the following:
“Yoga in the West is portrayed mostly as a Yoga poses. This is because people gravitate towards this aspect of Yoga, and rarely go into the depths of the Yoga poses. Most Yoga classes focus on the poses, mainly alignment and breathing. Most Yoga classes tend to focus on alignment and breathing. Most students will learn asana, meditation and relaxation. In the west, more value is based on the physical body appearing strong, creating a strong, healthy body. Why the west focuses so much on the poses is that in the West, we tend to focus more on external appearance on Yoga Poses. Yoga in the west often overlooks the depths of Yoga beyond asana.“
“Yoga therapy looks at the person as a whole, seeing the human body as a universe. Yoga therapists view the person as a mind, body, brain, emotions, and feelings. The Yoga Therapist sees the person as presenting with a past that includes times in the lifetime as well as past lifetimes. “
According to Sara, Yoga Therapy approaches the individual as a whole, and not only takes into account the current issues such as pain, physical illness and emotional suffering. Yoga Therapy embraces the human being as what Dr. Richard Weber, author of Vibrational Medicine, would say, “Multidimensional beings of energy.” Yoga therapy not only addresses challenges in this life, the ancient healing modality can address past life dissonance. Yoga Therapy uses energy in the physical body to heal the mind and body.
Yoga Therapy is an individualized approach to health and wellness. Rather than a classroom setting in which students follow the instructor, individuals work one on one with a highly trained instructor such as Sara to achieve results. As a practicing physician, I find this approach very attractive since Yoga can be tailored to individual needs.
Issues Addressed in Yoga Therapy
- Past Life
An important aspect of Yoga Therapy is consideration of personal past history as well as karmic past history. Yoga Therapy takes into account the individuals history of reincarnation, and how that may play a role in current illness.
“What kind of conditions does yoga therapy help?”
Yoga therapy can address many different needs, from feelings of disconnection, depression, to severe autoimmune diseases such as Lupus. Sara learned Yoga herself to overcome a major neurological disorder by practicing Yoga. Her experience has translated to a Yoga practice that has not only educated and trained many instructors, but has also aided thousands through their own personal trials.
According to Sara, the Yoga Therapy Client learns about this body, both physical and energy body. “Pranayama kosha, the energy source that sustains your life“, is used to heal the body, mind and soul naturally in Yoga Therapy.
“Yoga therapy allows the person to feel at peace and calm and harmonious within themselves,” which can help with healing, living through, surviving, or accepting a difficult diagnosis. Sara has applied the healing modality even to clients who are preparing to die.
“How does yoga improve resilience?”
I have wanted to focus on resilience during the month of March 2021.
Have a listen to “Reiki as a Resilience Lifestyle” on the Art of Healing Podcast
We have all seen and been through so much. As I have posted in previous blog posts and my podcast, resilience sometimes is the last tool to helping in getting through challenges in life.
Here is Sara’s Response:
“Everyone deserves prosperity, abundance of love, joy, peace and wisdom. With Yoga Therapy, you never run out of tools for healing. Because of the depth and breadth of Yoga Therapy, there is always some aspect of Yoga Therapy that can improve strength and resilience.”
Sara also shared with me something I found very interesting, and comforting. In her Yoga Therapy Practice, she has has new clients that were facing a disease that would end their lives. These students wanted to work with Sara in Yoga therapy to help in the process of dying. She shared with me that for these individuals, the practice of Yoga Therapy helped to being peace, acceptance and calm to a difficult process. This effect spread to the families of the dying individual.
I have so many exciting things coming! Let’s keep in touch, sign up for my newsletter to get the latest news and announcements from Healing Arts.
Merriam-Webster defines resilience as ” the ability to recover from or just easily to misfortune or change”. I think it’s easy to say that after the wide sweeping changes created by the pandemic that all of us need to consider how we will further develop our resilience.
In the podcast, Reiki as a Resilience Lifestyle podcast I discussed my ”Energy Tank”. I had this mental concept of the tank within myself that’s stored my life force. When it was full, I felt good. my energy was high, I could think clearly, I was productive at work and caring for my patients and present in my relationships. When it was low, I was prone to illness, irritable, promised insomnia, and performed poorly. This internal monitoring system was a great way for me to tune in to myself. The problem with this “Energy Tank” was that the energy could be drained by external factors. I also had to rely on external factors to refill the tank. This sort of fueling sapped my energy and prevented me from developing true resilience to survive life’s challenges.
Resilience is necessary. We cant avoid life’s challenges. Unexpected changes come up. When we can avoid unpleasant events, of course we want to. However, there will be times we can’t avoid pain and suffering. So having a plan to deal with life challenges is the next step.
Reiki Before the Challenge
There are not many guarantees in life, but one is that change is inevitable. There’s simply no way around it. No matter how well your life is going, eventually there will be illness, a death, a job loss or some other devastating event. Having a healing tool such as Reiki can help to anticipate and prepare yourself for oncoming challenges. Quieting the mind with a practice such as self Reiki or meditation helps to improve intuition. When the mind chatter subsides, solutions may arise. Problems may seem to resolve themselves. This isn’t to say that Reiki or meditation can make you psychic (although you may be born with gifts like this). Having a regular practice that makes space in your mind for calmness creates a cushion that can help to buffer even the greatest challenges in life.
