About a quarter of American suffer from chronic pain. What’s worse is that chronic pain is second only to dipolar disorder for illness-related causes of suicide. When you’re always in pain it seems as though the spark that makes life so enjoyable has gone out.
What causes chronic pain? Well there are several causes for chronic pain: from the most common, aging, to the more severe, injuries that never healed properly, we can find ourselves in pain if we’re not careful. And this chronic pain brings on a different kind of pain.
Pain and undue stress to the body cause inflammation. You see this in a bug bite or scrape the same way you see it in a more serious issue like torn ligaments. The area becomes inflamed in an effort to protect the body.
Chronic pain often results in brain inflammation, which is harder to diagnose. It is often symptomized by headaches, migraines, and aches and pains throughout the body. Brain inflammation caused by chronic nerve pain changes the way your brain works.
When you’re dealing with brain inflammation, the areas of your brain that regulate mood and motivation are altered, suggests a University of California, Irvine study. The study is the first to suggest the direct biophysical link between long-term pain and the depression, anxiety and substance abuse seen in chronic pain sufferers.
Catherine Cahill, associate professor of anesthesiology & perioperative care at the University of California, Irvine (UCI); Christopher Evans of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute; and their colleagues discovered that pain-derived brain inflammation causes the accelerated growth and activation of cells called microglia.
What is Microglia?
Microglia are cells that trigger chemical signals within your brain. The neurons that microglia affect are in charge of the release of dopamine – or the happy hormone – is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Because brain inflammation causes the advancement of microglia, and microglia shuts down the production and deliverance of dopamine, it is no wonder why brain inflammation is connected to depression and feelings of unhappiness.
When Cahill and her associates treated mice suffering from chronic pain disorders with morphine (a drug that stimulates dopamine) they found no effect. Morphine and other opioids are ineffective against chronic pain because of the microglia buildup.
When Cahill and her associates treated the animals with a drug that inhibits microglial activation, it restored dopamine release and reward-motivated behavior.
For over 20 years, scientists have been trying to unlock the mechanisms at work that connect opioid use, pain relief, depression and addiction,” Cahill says. “Our findings represent a paradigm shift which has broad implications that are not restricted to the problem of pain and may translate to other disorders.
Natural Treatments To Brain Inflammation
Lay off the Meats: not just meat but egg-yolks too. These both contain pro-inflammatory arachidonic fatty acids. Switch to fish which has anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
Fish Oil: 2–4 grams of high-quality fish oil daily means you get omega-3 fats to ward off Alzheimer’s as well as other types of dementia and mood disorders. Keeps brain inflammation down.
Turn to Turmeric: the spice that gives curry its color, turmeric is an excellent source of curcumin, on of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants out there.