There’s a new natural supplement that is helping people manage chronic pain.
20% of Australians suffer from chronic pain
Inflammation is the body’s initial response to cell damage and is designed to protect it from infection or further injury.
To understand how to reduce pain, we need to look at its main cause, inflammation, which is triggered in response to tissue injury or infection. The inflammatory process is designed to initiate healing and also to keep you resting while healing occurs. For this reason, the swelling that comes with inflammation stimulates nerves around the affected area, sending signals to your brain that something is wrong by causing you pain, and consequently restricting your movement.
It’s also important to understand that inflammation is a two-phase process. The swelling and pain described are part of the first phase (the ‘initiation phase’). The second phase (the ‘resolution phase’) begins once the tissue damage or infection has been repaired, and involves clearing away inflammatory cells and any tissue wastes produced during the first phase. The resolution phase ultimately eliminates pain and returns the body to health.
In states of chronic pain, however, the resolution does not occur, and instead, the body becomes stuck in the initiation phase, with persistent inflammation and pain. To reduce chronic pain, then, we need to address both phases of inflammation – initiation and resolution.
Medication is Not Resolution
Once your pain becomes persistent, it’s not uncommon to seek relief from pharmaceutical pain relievers like opioids, analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Unfortunately, these medications simply block you from feeling pain (e.g. opioids and analgesics), or halt the inflammatory process (e.g. NSAIDs); they do not resolve your inflammation and pain. In fact, some NSAIDs may actually stop the body from progressing to the resolution phase, because they turn down the production of certain inflammatory chemicals which are necessary for resolution. Clearly, whilst pain medications are useful for reducing symptoms, resolving the inflammatory process offers more lasting relief
Specialised Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPMs) are lipid (fat-based) compounds that flick the switch from the inflammatory initiation phase to the anti-inflammatory, healing resolution phase, while also reducing pain by altering pain perception. SPMs are normally produced by the body, however, when inflammation and pain become chronic, the capacity for the body to produce SPMs becomes compromised. In these cases, an SPM supplement may help to turn on the resolution phase.
SPMs support the immune system to promote resolution. This results in relief and recovery.
So why, if the body can produce SPMs, does inflammation remain unresolved?
Research tells us that the body’s ability to produce SPMs is lower in conditions involving chronic inflammation, meaning that in highly inflamed individuals, the ability to resolve inflammation is likely to be impaired.
This is why supplements providing SPMs are an exciting development for chronic inflammation sufferers; as restoring SPM levels goes beyond the effects of conventional treatments to actively promote resolution and full circle recovery.