People don't typically associate chronic aches and pains with the words “Adrenal Fatigue.” Instead, they only think of the chronic fatigue that makes the sufferer unable to feel fully rested and energetic throughout the day. But as it turns out, there is a direct link between Adrenal Fatigue and chronic pain. The adrenal glands in people under repeated physical or emotional stress initially pump out hormones associated with increased alertness and energy as part of the fight or flight response. As time passes, however, the adrenals become worn out from the near constant production of these hormones and eventually fail. Low levels of steroid hormones, an erratic sleep cycle, and greater inflammation may together produce increased fatigue and musculoskeletal aches and pains. Ways to control this include a wide diversity of methods from drugs to natural and herbal pain killers to lifestyle adjustments.
Research has shown that both pain and attempts to manage pain can cause people to feel more tired and worn out. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue often also have greater sensitivity to pain, compounding the problem. Pain can arise when inflammation in your body runs rampant. It can also arise when toxins and metabolites build up in the body. These scenarios are common in those with Adrenal Fatigue because the inflammatory and detoxicifation responses in the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, including become dysregualted. Inflammation is regulated by your gut, microbiome, and immune system, all of which can be affected by a loss of energy, forcing the body to slow down certain systems and functions. The same can be said of the liver and extracellular matrix, which are responsible for detoxing the body. As a result, toxins, metabolites, and other inflammatory molecules will accumulate in the body, resulting in migratory pain of unknown origin. Thus, it is critical for those with Adrenal Fatigue to reduce their pain levels as much as possible, using herbal pain killers.
One common strategy is to use prescription, non herbal pain killers. These drugs are very effective at managing the pain. However, there are many reasons that people may need alternative methods, such as herbal pain killers or pain management strategies.
First prescription pain killer abuse and addiction have resulted in severe crackdowns on high-dosage and opioid pain killer prescriptions. Many who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue are not addicted but find themselves suffering because their doctors refuse to prescribe them the prescription pain killers in doses that have worked in the past.
Second, those who have managed to continue using prescription non herbal pain killers, or to control their pain with over-the-counter pain killers, may still need an alternative due to severe side effects of prescription pain killers, including kidney or liver damage, constipation, mood swings, depression, dizziness, and brain fog. In addition, many sufferers of Adrenal Fatigue are too sensitive to medications to take prescription pain medications.
Lastly, some Adrenal Fatigue sufferers can't take prescription or over-the-counter non herbal pain killers because they take other medications that interact with these drugs in some negative way.
The good news is that there are alternatives. These days, people are so used to going to doctors, pharmacies, and grocery stores to relieve their pain that they have forgotten that their ancestors had many natural solutions. When modern medicines are not an option, natural remedies—including herbal pain killers—may be the answer.
Natural solutions work for the same reasons as modern drugs do: they block pain, improve the immune system's responses, lower inflammation, and balance the entire body.
These six natural pain killer therapies can help you manage aches and pains, whether associated with Adrenal Fatigue or another health condition:
Sleep quality has a huge impact on health. Research has shown that a restful sleep cycle restores and heals the body. Without a restful cycle, your health worsens. And since pain also worsens with fatigue, proper rest can be crucial for addressing pain. To reduce fatigue, consider investing in sleep therapies and techniques that have been proven to provide a better night's rest. For example, sleep at the same time every night, reduce your exposure to bright light and electronics at least four hours before sleep, and use earplugs to counter noise pollution.
The American Arthritis Foundation recommends tart cherries as a natural pain killer. Cherries contain plant pigments called anthocyanins that reduce inflammation and antioxidants that prevent cell damage and boost the immune system, thus minimizing pain. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and many other fruits that have red, blue, or purple external coloring also contain these pigments. Consider consuming these fruits on a regular basis to reduce pain. Many other plants also have these properties. The list of herbal pain killers is long, including apple cider vinegar, arnica, turmeric, capsaicin, ginger, pineapple, and bromelain from pineapple stems. Topical solutions that deal with pain and/or muscle spasms include menthol, eucalyptus, and mint.
