As some of you know, I’ve recently encountered some bumps in the road to being a physically healthier person. I got my knees replaced and now I’m working on the teeth. You can read all the gruesome details in my blog. In short, turns out that I did not really have enough room for all my wisdom teeth. They were there, but they were impacting all my other teeth. So I had to get them out and some Emdogain injections. Then apparently like most people with African ancestry, I had a severe inflammatory response.
The pain was insane. Seriously. At times I wondered if my mind would disassociate from my body. However, knowledge gave me the power to deal.
Now, I am going to be very frank in this article, and please understand that I am not a licensed medical doctor. None of this is meant to replace professional medical advice or treatment. In fact it is my hope that you will use this information to support your doctor’s efforts to keep you well.
First tip I am giving is that if it is legal for you, especially if you are diabetic, opt for weed. Marijuana is one of the best options for pain management, especially if the pain lasts more than a few days. You don’t have to smoke it. Use edibles, especially if it’s after oral surgery. The smoking and suction could trigger more inflammation.
If you already have access, the time when you are dealing with pain is a good time to take your medicine at least partly supervised. There is a method of partaking and chanting specific to coping with pain and healing. There are additional herbs that should go with this that an experienced guide knows how to prepare. Even if you know, the company is good to have and to make sure things are done timely and properly.
If you don’t have access to cannabis, like I didn’t during my recent ordeal, the way is a bit more complicated. Don’t be afraid of the conventional medicine. It’s mostly derived from plants anyway. You just need to know what does what and why you should take it, as well as the supportive lifestyle and meditation techniques that will get you through. Now strap in folks, some of this may surprise you.
Manage The Stress
Warn the people around you that you are not having any b.s. Even if you are a sweet person. create an environment where you can pop off and people won’t take it too personally. Clear your schedule as much as possible. Be okay with telling folks you can’t see them or really need to see them. Try to outsource any chores that will be painful for you during your time.
By the way, this isn’t just for after surgery. If you have high hormonal surges a few days out of the month, set the policy.
You want to manage stress as best as you can to keep your cortisol (basically the “stress hormone”) under control. Higher stress means higher inflammation which can mean higher pain levels. Stress is hard on all your organs, and especially your heart. It is also hard on your liver and pancreas, which leads to the next.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
If you’re diabetic you already know this, but did you know that a big stress or shock could trigger a chain reaction in your body that can make you diabetic? Tempting as it may be during a bout of pain, especially if you have to be on a liquid diet for awhile, those sugary drinks, juices, and sweet porridge will make your life worse. Keep in to a minimum.
If you don’t have one already, get a blood sugar monitor so you can keep track of things. If you spike (300+) the fastest way to get it back down is gentle exercise and drinking some clear water. Just make sure you balance yourself on something, and don’t chug the water. Sip it.
Breathing and Brown Fat
This is one of those indirect but very closely related things. If you are already familiar with Kemetic or Tibetan Buddhist techniques for meditation through crisis/stress/pain/bad inescapable weather, then I am preaching to the choir. If you are not, the easiest way you’re going to find to learn fast (which you should back up with traditional when the crisis is over or less intense) is Wim Hof breathing and cold showers.
Some of you may notice that the rhythm of it is similar to some diaspora night time Eshu prayers. If you find the guided breathing tutorials’ music a little not quite it, turn on an Eshu song and do the breathing to that.
Cool and cold showers or gently icing your upper back area activates what little brown fat we have left in our bodies as adults. For many, this helps with many health issues and to help calm down a bout of bad inflammation.
Ask For And Take The Drugs
Especially if you have had hypertrophic or raised scars in the past, there is a high chance that any new surgery or injury will trigger a lot of inflammation. Especially if they involve implants, stitches, or some sort of chemotherapy. Whoever is treating you needs to know this. Don’t assume that they would just because they work in an area with a lot of dark skinned people. This kind of thing is overlooked all the time, and is probably why many of us hate going to the doctor or dentist.
You will save yourself a lot of pain by understanding how your flesh works and in advance, warning of the possible inflammation getting out of control. What you may need is steroids to prevent over inflammation and keloid scarring.
There are a few that will work for this purpose. The one I took for the oral surgery ordeal was dexamethasone. These things are not very good for you long term, but short term it can make the difference between a treatment working or not working, not to mention a mangled looking outcome if inflammation is bad enough.
Just a note, there is not enough ibuprofin that you can safely take to counter a genetically triggered inflammation episode. The amounts one would have to take would block prostaglandins and other important chemicals in the body that it could give you ulcers, kidney problems, and overall make any inflammation worse. Steroids are scary for many people, but necessary to prevent or calm down inflammation from a deep wound or surgery. If you are dark skinned or have a history of any raised scarring, the dosage should be supervised by someone who is experienced and trained in wound care for dark skinned people specifically.
Alignment With Healing Deities and Spirits
This is an of course, but you really want to give special attention to your healing supportive deities during bouts of pain. Especially if you have chronic or recurring pain, whoever in your tradition is themselves said to be dealing with pain or injury constantly, is going to be your best ally. For some this will be “Mr. B.”
