Home » Chronic Disease » New treatment options are helping patients manage chronic pain and improve gut health

Oonagh O’Hagan

Director, Meaghers Pharmacy

Everyday complaints such as chronic pain or digestion issues can be debilitating and take a toll on mental and physical health. But some products can manage these conditions without over-medicalising them. 

Chronic pain, which lasts for more than three months, affects 1.65 million people in Ireland. Oonagh O’Hagan, Managing Director of Meaghers Pharmacy Group, says it is the most common reason people go to a pharmacy, often in search of an analgesic for anything from a headache to back or joint pain, injuries or strains. 

“People with chronic pain can find themselves on pain medication for a long time at high doses,” she explains. “But they can cause side effects. Paracetamol is probably the safest, but taking that on a regular basis is not something patients want to do. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories often cause tummy upsets or bowel issues, and codeine can be highly addictive.” 

If these do not solve the problem, the next step for many patients is to see their doctor, who may refer them to a pain management specialist, which may lead to stronger medications. 

“We often refer this to the pain ladder,” says O’Hagan. “People always seem to go up the pain ladder, but rarely down, and that can be very demotivating for someone managing their pain.” 

Pain management 

Chronic pain can have a devastating effect on sufferers’ mental wellbeing, as well as their physical health. “Patients then start to look for alternative treatments to come down the pain ladder and replace something that might be causing side effects with another way of controlling pain,” O’Hagan explains. 

NuroKor is a non-pharmacological solution to pain management which combines three proven bioelectrical technologies to effectively target pain, promote recovery, optimise rehabilitation and assist in performance gains. Its two products, Mibody and Mitouch, use peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) to stimulate endorphins and stop the stimulus caused by the pain signal moving along the nerve and up the spinal cord to the brain, where the pain is felt. They also use neuro-muscular stimulation (NMS) to relax and contract muscles, reducing inflammation.  

Tackling gut health 

“Gut health is another huge problem,” O’Hagan says. “We eat a very processed, high-sugar diet and are much less active, and many people now have a very busy and stressful life. We also overuse antibiotics, all of which have a massive impact on our gut microbiome.” 

The ‘good’ bacteria and other microbes found in our gut help digest food and support our immune, metabolic and nervous systems, but we are slowly losing the range of bacteria in our gut microbiome, leaving us vulnerable to many digestive issues, allergies and other health problems.  

If you look after your gut, it’s not only going to help digestion, it’s much more than that; our gut is linked to so many aspects of overall health.

“The key consideration when taking a gut health supplement to rebalance and rest your microbiome is choosing a product that will deliver the good bacteria into our large intestine,” explains O’Hagan. “But first, the bacteria must pass through the stomach, which cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria.” 

Symprove is a food supplement that contains live and active bacteria. The stomach recognises it as water, so it does not trigger digestion. When the good bacteria make it to the intestine, they begin to thrive, producing short-chain fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory and healing effects in the gut, which can help with many digestive health symptoms, as well as support your overall health.  

“If you look after your gut, it’s not only going to help digestion, it’s much more than that; our gut is linked to so many aspects of overall health,” says O’Hagan.  

Making a difference 

O’Hagan says the satisfaction of helping patients manage pain and improve their gut health is immense.  

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to share our knowledge with patients and make an impact on their lives, as well as the lives of those around them. Not only do you give people back some control, but you can also help them improve their quality of life.”

Meaghers supplies Symprove across its outlets and is the sole retailer of NuroKor in Ireland. For more information, visit Meaghers.ie 

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