Holistic Pain Relief

Holistic Pain Relief Options

It’s rare when a day passes in holistic medicine practice that I am not asked about holistic pain relief options. From school aged children to senior adults, people just naturally want the best pain relief they can find from a holistic approach in medicine. The specific issues range from osteoarthritis to migraines to chronic abdominal pain and more. Many of these people have already looked at one or more types of alternative medicine therapies, with some success, or sometimes not, and they eventually come to my office looking for balance. The perspective of a holistic doctor, an MD who has worked in hospital settings, who also has training in herbal pain relief , is somewhat unique.

My bias of course is to select the least toxic, least invasive, most effective therapy that also gives room for patient centered choice and dignity in the process of pain relief. This is especially important in the case of elderly or hospice patients who are afraid they will not be given a choice about pain relief, and who do not want to find themselves so drugged on medications that they can’t maintain personal contact with the people they love. Fortunately, there are options.

One of the most powerful holistic pain relief options, and one of my favorites, is clinical hypnosis. This has been shown again and again to be effective in children and adults, both in acute and procedural pain (such as dental work), and in reducing chronic pain (such as migraine headaches or cancer pain). If you are considering hypnosis, make sure to look for a professional from reputable training, such as found at the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. 

Herbal pain relief is also an option, with the caution that anyone takingprescription medications who wishes to take medicinal herbs should consult a physician with training in herbal medicine or at least who knows how to look up herb-drug interactions. With the increasing training of doctors in Integrative Medicine , these professionals should be easier to find. One of the most promising herbal medicines is Rhodiola rosea. This adaptogen with centuries of traditional use is effective in many chronic pain conditions, and because it is working on neurotransmitters in the brain it is also helpful for depression and fatigue.

Acupuncture by all means must be considered also in the list of holistic pain relief options. Not only does this practice have thousands of years of experience in traditional Chinese Medicine, but there are now a number of modern scientific studies showing that acupuncture works well in a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions.

And finally, less well known forms of energy healing including

magnets for pain reliefand Healing Touch. One well done study for example showed that magnetic shoe inserts effectively reduced foot pain fromdiabetic neuropathy. While Healing Touch and other energy therapies do not yet have as much scientific data about their use, my experience in holistic medicine practice has been positive. Even patients with advanced disease have found comfort in the quiet balancing of the body’s invisible energy; my view of this treatment is that I am not personally providing healing, but simply acting as a channel or conduit through which the unconditional love of the Creator flows.

There are of course endless advertisements and claims for holistic pain relief, some of which in my opinion are ill-guided plans which will cost quite a bit without much promise of help. Be cautious, yes; caution is important for natural solutions as well as conventional medications. And also be hopeful. Where conventional medicine (my training and experience in hospital settings) often says, “you’ll have to live with it,” I believe it’s possible to say, “you can live a whole lot better without it!” There’s hope.

to your health and healing,


Robert Pendergrast, MD 

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