Endorphins - the body's natural pain-reliever >> My experience

From: Helen Dynda (olddad66@runestone.net)
Tue Sep 28 17:03:45 1999

I am not a medical professional, but I did want to respond to KHG's last two posts about her theory.

Exercise helps to release the brain's natural endorphins - thus helping to make the brain's natural morphine, endorphins, available to the body for pain relief.

Somewhere I read that water makes up the greatest percentage of human bodies - thus sufficient water is needed to help rid the body of toxins - two quarts each day is recommended. It is already a known fact that we can exist longer without food than we can water. Water is essential for our bodies!

Our attitudes about our chronic pain can also play a big part in how much pain we perceive. When we are enjoying ourselves, when we are able to laugh, etc, - our brains release more of these pain-relieving endorphins.

I have previously mentioned that when we are able to distract ouselves from the pain we are in, this allows more of the pain-relieving chemical from the brain to do their job.

When we become stressed-out, our brains become depleted of this pain-relieving chemical. This is what happened to me:

In July 1969 I suffered from a very severe kidney stone attack. I had been on demerol for each of the 7 days I was kept in the hospital. On the 8th day the pain was so severe that even morphine did not help...eventually I was able to pass the kidney stone - but I continued to have pain.

Then in September 1969 my son suffered a supracondylar fracture of his left femur - a very serious leg injury in football which required that he be hospitalized for 2 months; and then he needed to have physical therapy for 6 weeks. He was a junior in high school so I had to travel 40 some miles every day so that he would be able to keep up with his classes at school.

It was during this time, February 1970, that I had a laparotomy - to search for the source of the pain I was having. The surgeon sutured my cecum in place, repaired an umbilical hernia, and remove my appendix; but could not find any other reason for the pain I was in.

Then, following physical therapy, my son's leg was healed but it was "bowed out" - so he had to have surgery done by a specialist in Minneapolis, MN to straighten out his leg. Then there were regular appointments (about 320 miles) with the specialist to keep - regularly from June through December 1970.

Following my surgery February 1970 I had only 5 resonably pain-free days. My surgeon decided that maybe I had endometriosis - so I was put on birth control medication (Enovid and Combid) until November 1970 when I developed deep thrombophlebitis of my left leg which meant that I spent another week in the hospital on complete bed rest.

>From February 1970 through September 1975 I had been to every clinic in
the area where we live...in addition to the Fargo Clinic, the University of Minnesota Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. I checked myself out of the University of Minnesota Hospital at my own risk on the day I was told that all tests were negative and when it was suggested that I see one of their psychiatrists.

In 1972 I had to beg a gynecologist to do a hysterectomy for because I was in so much pain. He did it reluctantly - and I have never regretted that I had this done. I was only 39 at the time - with 4 children from ages 6-16. I knew I could not handle another pregnancy.

It was not until September 1975 - after more than 5 years of chronic, unrelenting, intractable pain and sleepless nights that I finally found a doctor who listened to me and who was able to give me a medication which finally started to give me some relief from pain I was in and helped me to get restful sleep at night. This medication, amitriptyline, needed to be gradually increased over a set period of time.

This physician, an osteopath, was very aware of the discovery that the brain has its own natural morphine, endorphins. He spent a lot of unpaid hours counseling me and tried to help me understand this new discovery. Needless to say I found this very difficult to do - because one of the side effects of chronic pain is the inability to concentrate and thus the inability to understand. He told me that amitriptyline helps to increase depleted endorphins - and when I first came to him, my endorphin level was extremely depleted as a result of the extreme stress I had been under. As I continued to take amitriptyline at gradual ever-increasing strengths, my pain-level decreased and also my sleep patterns improved.

In the 1990's amitriptyline has been recognized by the medical profession as being not only an anti-depressant but also it has been recognized as having the ability to relieve pain and restore restful sleep.


The 15th century proverb which summarizes the purpose of medicine is:
* To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always. *

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