Pain is a problem influenced by many factors simultaneously. The fact that deep frontal lobotomy, surgically cutting across the front lobes of the brain, will block pain is evidence that the frontal lobes of the brain are somehow placed right in the middle of pain perception, and are able to influence it greatly. This explains how martyrs go to the death able to think, sing, and even preach, right up to the very last breath.
It is the work of Satan to cause pain to cascade in the world. He frequently provokes others to be his agents to increase pain. When Peter denied Christ, he gave great pain to Him. And on the cross when He had taken our sins on Himself, the feeling of rejection by His Father caused Jesus intense anguish. “So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.” The Desire of Ages, p. 753. The addition of mental anguish to physical pain causes a patient who develops a sense of rejection to believe the trials are more than can be tolerated, and the whole situation is expressed simply as an increase in physical pain. Jesus is the Master Model in dealing with pain, as well as the solution for pain and for sin. Suffering can be sweetened into a tender fellowship with God. “The first thing to be done is to ascertain the true character of the sickness and then go to work intelligently to remove the cause.” The Ministry of Healing, p. 235. Reassurance is needed that he can bear the pain and that God loves him. “Water can be used in many ways to relieve suffering.” Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 297.
Relatives and friends can influence pain. If the patient is kindly and tenderly regarded by members of the family, if special efforts are put forth to make everything comfortable that can be comfortable, even the painful part will seem to give less pain. If family members are unsympathetic or indifferent to the needs of the patient, the parts of the brain that sense discomfort will go into high gear, and pain may become unbearable. Everyone should plan thoughtful little remembrances for the patient.
Pain always carries an associated ministry, both to and from people who have it. Those who are in pain must learn to be patient and kind even when the mind is distracted and the energies have been depleted by long-continued discomfort. There is never an excuse for irritability or harshness. The patient can make nursing duties more pleasant by making a thoughtful effort to consider the feelings of those who perform the duties.
Pain and fever Control Without Aspirin
We have become known as the chemical society. Many of our prominent diseases are intimately associated, often in a way that we do not realize, with our exposure to chemicals of various kinds from kitchen detergents and exhaust fumes to powerful drugs like cortisone.
Our exposure to chemicals is so common that we do not recognize that a number of these chemicals are giving us injury. We become so accustomed to contact with chemicals and drugs that we have idiomatic expressions in our language such as “harmless as aspirin” using a common chemical as a prototype of harmless things.
We should not regard any exposure to a chemical that is not native to the body or the natural environment as being harmless or to be used safely without restraint. Aspirin is particularly harmful, and should be looked on with strong suspicion. About 10,000 Americans each year lose their lives because of taking aspirin. These deaths are entirely separate from accidental overdosage in children. Aspirin is the trade name for acetylsalicylic acid. The naturally occurring salicylate in herbs, methylsalicylate, does not cause toxicity unless taken in a very concentrated form called oil of wintergreen. This form is toxic in large quantities (two tablespoons for a child and six for adults.) There have been no recorded toxicities to methylsalicylate despite its widespread use as far back as records go in the Alabama Poison Control Center. At the same time, hundreds of cases of aspirin poisoning have occurred.
The two most common uses of aspirin are pain relief and fever reduction. Approximately 17,500 tons of aspirin each year are used in these ways, to the tune of $600 million a year. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used similarly but, contrary to earlier advertising, it appears to be even more toxic than aspirin. I agree with the many physicians who feel that aspirin should be a strictly controlled prescription item, not an over-the-counter drug.
Adverse Reactions to Aspirin
Approximately 5% of persons taking aspirin will have heartburn after a single dose. Bleeding in the stomach and ulceration may follow in susceptible individuals and is the affliction which results in most of the deaths from aspirin. Nearly 70% of persons taking aspirin daily show a daily blood loss of 1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons from the bowels, and 10% of patients lose as much as 2 teaspoons of blood daily. Aspirin may double the time necessary for human blood to clot, increasing the likelihood of hemorrhage.
By far, the most disabling of the adverse reactions to aspirin is that of asthma. Attacks of asthma are often caused by very small amounts of the drug and may be accompanied by swelling of the larynx, abdominal pain, and shock. In an occasional case, death may occur within minutes. Fortunately, this type of sensitivity is unusual, occurring in less than 0.2% of the general population.
