How Cannabis is Effective for Different Types of Pain Relief By: Lindsay Howard For many years, Cannabis has been recognized for its amazing ability to relieve pain. More importantly, cannabis has also been successful in relieving pain from different origins. As in, pain from the Central Nervous System, inflammation from injury and even neuropathic pain…
Folk healers worldwide have used castor oil to treat a wide variety of health conditions for thousands of years. The use of castor oil goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who used it to treat eye irritations and as a powerful natural skin care remedy. In India, castor oil has been prized for its skin-healing, digestive-soothing, antibacterial properties and is commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine practices.
Not sure about castor oil benefits? Find Out Here.
For centuries, at the first sign of illness, many mothers and grandparents would immediately turn to giving their children castor oil either topically or internally to naturally boost immune function and speed up healing. Derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis), records show that many years ago the plant was referred to as the “Palma Christe” because the shape of the plant’s leaves were said to resemble the palm of Christ.
What Is Castor Oil?
Throughout history, castor oil’s most popular use has been for treating skin infections, lowering constipation and boosting the appearance of hair health, but research has shown that castor oil has even more important applications for supporting the immune system. Castor oil is capable of increasing white blood cells and the count of T-11 cells (a type of special white blood cells that act like antibodies) produced within the body’s lymphocytes that help kill viruses, fungi, bacteria and cancer cells.
Many of castor oil’s benefits come down to its chemical composition. It’s classified as a type of triglyceride fatty acid, and almost 90 percent of its fatty acid content is a specific and rare compound called ricinoleic acid. Castor oil is considered to be pretty unique because ricinoleic acid is not found in many other substances, and it’s such a dense, concentrated source. It is produced by cold-pressing the seeds and subsequent clarification of the oil by heat.
Aside from its primary constituent, ricinoleic acid, castor oil also contains certain beneficial salts and esters that function primarily as skin-conditioning agents. At the same time, they help stabilize the texture and consistency of products, which is why castor oil is used in so many cosmetics, hair and skin-care treatments.
According to the International Journal of Toxicology, castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil reportedly were used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively, during the time of an analysis in 2002! Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil is the name given to the type of castor oil used in cosmetics, which you might find listed on the ingredient label, especially in lipsticks.
Castor Oil Benefits
As an unsaturated fatty acid, ricinoleic acid found in castor oil has many healing abilities, including:
- supporting the lymphatic system
- increasing circulation
- preventing the growth of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds
- fighting skin disorders and infections
- helping to kill ringworm, keratoses, skin inflammation, abrasions and fungal infections
- healing acne
- helping hair grow
- reducing itching and swelling on the skin
- fighting toenail fungus
- easing constipation
- hydrating chapped lips
- reducing painful sunburns
- helping with pregnancy and inducing labor
- and many more
One of the major reasons castor oil has strong immune-enhancing effects is because it supports the body’s lymphatic system. The most significant role of the lymphatic system, which is spread throughout the whole body in small tubular structures, is that it absorbs and removes excess fluids, proteins and waste materials from our cells.
Lymph nodes located within these tubes act like the body’s natural filters for toxins, and they also pump out antibodies when we’re sick to keep foreign proteins or bacteria at bay. If you’ve ever had an enlarged lymph node in your neck or near your genitals, for example, this is a sign that a high level of antibodies are being released in order to fight an infection near that area.
When the lymphatic system isn’t working properly, this can eventually lead to the failure of many healthy cells and possibly degeneration and destruction of organs. For example, poor lymphatic drainage of the heart is linked to tissue damage, which can add to or worsen coronary heart diseaseconditions.
Aside from capturing leaking fluid from our tissues that contain waste, increasing function of the circulation system and helping create defensive antibodies for the immune system, the lymphatic system also helps absorb lingering fat molecules within the small intestine. In fact, a large percentage of all the fat absorbed from the gut requires the help of the lymphatic system. Some fat molecules remain unabsorbed because they’re essentially too large to move from the small to large intestine. This means they can be released into the lymphatic system and then into the bloodstream, where they can be carried throughout the body to be used for fuel.
10 Castor Oil Uses
1. Improves Immune Function
Castor oil is believed to improve lymphatic drainage, blood flow, thymus gland health and other immune system functions. Research has shown that patients who use abdominal castor oil packs have significant increases in the production of lymphocytes compared with patients using placebo packs. Lymphocytes are the immune system’s natural “disease-fighters” that attack outside invaders such as toxins, bacteria and other perceived threats.
Castor oil helps with the production of proper levels of lymphocytes, which are released and stored within the lymphatic tissue from the thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and tissue that lines the small intestine. The lymphatic system also impacts the circulatory and digestive systems, which is why castor oil has benefits for helping you detox, supporting heart health and healing digestive issues like constipation, too.
Castor oil is hydrolyzed in the small intestine by pancreatic enzymes, leading to the release of glycerol and ricinoleic acid, along with other beneficial metabolites.
2. Boosts Circulation
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Acupuncture is a holistic health technique that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin.
Today acupuncture is one of the most popular practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the West. TCM is a complimentary health approach that first originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago and has been evolving ever since.
To treat a wide variety of diseases, pain and stress-related symptoms, practitioners of TCM use holistic techniques that include acupuncture, herbal medicines, tai chi, qi gong, massage therapy, and various “mind and body practices.”
The use of acupuncture and other TCM techniques has risen steadily in the U.S and other Western countries over the past several decades. According to a large survey done on complementary health approaches by the National Institute of Health in 2007, in the U.S. alone at least 3.1 million people had tried acupuncture in 2007. The survey showed that the number of visits to acupuncturists tripled between 1997 and 2007. (1)
The first question most people ask me is, “Does acupuncture hurt?”
