New ways to fight an old problem

Beautiful Yoga: Matsyendrasana PoseIt’s a tragedy of epidemic proportions. Each year, we lose more and more people to the opioid crisis. Because of soaring overdose deaths (deaths in the U.S. from opioid-related overdoses jumped another 21 percent in 2018), American life expectancy dropped for several years in a row during the late 2010s.

And it’s not some street drug such as heroin or crack cocaine that’s bringing down everyday working people in the United States, but rather a series of prescriptions being willingly given by doctors across the country, ostensibly to treat pain. OxyContin, Fentanyl, Percocet … whatever name it goes by, opium derivatives are still among the most highly addictive substances known to man.

It’s no great secret that powerful pain killers have become a major problem, both in dense urban areas and in rural cities and towns. From the deep south to the Pacific Northwest, this is an epidemic that touches every corner of the country. Each year, the death toll climbs. Each year, someone doesn’t make it to the end of the year, and another family is shattered, another life wasted.

As a result, there has been a big spike in interest surrounding alternative pain treatments and medicines. Whether it be yoga, massage, or better nutrition, people from coast-to-coast are ditching pills in favor of a natural pain-free life.

Even more, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that something as simple as regular yoga can go a long way in relieving the symptoms of chronic pain. They also studied acupuncture, relaxation techniques, massage therapy, and nutritional supplements.

While many of the studies in question did not specifically comment on the effects of alternative treatments in reference to opioid use, it does suggest that people could greatly benefit from alternative treatments where treating chronic pain is concerned.

Further studies are ongoing, but the initial findings are promising. In the search for safer options than the powerful pain killers we’ve become accustomed to, alternative medicine is a welcome sight.

Marsha Nunley MD
Marsha Nunley MD
I am an internist, trained and experienced in Western Medicine, who believes that illness and disease are best treated by working to discover their underlying causes. Come to me for bioidentical hormones, advice on healthy aging, and whole-body medicine.