Pain Soother…

Promising studies show meditation’s pain-relieving effects…

Next time you have a tension headache or other minor temporary pain, you might want to try meditation instead of over-the-counter pain relievers. In a series of studies, researchers at the University of Montreal found that experienced meditators were less sensitive to pain and less troubled by it than non-meditators. MRI scans of the meditator’s brains showed changes in the regions related to experiencing pain, suggesting that a long-term meditation practice might have cumulative and lasting pain-relieving effects.
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But even if you’re not an experienced meditator, it may be worth trying meditation for moderate short-term pain. In a study published last year in the Journal of Pain, researchers gave a group of college students at the University of North Carolina just three half-hour sessions of meditation training. Meditation reduced subjects’ feelings of pain from electrical shocks during testing and increased their baseline pain tolerance.
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Study author Fadel Zeidan, a research fellow at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, explains that the meditation training taught the students to focus their awareness on their breath and, when distracted, to observe that fact without self-judgement, gently bringing their minds back to the breath. He says this helped them observe painful feelings non reactively, as they would any other distraction (like a noise in the hall or an itchy foot), and calmed their emotional experience of the pain. (Their anxiety levels were measurably lower while meditating.)
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“Pain is a subjective experience,” Ziedan says. “Meditation is a way of changing the context of that experience. In meditation you experience each moment as it rolls by, and you realize there’s no reason to react. You appraise sensory experiences differently.”
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Healing Herbs
If you’re looking for other holistic alternatives to pain medication for minor aches and pains, try these herbal remedies. Herbs can relieve pain without side effects.
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Strained Muscles… When applied as a cream, Capsaicin (a compound in chili peppers) damps down pain messages to the brain.
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Tension Headache… A dab of muscle-relaxing peppermint essential oil rubbed on your temples can calm tension headaches.
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Menstrual Cramps… Anti-inflammatory ginger spice eases cramps when it is applied as a poultice. Dunk a cloth in warm ginger tea, wring it out, and then apply to your abdomen.
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Yogi Tea* brand also makes a wonderful line of teas to help with holistic healing… and some just for the women: Yogi Tea just for Women.
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My favorite website for holistic/Ayurvedic herbs is Banyan Botanicals.
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Reference: Yoga Journal 2011
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