Surprisingly, although needles are used in acupuncture, treatments are relatively pain-free. In fact, one of the most popular uses of acupuncture is to reduce chronic pain throughout the body in a natural way, without the need for medications that can cause unwanted side effects.
Most of the studies investigating acupuncture to date have examined whether acupuncture can safely reduce pain. However, it’s expected that in the next several years, researchers will continue to study whether or not it might help with other conditions, too – including anxiety, depression, inflammation, hot flashes, side effects of chemotherapy and insomnia.
What Is Acupuncture Able to Treat?
Currently, acupuncture is used to treat conditions like:
- muscle spasms and pain
- chronic back problems and pain
- headaches, including reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines
- neck pain
- knee pain
- digestive problems
- mood, depression
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services states that,
“… promising results have emerged showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment.” (2)
Is Acupuncture Safe?
The National Institute of Health does consider acupuncture to be “generally considered safe when performed by an experienced, well-trained practitioner using sterile needles.” (3) However, it’s important to always go to a practitioner that is well-trained in acupuncture as well as to a facility that is very careful about using clean needles — improperly performed acupuncture and/or contaminated needles can pose a big risk.
The good news is that the FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices and requires that the needles be “sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.” To date, there have been very few complications reported from the use of acupuncture needles, so the risk is thought to be very low. This doesn’t mean that risk doesn’t exist, however, because some serious side effects have occurred when non-sterile needles have been used.
As far as how much acupuncture is needed before seeing results, firm clinical guidelines have yet to be established. Acupuncture is usually recommended as a complimentary treatment method — as something to try in addition to other pain management techniques, such as physical therapy, exercise and reducing inflammation through a healthy diet.
1. Helps Reduce Headaches and Migraines
In 2009, after researchers from the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich reviewed over 11 studies involving 2,137 acupuncture patients, they concluded that acupuncture “could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches.”
The review looked at multiple clinical trials comparing the effects of acupuncture sessions to “sham” (placebo-type of acupuncture) sessions and to receiving no treatment at all for the relief of migraine headache pain. In particular, both the group that had needles randomly placed and the group that had strategically placed needles experienced a reduction in headache symptoms. The control group did not experience any change.
However, in the followup survey, the group that had the real acupuncture treatment continued to have both a decrease in the number of headache days and headache pain intensity. (4)
2. Improves Chronic Pain, Including for the Back, Neck, Knee or Arthritis Pain
Acupuncture was proven to be more effective for improving chronic back pain than no acupuncture treatment in a 2006 study done by the University Medical Center of Berlin. In patients with chronic low back pain, there was a significant difference in pain reported between groups of patients receiving acupuncture over eight weeks versus those not receiving any treatment. (5)
Even more impressive is a 2012 study done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, arthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.
The researchers reviewed clinical trials involving over 17,000 patients, and the results showed that patients receiving acupuncture had less pain than patients in the placebo control group for back and neck muscle aches and pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. (6) The conclusion was that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is “more than just a placebo effect, therefore it’s a reasonable referral option for doctors.”
3. Helps Treat Insomnia
Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won’t recommend it
Using cannabis instead of opiates could save lives, studies say, but Arizona’s new opioid hotline for health care providers — and, soon, for the public — won’t recommend it as an alternative.
The free Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line is set to go live in a few days. It will be “one of the nation’s first real-time, comprehensive hotlines for healthcare providers seeking consultation for complex patients with pain and opioid use disorder,” according to a state news release.
But one treatment option the health care providers and patients won’t hear about on the hotline is medical marijuana.
“It’s not part of the protocol,” said Dr. Dan Brooks, medical director for the Banner Poison and Drug Information Centers. “We don’t have any initial plans to talk about marijuana” as a treatment option.
The hotline is viewed as one possible piece to solving a crisis that has caused bodies to pile up at morgues around the country. More people than ever are dying from the abuse of heroin, pills like OxyContin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Arizona alone had 942 suspected opioid deaths from June 15 to February 22, according to the state’s Opioid Epidemic web page.
“Preventing opioid overdoses and deaths in our state needs a multifaceted approach, and the new hotline is a major step forward as it will give medical providers immediate access to experts who can help to ensure safe prescribing and to identify treatment options for patients, which may or may not include opioids,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, says in the release.
“No two patients are the same and treatments vary based on individual needs, so we need to make sure we are providing tailored resources to our medical community.”
The state DHS and Poison and Drug Information Centers plan to create new advice for health care providers. Recommendations will include “specific opioid-related information for providers, such as safe prescribing limits for opioid-naive patients, identification of potentially dangerous drug combinations, and chronic pain treatment options,” the release says.
For some patients, the hotline experts may advise the use of drugs like methadone or Vivitrol but not marijuana
Not that the nurses, doctors, and pharmacists who answer the 24-hour hotline won’t talk about cannabis at all.
“If they have questions about marijuana, we’ll answer questions,” Brooks said.”I don’t know anyone who’s advising marijuana as an alternative.”
Yet cannabis, some experts point out, has been effective in treating pain, and could be considered an advisable substitute for opiates.
Studies show that states with medical-marijuana and adult-use legalization laws have seen sharp drop-offs in their opiate overdose deaths. (None of the studies have so far included a look at Arizona’s statistics, it seems.)
Will Humble, former state DHS director and executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, stopped short of saying the hotline should recommend cannabis as a specific treatment option for specific patients. But clearly, he said, the staff should talk about its potential benefits as an opiate alternative.