CLEVELAND (WJW) -- From debilitating discomfort to practically pain-free in days, a local woman said she found relief from her chronic pain without pills through diet and exercise.
Thursday marked International Integrative Health Day, drawing attention to the approach to healthcare that looks at the whole person, aiming to improve well-being through lifestyle changes and therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy.
It worked for Chasity Strawder, 44, of Willoughby.
“I was in a bad mood. When you're in pain, you're in a bad mood, you're very introverted,” she said.
Now, she’s healthier and much happier.
“My family is able to see me smile and be active and not see me so grouchy, so that's a big change," she said.
Strawder experienced months of severe pain that sometimes left her bedridden following an August neck injury. As her pain spread, she was later diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
She said countless doctor appointments and pills did nothing to help, only making her groggier.
“I wasn't getting relief,” Strawder said. “If anything, it was getting worse.”
In November, Strawder turned to University Hospitals’ Connor Integrative Health Network in Warrensville Heights.
“Integrative medicine includes quite a bit of work on people's lifestyles, their daily habits, including their nutrition, exercise, are they getting enough sleep, are they managing their stress,” said Dr. Kristin Kaelber.
The Centers for Disease Control reports an estimated 20% of U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain, which is often treated through pain medications like opioids.
Instead of that, Dr. Kaelber prescribed Strawder a whole-foods, plant-based diet to calm her pain-causing inflammation.
“All of the antioxidants and phytonutrients in plants calm down the inflammation,” Kaelber said. “These foods are medicine. These foods act very similarly to things like Motrin and Naprosyn. They calm down the inflammation in your body.”
Already a vegetarian, Strawder immediately cut out sugar, processed foods like chips and all animal products from her diet, instead eating things like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. She also began taking daily walks and now walks three to four miles every day.
“I decided I'm going to do this, I think it's going to work, I'm ready for a life change, I can't live this way for the rest of my life with kids and a husband,” Strawder said.
Within ten days, she said she was able to stop taking all of her medications. Now, two months later, Strawder said she is pain-free, has more energy than ever and has lost more than 40 pounds.
“It's like I saw myself in a new light,” she said. “In America, we've got to stop thinking about healthcare as a band-aid. We have to start thinking of it as full circle.”
Dr. Kaelber said her office has seen chronic medical problems completely reversed or improved through the same diet change in about 80% of patients.
She said it can also make a big difference with other health issues including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.