By Keeley Berry
For patients plagued by daily pain, turning to health supplements as a natural aid to discomfort is inevitable. Whilst it is entirely dependent on the type of and cause of pain, and patients should always be encouraged to visit their GP for advice ahead of following any supplementation programme, it is essential for pharmacists to be in-the-know of those nutrients and ingredients that may help.
For muscular pain, I would recommend that customers be advised to try a high-dose magnesium supplement or topically applied product, to help ease the tension. Certain transdermal magnesium products will also contain additional essential oils and ingredients such as camphor, which can help soothe any inflammation or black pepper, which is known to increase blood flow to the muscles when massaged in, aiding with a surge of oxygen-rich blood to the painful area.
One of nature’s most efficient relaxants, magnesium can also be utilised as an aid to restful sleep, which is essential for the repair of damaged and painful muscles whilst we rest. Turmeric should also be advised as it will help to combat lactic acid build-up whilst also bringing in immune cells that work to ‘clear up’ any debris from damaged muscles.
Where joint pain is concerned, taking an inside-out approach to alleviating discomfort should be advised. Glucosamine and menthol will help to treat inflammation and sooth immediate throbbing pain respectively, whilst turmeric is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin C intake should also be considered, as it is used to produce collagen. This is hugely important for building strong cartilage in the joints and without it, joints can become stiff or seized, leading to painful swelling.
If a patient is suffering from a chronic condition, particularly nerve-related (such as cancer patients where chemotherapy has destroyed some of the nerves in the feet, causing pain), there are certain nutrients that can be supplemented to help alleviate day-to-day discomfort.
For example, vitamin B12 acts to repair the myelin sheath, an insulating layer that forms around the nerves. This protective covering around the nerve cell allows signals to be sent quickly around the body. When the myelin sheath is damaged, the nerves don’t transmit these signals effectively and can misfire, causing pain. In chronic conditions such as motor neurone disease, the myelin sheath eventually breaks down completely and there are no signals to the muscles to make them contract.
Keeley Berry, nutritional expert at BetterYou, contributed to this article.
This article also appears in the October issue of Pharmacy Business.