Any drug-free approach to treating anything, rest assured, I will pass on to you, but especially for pain relief as it seems chronic pain goes along with so many disorders, diagnosed or otherwise…this sounds like a pretty good one, just don’t ask me to pronounce it, please.

A drug-free approach to pain relief is especially important, because chronic pain is linked to so many disorders, diagnosed or otherwise.

DL-phenylalanine actually surfaced as I was researching endorphins awhile back. DLPA is an essential amino acid found in various protein foods as well as the synthetic sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet).

Let me just emphasize that the best pain relief comes from addressing the root cause of the pain and changing/correcting the source. But until then (and we all know how long “then” can be, sometimes) we need to responsibly manage our pain.

Some of the purported uses for DLPA have been in conjunction with back pain, arthritis and dental pain. DLPA has also been reported to augment the effects of acupuncture and ease withdrawal for alcohol/drug addicts.

DLPA is a non-prescription amino acid analgesic. It is rather costly for an effective dose, and practitioners normally use it just for chronic pain that has been unresponsive to other products or measures. Examples would be arthritis and unrelenting lower back pain.

Another positive aspect of DLPA is that the body doesn’t build up a tolerance to it — persons reporting pain relief will generally be able to lower their dosage gradually and will often be able to maintain a “pain-free” status with less DLPA than before.

DLPA has a long duration of action. Just be very aware when purchasing this that you get the “DL” type, otherwise you’ll get the kind that does not address pain.

Phenylalanine is converted by the body to phenylethylamine, and low levels of this are correlated with clinical depression. So if DLPA raises these levels, there would be a real biochemical benefit in yet another area.

Working as an analgesic, it seems to work by keeping enzymes called encephalons and carbxypeptides A from breaking down the body’s natural painkillers which, in and of themselves, are much like morphine. This is very logical: If the body relieves its own pain, a safe mechanism is probably engaged -- and DLPA assists that mechanism.

Research has indicated that migraine, joint pains, neuralgia and even post-op pain respond to DLPA. It has also been reported to consistently reduce inflammation.

DLPA is the safest when taken with no other medications. It is purported to improve pain tolerance, it naturally elevates moods, increases energy and mental alertness. When used along with UVA light therapy, it cures vitiligo in 70 percent of the study subjects. Limited research beyond that has shown that it helps Parkinson’s patients with rigidity, walking, speech and depression.

Don’t take DLPA unless you’ve visited thoroughly with all your doctors.

While I’m on the subject of analgesics, let me tell you about one more basically “unknown” natural painkiller: At high levels, Vitamin C is known to reduce inflammation and act as a natural antibiotic/antihistamine.

In the 1970s in Scotland at the Vale of Leven hospital, Dr. Ewan Cameron was administering 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C, intravenously, to terminally ill cancer patients on a daily basis. The study he conducted was on “Vitamin C and Cancer,” but the unexpected finding was in the area of acute pain relief. 

Researchers reported in 1973 that “the first five ascorbate-treated patients who had been receiving large doses of morphine or heroin to control pain were taken off these drugs a few days after the treatment with vitamin C was started. Because vitamin C seemed to diminish the pain to such an extent that the drug was not even needed. In addition, none of these patients requested the narcotics be given them again -- they seemed not to experience any withdrawal signs or symptoms."

Although quite a lot of vitamin C is required for results, it is remarkably safe and is rather a simple therapy.

Jody Johnson is a self-taught salutogenesist and a columnist for The Carthage Press in Carthage, Mo.