How Pain Starts
To understand how to naturally relieve any form of pain, whether it be back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, or general muscle pain, it helps to first have some understanding of how the body interprets and handles pain. Then we can discuss what powerful, natural herbs and ingredients you should look for in a topical pain relief formula. I will also briefly discuss how some of the over-the-counter medications compare to natural remedies--the results may surprise you.
The pain impulse begins at the point of an injury -- either external, such as a cut, a burn, or a scrape; or internal such as a knuckle swollen with arthritis. Once the impulse starts, it triggers a number of bio-chemicals to be released at the site of the injury. Some of these bio-chemicals are histamine, bradykinin, prostaglandin, and Substance P. Each of these has one or more effects on the body. And many of these bio-chemicals are inflammatory -- that is, they cause the injury site to swell up.
Inflammation is actually a defense mechanism for the body. Inflammation serves to bathe the injury in healing fluids and acts as a cushion to protect against further injury. However, if the inflammation is prolonged or out of control, it can cause destruction. This is what occurs in arthritis, where the inflammation actually destroys the joints. Also, inflammation can serve to compound problems by actually causing pain itself.
This explains how an injury causes the body to release a number of bio-chemicals that can cause inflammation. Another action of these bio-chemicals, though, is to stimulate the nerve fibers of pain, the C fibers. (The body actually has three types of nerve fibers: A fibers, B fibers and C fibers. The main fibers which transmit the pain impulse are the C fibers.) Histamine, bradykinin, prostaglandins and the other bio-chemicals are actually the stimuli that cause the pain impulse to begin.
The Snowball Effect
Once the pain impulse is initiated by the injury related bio-chemicals, the C fibers release something called Substance P, which increases the "amplitude" of the pain signal by:
- Sensitizing the C fibers
- Increasing the inflammation
- Indirectly increasing the release of the bio-chemicals of pain -- such as histamine, bradykinin and prostaglandin).
In other words, the release of Substance P can result in a snowball effect on pain and inflammation and is a critical determiner of "pain."
And on to the Brain
Substance P also plays a role in the pain impulse at the other key site for pain, the spinal cord. The spinal cord is connected directly to the brain -- so, pain first must pass through the spinal cord and then to the brain. The C fibers carry the painful impulse to the spinal cord. In the spinal cord the C fibers end, and a nerve called a projection neuron and an ascending tract begins. This ascending tract carries the pain impulse on to the brain -- the final stop.
There is no physical connection between the C fiber and the projection neuron. The communication between the C fiber and the projection neuron is accomplished by the release of a chemical called a neurotransmitter (NT). The NT is released by the C fiber and travels across the space between the C fiber and the ascending tract and transmits the painful impulse to the ascending tract. If the NT is not present or is reduced, the transmission of the painful impulse is slowed or stopped. The main NT in the spinal cord for this transmission is Substance P.
At the site of an injury, whether the problem is pain or inflammation, the pain impulse can be interrupted by:
- Decreasing the levels of the "pain" bio-chemicals
- Or by blocking the nerves of pain, the C fibers.
With that in mind, it would make sense to use a pain killer that can do both of these. Aspirin and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen and Motrin decrease the prostaglandins. This can result in decreased pain and inflammation, especially if the prostaglandins are the main causes. However, aspirin and NSAIDS do not directly affect the other pain chemicals and do not affect the pain nerve, the C fiber.
Narcotics, such as Darvon or codeine, have no known effect on either the "pain" bio-chemicals or the pain nerves. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) also has no significant effect on these at usual doses. And in fact, the way acetaminophen works is not actually known.
But we also know we can interrupt the pain impulse away from the injury site, at the spinal cord. If our pain killer could also decrease the release of (or deplete the C fiber of) Substance P, the pain impulse would be blocked at the spinal cord level. Aspirin and NSAIDS have no known effect at this site. Narcotics and tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptylene or Elavil, on the other hand, actually can block the release of Substance P and stop transmission at the spinal cord level, but once again have no value in decreasing the levels of the bio-chemicals of pain
A Solution That Works Three Ways
There are solutions that do it all.
- Decrease the levels of the "pain" bio-chemicals.
- Block the release of Substance P, thus slowing down the transmission of the pain impulse along the nerves of pain, the C fibers.
- And slow down transmission of pain along the spinal cord.
At the site of the injury, there are essential oils that work as natural nerve blocks by confusing the pain nerve and causing it to release an overabundance of Substance P, which ultimately totally depletes the nerve of Substance P. This directly decreases the snowball effect of Substance P on pain and inflammation (and indirectly decreases histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandin).
There are natural substances that, after an initial brief excitation (felt as either warmth or cold), work to directly block the impulse conduction in the C fiber. That is, they directly block the pain producing nerve. This is not dependent on Substance P, but is the result of what is called an "amnestic" effect -- the overloading of the pain nerve through continual stimulation so that pain impulses cannot travel on it. So unlike most other painkillers, these substances affect both the chemicals of pain and the nerves of pain.
An even more remarkable action of some natural substances is their effect on the spinal cord. When applied to the skin, they cause the depletion of Substance P in the Spinal cord ending of the C fiber. This can result in interference of transmission of the painful impulse at the spinal cord.
In other words, the right combination of substances does it all -- stops pain at the three essential points: decreasing production of the pain bio-chemicals, blocking the release of Substance P, and slowing down transmission of pain along the spinal cord.
What To Look For
- St John's Wort: for relief of nerve-related pain such as sciatica, neuralgia, arthritis, and rheumatic pains
- Arnica: used for centuries for bruises and sprains
- Calendula: relieves pain, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic
- Cayenne: stimulates circulation, alters temperature regulation, and desensitizes nerve endings
- Menthol (from peppermint): increases blood circulation and cools the afflicted area
- Ginger: a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) – thus reducing inflammation
- MSM: also called "organic sulfur." It is widely used around the world for relief of pain from arthritis, back pain or muscle pain.
The transporter system contains a proprietary blend of
- DMSO: MSM's big brother, it works as a universal solvent.
- pH Balanced Limonene: because of its dense electromagnetic field, it is one of nature's most potent natural solvents -- and pain relievers.
- Wintergreen Oil: Probably the most recognized scent in pain relief balms, wintergreen not only helps carry the other herbs through the skin, it is also effective in relieving arthritis pain, joint stiffness, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
- Emu Oil: a natural emollient used by Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years for its remarkable healing and anti-inflammatory properties
How to Use
Because the solvent action of the transporter base is so powerful, a little goes a long way. Normal use requires only 2-3 drops to cover your entire knee for example. 5-6 drops is enough to cover the entire lower back.
- Do not overuse. If needed, reapply in 10 minutes for additional relief.
- Use your fingertips to rub in. Avoid using your palms if possible. There is no harm in doing so. You may simply find that your palm warms up for several minutes.
- Wash your hands both before (important) and after applying and avoid contact with your eyes.
- And finally, one of the formula's most amazing qualities is its residual action. You may find it reactivating 24-48 hours after it's applied when stimulated by a warm shower or by the application of a magnetic field.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Note: Because you use so little for each application, the formula is remarkably economical. A single one-oz. bottle is good for anywhere from 100-300 applications.
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Find out more about Jon Barron's formulas and where to find them at our product recommendation page: http://www.jonbarron.org/products