Reiki During the Challenge
Remaining grounded during the challenge helps to make any of life’s challenges easier to bear. I perform daily self Reiki when I am going through my own personal challenges. I still go through all the emotions of grief, anger, or overwhelm, but having the personal healing practice helps each difficult phase to pass in it’s own time. I have found that Reiki helps me return to my center even during the most challenging times.
Reiki for Recovering from Challenge
Once the challenging event has occurred, recovery and healing are equally as important as anticipation and survival. Reiki as a personal healing practice can help with this. Depending on what event you have been through it may be possible to do your own self healing, You may also want to consider having someone in your corner such as a professional healer. After surgery, for example, Reiki can help with the healing and recovery. Performing self Reiki may be difficult during a medical recovery, so consider having a relationship with a Reiki practitioner. If you are the Reiki practitioner and you are attuned to the level two symbols you may consider sending yourself Reiki into the future to help healing your recovery you have the ability to plan for the event.
I have found personally that my own resilience has improved my performing daily Reiki. Meditation on a regular basis also can improve mental and physical resilience, allowing for the mind and body to recover.
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Rest is important. Resting lets the body heal and recover. We need deep restorative rest and sleep in order to develop resilience.
In this blog post, I’m going to cover what happens during sleep. Understanding sleep as a bodily function gives us insight into any barriers to resting and recovering from the daily traumas of life. The prevalence of insomnia disorder is approximately 10-20%, with approximately 50% having a chronic course1. Insomnia requires a holistic approach. In traditional medical practice we are accustomed to prescribing a medication with the hopes of immediate induction of sleep. Short term this will work, but unless we go deeper, start asking more questions, we don’t get to the root cause of insomnia. Medical research has shown that the best treatment for insomnia is behavioral treatment. The American College of Physicians recommends that all adult patients receive cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), as the initial treatment for chronic insomnia disorder2. Furthermore, “many medications used regularly and long term for insomnia disorders have an FDA indication only for short-term, as-needed use, in part because hypnotics are associated with dementia, fracture, major injuries, and possibly cancer”3.
Sleep follows a pattern that starts from being awake to deep sleep. Let’s journey through the sleep process from the most wakeful state to the deep sleep. I feel that in order to improve your rest you should have an understanding of what happens when you are resting.
The Awake Brain
During the day, your brain is in its full functional state. Your sensory organs are fully engaged, allowing for sight, hearing, touch, taste and scent. Your eyes will operate normally, and your blink reflex (the response to a fast moving object coming towards your face) is active. You are also in complete control of your motor cortex, so you have full control of your muscles, allowing for normal movements. Your reflexes operate normally. One example, which is the blink reflex, operates normally during the awake cycle. If an object is coming towards your face rapidly you will blink involuntarily.
Your cardiovascular and respiratory system will typically work automatically. The heart and lungs will take information from the vagus nerve about what is going on in the body. Both organs will also have their own monitoring of the blood in the form of oxygen levels, carbon dioxide levels, and other information to adjust how fast the heart will beat and how rapidly the lungs will respirate. You can override the automatic breathing cycle yourself by doing something like meditation or breath holding.
During the awake state, your digestive system is ready to work, and particularly during the day hours the stomach, small intestines, and colon work in coordination to digest for and extract nutrients as well as eliminate waste.
It is important to understand that what happens to your mind and body during that will determine your quality of sleep that night. If your brain has been in a constant state of hyperalertness, or stress, you will likely notice trouble initiating the next step in sleep, drowsiness. If your mind has been holding on to thoughts of worry, and constantly recycling these thoughts, this may disrupt the relaxation that is needed to initiate restorative sleep. The pineal gland which produces melatonin has a connection with the optic nerves. if there is a constant source of light hitting the optic nerves well into the evening this will suppress the production of melatonin thus the connection with excessive screen time and insomnia. Melatonin production actually begins fairly early in the day but gradually increases in the evening hitting a high point before we hit the next stage which is drowsiness.
The Drowsy Brain
Drowsiness is the gradual development that we associate with starting to feel sleepy. You begin to register the sensation of feeling sleepy when your blood pressure begins to drop. Your heart rate will also begin to slow down. Your ability to form new memories decreases, and any new information that reaches your brain will not be stored. The electrical activity in your brain begins to change as well which can be seen on an EEG. This corresponds to an alteration in your eyes, which will start an automatic slow back and forth movement. Drowsiness requires a state of deep relaxation. If something disrupts the drowsy states, the onset of sleep may be delayed or completely aborted.
Light sleep will follow drowsiness. The electrical activity of the brain will continue to change, reflecting lower amplitude of activity on EEG’s. The eyes will stop moving at this point, tending to stay in oe place. Breathing is now automatic and no longer under the control of the conscious brain. When you’re awake, if you hold your breath, you will get a strong urge to breathe within a few seconds due to your body’s mechanism to respond to elevated carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream. In Light Sleep, your body may not respond to breath holding. Individuals suffering from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea may have prolonged periods of breath holding in light sleep and not wake up. Roughly half of the night will be spent in Light Sleep.
In the Deep Sleep stage, brain activity continues to slow even more. Your brain will cycle between light sleep and deep sleep several times throughout the night. The body is even less responsive to rises in carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. The conscious brain’s control of the body has been released. Dreaming does not occur yet. Deep sleep sets the stage for the most important portion of the sleep session, REM sleep.
REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, is the necessary sleep stage that allows for true rest. It is during this phase that the voluntary control over your muscles is no longer present; This is the stage of sleep when dreams occur. Voluntary control over your muscles or your breathing. So you are in a way paralyzed. Many individuals describe an event of waking up from a deep sleep being completely paralyzed. This phenomenon is believed to occur during REM sleep. Likely the brain is aroused for some reason but the body remains paralyzed. There is enough consciousness that the person is aware that they are unable to move their body. when I’ve discussed this event with patients almost all of them return to some form of sleep after it has happened.
After going through several cycles of sleep throughout a night, your body will prepare to wakes itself. In the early morning hours, your blood sugar will rise. This effect can become exaggerated in diabetics, leading to the Dawn Phenomenon, or early morning high blood sugars despite being in a fasting state. Your cardiovascular system will prepare to become upright by causing a rise in the pulse and blood pressure. In individuals with high blood pressure, this natural process may be exaggerated, leading to very high blood pressures upon waking up in the morning.. Those individuals may know very high readings when they first wake up in the morning. The endocrine system also becomes very busy in the early morning hours. The adrenal glands begin to produce higher levels of cortisol preparing the body to become more alert.
Sleeping is a complex process, and as you can see, there are many steps in the process to ensure a good night’s sleep. It is easy to take the process of sleep for granted. Understanding that sleep is a complex biological process that requires the coordination of multiple systems in the body helps us to realize how insomnia occurs so easily.
- Buysse DJ. Insomnia. JAMA. 2013 Feb 20;309(7):706-16. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.193. Review.
- Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Adults: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine,165(2), 125. doi:10.7326/m15-2175
- Wilt, T. J. (n.d.). Pharmacologic Treatment of Insomnia Disorder. Annals of Internal Medicine.
In this blog post I’ll attempt to describe how Reiki heals injury and illness.
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What is Healing?
I browsed my personal library to find a definition of healing. Healing is a process. It starts with an injury or an illness of some sort. The injury or illness may be sudden, such as an infection or a fractured bone.
Explaining how healing will occur in traditional medicine tends to be fairly straight forward. A bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics, which are meant to kill the bacterial growth. We use surgery or a cast on a fractured bone. These therapies are tangible and easy to imagine.
Reiki heals the mind, body, and soul on an energetic level. this means that the healing process will not likely be visible. Possibly, the receiver may not actually feel the healing working at that time. To accept this means to accept on faith that healing is occurring. Why is this?
The Power of Intention
Reiki treatment is delivered with the intention of healing. The power behind Reiki is that treatment is initiated with mindfulness. All of the treatment is responsive to the energy, it is a belief that Reiki energy has its own intelligence and will go where it’s needed most. This means that the powerful healing intention of Reiki can allow for healing much more than an acute or chronic injury that captures the sufferers attention at that time.
This not to say that healing and other modalities such as allopathic medicine, chiropractor, or psychotherapy do not have healing intentions. All healers of all types intend to heal their patient or client as much as possible. the distinct difference between Reiki and in particular my area of allopathic medicine is that physicians are not trained on mindfulness and self care. physicians trained in allopathic medicine are often taught that care of a patient requires extreme personal sacrifice, pain and suffering, and should be done no matter how the healer is feeling. Naturally, this means that care is often being delivered in a substandard way. If the healer is not feeling well, how can they provide a healing environment for the patient?
Healing That’s Unseen
Most of us like to see results in terms of our healing. If I cut my hand, I see the stages of healing, from the formation of scab, to eventually a scar. If I’m working on weight loss, I will see the number on the scale go down. Having a visual process makes it easier to understand healing.
Reiki heals in ways we can feel, possibly during a session, but the healing may not be obvious. Some people feel sensations while they are receiving Reiki, such as heat, or a cool sensation or tingling. Others may feel relaxed or fall asleep.
Reiki is a treatment modality that does not create any obvious visual changes. This requires both the Reiki Practioner and the Reiki receiver to operate on faith that that healing is happening.
The Healing Intention
The power of Reiki healing is the intention. Intentions are much more powerful than we realize. So many times in life, we proceed through our actions without a deliberate intention. Particularly, when we rush, such as during most settings at work, we fly through our actions focused on productivity, and forgetting what our initial intention was.
The Reiki practitioner, who focuses energy from a higher source, is using a healing intention to help the client. The Reiki practitioner
Reiki and the Precepts
The Reiki precepts are the guiding principles that Reiki practitioners learn and use to guide their practice. These precepts set the tone of a Reiki session to assure that the overall tone of the healing is for the highest good.
Demystifying the Mystical
Reiki is generally accepted as Energy Medicine. The energy from a higher source is channeled into a living entity, person or animal, that supports the optimal function of life. We have some understanding of what energy this may be but overall, it is a mystery.
In a medical practice I prescribe medications on a regular basis. Although most these medications have an understood mode of action, many meetings appear to work by an unknown mechanism.
One example of this is the drug topiramate. It is a prescription medication frequently used to treat seizures, migraines, and psychological disorders.
According to Epocrates.com the mode of action of topiramate is: exact mechanism of action unknown; blocks voltage-dependent sodium channels; augments GABA activity; antagonizes glutamate receptors; inhibits carbonic anhydrasehttp://www.epocrates.com
So we we have some understanding of how this medications works, but we don’t exactly know. This drug has been tested clinically as well as prescribed for many years to patients. We have data that tells us overall this drug is safe when it’s needed, but it isn’t prescribed without acknowledging the risk.
