Chronic Pain Meds Causing Brain Fog? Try These Natural Treatments
8 minute read
When you feel pain, the common go-to is painkillers. Chronic pain often results in prescriptions for opioids that help with pain management. As effective as these drugs are for pain relief, they come with a host of side effects that are less than desirable.
Opioids affect more than just pain levels and can even leave you feeling like a zombie after too long. Anyone turning on the news lately has seen the extent of the crisis caused by the overuse and overprescribing of opioid drugs. The good news is that there may be a greener and friendlier alternative.
Opioids for Pain Relief
As popular as they are, there are problems with pain medications. They are addictive and many come with unpleasant side effects.
Typically, doctors prescribe limited amounts of these drugs because it is very easy to develop a habit. When it comes to severe pain, opioids are the most commonly prescribed pain medication.
These bind to opioid receptors in your brain, spinal cord, and other parts of your body and tell the brain that you are not in pain. Essentially, they trick your body into thinking it has already produced enough of its own natural pain-relieving chemicals.
Short-term use of these drugs can be beneficial, but there is always a risk of addiction, even when used properly.
The addiction comes from relieving pain while at the same time increasing feelings of relaxation. A sense of euphoria has been described as a result of opioid use and many continue to seek this after the pain is gone.
Long-term use of opioid pain medications can lead to physical dependency and serious health problems. Also, the longer you take them, the harder it is to stop, and you likely will face unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Improper use of opioid pain medications and potential addiction can contribute to the following health problems:
♦ Nausea and vomiting
♦ Abdominal bloating
♦ Constipation and other digestive troubles
♦ Liver damage
♦ Brain damage
In addition to these you run the risk of developing a tolerance to the drugs. When this happens, more is needed to achieve that same euphoric place, and the more you take the more danger your health will be in.
Alternative to Opioids
While some people enjoy the euphoric state caused by opioids, many others feel like they are zombies. Opioid drug use has often been associated with a foggy-brain feeling, and people report not feeling like themselves. Constant drowsiness, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and slow reflexes can seriously interfere with your daily activities.
This may be beneficial if you need time to heal from a painful injury, but over time this can negatively impact your mood and quality of life.
Prolonged use of opioids has been linked to symptoms of depression, indicating that being a opioid zombie for too long can take a serious toll physically and mentally.
Many people turned to medical marijuana for pain relief after states started to legalize it. Used to help with pain from everything from arthritis to cancer, marijuana has been reported to be a more effective treatment option to opioid pain medications.
The main benefit over opioids is reported as being relaxed and pain-free all while maintaining cognitive control. With this option, you feel like yourself and not zombie.
THC is the main compound in marijuana that acts to relieve pain levels. It resembles the naturally occurring cannabinoid chemicals in your body. They activate your brain’s reward system and relieve pain.
CBD is another important component of marijuana that helps to relieve pain and inflammation in the body, but does not produce the euphoric “high” that THC does. Luckily, marijuana may be habit forming, but it is not physically addictive in the way that, for example, nicotine or opioids are.
Studies continue to discover the helpful effects of marijuana for relieving pain and of course, using a once-banned substance is a controversial topic. The debate continues as does the legalization process, but for many individuals suffering with severe pain, medical marijuana has been a life-saver.
Natural Options for Pain
If opioids and marijuana are not you cup of tea, there are other options available to help ease pain without becoming a zombie or addicted to any drug. To avoid addition and any unpleasant side effects, more natural pain relief can be found in some surprising compounds.
Willow Bark: This has been used for centuries to ease inflammation, which is a common source of pain. You can opt to chew on some willow bark or purchase a dried version to blend a soothing cup of tea.
Turmeric: Known for spicing up your favorite curries, this spice has actually been used for centuries to treat several health conditions. The main compound in it, curcumin, is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can help ease your pain.
Cloves: Cloves can spice up any meals and are a favorite around the holidays, but they also have medicinal properties. Used in a tea or as a topical application, cloves have been known to help with aches and pains associated with inflammation. If you have any bleeding disorders, however, you need to take care with cloves as they can cause abnormal bleeding.
Heat and Ice: One of the more common approaches to pain management is the application of heat and ice. Ice can be used to relieve swelling and inflammation, helping to reduce the muscle stiffness associated with many injuries.
Typically, alternating between the two is the best way to see effective results and reduced pain.
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese practice has been found to relieve pain. It triggers the release of serotonin, which makes you feel as good as the drugs do, but without the side effects or risk of addiction.
The Bottom Line
Opioid use has been effective in treating pain for centuries, but the risk of addiction and feeling foggy have caused people to look elsewhere for pain relief. Medical marijuana as well as natural supplements has also been shown to reduce pain.
One thing is for sure, when you opt for a natural alternative to opioids, the brain fog of the past will stay there, making the future bright and clear.