Hold on though, you also want to be on good terms with your pleasure deities. For some, this will be Oshun. According to the legends, they work together a lot and love each other very much.
If your issues, like mine at the moment, are mostly a genetically triggered inflammatory reaction, you need to give extra extra love to your Ancestors. They are the ones who suffered so much that they had to heal at superhuman speed to survive. It may hurt, but it is miraculous and should be respected even if we have to take steroids to calm it down a bit.
The Pain Itself
The injury or trauma and inflammation are the immediate physical emergencies most of the time, but the pain by itself is an issue as well. Pain raises stress which makes inflammation worse and healing slower.
Often people don’t give pain enough attention because of ego or western attitudes towards suffering and drugs. However, humanity has a long history of dealing with pain sanely, and we should use whatever tools we have to keep ourselves personally and socially harmonious. Yes, I bring socially in there because none of us lives in a vacuum, and part of dealing with pain sanely is having a social network of helpful people.
Pain can be alienating, especially when it drags on for a long time. People who love us very much suffer when we suffer, but over time this can cause a lot of stress on relationships. What you want to do is manage yourself well enough so you can keep a kind of symbiosis with your loved ones rather than getting into what may be toxic dependency. Dependency itself is not necessarily toxic, but if one is not mindful of boundaries it can be.
As I’ve mentioned before, weed is generally one of the best pain meds out there. Dosage is easily customized, and even if you accidentally overdose, you likely won’t die before you get to the emergency clinic. You will have a bad couple of days though.
Another option that has been villanized a lot lately because of abuse is opiates. The true problem is the way that they are prescribed. Many are addictive, and if they are prescribed “as needed” then you’re basically creating an addict. There are formulations however, that are one a day or twice a day, and some are even made for very short term use, such as when one has occasional clusters, migrainesd, or inflammatory flare-ups.
If you are generally not an addictive person you should not have a problem with opiates for pain management if you get the right formula. Ask your doctor about it. Don’t just start extracting poppy on your own or taking something off the street because you heard it’s okay.
Other things for pain that may surprise you:
The Tumeric/Pepper/Q-10 Stack
In my experience this is the best anti inflammatory combination you can get over the counter. It’s as good as ibuprofen without the side effects. It doesn’t have to be a fancy brand. You can make a tea with a teaspoon of tumeric, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper or better, long pepper, a teaspoon of vinegar to extract the goodies from the tumeric and pepper more easily, and water, and take the Q-10 pill. I use this as a basis and add other pain relief herbs like
Scientifically, nobody really knows why it works yet. What is known is that it helps the liver. It specifically helps to clear fat from the liver, so the pain relief may be a kind of happy side effect of that. The less sluggish your liver, the more happy and healing chemicals get released in the body. So maybe the taste of cardamom has a kind of advanced placebo effect of being a signal to your brain that you are doing something good for yourself, so you get some happy hormones. Whatever works. Add a quarter teaspoon of cardamom to your tea twice a day.
Stevia and Yogurt or some other probiotic fermented mush
Still in the realm of things that work but we don’t know the full mechanics of is eating something sweet and fermented. The problem is that too much sugar is bad for you while you are healing. So stevia is a better option since it won’t feed bad bacteria. The yogurt supports a good gut microbiome but at the same time trains your body to fight against the harmful bacteria. It’s like a massage for your insides.
Ginger or Galangal
This is a maybe. Some people are sensitive to it. Try it, and if you feel burning, stop. You are not one of those people who can take it. Do try galangal instead though. It’s different, but it may work better for you. Ginger works by releasing salicylates which turn into salicylic acid in the body. So it works kind of like a smoother aspirin. Some people find even that reaction irritating though.
Galangal works because it’s packed with strong antioxidants in a way that just happens to act directly against pain and inflammation. I mentioned ginger first just because it’s easier to find, but if you can get some galangal, then do so. Use both if you can.
Dittany of Crete
This is a great pain relieving herb. It has carvacol, thymol, and other compounds well known to address all sorts of pain. It is especially useful though, in types of pain that come in spasms. So if your pain is coming in waves, this is the tea you need to manage that. About three times a day, drop four or five dried leaves in some hot water.
No article on herbal pain relief would be complete without mentioning wild lettuce or “baby”. There are lots of recipes out there for drying and extracts already, but to be honest, I find these concoctions highly unpleasant. The way I like to have my wild lettuce is cooked as greens.
Chop it up, and saute some onions in butter. When the onions are starting to be clear, add the chopped wild lettuce. Add just enough water to lubricate it, add what seasonings you like, and cover. Let it simmer for about 15-25 minutes.
You can safely eat about 100g of this at a time when it is fully in season. You’ll feel a kind of wash of cold and then get kinda sleepy. Again, check with your doctor before taking this because it is basically a kind of low grade opiate.
And yes you can freeze leftovers.
I hope this article has been helpful. Really we have just scratched the surface. I will be posting more on the subject. Feel free to comment and offer your experiences and knowledge.
Blessings and Ashé!
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