Americans have found a no-cost painkiller they say is as effective as prescription drugs: prayer.
More than half of those who responded to a USA TODAY/ABC News/Stanford University Medical Center poll say they use prayer to control pain. Of those, 90% say it worked well, and 51% say “very well.”
Among a dozen therapies, including bed rest, massage and herbal remedies, only prescription drugs were as successful as prayer in easing pain: 89% report that such drugs work well and 51% say “very well.”
This comes as no surprise to preachers and doctors who say they have seen the way personal faith can influence a patient’s reaction to all kinds of pain, psychological or physical.
“Prayer enables you to take your mind and place it in a new perspective,” says family doctor Harold Betton, who also is pastor of New Light Baptist Church in Little Rock. By focusing on prayer, he says, believers reduce stress and gain control over pain.
He says he’s not suggesting anyone should expect miracles, “but you need to utilize what people have: their faith. Let your faith and prayer intercede, and your perception of pain decreases.”
Why that might work is open to debate. Columbia University psychologist Richard Sloan says it has more to do with the power of distraction than the power of prayer.
“If you try to distract yourself by focusing on something else — prayer or something else — I do think it works,” he says. “I don’t think it’s anything special about prayer. It’s any kind of mental activity that serves to distract you from the pain-producing circumstances.”
Hundreds of papers have been published on the possible link between faith and health, but scientifically, “it’s very hard to measure,” says John Tarpley, professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University.
Pain, in particular, is subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors that are difficult to assess by scientific standards.
“What we have to worry about is the difference between showing association and causation,” says Tarpley, who teaches a class on spirituality and medicine at Vanderbilt.
For some deeply religious people, pain can be redemptive, but faith also can carry an extra burden.
“In African-American belief, (often) pain is part of what we are expected to endure,” says Glenda Hodges, director of a course in spirituality and medicine at Howard University’s College of Medicine.
The feeling is that “if Jesus endured it, I should be able to handle it,” she says. “So if I’m not able to handle the pain, there must be something wrong with the spiritual connection I have with God.”
But “it doesn’t work that way,” says Harold Koenig, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. Faith and medicine “work beautifully together.
Just praying alone doesn’t work as well as if you’re (also) taking your morphine.”
Koenig and colleagues reported last month in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease that among sickle cell patients, those who go to church at least once a week had the lowest pain scores.
“People who are more involved with religious organizations seem to be able to cope with stress,” Koenig says.
Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec Comments on Prayer as Effective as Pain Pills
According to this new poll, 53% of Americans are either in acute or chronic pain with the majority of it being back pain. It is actually higher than this when you take into account the fact that those who live in mild pain for a long time do not even realize they are in pain until they are relieved of it and can compare. It is like someone who is sitting in a tub of hot water and after a while it does not seem to be hot until they are taken out of it and then go back into it. It is interesting that the majority of the pain is in the back. This makes sense because 90% of all neck or back pain is visceral in origin which means it comes from organs and glands referring pain into the neck and back when they are inflamed, toxic, deficient and out of balance. Here are some examples:
- Sinus problems refer pain into the neck.
- Heart problems into the chest and middle back.
- Stomach problems in between the shoulder blades.
- Kidneys imbalance refers pain into the lower back.
- Intestinal problems also refer pain into the lower back.
So what do you do to get rid of your pain?
We will answer this by stating first what you do not do. You do not take aspirin, Tylenol or any other pain relieving chemicals because:
- They increase the risk of certain cancer (as the study shows)
- They give you Leaky Gut Syndrome which opens the door to most all disease.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky gut is exactly what it sounds like. The intestinal tract is like a fine screen or mesh, which only lets nutrients of a certain size through. The nutrients then pass into the hepatic portal blood vessels, which bring nutrients to the liver, your chemical detoxification plant.
In a leaky gut condition, the intestinal tract becomes inflamed and the selective permeability (letting only digested food particles through) breaks down. This allows the passage of not only normal digested nutrient building blocks (amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars from carbohydrates), but also the passage of larger food particles, like larger chain proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and toxins that were never meant to pass through. This can be likened to a window screen. If the screen is functioning properly with no holes in it, air will pass through, but the flies, mosquitoes and other bugs will not. In leaky gut, the intestinal barrier becomes inflamed. Instead of only letting the digested broken down food particles through, the larger food particles and toxins enter causing the immune system to become weakened and over stimulated. This is like the screen that now has tears, making larger holes that allow all types of insects to get through.
This presents a few problems. Larger chain proteins can trigger not only intestinal irritation and inflammation, but also all kinds of allergies, immune and autoimmune problems, and inflammatory joint conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Too much protein can also cause kidney damage, especially if it is not digested into its amino acid building blocks.
Leaky gut can also result in toxicity, since toxins leak through the “screen” of your intestinal wall (because of the larger holes produced by the inflammation.) These toxins ultimately end up in the liver, your chemical detox plant. Unfortunately, your liver is by then overburdened, and the toxins end up circulating throughout the body, causing havoc wherever they go. If the toxins deposit in the brain, you might have foggy thoughts, possible memory loss and/or confusion, and even the start of neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson disease. If the toxins deposit in the joints, you will have arthritic-type pains. If the toxins deposit in organs that produce white blood cells (WBCs), your immune system will be weakened, making you more susceptible to illness, including cancer.
Toxicity is the primary cause of cancer because toxicity is the primary cause of a weakened immune system. Cancer cells form in your body daily, but your WBCs normally destroys them. But when toxicity weakens your immune system, your WBCs can’t do their job, giving cancer cells the opportunity to grow. They eventually form a little colony called a tumor, which WBCs have more trouble destroying. So do not let your defenses down.
What would happen if two armies came to fight, and one side laid down all its weapons? That army would be quickly destroyed. That’s why our immune system is to be highly regarded and guarded at all costs.
Now let us answer the question by saying what you do when you are in pain. You do two things:
- Get healthy by living the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health™ everyday. By living these Seven Basic Steps you virtually eliminate all inflammation (which is the root of all disease) and heal all Leaky Gut Syndrome.
- You pray. As the poll stated, prayer worked as effectively in reducing pain as prescription drugs. 90% polled said it worked well. 51% said it worked very well.
The question is “what is prayer?”
Let us again say what it is NOT.
It is not the power of the mind or the power of distraction by focusing on something else, as psychologists have said.
It is not the saying of words just to say them hoping if you say enough Our Father’s or Hail Mary’s you will somehow tip the scale and God will decrease your pain.
It is not the power of positive thinking and affirmation which says if I think it enough and say it enough it will happen.
Now here is what prayer IS:
It is being still and listening to the voice of God being spoken into your heart. Prayer is much more “listening to God” than “talking to God”. Your prayers should be more “God show me the way” rather than “God take it away”. Show me the way that this situation in my life will help me to grow and transform into your image. So, when it comes to pain it is not a prayer of “God take away the pain” but “God show me how to grow and mature in the pain. Show me what the pain means (like He might reveal that your pain is because you are not living the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health such as not drinking enough water or eating cooked, toxic animal products or eating refined sugar).
One of the most powerful prayers when you are in pain is the knowing that the pain will usually leave when you no longer need it to leave, which means you have become free from the pain even while you are still in the pain.
The question is this: Would you rather get rid of your pain knowing it will always come back again and again or would you rather become free from the pain, which means it elicits no future or past thinking (anxiety) and no negative emotions (fear, worry, doubt) only bringing peace and joy?
Remember the choice is yours but with the first choice you have a short term gain but a very long term loss, while the second choice might appear to be a short term loss but in actuality is a very, very long term gain.