A surprisingly simple solution for chronic pain…

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Watch: Resolve chronic pain and stress with “tapping” (I don’t care why it works…)

What are Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)?

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The incredible results that tapping has in alleviating chronic pain may be explained, at least in part, by its ability to access what are called meridian channels. (p. 12)

You can think of meridian channels as a fiber-optic network in the body. They carry a large amount of information, often electrical and often beyond what the nervous system or chemical systems of the body can carry. (p. 12)

Because tapping sends calming, relaxing signals directly to the amygdala, it may also help us to override the brain’s negativity bias more rapidly. (p. 12)

One of the amazing benefits of EFT is how quickly it can produce real, long-lasting pain relief, regardless of the diagnosis, condition, duration, or severity of the pain, (p. 35)

Tapping is an especially powerful way to experience more positive feelings because it allows you to quiet your amygdala, the primitive part of the brain programmed for survival (this is where the negativity bias we learned about earlier kicks into high gear, always scanning for threats) as you encode positive experiences into your brain. (p. 183)

I know what you’re thinking, especially if you struggle with chronic pain…

Well, my pain is physiological, not emotional.

I’ll be addressing that shortly.

How to tap

You’ll want to go watch the Youtube videos demonstrating the technique, it’s simple, hard-to-screw-up, and just takes a few moments.

  • As you tap, you voice the pain you’re experiencing along with your feelings and frustration about it.
  • You tap 7–10 times in each of the nine spots.

If you embrace any shade of spirituality, you understand that our words have power. I’m a Christian, the Bible has a lot to say about the transformative power of our words

Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. — Proverbs 18:21

So while tapping, address your pain vocally, repeat a self-acceptance affirmation, and verbally release your pain. The book contains a number of scripts that you can follow. An important line to repeat is…

“Even though I’m feeling frustrated with this pain, I choose to feel calm and patient and release this pain now.” (p. 22)

You might be saying to yourself

This all sounds like a bunch of pseudo-spiritual non-sense! I’m an evidence-based empiricist.

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain, tapping is worth trying because, again, it’s free, easy to do, and often works right away. Also, consider the specter of chronic pain

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and that’s just a small sampling of the number of people suffering around the world.

Pain is an epidemic public health problem, and tapping is worth trying, as it’s free to everyone and has no side effects unlike pharmaceutical pain killers and cortisone-based drugs. However, Tapping would not be on my biohacker radar if there wasn’t decent evidence for it…

Scientific evidence

While EFT might just seem like a “wuwu thing”, there are over 40 scientific papers published about it, including 15 human clinical trials. Reductions in Pain, Depression, and Anxiety Symptoms After PTSD Remediation in Veterans, done by the Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine, with 59 American military veterans suffering from pain and PTSD, it found Pain decreased significantly during the intervention period and after 3 and 6 months, pain remained significantly lower than at pretest. The abstract concluded…

The ability of EFT to produce reliable and long-term gains after relatively brief interventions indicates its utility in reducing the estimated trillion-dollar cost of treating veteran mental health disorders in the coming years.

The book mentions other studies…

One randomized control study of patients suffering from tension headaches at the Red Cross Hospital in Athens showed a 50+ percent decrease in the intensity and frequency of headaches after tapping. A different study examined 216 health-care workers, who experienced a 68 percent drop in physical pain after a one-day tapping workshop. Separate studies involving veterans as well as fibromyalgia sufferers have also shown significant decreases in physical pain after tapping. (p. 11)

Anecdotal evidence

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The book is rife with inspiring accounts of transformative healing…

When she woke up in the morning, she was amazed that her headache, as well as her neck discomfort and nausea, were completely gone. Within 24 hours’ time, she’d been able to resolve 12 years of nearly constant pain. Wow! (pp. 19–20)

Six months after the retreat, Patricia was still using tapping on a regular basis to process her emotions and transform other beliefs. She was also hiking, doing yoga, traveling, and more. Her back pain was gone, and she no longer needed medication for pain relief or sleep. (p. 91)

From some of the reviews of the book

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Read: The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief
by Nick Ortner

I started tapping one night, and as the author states, my pain may become more intense, and it did. An hour later though it was nearly gone. As I continued day after day my pain was responding. It got more intense, it moved, it changed, but I was affecting it. It’s only been a month and my pain is progressively diminishing in intensity and duration.
Now, I have successfully used it to clear stuffy sinuses, sooth a bad stomach ache, calm anger associated with the back pain and even curb craving for unhealthy food.

