The Opioid Epidemic and How to Defeat It

Did You Know…that researchers have uncovered a way to treat pain with no prescription needed?

We are in the midst of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have termed an “opioid epidemic.”  Despite the dangers of these drugs, it can be difficult to find effective non-opioid alternatives for pain.

Here’s what you need to know: When the body feels pain, its innate response and main tactic to block pain is to produce its own opioids.  Fortunately, innovative researchers have uncovered a safe, natural way to treat pain that may be independent of this innate system.

This means that significant pain relief can absolutely be achieved through natural methods.

The Opioid Epidemic 

Opioids, a class of drugs that includes Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco, Percocet, Percodan, and hydrocodone– and oxycodone-derived medications, are frequently prescribed to treat many kinds of pain, despite the fact that they are expensive and highly addictive.  Further, the death toll from prescription opioids continues to rise.

The high cost of opioids has inspired medical professionals to seek alternate means of treating pain.  Studies confirm the efficacy of pain-relief methods such as…

  Hypnosis
  Acupuncture
  Distraction
  Placebos 


All of these methods rely on the body’s natural production of opioids.

With that in mind, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina set out to determine whether meditation might work in exactly the same way.

Testing the Effects of Meditation 

The Wake Forest team, led by Fadel Zeidan, PhD, divided the participants into four groups. 
 The first 2 groups were injected with a drug called naloxone that blocks the body’s opioid receptors, while the second two received injections of a saline placebo.
 Groups 1 and 3 practiced mindfulness-based meditation, while groups 2 and 4 listened to a recording of The Natural
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The researchers evaluated the participants’ response to pain by using a thermal probe to heat an area of their skin to 120.2 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature which causes considerable pain.  Participants were then asked to rate their pain on a sliding scale.

 Participants who were injected with naloxone and practiced meditation experienced the greatest reduction in pain—24%.
 The other meditation group, who received placebo injections rather naloxone, experienced nearly as much benefit, a 21% reduction in pain.
 Participants who listened to the book recording reported increases in pain regardless of which injection they received.

Why This Study Is a Breakthrough for Natural Pain Relief 


Lead author Zeidan says these results are significant because even with naloxone blocking their opioid receptors, participants who meditated felt their pain decrease.  This indicates that meditation relieves pain in a completely different way than opioids.

“This study shows that meditation doesn’t work through the body’s opioid system,” Zeidan says, pointing out that “something unique is happening with how mediation reduces pain.”  Zeidan says the findings are important for those who want non-addictive ways to reduce pain, and for those who have built up a tolerance to opioid-based drugs.

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