How Integrative Medicine Can Reduce Opioid Use

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening in the country, you’re likely aware that the United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic of catastrophic proportions. Last year, approximately 44 people died each day from prescription painkillers, and in 2015 drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Opioid deaths have morphed from scattered incidences into a full-blown crisis.

From 1999 to 2014, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States has quadrupled; what makes this so alarming is that, on the whole, the amount of pain that Americans reported feeling over the same period has remained relatively unchanged. With opioid medications being overprescribed at an alarmingly inflated rate, it’s easy to see how this problem came to be.

Now we need to start looking for alternative methods to treat pain that won’t lead to a lifetime of addiction. One supplementary practice that can help to reduce overall is holistic, or integrative, medicine.

Over a third of adults in the United States are practicing some form of holistic medicine to manage their own personal health. People are using integrative practices for everything from reducing anxiety, improving circulation, and managing medical conditions. For example, those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should eat fish twice a week to reduce swelling, and eating broccoli sprouts can help type 2 diabetics manage their sugar levels. In order to work on effectively reducing this opioid epidemic, we need to begin implementing some of these practices as means to help patients fight pain.

Acupressure/Acupuncture

Acupressure, much like its cousin acupuncture, uses 12 particular pressure points along the body that, when pressed or punctured, helps to clear these channels of energy in your body and help reduce symptoms of various conditions. For those considering acupuncture, even though the idea of needles is a terrifying concept for some, there is strong evidence that points towards the benefits that acupuncture can offer for chronic pain relief.

Chiropractics

This particular practice is widely accepted throughout the medical community due to its effectiveness. Approximately 22 million people in the United States take a trip to the chiropractor each year for various reasons, commonly to reduce back, neck, and headache pains. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and controlled force to reduce pain by improving the mobility of joints.

Reflexology

This practice operates on the theory that different pressure points along the hands, ears, and feet, correspond to different organs and, when manipulated, can promote wellbeing and health benefits for those organs. While this method can certainly be effective for treating some types of pain, it may not work for all kinds.


Originally published at randynordyke.com on July 12, 2017.