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Tips on Controlling Inflammation to Help Improve Chronic Pain

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

So many living with medical conditions do not understand that controlling inflammation in the body can help with your overall well-being. I have literally gone up in weight just from missing the cause of the inflammation. That added weight is just a miserable feeling. My head gets so foggy I can’t think straight, energy levels drop and discouragement seeps in. And for one like me living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), this means creating the perfect storm internally that causes the body to easily sublux or even full dislocations.

It has taken many years for me to figure out the reasons this inflammation has been occurring and how to take some control to try to avoid it and maintain the body. And no matter how hard I try, there are still mysterious times that I have to investigate and look back to try to understand what I did wrong again.

I never realized that one huge culprit for me that causes inflammation is the nightshade vegetables many of us so enjoy.

They include white potatoes (not sweet potatoes), eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. When I learned about this and stopped them, all the difference in my body was huge to the point that I now refuse to eat them. And yes, it was heartbreaking to stay away from these vegetables I love and were growing and harvesting in our garden, but again the change was dramatic.

Another thing to consider is sensitivity to medications can cause inflammation.

If this seems to be an issue, then consider having a DNA drug sensitivity test done to identify what medicines are not compatible with you. I remember my mother saying my pediatrician shared that it seemed that my body was allergic to itself. And he was close to right — for my results showed I was not metabolizing Aspirin, Tylenol, any opiates, and so much more. From this point on, I contact the company that did my testing to be sure any new medication that is being suggested is checked against my results, to be sure I am not making things worse by causing inflammation. I have now gone from using no pain medication to being able to metabolize cannabis oil that allows sleep and calm in my body. I had chosen to live with no pain medication before these results, since nothing was working and was only causing inflammation and actually more discomfort with the reaction process. Today, I have peace in the body!

Try taking a look at the foods you are eating and find out if they are causing problems.

There are blood tests to check for food sensitivities — one example being the MRT food sensitivity test. The results are heartbreaking to discover that foods you love may be causing inflammation. However, once again, eliminating something that is causing a reaction in the body was so beneficial. A return of energy, sleep and clearer thinking became more important to me than eating the identified culprits. Sometimes when you eliminate a targeted food, you can get lucky and be able to return to eating it again. And there might be other ones that no matter how long you avoid, leave you feeling poorly when you try to reintroduce them. Each person is different, so all you can do is go through the process of identifying them, eliminating them and then upon directions of your dietician, try eventually reintroducing them.

These issues do make it very difficult to eat with others that have cooked for you or to eat out at a restaurant. People will mean well and will easily share there is no gluten, dairy, soy, nightshade vegetables, etc. and then you come home and feel that negative change happening in your body. I recently had the weight increase for a week with no idea why. Then I realized I had been delivered some black beans that the can was marked “spicy” in small print. Upon reading the ingredients, I discovered that they had tomatoes in it. Just eating a few meals with those beans had such a negative effect for a while in my body. I had missed this and kept eating what was left without a clue. I was the one that had to pay the price.

Living with medical conditions can be overwhelming and leave you feeling like your life is out of control. So for me, anything I discover that I can do to return some control back in my life and help improve the quality of my life becomes a gold mine for me. Do I enjoy watching others eat what I need to avoid? No way. But to have some calm and peace return to my body is so worth the sacrifice, for me. Maybe this will be worth it to you too!

May life be kind to you.
Ellen Lenox Smith
US Pain Foundation, Co-Director for Cannabis Advocacy

Getty image by Jorge Salmerón López

Originally published: March 22, 2022
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