Opioid drugs block pain by affecting receptors in the brain. The human body actually produces a group of natural hormones, called endorphins, that have the same effect. Anyone with a healthy pituitary gland has the ability to produce endorphins through regular physical movement. Since pain reduction is the goal, it's best for those with Adrenal Fatigue to pursue low impact and gentle exercise, such as light stretching, walking, and adrenal yoga. They should also regularly enjoy full-body and positional massages that can help with myofascial pain. Additionally, exercise and massage help relax the body and promote restful sleep. A word of caution though: since massages can be detoxing, they can also result in a detoxfication reaction, or worse, a retoxification reaction.
Water is essential to life. Dehydration, whether from inadequate daily intake or excessive fluid loss, can increase pain. Water helps reduce pain in a variety of ways: it acts as a shock absorber and lubricant for organs, keeps the skin and muscles elastic and flexible, carries nutrients to cells, and removes toxins. It also aids gentle disposal of waste through the gastrointestinal tract.
Although heat can relax stiff muscles and reduce some types of pain—which is why doctors often recommend that arthritis sufferers move to a warmer climate—cold helps more when it comes to inflammation. A cool shower, cold cloth, or ice pack reduces pain by numbing nerves and constricting blood flow to swollen areas.
When it comes to assessing and dealing with pain, one of the biggest problems that medical professionals face is accurately judging the pain level. Many chronic pain sufferers have an incredibly high tolerance to pain. By the time they finally see a doctor about pain, the pain has often reached a level far above what would force those with acute pain to seek help. Some people with chronic pain tolerate high levels of pain by tricking their minds into perceiving less pain. They may also utilize pleasurable distractions—such as entertainment, tasty or sweet desserts, childhood foods and thoughts, and scents and music associated with pleasant feelings—to avoid the pain. Meditation and biofeedback have also been known to control the perception of pain. Writing about your pain, it’s causes, you’re your reactions to it might help you understand it better and allow you to discover more about your condition. Such a journal might also help a health professional better understand your condition.
Keep in mind that—even in those who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue—pain may actually come from another major health problem. Many people with musculoskeletal symptoms have one or more health conditions that impact their level of pain:
Deficiencies in nutrients that benefit nerves and bones are a common source of pain. For example, vitamin D and calcium deficiencies cause pain by making bones and cartilage more brittle and increase the risk of painful bone fractures and cartilage breakdown. Although the body naturally creates vitamin D when the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun, and plenty of foods contain calcium, many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers don't get enough of these nutrients. Some fail to get enough sunlight exposure because their fatigue forces them to stay indoors more than usual and/or they live or work in a less sunny environment.
Intestinal malabsorption is another problem, limiting the nutrition that people can obtain from food sources. Additionally, those with Adrenal Fatigue often consume large quantities of caffeinated beverages, which cause the body to lose calcium rapidly. To address nutrient deficiencies, supplements or increased consumption of foods rich in the missing nutrients are generally effective. It's important to note that, upon supplementation or dietary changes, many people who are deficient in vitamin D and calcium initially feel increased pain because these nutrients support bone growth. This pain only lasts until the bones become healthier. Other nutrients that can affect bone and nerve health, such that a deficiency may cause pain, include vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
Adrenal Fatigue sufferers with allergies or other sensitivities can benefit from maintaining better control over their exposure, since any immune system dysfunction of this nature can cause increased inflammation in the body. Reactions that involve congestion, sneezing, and aching also promote general discomfort that can make sufferers more sensitive to pain.
Although less blood flow helps reduce inflammation, vasoconstriction can cause pain with certain conditions such as Raynaud's. The pain starts when some type of trigger, such as cold or stress, causes sudden vasoconstriction that leads to cold and numb sensations. Once normal blood flow returns, affected areas of the body then experience even more pain as feeling returns. With a vasoconstriction condition, it is important to keep the affected areas warm to prevent pain. It is also beneficial to reduce the consumption of any foods or drinks that contain ingredients that constrict blood vessels.
Many people say that when a storm is coming, they can feel it in their joints. Medical research has proven that these anecdotal accounts relate to barometric pressure changes that affect the pressure within joints , nerve irritation, and muscle aches. Adrenal Fatigue sufferers and other affected people can manage this pain by watching weather conditions daily and using the methods outlined here more at those times. This may help to reduce both the pain and the perception of pain.
Whether you experience mild or severe chronic pain along with Adrenal Fatigue, you don't have to rely on prescription and over-the-counter medications. Take back the portion of your life that chronic pain is currently controlling by using herbal pain killers and utilizing these easy-to-implement, natural painkilling strategies.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.