Pain is an experience virtually every human has had. There are rare individuals who feel no pain, which can be the result of genetic mutations that interfere with pain signaling. While this sounds like a blessing, it’s actually a very dangerous condition because one of pain’s key purposes is to warn you of danger.
If you touch a hot pan, the burning sensation on your hand will cause you to instinctually pull your hand back, possibly saving you from a serious burn. Imagine if you had no such warning – you could burn your skin, step on a nail, or even cut yourself with a knife and not be alerted to the damage done to your body.
Most people, however, are hard-wired to experience pain – some more so than others. While everyone’s experience of pain is unique, there are physiological processes that occur to elicit that pain response.
How Your Body “Feels” Pain
Your body is damaged by some kind of force or burn.
2. Nociceptors Are Activated
Nociceptors are nerve endings found throughout your body. When activated, they send signals through your peripheral nerves and spinal cord, which eventually reach your brain. Mechanical pressure, extreme temperatures and chemicals (including inflammatory chemicals in your body) can all activate your nociceptors.
3. Your Brain Processes the Pain
Pain signals are received and processed by your brain. According to physical therapist and researcher Tony Ingram, “The signals are processed at each stage of transmission, with the brain arguably playing the largest role in how pain is consciously experienced.”[i] He continues:[ii]
“People often refer to nociceptors as “pain receptors” – but that’s not quite right. Nociceptors actually detect the same sensations as other receptors (pressure, temperature, etc). However, nociceptors have a higher threshold of activation, meaning that they require a stronger than usual stimulus before sending a signal to your brain. In a way, they are the “danger” nerves, telling you that something intense is happening – and therefore, you should pay some attention! Nociceptors are kind of like alarms.”
4. The Reception of Pain
Several factors contribute to your body’s reception of pain, including the injury itself (such as a puncture), potassium that is released from damaged cells, prostaglandins, histamines and other chemicals from immune cells that are released during inflammation and substance P, released from nerve fibers.[iii]
5. Your Brain Influences Your Pain Perception
Your brain has the power to change your experience of pain. For instance, if you’re distracted, pain will probably feel less severe than if you’re focused on it. Your brain actually controls how much pain you feel in response to an injury, and it is capable of shutting off pain or turning acute pain into persistent pain. In the latter case, nerve cells (neurons) in your brain become hypersensitive and fire off with very little stimulation. As explained by The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:[iv]
“ … chronic pain exists in large part because our brains (specifically our “sensory cortex”) have been rewired to perceive danger even when it ceases to exist. To take that idea a step further, the area where we would feel “hand pain” actually grows in size at the expense of other crucial neurological functions.
This concept is well aligned with the relatively novel idea of neuroplasticity: new connections can be made as our brain has new experiences and processes new data. While this can be beneficial in the recovery of function after traumatic brain injury or stroke, it can have a negative impact as well: we can program ourselves to experience a continual cycle of discomfort with no known cause.
In his book “The Brain’s Way of Healing” Norman Doidge, MD discusses the work of psychiatrist-turned-pain-specialist Michael Moskowitz, MD who is using this concept to help his patients rid themselves of chronic pain. Based on the concept of “competitive plasticity”, he discusses how we can retrain our brains to experience less chronic pain by allotting more mental capacity to competing neurological tasks. For example, one of the main areas of the brain which processes pain also processes mental visualization.”
6. Inflammation May Predispose You to Increased Pain Sensations
While retraining your brain, using positive visualizations, for instance, may help relieve chronic pain, addressing chronic inflammation is another invaluable strategy. Inflammation, which is triggered by tissue injury, primes your nervous system to sense pain and, in time, can even contribute to exaggerated pain responses (such that you feel intense pain from just a light touch). As noted by Life Extension:[v]
“When you experience an injury, several inflammatory mediators including prostaglandins, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are released at the site of the injury and interact with nociceptors, facilitating the transmission of pain signals through the nervous system. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition (e.g., osteoarthritis), then increased levels of inflammatory mediators at the affected site (e.g., a joint), as well as systemically, predispose you to increased pain sensations.
Therefore, taking steps to ease inflammation is an effective means of interfering with the process of pain sensitization. This is why drugs like acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol®) and ibuprofen, which are anti-inflammatory in nature, relieve pain. Unfortunately, though these drugs and others like them are very effective for reducing inflammation and pain, they often cause alarming side effects, which compromises their long-term risk vs. benefit profile.”
Fighting Inflammation is Key to Lasting Pain Relief
This is why arming your body with a steady supply of proteolytic enzymes is one of the best pain-busting strategies out there. Proteolytic enzymes are a type of digestive enzyme that help digest animal proteins. But, far more than this, proteolytic enzymes can migrate to other parts of your body, such as your bloodstream, where they literally seek and destroy other protein “danger zones,” like scar tissue, hardened proteins and blood vessels packed with fibrin.
These powerhouse enzymes work systemically to fight inflammation in your body, which is a leading cause of chronic pain. Proteolytic enzymes have an unsurpassed ability to fight chronic inflammation and underlying pain, operating on a “lock-and-key” basis, which means they can recognize good prostaglandins from bad prostaglandins (prostaglandins are hormone-like substances involved in inflammation).
When proteolytic enzymes’ teeth fit into a ‘bad’ prostaglandin that’s already run its course and has no more use, they dispose of it to let the GOOD prostaglandin come in and get rid of the pain.
Proteolytic enzymes are naturally produced in your pancreas, but your natural production declines with age; these inflammation-busters become largely depleted as you hit 40 and over. If you have blood-clotting disorders, chronic fatigue, high cholesterol, obesity, other chronic health ailments or even grey hair, these could be signs that you’re already enzyme deficient.
I can confidently say that our Heal-n-Soothe systemic proteolytic enzyme formula is the most powerful you will find. In fact, since we first formulated Heal-n-Soothe in 2007, we’ve carefully been making adjustments to make it even better.
Along with the proteolytic enzymes, Heal-n-Soothe contains 12 of the most powerful natural painkillers on the planet, which work synergistically to heal and soothe pain and its underlying inflammation. If you want to know more, here are seven reasons why you simply won’t find a better proteolytic enzyme supplement than this.
[i] BBoy Science May 21, 2013
[ii] BBoy Science May 21, 2013
[iii] How Stuff Works, Pain Signal Reception
[iv] The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians May 29, 2015
[v] Life Extension, Chronic Pain