We willingly accept topiramate is a valid medical treatment without being able to completely understand how it works. in addition, this is a medication that can have significant side effects. Yet we do this all the time.
The mechanism of Reiki and how it heals appears to be that it heals by gathering subtle energies that are programmed with healing intentions then channeled into a receiver in order to encourage the functioning of the mind as body together .
my opinion is that if we are willing to offer medications that we don’t understand the mechanism action, and other treatments we don’t fully understand, and accept that they carry significant impacts, why can we not accept a subtle energy healing modalities such as reiki? They are very few side effects to reiki. At the very worst it simply does not work. It requires almost no equipment. it can be provided in almost any setting. Most powerfully, the healer and the receiver don’t even need to be in the same time and space.
It is time to move medicine forward. We have to start loosening our grip on what we think works. I believe that as we move forward into the future, we will start to understand that healing is much more than what the eye can see.
Finally, the best way to understand Reiki if you are curious is to schedule a session for yourself.
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As we finish up with the winter months and the days get longer and brighter, we take notice of what could use some refreshing. Now that there’s more light shining in your house you start to notice dust in the corners. Similarly, I think most of us are starting to notice areas of neglect as we’ve been in survival mode getting through the winter.
This is an excellent time to focus your attention on rest, renewal, and resilience. Examining the quality of your rest, finding ways that you can renew yourself, and increasing your resilience are always to assure your health and wellness. Let’s discuss some simple ways we can do that.
Over the years I’m often surprised at how often I’m communicating to my patients that 5 to 6 hours of sleep is not enough for most of us. Honestly, I am guilty of this as well, often sleeping 6 hours a night and letting distractions keep me awake. Recently I got some simple, effective advice. I participated in my friend’s Cherie’s Reset program, a part of her program Edge of Becoming. I quickly discovered that my own tendency to not sleep enough hours could be dealt with very simply by making a few simple changes in my habits. What this means for me is concentrating my use of computers to certain times a day so that I’m not online in the evening.
Allowing for adequate time to sleep has a major impact on health. “Shorter sleep duration, measured by wrist actigraphy over a 7-day period, was prospectively associated with increased incidence of the common cold following experimental viral challenge.¹” In women, sleeping an average of less than 6 hours per night has been shown to lead to “cognitive decline and increased risk of cognitive impairment, including dementia” ².
If you have become accustomed to short sleep out of habit or necessity consider looking at your schedule now. I suspect that although you feel there are many obligations that require you to stay up late or get up early they’re not nearly as necessary as you feel they are. Deciding that you can sleep in an hour or go to bed earlier is simple and I would encourage you to do this. Ideally, you should attempt to alter your schedule so that you can allow for up to 7 hours of sleep at night at the minimum.
Much like physical rest, mental rest is necessary. No matter what you vocation is, likely it involves mental tasks that heavily tax your cognitive system. Taking short mental rest during the day through meditation is my go-to. I have been studying to become a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. I am studying the details of mindfulness meditation as a daily practice. Meditation should be accessible and easy to perform. Simplifying meditation to its most basic aspects, in my experience so far, has greatly increased the meditation experience. I often recommend tools to assist with meditation, such as music, nature sounds, or aromatherapy. Mindfulness meditation emphasizes attention, intention and attitude for the meditator. This means that the focus is continuously drawn inward. I am now meditating in pure silence for about 10 minutes a day. My meditation practice consists of this simple sequence:
10 Minute Mindfulness Practice
- Set a timer for 5 minutes
- For the first 5 minutes, practice deep belly breaths, focusing the attention on the breath entering the nostrils traveling to the chest. Follow the breath back from the chest to the nostrils.
- Reset the timer for 5 minutes
- This time, practice counting and breath:
- Inhale and count 1
- Hold the breath for a count of 1
- Exhale Counting
- Inhale and count 2
- Hold the breath for a count of 1
- Exhale, counting 2
- Continue until you reach the count of 10, the count backwards.
I enjoy this meditation because of the simplicity. No complicated techniques. No need for complicated visualizations. It’s truly an effective, no frills meditation practice.
DigestiveI rest, or bowel rest, is a term we commonly use in medicine to indicate that someone is going to have a period of time that they are not allowed to eat due to a medical condition. Bowel rest is a very important therapeutic tool to use in acutely ill patients. In patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as pancreatitis or blockage in the bowels, bowel rest or refraining from food or drink can allow the digestive system to heal. Intermittent fasting, which reminds me bowel rest uses medical care has been shown to have numerous health benefits including weight loss improving diabetes, and decreasing inflammatory markers. It can also be used in your everyday life. Many patients ask me about doing a fasting regimen or detox. This is very individualized, so depending on the patient this might be a good idea for them but also this needs to be approached carefully. Overall I would recommend discussing with your physician or care provider before taking all the detox are fasting regimen.
There are many health benefits to having extended periods of fasting throughout your regular schedule of digestive rest. This means eating dinner early and eating breakfast later. The digestive system does a lot of work whenever you eat. It requires extra blood flow to contract its muscles to digest and move the food through your system. Having periods of fasting, basically not snacking mindlessly can improve your sleep, mood, and help prevent unwanted weight gain.
