Middleway Medicine Blog

The Truth About Opioids

By Clark Zimmerman, LAc

My grandmother was never a fan of air conditioning.  I remember visiting her farm in the heat of summer and spending a lot of my time swimming in the pond, rather than sweating buckets inside the house.  Though my mom insisted it was because she had lived through the depression and didn’t want to spend the money, grandma insisted that air conditioning made you more sensitive to the heat.  “If you just learn to tolerate the heat, and drink iced drinks or go swimming” she reasoned, “than there is no real need for air conditioning.”  I thought of my grandma’s wisdom while reading a recent study by Peter M. Grace and Linda R. Watkins of the University of Colorado.  The study found that opiate pain medications, such as morphine, oxycodone, and Vicodin can have the “devastating consequences of making pain worse and longer lasting”.  Like my grandmother’s opinion of air conditioning, it seems that rather than effectively treating pain, opioids often can help us feel more comfortable in the short term, but can cause lasting sensitivity to pain.

As opiate addiction continues to grow in the U.S., and deaths from overdose by opioids become more common, people are beginning to ask if the benefits of opioids are worth the risks that are involved. This recent study is the latest bit of evidence that something needs to change.  The healthcare community is truly beginning to evaluate when to use opiate medications and when other treatment options would be more appropriate.  This latest research suggests that the conditions that can benefit from opiate use are not as numerous as we once believed.  In my practice, I have seen many people who began using opiate pain killers to treat a traumatic injury or a nagging condition with the belief that things would quickly improve and the pain medication would no longer be necessary.  When the pain lingers because their injury is not properly addressed or because their lifestyle that contributes to their pain is not altered, they become dependent on the medication.  This results in the unfortunate situation of needing more medication to achieve the same amount of pain relief, which can easily lead to opiate addiction.  Another thing worth mentioning is that the body experiences pain to help get your attention.  If, for instance, you tear a muscle lifting a heavy box, you feel pain so that we know to quit using that muscle until it heals.  If you cover up the pain with medication, sometimes it allows you to keep doing physical work that your body cannot perform.  This can often result in more damage to your body.

I believe that opiate pain medications are often prescribed when other treatments  such as ice/heat, rest, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic/osteopathic manipulations, physical therapy, or herbal preparations would be a better choice.  These treatments attempt to address the underlying problem that is causing the pain, rather than cover up the pain in general.  It seems that we are coming to a point as a society where this issue cannot be ignored any longer.  Opiate pain treatments do have a place, but only in very specific situations of severe and otherwise untreatable pain, and only under the close supervision of a skilled and attentive medical practitioner.  Not only is widespread opiate  medication creating problems in our communities, it now appears that it is largely ineffective.

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Cooling Foods for Summer

by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

One of the best parts of summer is the food.  Backyard barbecues, abundant fruit, a summer garden and the ice cream truck all hold a special place in our lives.  There are more options as the garden, growers market and grocery store all overflow with a large variety of colors and flavors.  We all realize that food can bring us joy and improved health, but an often overlooked aspect of food is its effects on our body’s temperature.  In Chinese medicine as well as Ayurvedic medicine, a lot of emphasis is placed on the effect a particular food has on the overall temperature of the body and thus on our health and comfort level.  

We all know that when we are feeling hot, the last thing we want is to eat something that is hot.  Hot stew and summer heat do not go well together.  This is one of the reasons that we tend to crave salads or ice cream in the summer, and hot soups and stews in the winter.  Too much heat in the body can cause a variety of symptoms including headaches, fever, red eyes, flushed skin, rashes, constipation, acid reflux, burning bowel movements or urination and insomnia.  Since food is something we put into our body every day, it is often the most effective medicine. It is also typically the cheapest way to improve our health, and since we don’t need a prescription or an appointment to go to the market, it is also the easiest way to stay healthy.  So what are the healthiest food choices to beat the summer heat.  Here is a list of 10 great foods for the summer.

1) Leafy greens/ Lettuce:  Greens have a high percentage of water, which helps cool  you off by keeping you hydrated.  

2) Raw foods:  Raw foods take a bit more energy to digest, so they take some of the stomachs fire and put it to good use.

3) Berries:  Berries are alkaline and cooling.  You can also freeze berries and eat them as an extra cooling snack.

4) Melons:  Watermelon is especially cooling.  Ever try watermelon juice. Yum!

5) Cucumber:  Good in salads.

6) Avocado:  Cooling and full of healthy fats.

7) Coconut.  Coconut water is one of our family favorites.  They also make delicious coconut ice cream that is dairy free.

8) Bean sprouts.  Especially mung beans.  They are detoxifying, as well as cooling.

9) Yogurt:  If dairy doesn’t sit well, you can try a delicious coconut yogurt.

10) Herbal teas:  Such as mint, chrysanthemum or red peony.

Enjoy the heat.

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Beth Sparks, LMT……Massage at Middleway

Beth offers holistically minded massage that bridges ancient eastern traditions and western therapeutic foundations.

Her massage style has been influenced by the study of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Thai Massage. Her treatments are dynamic and thorough drawing on her love of movement, alignment, and bodywork.

Her style of massage encourages optimal health by using range of motion and elongating stretches in addition to holding active physical/energetic releases.  Her clients report feeling greater ease, postural balance and  less chronic tension.

Beth is excited to join the Middleway team and is available for massage sessions on Monday and Wednesday mornings. She has 60 and 90 minute sessions available as well as treatment packages.

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Practitioners

Clark Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ann Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ryan Baker, MAcOM, LAc, RPh

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Friday 9–4

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Fax: 541-535-3026

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