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Dear Pharmacist Natural remedies for chronic pain

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Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 7:15 am

Dear Pharmacist: I live in chronic pain. No one is sure why. I take hydrocodone and ibuprofen daily but I’m still in pain. Can you recommend any vitamins to help me? — M.C., Dallas

Answer: I’m sorry you are going through this. Luckily, your doctor prescribes pain medicine for you. Many won’t for fear of addiction. Every day, I receive letters from people feeling helpless (and hopeless) because their physicians are not compassionate enough to prescribe analgesics.  

Anyway, there are many herbs, spices, teas and supplements for you.

First, some background on why pain happens. Your body cranks out substances (called cytokines) in response to an injury which help patch you up. One well-known cytokine is called “Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha” or TNFa.

Don’t let the name scare you, it doesn’t cause tumors. It actually tries to prevent them by causing cancer cells to commit suicide, a process called “apoptosis.” So when your body makes TNFa, it’s your god-given cancer fighter.  It also helps fight infection.

Problem is, too much causes backlash and you begin to hurt all over. Elevated TNFa levels are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, COPD, Lyme disease, depression, narcolepsy, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, and dozens more ailments.

People with high amounts of TNFa often have a hyper-reactive immune system and are diagnosed with auto-immune conditions. Drugs like Remicade and Enbrel are TNF blockers but cost thousands of dollars if you pay out of pocket. There are natural TNF blockers.

This will interest you: A deficiency of either magnesium or CoQ10 drives up TNFa. Yes, running out of either nutrient contributes to pain, and, sadly, there are hundreds of medications that rob these nutrients from your body! Refer to my “Drug Muggers” book for the lists.

If I were writing you a “script” to ease your pain, I would recommend natural TNF blockers. I’d pen out the following, but before buying anything, ask your physician if this is reasonable, and what dose is best for you:

  • Magnesium malate, 250 mg three times daily
  • Astaxanthin, 12mg every morning
  • Ubiquinol (this is activated CoQ10), 200mg at lunch
  • Boswellia 250- 350mg two or three times daily
  • Slippery elm lozenges or tea (protects stomach from ibuprofen)

In addition, I recommend probiotics, the sort that contain prebiotics as well as organic acids. I suggest you drink green tea (or matcha) every day, and eliminate foods that contain refined sugar/corn syrup, MSG, artificial dyes and artificial sweeteners. I’d sprinkle turmeric spice on everything. Give this protocol a few weeks and then send me a love note — you should feel better. It should be fine to integrate this while taking your analgesics (hopefully over time, you’ll need less of that). Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her Website at



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