A placebo pill is almost as effective as opioids for killing pain, suggests a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This is because the physiological pain-killing effects of opioids decrease over time. As the pain-killing effects wane, a larger dose is needed, causing opioid addiction. The researchers warn that this can lead to physical dependence and a potential overdose. The study inadvertently found that a placebo can affect how people perceive pain, providing relief with no side effects.
The meta-analysis pooled together 96 randomized clinical trials, including 26,169 patients who dealt with daily pain that was not derived from cancer treatments. From the onset, an opioid prescription relieved pain and improved physical functioning, but as time wore on, the association diminished as the pain-killing effects of opioids decreased over time. Opioid use was also associated with increased risk of vomiting.
“The benefits of opioids for managing chronic pain tend to be quite modest,” said study author Jason Busse, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of anesthesia at McMaster University‘s school of medicine in Ontario, Canada.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and medical cannabis also showed similar improvements in pain and physical functioning, with less dependency issues. In the case of medical cannabis, there is no threat of an overdose.
This meta-analysis supports the CDC’s newest 2016 guidelines, which urge health care professionals to prescribe opioids more responsibly. The National Institutes of Health have initiated an opioid addiction research plan to research the effectiveness of non-drug, mind/body techniques for alleviating pain and helping tissues heal. Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness meditation, nutrition, and acupuncture will all play a role in future protocols for helping Americans who struggle with chronic pain, stiffness, and poor tissue healing.
Herbalism offers great pain relief solutions
According to the CDC, there are roughly 50 million Americans struggling with pain that lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain is now one of the top reasons why people seek medical care in the U.S. Much pain can be relived through anti-inflammatory phyto-nutrient supplementation. Herbalists and naturopathic doctors have successfully used anti-inflammatory, plant-based compounds to treat pain stemming from injury or chronic disease.
White willow bark: An extract of white willow, containing salicin, is an effective pain relief remedy. When salicin converts to salicylic acid in the body, it can effectively relieve headaches and cramps.
Jamaican Dogwood bark: An extract of Jamaican dogwood bark can mitigate pain in the tissues, relieving menstrual cramps, migraines, and nerve pain. Its unique content of glycosides, flavonoids, rotenone, and resin alkaloid, make it suitable as an anodyne, anti-spasmodic, and sedative.
Turmeric: Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an effective anti-inflammatory. When its absorption is maximized, turmeric can noticeably reduce pain throughout the body. A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that turmeric down-regulates inflammatory genes and can replace the drug dexamethasone for the treatment of lung transplantation-associated injury.
Guggul gum resin: The anti-inflammatory properties of guggul make it effective for mitigating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Guggul relieves joint pain, stiffness, and swelling and reduces circulatory levels of cytokines, which are inflammatory substances secreted by certain cells.
Devil’s Claw: The root’s two most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds are harpagoside and beta-sitosterol. When synthesized by the body, these compounds help reduce swelling in tissues, making way for quicker healing. While also containing three trace minerals that speed up healing, chromium, magnesium, and selenium, devil’s claw helps remediate rheumatoid Arthritis, sciatica pain and gout.
Opioids are dangerous medications that cause physical dependence and waning results. Medical cannabis and other powerful phyto-nutrients provide a safer pathway for pain relief. When chronic pain is present, it’s very important to investigate the root cause in case a more serious underlying issue is occurring, such as an internal bleed from an artery dissection.