The Best of Both Worlds: Integrating Supplementation into Chronic Pain Treatment
What is Fusion (or Integrative) Medicine?
It is well-known that Western medicine has devised medical tricks, techniques, and technologies that have drastically advanced the healthcare we have available to us today. It also remains true, though, that one can always return to the basics and see considerable medical benefits. A new branch of medicine commonly referred to as fusion medicine follow’s Hannah Montana’s advice to “get the best of both worlds” when providing patient-centered care.
Common examples of traditional medical practices that patient-provider teams are seeking to incorporate into care plans are acupuncture (from traditional Chinese medicine), ayurveda (from traditional Hindu medicine), various body therapies (such as yoga and massages), and homeopathy. In the context of treating chronic pain and systemic inflammation, the use of proper nutrition and the power of various supplements is becoming increasingly emphasized. Let’s dive into some of the supplements that we particularly recommend…
Supplements to Treat Chronic/Systemic Pain and Inflammation
- Curcumin : Curcumin is the main bioactive compound in the turmeric. Many know this spice to be very helpful at reducing systemic inflammation and pain, possessing anti-cancer properties, and improving the symptoms of various inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These benefits are largely due to curcumin, which is classified as a curcuminoid and carries significant antioxidant properties. In other words, this supplement may help tame some of the commotion at cellular and molecular levels.
- Collagen : Collagen is a well-known protein supplement derived from animals and is the human body’s favorite protein (nearly 30% of the total protein content). There are 28 total identified types of collagen, with 5 main types in particular. Together, these play an important role in generating new cells, providing structure and protection to existing cells and organs, and playing an active role in blood clotting, tissue healing, and tissue regeneration. Fortunately for many, promising clinical trials are underway that seek to treat and improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis with collagen. Unfortunately for some, there does not yet exist a vegan collagen supplement on the market.
- Vitamin D3 with Vitamin K2 : The combination of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 supplements, in particular, is effective at providing the body with significant systemic benefits. Vitamin D is helpful for promoting bone health, immune system support, and preventing cancer, among other benefits. Vitamin D3 plays a specific role of promoting calcium is transported to the bones. By taking Vitamin K2 at the same time, this ensures that the calcium can be absorbed by the bones. This promotes strengthening, which is particularly important for elderly individuals or individuals with conditions resulting in fragile bone structure.
- Fish Oil (EPA) : The Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) found in fish oil is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. By taking fish oil supplements or ensuring you incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet by eating fatty fish found in cold-water (salmon, for example), you can promote an array of health improvements. Most notably for pain management, inflammation can be significantly reduced by taking fish oil supplements. This can improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin : Glucosamine and Chondroitin are important compounds found in cartilage. In individuals who have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or less-cushioned joints in general, these supplements may help. By providing the body with some of the main building blocks necessary for cartilage formation, this may promote their natural repair, or at least slow down the degeneration of cartilage. This may give individuals have a shot at experiencing reduced pain in their joints if less bone-on-bone contact is felt.
Words of Advice
While traditional approaches like supplementation being incorporated into your care plan may carry significant benefits, there are a few notes that should be made before you dive in. It is important to discuss with your primary care provider or a specialist in fusion medicine about how various supplements you are considering may interfere with any forms of Western care simultaneously being pursued. Most commonly, certain supplements may negate the effects of prescribed medications. This can prove particularly dangerous if not taking these medications poses a risk to your health. Additionally, certain combinations may be toxic to bodily systems or interfere with upcoming medical procedures by altering the effect of anesthesia or increasing the risk of bleeding. Confirm with your doctor in any pre-operative periods if the supplements you are taking can be continued.
Overall, many supplements carry little to no risk when taken alongside other medications; however, it is better to confirm and have peace of mind. In fact, various studies have confirmed the medical benefits that can be seen to one’s health when incorporated into their care plan. If you are seeking to try supplements for chronic pain management , Dr. Raj Maniam and Dr. Matthew Kohler can help you get started. Book your consultation with one of our physicians at Ospina Medical today!
Author: Camden Rowe