Ancient Techniques That Can Still Work To Relieve Your Chronic Pain

More than 1.5 billion people around the world suffer from chronic pain, including 100 million Americans -- making it more prevalent in the U.S. than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. This form of constant or recurring pain is generally associated with incurable conditions, forcing sufferers to either "just live with it" or mask their symptoms with medications that pose risks of addiction or dangerous interactions with other drugs. But long before the advent of modern pharmaceutical science, many ancient techniques helped people control their pain safely and effectively. If that's the sort of pain management you're looking for, here are some tried-and-true therapies that can provide it.


Acupuncture can seem more like magic than medicine to modern-age chronic pain sufferers, especially from the way ancient Chinese healers described its workings. Eastern medicine practitioners have long maintained that the body's life energy, or Qi, flows through major channels known as meridians, with disruptions to this flow causing pain and illness. By redirecting the Qi through the use of needles, they claim acupuncture can relieve pain and restore health. 

Modern studies have led some medical researchers to believe that acupuncture works by causing the body to create its own natural painkillers. The insertion of the needles may stimulate the flow of calcium through muscles, which in turn would cause interactions with red blood cells that prompt the production of endorphins. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture's effectiveness as a pain management treatment for neck pain, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic disorders.


Hypnosis is an older healing art than you might realize, with evidence of its practice extending back to ancient Greece. By placing the mind into a conscious but suggestive trance state, hypnotherapists aim to lead patients through a series of positive suggestions that help them cope with anxieties, give up addictive or unhealthy behaviors and gain the upper hand over pain. The latter is most dramatically demonstrated in reports of patients who have received hypnotherapy can undergo dental work or even major surgery without anesthesia. But hypnosis can prove helpful for chronic pain management as well. For instance, research on hypnotherapy's ability to aid fibromyalgia patients found that multiple sessions significantly reduced fibromyalgia pain for months at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, patients do not automatically fall asleep or "lose all control" when they submit to hypnosis. Unless selective amnesia is part of the greed-upon strategy, patients typically remember the details of a hypnosis session and obey only those instructions that the mind is willing to obey. 

Nutritional Therapy

Food has served as folk medicine since time immemorial, so if it's true that "you are what you eat," then it only makes sense to investigate the role nutrition and diet can play in chronic pain management. Talk to your primary care physician or pain management specialist about incorporating the following foods into your menu:

  • Soybeans and soy products - Foods made from soybeans may be able to relieve chronic neuropathy.
  • Fatty fish - Fatty fish (sardines, salmon, tuna, etc.) and other foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation.
  • Cherries - Cherries contain anthocyanins (natural anti-inflammatories) as well as melatonin for more restful, comfortable sleep.
  • Curry and other Indian cuisine - Foods high in turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, may be helpful for relieving pain.

There will always be situations where modern painkillers are the only truly effective solution for severe chronic pain -- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore all your options, including some of the oldest ones. Ask your doctor about these and other old-fashioned pain management solutions. For more information, consider websites like