Aspirin is a major cause of death in American children up to 6 years of age, accounting for more than 500 deaths from overdoses each year. Reducing fevers in childhood with drugs results in longer illnesses and more complications. The immune system is weakened by the drug. One should never consider any drug, whether over-the-counter or prescription, to be totally safe. No one, and especially not children, should be exposed unnecessarily to any drug. And never expose the unborn baby to drugs, no matter how mild, including antacids used for heartburn, antihistamines for morning sickness or motion sickness, or any other drug or chemical. This point cannot be emphasized too strongly as many infants are marked for life because of a small exposure to a chemical which the mother took while she was pregnant. Often the defect in the child is of a biochemical nature rather than a structural abnormality. Perhaps the baby will not be able to make a certain enzyme needed to digest a particular nutrient or make an essential blood component.
Treatments for Pain and Fevers
Most pain and fever can be easily controlled without aspirin or Tylenol. To control pain, use heat or cold, or alternating applications of both, applying the heat or cold by a variety of different routes—heating pad, hot water bottle, ice cap, an ordinary fruit jar filled with ice or hot water and wrapped in a towel. Other methods include a hot tub bath, a hot shower, a “short cold bath” (30-120 seconds in cold bath water of 50-65 degrees). Usually, hot water applied directly to the part, if practicable, is the most effective, the temperature of the water being from 105-110 degrees, depending on the health of the individual and the part to be treated; but the easiest method should be tried first. Generally, the hot applications should be as hot as can be tolerated and the cold applications should be as cold as you can get them. Alternating hot and cold packs may be applied to the chest, to the abdomen, or to any part for aches and pains. Wring a towel from hot water and place it on the painful part for 3-6 minutes. Replace the hot compress with an ice-cold compress for 30-60 seconds. Alternate in this fashion for 3-5 changes.
Hot applications or massage to the spine can alter the central nervous system’s ability to “hear” pain sensation. These simple treatments are good, not just for back pain, but for pain in the legs, arms, or head too.
If headache relief is needed, put the feet in hot water for 30 minutes. The headache will “dissolve into the foot bath!” Of course, if one is a severe diabetic on insulin, or has known blockage of arteries to the legs, this treatment should not be used, for even ordinary temperatures can sometimes cause blisters in these persons.
Common fevers can easily be treated by sitting in a hot tub bath from 102 to 108 degrees until the skin is quite red, and profuse sweating occurs. After the first five minutes, keep an ice-cold cloth to the forehead, or from the beginning, if the fever starts out over 101 degrees. Take a cup of hot water or hot herb tea when sweating begins. When the skin is red and sweating profusely, after 10-20 minutes, then finish off the remedy as follows: (1) work fast to take a brief spray of cool water over the entire body from the chin downward; (2) then a quick friction rubdown with a coarse towel; (3) wrap bathrobe around you, jump into bed and sweat for half an hour; (4) arise, take a brief, normal shower if needed to cleanse the skin and relieve a sense of chilliness after sweating, and (5) redress.
At all times that the body temperature goes above 101 degrees or when one begins sweating while taking any kind of hot bath, a cold cloth should be kept on the face, forehead, or throat. When one finishes the hot soaking bath, if the treatment has been a good one, a sensation of weakness may develop after a minute or so of standing, because of the transfer of blood from the interior of the body to the exterior, much as in sunburn. This is normal, because of extensive reddening of the skin.
Alternatives to Drugs - Especially for Cancer
Try one thing after another. Don’t be disappointed if one thing doesn’t work because another will. The pharmaceutical pain-controlling drugs eventually lose their effectiveness, more and more of the drug being required until no amount works, and then the patient merely becomes hysterical with as much pain as at the first. But now the simple remedies won’t work over the drugs and the patient is not in control of the mind or emotions. If this possibility can be avoided, it is well worth a lot of effort.
