A small crystal, a set of long needles, a paint brush, some chilled air and a large measure of self-love is perhaps all you need to relieve pain
Many early memories of pain relief are associated with grandmother’s store cupboards, and knowing its power and potency. There were herbs and spices such as cloves to take away toothache, garlic to cure ear pain, turmeric to ease cuts, lavender to make migraines vanish, peppermint to make bones hurt less and eucalyptus to ease the aches of the flu.
Every culture has potions and poultices that have travelled over time to help people combat pain. The efficacy of some have been proven by medical research, while others now come efficiently packaged for purchase.
As the lines between alternate and mainstream options continue to blur, more pain patients are seeking recourse and finding relief in therapies, philosophies and panaceas that are not strictly medical.
Most of our patients come here disappointed, or to avoid the side effects. We offer a variety of treatments that are individualised, effective, and don’t have side effects.
The UAE is neither slow nor shy about embracing alternative cures to manage or control pain Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, Medical Director at the popular Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre says it is a fact that Western medicine does not offer good solutions to chronic pain. “People mostly end up with a long prescription of pain killers and muscle relaxants that are not effective after some time, and come with side effects. Pain killers specifically create liver and digestion problems that will then also need treatment."
“Most of our patients come here disappointed, or to avoid the side effects. We offer a variety of treatments that are individualised, effective, and don’t have side effects.” DHTC offers ayurveda, homoeopathy, Certificated Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), among others. Dr Alonso says the newest is laser IV treatment for chronic pain and inflammation, but acupuncture remains the most popular and effective.
Acupuncture is one of many solutions in TCM for pain alleviation, and all focus on the life energy chi, its 12 meridians or channels, and its 365 treatment points.
Dr Jun Huang (MD, Acupuncture and Tuina), Chaslu Wellbeing Centre says, “Acupuncture is one of many solutions in TCM for pain alleviation, and all focus on the life energy chi, its 12 meridians or channels, and its 365 treatment points. A rough translation of an old Chinese saying is – channel blocked only pain, channel opened, no pain.”
The earnest doctor is so committed to helping patients, he teaches them the basics of Qi Gong, a series of postures, movements and meditations that can alleviate pain if practiced regularly. He simplifies, “Acupuncture is the physical treatment of balancing and harmonising chi, and Qi Gong is its mental equivalent.”
Clinical hypnotherapist Soniyaa Kiran Punjabi is the founder of Illuminations Well-Being Centre at Jumeirah Lakes Towers. She argues that most doctors only treat symptoms, while ignoring the emotional and mental well-being of people in pain. “We help them release their emotional blocks, start loving themselves, and then use powerful approaches that attempt to resolve their physical pain. Our approach involves identifying psychological or mental triggers that create emotional issues, which get stored in our tissues. We then use a combination of non-invasive methods to resolve them.”
Punjabi says every form of healing has its place alongside allopathy, and the centre offers a combination of hypnotherapy, energy healing, sound healing, breath work and bio-energy bodywork. “All the modalities we offer simply complement mainstream medication and are not replacements.”
The JLT neighbourhood is a hunter’s paradise for new-age options. Essentia presents a combination of hypnotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy, which their website states, ‘unlike a medical approach may help elicit deeper aspects of pain and bring complete relief.’ Essentia also offers chakra balancing and healing by reiki, crystals, auras and angels.
In less exotic, everyday options – with classes and sessions across the country – Indian yoga and Chinese tai chi are exercise practices to stretch and strengthen muscles. Many studies have proven that both can help people manage pain caused by different conditions.
Art therapy does not replace painkillers. It gives a person a venue and an avenue to forget about pain.
Physical and occupational therapy are also popular, with the first designed to preserve or improve strength and mobility, and the second to perform activities without aggravating pain.
There is more. Long-term Dubai resident Anupama Venugopal is doing her MA in Art Therapy from Indian Holistic Mental Health Research Centre, and aims to practice it. Studies show its remarkable success with palliative patients in pain. “Art therapy does not replace painkillers. It gives a person a venue and an avenue to forget about pain,” she says. “What will be achieved is a tranquil state of mind where pain is neither ceaseless nor constant.”