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Dear Pharmacist,

I live in chronic pain, no one is sure why. I take hydrocodone and ibuprofen daily but I'm still in pain. Can you recommend any vitamins to help me?

--M.C., Dallas, Texas

Answer:I'm sorry you are going through this. Luckily your doctor prescribes pain medicine for you, many won't out for fear of addiction. Every day, I receive letters from people feeling helpless (and hopeless) because their physicians are not compassionate enough to prescribe analgesics.

Anyway, there are many herbs, spices, teas and supplements for you. First, some background on why pain happens. Your body cranks out substances (called cytokines) in response to an injury which help patch you up. One well-known cytokine is called "Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha" or TNF?.

Don't let the name scare you, it doesn't cause tumors, it actually tries to prevent them by causing cancer cells to commit suicide called "apoptosis." So when your body makes TNF?, it's your god-given cancer fighter. It also helps fight infection.

Problem is, too much causes backlash and you begin to hurt all over. Elevated TNF? levels are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, migraines, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, COPD, Lyme disease, depression, narcolepsy, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and dozens more.

People with high amounts of TNF? often have a hyper-reactive immune system and are diagnosed with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. Drugs like Remicade and Enbrel are TNF blockers but they are thousands of dollars if you pay out of pocket. There are natural TNF blockers.

This will interest you: A deficiency of either magnesium or CoQ10 drives up TNF?. Yes, running out of either nutrient contributes to pain and sadly, there are hundreds of medications that rob these nutrients from your body! Refer to my Drug Muggers book for the lists.

If I were writing you a 'script' to ease your pain, I would recommend natural TNF blockers. I'd pen out the following, but before buying anything, ask your physician if this is reasonable, and what dose is best for you:

  • Magnesium malate 250 mg three times daily
  • Astaxanthin 12mg every morning
  • Ubiquinol (this is activated CoQ10) 200mg at lunch
  • Boswellia 250 - 350mg two or three times daily
  • Slippery Elm lozenges or tea (protects stomach from ibuprofen)

In addition, I recommend probiotics, the sort that contain prebiotics as well as organic acids. I suggest you drink green tea (or matcha) every day and eliminate foods that contain refined sugar/corn syrup, MSG, artificial dyes and artificial sweeteners. I'd sprinkle turmeric spice on everything. Give this protocol a few weeks and then send me a love note, you should feel better. It should be fine to integrate this while taking your analgesics (hopefully over time, you'll need less of that). Ask your doctor what's right for you.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)