Concern about opioid pain drugs is reaching a fever pitch. These drugs are killing Americans of all stripes, whether prescription or non-prescription, accidental or intentional overdoses. So the scramble is on to find “new” alternatives.
Of course, the original, natural opium poppy was a much safer opioid. But long ago, big pharma “refined” it into concentrated, semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs, which can be sold for profit.
First there’s morphine, which derives from the opium poppy. There is also Fentanyl, an impossibly powerful derivative that is 100 times more potent than morphine.
A front page article in The New York Times last month reported a growing trend in overdose deaths related to Fentanyl. The total number of adverse drug reactions has jumped by nearly eight times in just two years between 2012 and 2014.
As a consulting forensic pathologist, I have seen many deaths caused by Fentanyl, both accidental and intentional, whenever patients apply more than one skin patch that dispenses this deadly drug.
Of course, it’s not just Fentanyl causing problems. We have any number of prescription opioid drugs that lead to addiction, abuse, and overdose. In fact, a front page story in the Boston Globe published on the same day as the Times article on Fentanyl reported that opioid drug hospital admissions doubled over seven years between 2007 and 2014.
Tragically, with all these opioid drugs, the lines between accidental vs. suicidal overdose get blurry. And based upon what I have witnessed in my own practice, I believe the insurance industry keeps them blurry intentionally.
Mainstream continues to ignore natural pain relief alternatives
The mainstream is desperate to find safe, effective alternatives. But it comes with a catch — they still want to profit from these alternatives. So ironically and tragically, they ignore the many safe, effective, and natural approaches to pain that I have been reporting about for years.
How desperate are they?
Well, as I reported last October, big pharma is now looking at tarantula spider venom to help fight pain as a “natural” approach. Of course, they’re working on developing a synthetic, non-toxic version…one they can profit from.
But while big pharma continues to weave its web and trap pain patients in its next “advance” for pain treatment, I will continue to tell you about all the natural, proven, non-drug approaches for pain management hiding in plain sight.
Meditation turns off pain receptors
One of my favorite approaches to treating chronic pain is mindfulness meditation. I have written several books on the topic with my friend and colleague Don McCown, including New World Mindfulness and several medical textbooks.
I recently came across another new study that shows meditation could replace opioid drugs for pain relief.
The new study came out of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, founded by my friend and colleague Dr. Kathi Kemper, with whom I am collaborating on another new book on women’s health.
The study took a two-fold approach. First, the researchers reviewed the success of natural approaches to reduce pain, including cognitive-based approaches, acupuncture, hypnosis, distraction, and even placebo response. Other studies claim the success of these approaches must be due to a reductionist model whereby the body releases its own opioid-like molecules (endorphins, or endogenous opioids).
Second, the researchers investigated whether meditation has benefits for pain. And if it does, how does it work?
To begin, researchers divided 78 healthy study participants into two groups. They injected participants in one group with a drug called naloxone, which blocks the effects of endogenous opioids (opioids the body makes itself). They injected the second group with a saline solution placebo.
They then divided the groups again into a meditation treatment group or non-meditation. The meditation group (which included participants who received both the pain reliever and the placebo) practiced meditation over three days.
Next, they subjected all the participants to pain by using a hot probe at 120 degrees F. They asked participants to rate their pain using a sliding scale.
The key to pain relief may be “all in your head”
Results showed those who meditated reported significantly less pain compared to those who did not meditate, whether they received naloxone or placebo. In fact, patients in the meditation group who received naloxone showed a 24 percent reduction in pain, even though the drug blocked any effect of endogenous opioids.
This research demonstrates meditation isn’t simply like giving an opioid drug — or having the body release its own opioid-like endorphins…contrary to what the skeptics postulate.
The mind-body connection is much more complex than they can imagine. And meditation does something much more complex than just cause the body to release its own endorphins.
Furthermore, this research points out that non-drug approaches work well even in people who have developed tolerance to high levels of opioid pain drugs.
When it comes to understanding and using natural, non-drug approaches to safe and effective pain relief, once again, evidence shows that the “mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
- “Could tarantula venom help fight pain?” Medical News Today (www.medicalnewstoday.com) 2/29/2016