After 20 years of severe chronic pain and thousands of dollars spent on pain treatments and remedies, I was at my wit’s end. But what I found in this book was worth much more than pain relief…

This book has changed my life! I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees and back and possibly rheumatoid arthritis, along with having chronic sciatic issues since a young age due to a sports injury. I did one session, yes ONE SESSION, and my pain is reduced. Typically my knee is at a 9 on SUDS andmy back when around a 9 as well. Today, my knee is at a 1 and my back is pain free! This is the first time in a whole year that I woke with NO PAIN! Thank you Nick.

You might say

This sounds like a placebo effect dependant thing…

I wouldn’t totally disagree with you. But as biohackers, we are pragmatists first, and theorists second, I care more that it works (for many people), than why it works. You’ll want to check out my review Dr. Joe Dispenza’s excellent book demystifying the placebo effect and explaining how to yield it.

The emotional cause of chronic pain

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One of the important points that the book makes is that chronic pain is often the result of unresolved, suppressed emotions, stress, and trauma.

Research has also shown that emotions such as fear and anxiety can increase pain. Negative emotions may also turn short-term pain into a chronic condition. (p. 3)

In other words, your emotional state at the time of injury, or during the hours immediately after the injury occurs, may help to determine whether your pain will become chronic, whether it will occur in several places or just one, and so on. (p. 3)

Our emotions and anatomy are part of the same intricately interconnected system. Until we process and release the deeper emotions that have gotten stuck in the body, we can’t heal chronic pain. (p. 98)

As you tap, remember to tune in to any shifts you experience in your pain, small or large. Tune in to how your body and your emotional state are shifting. (p. 25)

If you struggle with pain, I know what you’re thinking…

Maybe others have chronic pain because of their unresolved emotions, but not me! I’ve got a handle on my emotions. My pain has a physiological cause…

I get it, it’s hard to countenance the notion that our pain might be something that we are doing to ourselves. But the book is full of examples of people diagnosed with serious physiological conditions who experienced great relief from tapping and emotional freedom techniques. The good thing about tapping is that it will in all likelihood work regardless of what you think the ultimate source of your pain is. It’s important to ask yourself

“What was happening in your life when the pain first started?” (p. 63)

As is often the case, the pain began while you were dealing with some challenging life event. You failed to manage this stress or trauma at the time, you just soldiered on, internalized all those emotions, so they manifested as the pain that you now can’t seem to get rid of.

Anger = pain

Once repressed rage has reached a certain level in the unconscious mind, the brain begins to create physical symptoms, such as chronic pain, by limiting blood flow to one or several areas of the body. (p. 7)

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This makes me think of the state of my country in the current year, 2020; in America people are mad. We are a divided and angry country and it’s just getting worse. Tens of millions are seething angry with President Trump or with watching western civilization break down (or both), and very few are channeling that raw emotion productively, and doing meditation before bed to release all that pent up rage. Venting vitriolically on social media (IN ALL CAPS) is not the way to release anger about politics, in fact, it probably just perpetuates the chronic anger (especially when you get in a pointless Facebook argument with your aunt!) I predict that America’s chronic pain problem will just get worse. If you want to get all fired up about politics, get some exercise, make love, or do some meditation at the end of the day. Around 2017, I just stopped following anyone on social media who posted things that ticked me off, which probably puts me in an echo-chamber, but I waste a whole lot less time in pointless arguments and I don’t get my cortisol spiked every time I log-on to social media. I also did what people always threaten to do the day after an election of a Presidential candidate they don’t like, I moved to a country that aligns closely with my politics and ideological worldview, and it’s great here!

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Meanwhile in Bulgaria…

Whether you’re angry and irritated by the intensifying real-life Idiocracy that we seem to be living in, your dramatic family, frustrating roommates, or in my case, my wife’s tyrannical little pet Pomeranian, you can release anger with tapping

One of the most powerful ways to express and release anger is to tap while imagining yourself saying and doing the things you wish you could say and do to whomever you’re angry at. By giving yourself the experience of expressing your anger verbally as well as physically while tapping, you can release it from the body more easily and quickly. It’s an incredibly powerful way of processing anger without causing any harm to others or to your relationships. (p. 109)