As a Reiki Master, my favorite tool for renewal is a session of Reiki that I do on myself. I try to do a Reiki session on myself for at least 9 minutes a day but I will perform sessions up to 45 minutes a day if time is available. I can feel the cells in my body renewing themselves as the energy flows through my hands. Because I’m in a mindful state while I’m performing Reiki I can feel all of the stress of the world melt away. Even when I’m doing longer sessions it really doesn’t feel like it’s lasting for very long. I’ve been very fascinated with the after effects of Reiki on myself over the years. Sometimes I completed a session and felt 20 years younger and full of energy. Sometimes I’ve completed a session and I needed a nap. In any case, Reiki is intelligent healing. The energy goes where it’s needed and when it’s necessary. Its such a simple healing modality, but with time and practice, it can dissolve so much stress and worry.
There are times in life where we simply can’t avoid challenges or avoid unnecessary pain. There will be times where we simply have to go through what’s coming ahead of us. This is where resilience comes in. Resilience is the ability to heal and recover from trauma or injury Resilience requires healing on all levels including physical, emotional, mental as well as spiritual. The body can best heal and recover when it has everything it needs including nutrition, rest, fluids, and spiritual support.
Resilience improves with improve self-care. It is worth your time and energy to rest, renew, in order to achieve recently ends.
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1.Prather, A. A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. H., & Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep, 38(9), 1353–1359. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4968
2. Chen, J. C., Espeland, M. A., Brunner, R. L., Lovato, L. C., Wallace, R. B., Leng, X., Phillips, L. S., Robinson, J. G., Kotchen, J. M., Johnson, K. C., Manson, J. E., Stefanick, M. L., Sarto, G. E., & Mysiw, W. J. (2016). Sleep duration, cognitive decline, and dementia risk in older women. Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 12(1), 21–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2015.03.004
In the podcast from February 22, 2021, I discussed my philosophy on how chronic pain relates to the human biofield in the form of chakras. In this blog post I wanted explore this topic more in-depth, addressing some specific chronically painful disease and the relationship with the energy body.
Pain serves a purpose. Pain is a protective mechanism that helps us remove ourselves from danger, stop some sort of assault be it real or imagined, or bring the mind’s attention to one particular part of the body. Pain is the body’s way to speak to the mind to ask for help.
When assessing pain, I feel that it is important to make every attempt to examine what other issues are coming along with the pain. Traditional Western medicine tends to focus completely on the mechanics of the chronic pain. I have found that shining a light on the emotional issues that occur with the chronic pain can speed up the recovery process.
Root Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
The root chakra is associated with the ego, stability, and feeling rooted and connected. I’ve often noticed individuals develop back pain around the times that they feel threatened in career, home, or anything related to basic survival. In my medical practice now I remain very aware that individuals presenting with back pain are often having stress and realized associated with basic survival and safety.
Having the realization that lower back pain is likely occurring at a time where there is emotional stress related to survival doesn’t necessarily fix the problem but I do like to acknowledge this with my patients as their experiencing pain that at least muscle spasm in this area likely relates to emotional stress. While addressing the pain it is important for the patient or client to be aware of the emotional issues going along with them and to start addressing those.
Sacral Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
The Sacral Chakra is associated with the reproductive organs in both sexes. Chronic pelvic pain can be caused by a number of issues in both men and women. In women, chronic pelvic pain is often associated with reproductive diseases such as fibroids, endometriosis, or scarring from pelvic inflammatory disease. Chronic pelvic pain in women can often be crippling and lead to extensive medical workups that often don’t produce a clear diagnosis or clear treatment. Chronic pelvic pain is emotionally taxing, and can be made worse when women must face undergoing frequent medical procedures.
I had been a practicing physician for many years before I studied Ayurveda and Yoga. I began to observe the association of chronic pelvic with a history of sexual trauma, sexual abuse or other sensitive issues. Once I became aware of this, I found it much easier to gently ask my patients if they had a history of sexual abuse. I’m saddened to find out that often it does. I highlight this issue because it is important to understand that buried emotional trauma related to sexual abuse maybe related to chronic pelvic pain
Men can often suffer from chronic pelvic pain in the form of prostate disorders. This is most impactful in men over the age of 50 or 60 with a history of prostate disease such as prostate cancer. Knowing that there is a strong association of sexual trauma and pelvic pain, men with pelvic pain need to be addressed in a sensitive manner concerning this topic.
Solar Plexus Block and Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain in the solar plexus frequently relates to digestive disorders. Although irritable bowel syndrome is not classically diagnosed as a chronic pain syndrome there’s a strong component of abdominal discomfort or pain with this disorder. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be classified as either being constipated irritable bowel syndrome or IBC or irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome is a poorly understood disorder which is characterized by dysfunction in the muscles, chemical receptors, hormones and overall motility of the digestive tract that leads to changes in elimination of waste, nausea, and generalize abdominal pain. Anyone can develop irritable bowel syndrome but to be properly diagnosed other disorders such as celiac disease, food allergies, or tumors need to be ruled out so often referral to a specialist is required.
I have noticed in my clinical practice a strong association of stress and anxiety with irritable bowel syndrome. Many of these individuals freely admit that their irritable bowel syndrome is made worse in times of stress or depressed mood. It is interesting to note that many of the medications used to treat depression or anxiety can often help irritable bowel syndrome. Medications that raise serotonin levels or dopamine levels may help some individuals.
The solar plexus chakra is associated with personal will, freedom, and motivation. I suspect that an individual with IBS may feel that they don’t have the freedom that they need in life or that their personal drive is being suppressed. This isn’t a clear medical diagnosis that can be treated with a prescription but just like the other issues I do feel that it’s important to acknowledge this.