Bear in mind that pain is closely tied in with many body systems, immune, endocrine, cardiac, bloodmaking, stomach and bowels, mental, and chemical; therefore, physical fitness helps significantly in dealing with pain. The modalities you have available are heat, cold, total body immersion in a neutral bath, a hot foot bath, a cold mitten friction to the extremities, massage, and herbal remedies.
Massage is a very good remedy. It is more beneficial than most people understand. (Ref American Journal of Nursing p. 120, 1992) It is comforting, soothing, and gives them the sense that someone is near who can help. (Ref Applied Nursing Research 3:140; 1990; Lancet 334:1514; 1992) Be as kind and affectionate as it is possible to be, touching, kissing, and paying tender attentions to the person. If a patient has a cancer you can see or feel, do not massage it directly, as squeezing might cause the cancer to spread.
Try ice massage. Freeze a styrofoam cup with water in it. After it has become solid take it out of the freezer and peel off the bottom end of the styrofoam to expose the ice. Use the top part as an insulated holder. Block off the area with towels to catch the runoff water. Massage, making small circles, and tearing off more styrofoam as the ice melts. Massage for 12-20 minutes.
If you are able to walk, exercise is good for many types of pain. If you cannot walk out of doors, lie out of doors in an area protected from the wind some place where the sun is not too hot. Sunshine penetrating through your clothing into the painful area can bring relief It is best not to expose the skin.
A foot rub is helpful. Work especially on any areas where there is tension or tenderness. The feet are often tense during pain and a foot rub will relax these areas.
Make a tea of white willow bark and wild lettuce daily. White willow is the source for methylsalicylate. Its effects are cumulative in the system, so keep drinking it on a schedule whether or not you feel pain, and you will get better pain control in persistent pain relief.
Instructions for making the tea: Boil one tablespoon of white willow bark in one quart of water for 20-30 minutes. Then set it off the heat. If you wish, add 2-3 tablespoons of wild lettuce and let it steep 1/2 hour. Some get better results from mixing one or more pain-relieving herbs—poplar buds, black cohosh, meadowsweet, partridge berry, or others. Strain. Then it is ready for use. Make it daily and drink the entire quart over a day’s time.
The drugstore has a topical ointment called Zostrix made from capsicum, red pepper, or cayenne pepper. Use it 6 times a day for pain relief. There is a substance in it that ties up P-substance, the neurotransmitter that sends pain messages to the brain. It may take 5 to 10 days of applying it before you experience pain relief As soon as you get relief, you can start using it only two times a day. You can make something at home cheaper than Zostrix with the same active ingredient and good effect. Here is the recipe:
Make a tincture by putting a cup of rubbing alcohol in a pint jar with one teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Swirl it once daily for three weeks. You may start using it immediately, however. Rub it on the areas where pain is felt six times a day for the first six days, then twice a day thereafter. As long as you keep using it the pain will stay away.
Use arnica rub. It is an oily herbal extract. Rub it on 3 to 4 times a day. Make it by putting a pint of olive oil in a double boiler and adding dried arnica flowers, about as many as will loosely pack into a two-cup container. Boil for two hours, strain, and put the oil in a bottle.
Counterirritation can relieve pain. Blocking pain in nearby tissues by a cold compress or ice applied over a nerve will also relieve pain, as will helping the patient to understand what is being done, what his pain means, and what is being contemplated.
Some people get good relief even from the pain of kidney stones, cancer, or sciatica, by lying for hours in a warm bath. Put a cassette tape on and listen to something enjoyable to help you pass the time.
The herbal remedies we have used a lot are especially white willow bark, wild lettuce, hops, and catnip (for sedation). Try a combination of hops, meadowsweet flowers, valerian root, black cohosh, blue cohosh, skullcap, and St. John’s wort. Use a tablespoon of each of the herbs, except for the black cohosh, which should be one to two teaspoons. Put these herbs in a quart of water and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day. Make fresh daily. This mixture is quite relaxing, and can often turn the tide in dealing with pain.
Water itself has good pain-relieving properties. One glassful every ten minutes for an hour is very helpful for backache and the pain of childbirth. (Ref. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 164:1277;1991)
When all else fails, take a plain, hot-water enema. It can give several hours relief and can help you sleep. The water should be no hotter than water you could drink.
The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.