What is Pain, Really?
Hello again Tea Lovers! As it gets colder and damper outside, some of us may be experiencing joint, muscle or throat pain. This week, Abbé co-founder Autumn Bear addresses different types of pain and answers the question, what is pain anyway? Enjoy!
Pain seems to be one of the biggest topics of discussion and tends to be something that we address in great numbers in our practices. For obvious reasons, pain keeps people from living their normal lives and can alter people's abilities to be active, healthy, and feel the freedom to do what they like.
Pain, in general, is tricky to deal with because most people want it to be gone immediately but the risks that come with taking pain medications can be great both because of addiction as well as side effects.
In Chinese medicine, all pain, regardless of location, can be seen as an opportunity to change. In short, our body is a very complex system of checks and balances and when something has thrown the systems off the body needs to find some way to communicate that there is something wrong. We are speaking, of course, about long term pain that may be a result of an old injury or pain that has begun out of nowhere and has no apparent cause. Acute pain as a result of direct trauma does not have the same cause, but we can also thing that perhaps there was some underlying deficiency that left an area weak and vulnerable to injury. Pain can be a result of emotional triggers as well as physical agitation. Emotions can cause the body's qi (energy) to stagnate and can cause everything from sciatic (hip) pain to migraines.
Blood Stasis is often felt with sharp stabbing pain (our emotions are housed in the blood), whereas achey dull pain is often considered to be chronic deficiency due to lack of energy or qi. We can look at the location of the pain as well as the quality of pain to try to decipher what is going on in our lives to see if there is any kind of relationship.
If someone is suffering from foot pain we might want to ask if a person is having difficulty moving forward in life. Leg pain might indicate someone who is having challenges standing on their own two feet, difficulty standing up to the world and sticking up for themselves. Back pain, perhaps they feel that there is something holding them back. Chest or throat pain might indicate a person who doesn't feel heard or free to be heard. A person with neck or shoulder pain might feel like they are carrying the weight of the world. Perhaps these people have exceptional moments of stress and need to lighten their load a little. A person with head pain might be having difficulty letting go of something. Perhaps they are overburdened with a problem that they just can't let go of. Joint pain might indicate that a person has been under extreme stress and doesn't have the ability to deal with it at the current moment. The stress of the situation has to be dealt with but the body may put it into latency in a place that will not threaten the health of the organs so it will most likely allocate the joints to bear this burden.
In many circumstances, joint pain can be a pain we have had in our lives that has not been dealt with and we either reach a place where we can emotionally handle what needs to be handled or perhaps we no longer have the resources to hold it in so the body looses the ability to keep it latent and we start to show signs and symptoms.
This is obviously a brief synopsis of some of the ways we look at pain, but we certainly like to begin the process of approaching our pain with the idea that it can transform and change and so can we!
We love to treat our pain from the inside out. In addition to other modalities of treatment we may want to drink tea that will aid in this transition. Our Relieve tea is specifically designed to help alleviate pain (skullcap is amazing for this) but also to help move qi and blood using ingredients like pink peppercorns, cacao nibs and cinnamon! We also love to address the idea that we need to nourish our bodies so using relaxing and nourishing herbs from our Vitality (to nourish the kidneys and liver) and Tranquility (to help relax the mind). We never underestimate the power of mother nature combined with the thoughtfulness and kindness we give ourselves in taking a little time each day to sip a cup of tea and move ourselves in the direction of healing.