Heart Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
The heart chakra is associated with the emotions of love, belonging, and gratitude. Because of the vital organs in this area, we don’t typically think of chronic pain in this area. It is possible to have chronic pain from angina, a recurring painful condition from blocked arteries around the heart that lead to pain from ischemia.
A thorough work up is required since chest pain could be life threatening. Medical science does teach us there’s a strong association with heart attack and developing clinical depression in the months after a heart attack. Many individuals often have chronic angina related to blockages around the heart after a heart attack. Again, I do feel that it is important to acknowledge this relationship although fundamentally treatment would need to be aimed at keeping the arteries open in blood flowing to the heart as much as possible.
Throat Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
Individuals with blockages in the neck that leads to chronic pain will often develop neck pain along with tension headaches. The muscles of the neck connect to the jaw. Clenching the jaw at night, also called bruxism, is a common response to stress. This occurs during deep sleep. Normal bodily sleep responses are disengaged, and muscles that should relax will begin to contract uncontrollably. Individuals with bruxism often wake up with headache and neck pain.
After a thorough physical exam and a diagnosis is made this is one area in the body or holistic remedies could be highly beneficial. Focusing treatments on stress relief, relieving muscle tension, and particularly using a regular meditation practice can help reduce the development of chronic tension in the neck.
3rd Eye Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
The third eye is located in the head at the same place that the pituitary gland. Likely energetic blocks in the third eye will cause some sort of headache. The most common type of chronic headache most people think of as migraine headaches. Other types of recurring headaches include tension headaches, cluster headaches, or chronic daily headache.
Migraines can be a crippling condition that deeply impact quality of life. Blockages in the third eye in my experience as a Reiki practitioner are also some of the most difficult to diagnose because for most of us without focused intention we simply are going to remain blocked in the 3rd eye. When working with Reiki clients dealing with major blockages in the 3rd eye, I typically recommend a Mindfulness Meditation practice daily for at least 5 minutes.
7th Chakra Block and Chronic Pain
The 7th Chakra, or the Higher Self, is made of pure energy. This energy center is located outside of the body. This is the energy center that connects us to something bigger than ourselves, such as a deity or universal life force. I relate an energetic block in this area to chronic pain likely leading to diffuse painful syndromes such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome and maybe even acute pain syndromes related to kitchen a viral infection. In terms of these conditions I’ve noticed that when pain is severe it becomes an integral part of the person’s life. The pain that is experienced often shuts out other aspects of life and becomes the whole of their existence. Starting a personal healing practice of some kind often helps to open up energy flow in this area. A good starting point is a personal meditation practice.
Chronic Pain is not fun to discuss, but is is important. If this topic has helped you, please share with your friends, family and loved ones.
I have created several pieces of content concerning chronic pain for the month of February 2021. As a practicing physician and Reiki master, I am fascinated with the ways that giving Reiki or receiving Reiki can help to relieve chronic pain. In this blog post I would like to discuss how I believe Reiki can help chronic pain of all kinds.
Types of Chronic Pain
Understanding the different types of chronic pain is the first step to alleviating the pain.
Completing the Gaps in Chronic Pain Treatment
Treating chronic pain takes more than a prescription. Discover additional options at this link:
Preparing for Your Session
There are definitely challenges in using Reiki to deal with chronic pain. One of the biggest is maintaining comfort levels during the session. If you are considering receiving Reiki with a professional, make sure to let them know what your current limitations are. I am creating this post during the pandemic, so you may be receiving a Distance Reiki session. This is a very viable way to get Reiki and that you can make yourself comfortable at home. Often rides my own clients to consider lying down in bed and covering up with blankets during their session. Additionally, if you have opted to receive a distance session in your home consider recreating the environment your Reiki practitioner would have. You may want to set up a diffuser with essential oils. It may be nice to dim the lights as well. most of all, assure that you’re in a comfortable position that you can hold for an hour. I often advise my Reiki class to support their needs with the pillow to elevate the legs. This allows the back to relax. you may also want to gently support the back of your neck and head to keep your spine aligned.
Most individuals feel a decline in stress at the very beginning of a Reiki session. The basic core of Reiki involves manipulation of energy. This has to be done by slowing down the mind and the breath. I found that even when I’m practicing on individuals that are very uncomfortable physically, the fact that I am in a mindful State helps the client. The Reiki practitioners’ calm state changes the environment completely, and allows for the recipient to relax. This is the initiation of lowering pain levels.
Stress, both acute and chronic, always worsens pain. Chronic stress in particular lower our threshold for pain and increases pain sensitivity. Receiving a Reiki session is relaxing in a similar fashion as a massage.
Delivery of Healing Energy
Reiki channels healing energy to where it’s needed most. This can be directly to the site that is hurting, but most people don’t realize that their chronic pain is usually affecting multiple sites. Many times in traditional medicine we have to focus our therapies to one site of chronic pain but it’s nice to address all of these in a full Reiki session.
One example of this is degenerative disc disease that leads to lumbar radiculopathy. This creates chronic low back pain as well as pain in one or both legs and feet. When I’m treating my patients in the clinic with chronic low back pain most of my therapies are aimed at relieving the pain in the back. There are things I can do to help with the radiculopathy, or pain that radiates down the legs but we primarily have to focus on pain in the lower back.