“Let it all out” while tapping…

all of our emotions are healthy and normal, including anger, sadness, rage, fear, and more, as long as we let ourselves feel them and then let them go. The only emotions that the body sees as threatening are the ones we don’t express fully. When we’re looking to relieve chronic pain, one of the most important changes we can make is to let ourselves feel and express more of our emotions when we’re tapping. To begin that process, we first need to retrain our brains to know that it’s safe to express emotions, especially negative ones. Using tapping, we can let the unconscious mind know that we won’t be hurt or harmed if we “let it all out.” (pp. 99–100)

Tap on the positive

Tapping is an especially powerful way to experience more positive feelings because it allows you to quiet your amygdala, the primitive part of the brain programmed for survival (this is where the negativity bias we learned about earlier kicks into high gear, always scanning for threats) as you encode positive experiences into your brain. (p. 183)

Rather than letting positive thoughts and experiences fade away, do some tapping on them throughout your day. Whenever your pain goes down, tap on how good your body feels. Go stand in the sunshine and tap while letting yourself feel how good that light and warmth feels on your skin. Stop to notice a pretty flower, smell it, and tap while you feel that appreciation and enjoyment. (p. 185)

Unsurprisingly…

Those findings suggest that intense feelings of romantic love may provide or increase pain relief in the body. (pp. 46–47)

Your pain (maybe) your past

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Another point the book makes that a lot of people in pain are probably resistant to is that chronic pain is often a manifestation of the tragedies and abuse in our past.

Looking at the past doesn’t seem necessary, and it’s also often uncomfortable. However, in my years using tapping as a pain-relief tool, I’ve seen more dramatic, lasting results from working through unresolved childhood memories and emotions than virtually any other area of focus and work. (p. 117)

ASK YOURSELF: Did you experience any physical symptoms as a kid? If so, your body may have been trying to get your attention! Make note of any childhood symptoms you experienced in your journal, including what activities you were doing, whom you were with, and so on, when the symptoms appeared. Then be sure to tap through those memories and release any remaining emotional charge. (p. 121)

If tapping doesn’t provide immediate relief that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not working. It often requires an emotional journey through your past. The book outlines a method for tapping to release emotions that have been pent up for years or decades.

In many ways you may feel like your body has betrayed you, imprisoning you in pain and preventing you from living the life you know is still possible. Like I said before, I understand that getting connected with your body may be the last thing you want to do, because this is where you feel the pain most. But it’s time to make peace with your body. It’s time to begin listening to what your body and your pain are trying to tell you. (p. 57)

Dealing with a debilitating (mis)diagnosis

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A chapter of the book addresses, a major cause of chronic pain is the traumatic diagnosis experience itself.

If you or a loved one is struggling with some kind of pain or troublesome recurrent symptom, understand that when you go to see a doctor, they are not in the business of telling you “I don’t know what’s causing this. It might not be a big deal. Just give it some time and your body will deal with it.” Oh, no, they will rush to judgment, diagnosing you with some scary-sounding medical condition. Astoundingly, doctors will often rudely give you dire diagnoses “You’re got [terrifying chronic condition], there’s no cure. You’ll have it forever. You can manage the pain with this medication…” before rushing out to deliver bad news to their next patient.

These are just two of the hundreds of stories I’ve heard from clients who have been given a devastating diagnosis. That diagnosis, and often the terrible manner it’s delivered in, can be like getting punched in the face. You’re already stressed out by being at the doctor’s office, and in walks the man or woman in the lab coat to deliver a diagnosis that seems larger than life, like a life sentence you can’t control or avoid. (p. 78)

a diagnosis can quickly become an integral part of who you are and what you’re capable of doing. (p. 91)

But when we’re suffering from pain that won’t go away, we don’t stop to ask ourselves whether our emotions could be causing it. Instead, we focus our attention on our physical anatomy as the primary source of pain. (pp. 97–98)

If you’ve read much World War One history, you know that one of the reasons this terrible war happened, unleashing a century of global war, was that military generals were sent into address relatively minor territorial disputes and ethnic friction. When the British, German, French, and Austrian-Hungarian leaders should have sent the diplomats in to talk instead they turned to military generals. So the military generals did what military men do which is going to war. Going into the hospital to talk to a doctor about your pain is analogous, instead of dealing diplomatically with your pain, they are going to diagnose and prescribe so you can go to war against your body. And the results are predictable, the pain persists as you endure surgery and go one drug after another.

The herniated disc hoax?

