Pain Management – What Can You Do?


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I couldn’t resist posting a picture of Navy Seals enduring pain through their training program, especially having to lay in cold water (59 degrees in the summer time in San Deigo Bay).

The Basics: There are a number of processes by which pain spreads through your body. This is a brief discussion of the COX-2 mechanism.

COX-2 is a primary mechanism for pain generation in your body.

Pain medications inhibit the COX-2 enzyme.  However, they also inhibit the COX-1 enzyme, which is not good.

Curcumin (from turmeric) and gamma mangostin (a xanthone found in the mangosteen fruit) are natural inhibitors of COX-2 without inhibiting COX-1.

There are many nutritional supplements that can assist you with pain management.

The Details:  Understanding how pain progresses can give you some better insight into why some things work better than other things.

COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) is an enzyme that is typically dormant and awaiting instructions to activate to fight pain by using biological mediators – prostaglandins, protacyclin and thromboxane.  When an injury or trauma occurs in your body – assume you shut the car door on your finger – your body responds by activating the COX-2 enzyme.  It ‘turns on’ and immediately isolates your injury through swelling – the swelling minimizes any infection that can reach the injury site.  Once activated, COX-2 is responsible for the pain, redness, heat and soreness associated with swelling and inflamed joints/muscles/ligaments/tendons/etc.

Pharmaceutical companies developed NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) to fight pain and inflammation (swelling).  They found that NSAIDs inhibited the COX-2 enzyme, which is great, but they also inhibit the COX-1 enzyme, which is detrimental to your health – think bleeding ulcers in your stomach and gastrointestinal lining, not to mention other side effects.  COX-2 selective drugs were developed which were ‘selective’ in fighting the COX-2 enzyme and had minimal effect on the COX-1 enzyme.  However, the side effects became life-threatening, and the minimal effects were still stronger than desired.  Celebrex is the only COX-2 selective drug available in the United States.  Vioxx and Bextra were removed due to death, heart attacks and strokes associated with long-term use.

Common side effects of Celebrex are abdominal pain, headache, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, kidney failure, aggravated hypertension, tinnitus, blurred vision, weight gain, water retention, drowsiness, anxiety, fainting and general weakness.  Other side effects include an increase risk of heart attack, stroke and other terminal conditions.  Mix Celebrex with other drugs and you can compound the risk of many serious undesirable health problems.

My research has found that there are only two compounds that can effectively inhibit the enzyme COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) and not affect COX-1 (cyclooxygenase-1) – a medical dilemma which as led to many deaths and prescription drugs being pulled from the marketplace.  Curcumin and gamma mangostin are chemical compounds that can effectively shut down COX-2 without affecting COX-1Gamma mangostin is a xanthone contained in the mangosteen fruit (not a mango).  Curcumin is found in turmeric, a spice in the ginger family.  All the other compounds that I’ve researched have some level of impact on COX-1.

I can attest to the efficacy of the gamma mangostin in fighting pain.  I did shut the car door on my middle finger – my knuckle.  Fortunately I was in my driveway.  I went inside and drank six ounces of whole fruit mangosteen juice which contains 40+ xanthones – gamma mangostin being one of them.  I went back to the car and headed off to work.  Throughout the day I had no pain in my finger – no swellingno redness no noticeable heatnothing.  I had full range of motion of that finger.  If I squeezed on my knuckle where the injury occurred I could feel pain.

I’ve been a long-distance runner for many, many years.  I would stop running in the winter months.  In the spring/summer I would start running again and I would have many days of muscle pain following the resumption of my hot-weather running habit.  I noticed that if I drank an ounce of whole fruit mangosteen juice before a practice run, immediately following a run and again that night I could see a reduction of 95-98% of the pain I had previously endured.  Pain was essentially erased during my training phase.  I have used this pain management option for many other types of pain (headache, tooth ache, etc) with good results.

Nutritional supplements that assist a pain management program are glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, (MSM) methylsulfonylmethane, (SAMe) s-adenosylmethionine, omega-3 fatty acids, krill, unsaponified soy oil, avocado oil, curcumin, ginger, boswellia, Korean angelica, Bromelain, vitamin D3, Astaxanthin, vitamin C, green tea extract, (EGCG) epigallocatechin gallate, niacinamide, resveratrol, coenzyme Q-10, (PQQ) pyrroloquinoline quinone, (NAC) n-acetylcysteine and (GLA) gamma linolenic acid.

In and of themselves, many of these nutritional supplements don’t have side effects.  However, in the presence of prescription drugs and/or other health problems, there may be serious consequences.  As such, talk to your physician before starting a nutritional supplement to support your current pain management program.

Red O’Laughlin  aka The Prosperity Professor

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