When considering treatment for episodic, intermittent, or chronic pain, many patients will seek out supplements and treatments that attack the pain itself, but there are other ways to approach pain management.

One way to manage pain is through ancient herbs that complement traditional treatments and offer other benefits to help prescription medicines work more effectively.

Ginkgo biloba is one such herb. The ginkgo tree originated in southeast Asia and is widely recognized as a living fossil; trees can live over 2,000 years and were the first trees to grow back after the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Their hardy constitution bodes well for their medicinal properties. Ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation and is an antioxidant; the former use has shown to help increase blood flow to the brain in patients with dementia, and the latter helps remove free radicals from the blood stream. This herb is taken in amounts that range from 150-300 mg, with no more than 700 mg daily.

In the past ten years, some studies have also suggested a link between free radicals and chronic pain as well as free radicals and inflammation in the body. Ginkgo biloba may be able to help cleanse the body of free radicals and reduce inflammation, thus increasing the body’s ability to deal with pain.

Ginseng root, known for its resemblance to the human body, has long been utilized as an “adaptagen,” or an herb that helps the body deal with stress or fatigue. There are three main types of ginseng: Asian/Korean, Siberian, and American. All of these types of ginseng protect the body against stress, enhance strength and recovery time, provide resistance to viral infection, and promote relaxation. Although they do not attack pain directly, these benefits help the body to more effectively utilize traditional pain remedies. A relaxed person who has developed resistance to viral infection and is able to recover in a shorter period of time is more likely to see more relief from their pain medications than one who is weak, feeling stress, and unable to combat infection.

These herbs do react with some prescription medicines, so it is best to begin taking them only under the guidance of your doctor.

Children under 18 should not be given ginseng, and the whole seed of ginkgo biloba should never be taken. Ginkgo biloba and ginseng can be an important part of pain management for all diagnoses.

Are there other lifestyle changes you can make to support your traditional pain management techniques?

Image by mhiguera via Flickr

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