The energy healing of Reiki can be used directly on the lower back and someone with lumbar disc degeneration. It could also be applied to the legs and feet which are often affected in this type of pain. I’m always fascinated when I’m treating a client this way how they register their pain relief. Because the energy flowing and Reiki is self guided and will go where it’s needed the most often clients report feeling warmth and heat in other parts of their body that I’m not directly treating.
I feel that the most powerful effect of using Reiki to treat chronic pain is that the receiver is very likely to develop some self-awareness of what’s leading to the chronic pain and what can make it better. The fundamental nature of Reiki treatment is to allow the body to heal itself. Someone that is open to receiving Reiki is often open to other healing modalities as well as what’s to really leading to the cause of their pain. In my Reiki practice, I like to have follow-up in the form of a text or an email. I’m often fascinated that my clients have insight into their pain a few days after their session. This does not mean that they have an immediate cure, but they often know what to do next to help heal themselves. As a practicing physician I know that it is very difficult for someone suffering from pain to be able to think above and beyond the pain you’re feeling. It is such a powerful thing that Reiki can open the door for this.
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Chronic low back pain is one of the most common reasons patients present to primary care physicians for care. Most patients initially present with low back pain feeling that the symptom is purely physical. They are often unaware of how psychological stress is playing a role in driving the pain, along with mechanical injury. I have presented in my previous post on chronic pain as well as my podcast. In today’s post I’d like to use low back pain as an example of applying meditation to help ease the burden of back pain.
The anatomical location of the root chakra is located somewhere around the base of the spine. It is likely the energy center that governs the lumbar spine, legs and feet. This energy center is associated with our most basic needs of survival such as acquiring resources and shelter. Many of us hold stress in the lower back in the form of tight muscles and improper posture.
I have noticed similar patterns of stress related to work, finances, or the home often presenting with lower back pain. Patients will often present describing the origins of the lower back pain, then a side note of an argument at work, or defaulting on a mortgage comes in towards the end of the visit. During a typical clinic visit, I don’t often have the luxury of spending time with patients to discuss this relationship.
This month I have been discussing primarily chronic pain. We should review acute low back pain and chronic low back pain before delving into how these can be improved with the use of meditation.
Acute Low Back Pain
Acute low back pain and back pain that occurs for period of time less than 3 months. Acute low back pain tends to be associated with injury such is abrupt lifting, lifting an object that is too heavy, sudden twisting, or purchase a pain in physical activity without appropriate conditioning.
Acute muscle strain
Many individuals presenting with low back pain often or suffering from small tears in the large lumbar muscles. this can create a lot of pain with very few physical findings other than muscle spasms. This type of pain tends to resolve fairly quickly. It also doesn’t tend to cause pain radiating down either leg. This is the kind of low back pain that may occur after a sports injury or lifting large objects.
Sciatica is a cause of acute low back pain in which a nerve originating from the lumbar spine is being impinged by a structure in the spine. This can be from bony overgrowth or from a bulging lumbar disc. This tends to present acutely, sometimes associated with lifting or twisting, and can cause pain radiating down either leg.
Of all of the acute low back pathologies, this is likely to be the most serious because it implies other medical issues including severe osteoporosis. Vertebral fractures in the lumbar spine may present with a sudden onset of pain with little to no activity. The pain May radiate or may stay in one place. The pain from vertebral fractures tends to be severe and unremitting.
Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is typically present for at least 3 months or 6 months. Some of the issues that started as acute back pain can evolve into chronic low back pain.
Lumbar Disc Degeneration
Lumbar disc degeneration is very common cause of chronic low back pain this is an overarching description of several issues that can occur in the bony part of the spine that lead to bone growth, or bone chips that may get dislodge or displaced and cause pressure on the nerves that run down to the leg. Often people have something called facet degeneration, which is often a common target of doing steroid injections into the lower back.
Disc herniation occurs when the vertebrae put strain or stress on the vertebral disc. The vertebral disc have a consistency similar to silicone. They serve as the shock absorbers within the spine. When herniation occurs some are part of the disc is forced out of its space and can cause impingement on one of the nerves that goes down the leg.
Meditation to alleviate lower back pain
No matter what is causing the lower back pain rather it is acute or chronic, adding meditation to the treatment plan can be beneficial.
There are a variety of ways one can consider meditation. Most importantly is taking your individual limitations in your current pain level into account.
Many individuals suffering from lower back pain often for relief if they’re able to stand up. Standing can be very appropriate for performing a short meditation. Keep in mind that if you suffer from balance issues or vertigo this may not be the best way to start meditating if you’re lower back is hurting.
A simple meditation can consist of standing with the feet firmly planted in barefoot if possible. Closing the eyes and inhaling the exhaling to the count of five for three minutes. Using a guided meditation while standing can be beneficial as well.
Seated meditations are the most common. Seated meditations are going to be the most accessible posture as well. When getting started with meditation it may be helpful to make sure your meditation chair allows for proper alignment. Check for the following to make sure your seat will be optimal for meditation.
- Make sure your feet touch the floor. If your feet don’t touch the floor consider using a sturdy object like a large book or yoga blocks to bring the floor closer to your feet.
- Make sure your knees are at a roughly 90° angle. If they are not, consider using yoga blocks or a large book to bring the floor closer to your feet.
- Make sure the angle of your hips is roughly at 90° angles. This means that you may need to use a pillow behind your back to adjust the seat back.