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We’ve all known people diagnosed with a “herniated disc”, they were in pain, especially when they had to walk up or down stairs, they had to get surgeries which never seemed to help that much, they took drugs with unpronounceable names, and were generally not very happy. There’s some evidence that herniated discs might not be the real problem…

Many who suffer from low back pain are diagnosed with a herniated disc and told that’s the cause of the pain that’s robbing them of sleep, limiting their mobility, and making their daily lives feel like torture. What’s surprising is that studies have found no conclusive evidence that herniated discs cause pain, especially chronic pain. Studies show that many people whose X-rays reveal a herniated disc have no pain, while others whose X-rays reveal no herniated disc (or any other abnormalities) report excruciating pain. (p. 2)

My elderly father-in-law was plagued with several herniated discs for over a year, he underwent surgery which helped some, then while he was waiting to do the second surgery, I had him use my red light therapy device twice daily. And he ended up canceling his second surgery because a few months of the photobiomodulation therapy assuaged his pain and restored a lot of his mobility!

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Video: Red Light Therapy Saved Theo a Herniated Disk Surgery [Body Light Mini Testimonial]

Get some exercise

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Counter-intuitively, if you’re in pain you want to get some exercise.

According to John Sarno, M.D., author of Healing Back Pain, resuming regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to relieve pain: (pp. 171–172)

The case for resuming physical exercise:

“It should be noted, parenthetically, that the advice to resume normal physical activity, including the most vigorous, has been given to a very large number of patients over the past seventeen years. I cannot recall one person who has subsequently said that this advice caused him or her to have further back trouble.”

While Sarno’s approach seems radical to some, outside While Sarno’s approach seems radical to some, outside research confirms his findings. In one study published by BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, 187 patients between the ages of 18 and 60 who had had low back pain were monitored over a 12-month period. They were randomly divided into two groups. Only the intervention group was led through a program that included physical exercise, while the nonintervention group received only standard primary care treatment for back pain. After six weeks, the intervention group, which was exercising regularly, showed modest improvement over the nonintervention group. After six months, the intervention group showed significant improvement over the nonexercisers. At the one-year mark, the intervention group was still exercising and showed significant pain relief. The regular exercisers also had less need for medical intervention to manage their back pain and took significantly fewer days off of work. (p. 173)

The understandable instinct of someone is pain is I’ll get back to exercising when I’m pain-free, but the science indicates that this may be what is keeping them in pain. If you’re worried about exercise inflaming the pain site, do low-intensity exercise, and use other holistic pain hacks (mentioned below) after exercise.

The re-injury paradox

When you are injured, multiple chemicals are released on the cellular level, including all the emotions (which are chemicals), and they are stored in the cell receptors around the injured area. Immediately your body takes on a fear of reinjury and develops a memory of protection around the injured area, and you begin to move in a way to protect the part of your body that was injured. You are now open to additional injuries because you are not moving, running, walking, making plays, and so on, in your normal way. (p. 174)

Conclusion

Because of the science done and the abundance of powerful anecdotal evidence, tapping deserves a place in the biohacker’s tool chest. If you’re struggling with pain you would want to stack tapping with other holistic healing hacks like red light therapy, HRV training, and Dispenza-style epigenetic meditation sessions, you could do all four in one sitting. You would also want to use some natural medicines for pain management like CBD and possibly Kratom.

I rated the book four stars

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Because, frankly, it didn’t work much for us. My wife has been struggling with an odd pain issue in her leg. We tried the tapping technique a number of times and it barely helped her. I also developed an irritating case of pink-eye for a few days, tried tapping, and the relief was just barely noticeable. So it doesn’t work for everybody, but I can’t say that we found it totally useless.

My other criticism is that it’s not well-sourced, there were no footnotes to the studies the author referenced, which is why I link above to clinical trials done with tapping. Authors, if you’re going to write a book about homeopathic, alternative medicine please include ample links to the science in your books, otherwise, it seems like rank pseudoscience. The hospital-pharmaceutical-industrial complex would love for the regulating agencies to make things like tapping illegal. If they had their druthers, every homeopathic practitioner and alternative-healing author would be thrown in a gulag to rot, let’s not give them ammunition by skimping on footnotes to credible science.

Bottom line: If you struggle with chronic pain, read the book, and try tapping.

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Originally published on LimitlessMindset.com. I’m not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I’m a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinking. You should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health.

Written by

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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