- Consider a chair that does not have arm rest. armor may be helpful, but if they cause you to elevate your shoulders that will keep you from settling into a calming meditation.
Lying down to meditate can be very helpful if you’re suffering from fatigue related to chronic pain. Keep in mind, you’re not wanting to fall asleep. You can perform align meditation in the bed but I advise my own clients whenever possible dedicate another space where you can lie down comfortably and supported but aren’t necessarily falling asleep.
The key posture with lying down with lower back pain is that you must elevate the legs and the knees. Most causes of chronic low back pain will be made worse by laying completely flat.
Elevation can be achieved by using a couch and laying on the floor. You can also use large cushions from your couch to elevate your legs. If you have yoga equipment using your yoga bolster to go under your knees can work as well. You can also use a blanket folder to go under the knees which will allow for the lower back to relax.
Body scan meditation for lower back pain
Here is a short description of a meditation practice you can perform easily at your own pace. Once you have chosen the posture you wish to take during your meditation, set a timer for 5 minutes to start with. If you repeat the meditation feel free to add longer durations.
- Takes three breaths into the nose and out through the mouth
- Focus your attention first on your feet. Observe where your feet are in space and if they’re resting against the floor.
- Relax your feet, feel as if they are melting into the floor.
- Move your attention up to your calves. Observe where they are in space and if anything is touching them.
- Allow your calf muscles to relax and melt into the floor.
- Continue this body scan starting with your thighs and working your way up to the top of your head.
- You can pace yourself by observing each body part on an inhalation, then relaxing that body part on an exhalation.
- After scanning your body continued to inhale and exhale slowly for a few more minutes
- complete the practice by gently open your eyes and making observations of how your body is feeling
If you would like to learn more about chronic pain download the art of healing podcast from this week. It is the first part in a three-part series on chronic pain. if you’d like to be notified about upcoming episodes please submit your email below.
Chronic pain is a difficult topic. Any form of human suffering brings sadness. I feel that although there are many more rapidly changing topics going on the discussion of how we manage chronic pain always deserves attention.
Prior to the pandemic of 2020 chronic pain was an important topic that was frequently discussed. It has certainly taken a backseat to much more urgent public health issues. I’ve decided to create several pieces of content around chronic pain because I am certain that we will be finding this to be an even more important topic after the pandemic.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that “persist for 3 to 6 months” and “persist beyond the typical healing period” 1.
It is important to distinguish chronic pain from acute pain because there are changes that happen in the neurological system that worsen the effects of chronic pain.
Medications, referral to specialist and physical therapy will likely play a role in the treatment plan. These treatments can offer relief, but likely it will take a combination of treatments. No matter how the chronic pain is approached, I am a firm believer that discussing healing modalities beyond prescriptions is important in healing the chronic pain.
Beyond the prescribed treatments, to heal chronic pain, other areas need to be addressed, including stress, sleep and diet.
Assuring sleep quality by making sure the environment for sleep is peaceful and cool is important. Reducing stimulation such as televisions, phones and tablets at least 2 hours before bedtime can allow the body to start producing melatonin naturally. Making sure to have a practice that help with relaxation such as meditation can help with sleep. Most adults require at least 8 hours of sleep nightly. Keeping in mind, chronic pain drains the energy, so allowing for plenty of sleep every night is important.
If you are taking prescription medications for pain, ask your doctors which are best taken at night. Many medications that seem to be sedating can interrupt sleep and worsen insomnia. A surprising fact I often share with my patients is that while opioids are sedating, they actually lead to disrupted, non-restorative sleep. In one example, young healthy adults who received morphine intravenously suffered from increased non-REM sleep (sleep that does not lead to good rest), decreased REM sleep (deep sleep)2 .
Tips for Better Sleep
- Avoid use of computers, tablets or cell phones 2 hours before bed
- Avoid Caffeine after 2 pm during the day
- Use soothing music or nature sounds rather than the TV for background noise
One of the most overlooked modifiable factors in dealing with chronic pain is diet. Chronic pain increases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. This leads to craving sweet foods. Ironically, consumption of inflammatory fats and sugary foods worsens pain. Every time we eat excessive glucose, our metabolic system goes into overdrive metabolizing these sugars. This leads to worsening levels of inflammation. This can also be a difficult topic with my patience, as they are undergoing psychological, emotional, and physical stress. But it is always worthwhile to make sure their diet is not creating more issues. I have frequently encouraged my patients to keep a food journal and make a note of joint pain. I asked him to track the days if their joint pain is better and when it’s worse. Almost universally patients notice that arthritis pain worsens when they consume sugary foods.
Stress management should be considered in dealing with chronic pain. Those suffering from chronic pain always have stress. This may be from the diagnosis itself, or from the fallout of dealing with multiple clinicians. Stress should be dealt with as soon as feasible in the course of treating chronic pain. This can mean working with a counselor or therapist. This can also involve starting a meditation practice to help relieve stress.
In the coming weeks, I am creating other content related to chronic pain. My podcast the Art of Healing will feature chronic pain, including the Chakras and Chronic pain.
- Pain. (2016). In Goldman-Cecile Medicine.
- Shaw, I. R., Lavigne, G., Mayer, P., & Choinière, M. (2005). Acute intravenous administration of morphine perturbs sleep architecture in healthy pain-free young adults: a preliminary study. Sleep, 28(6), 677–682. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/28.6.677