Why Possum works for pain relief and pain management.
The possum (native to Australia) was introduced to New Zealand in 1837 with a view to developing a fur industry which would prevent many Kiwi farmers risking death by hypothermia due to the bitterly sub-zero winters, especially in the south island.
However, the industry failed to take off. Unlike Australia, where the dingoes and snakes keep the possum population at bay, possums have no natural predators in NZ. By the 1980s it was estimated that were possibly 300 million possums in NZ.
Possums carry TB, eat the eggs and nestlings of the wonderful native bird life and also strip the stunning native forests of the newer foliage growth throughout the forests in New Zealand. They were responsible was almost wiping out the native Kiwi bird in NZ.
In the late 1980s the Department of Conservation implemented a nationwide culling programme in an effort to reinstate and preserve the wonderful natural habitat which New Zealand is famous for. It is accepted amongst animal rights campaigners that culling is imperative and is regarded now as an eco-friendly necessity. Harvesting/culling practices meet New Zealand code of Welfare under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. New Zealand is a world leader in animal welfare practices.
Possums are not bred for their fur. The culling of these pests (they are a vermin) is essential. The upside is that the fur is now being recycled into merino lambswool to make a super soft, super fine amazingly warm knitted product, called possum merino. Ideal for older and colder people or those with health issues such as diabetes or Raynaud’s/scleroderma, arthritis or poor circulation. The warmth of possum merino is unique.
Even more compelling is the effectiveness of the pure possum fur itself for pain relief.
Increasingly over the past two years we are getting much busier providing possum solutions via the hospitals for people who have lost a limb or part of their hand, foot or arm, etc... or who are struggling with severe pain from arthritis.
The science behind the pain relief factor of possum
The possum fibre is hollow which allows it to breathe and provide thermal stability. It therefore creates better blood flow and warmth, most notably in the extremities, which are most vulnerable in cold weather. Similarly for all joints and spinal areas where arthritis or injury may be causing constant pain. The possum fibre maintains a constant temperature several degrees warmer than the skin’s surface. It also helps prevent perspiration and condensation building up on the skin (the wikibility factor). The hollow fibre absorbs surface moisture (sweat) and evaporates it away thus it keeps the skin dry and aerated.
This has already been well documented in the possum merino socks. They can be worn for at least a month at a time without washing as the fur content keeps the feet dry, odour free and skin in very good condition. (the low tension, seamless sock has proven the best solution for anyone with diabetes).
The Effleurage effect
The fur fibres create an effect called Effleurage. It is a recognised medical effect of light stroking by the fur fibre on the skin. It stimulates the nerve receptors in the skin to such a degree that it competes with the pressure signals (pain) from deeper stressed tissues. This effleurage effect overlays pleasurable sensations on the same neural pathway, effectively modifying the sensations and helping to relieve pain and discomfort.
In recent years it has been found (anecdotally) it has been regarded as very beneficial for those post radium and/or chemotherapy treatment who suffer from neuropathy in their feet and hands. Kiwi CC has provided gloves and mitts for many individuals post cancer treatment with excellent positive feedback.
This writer (and owner of the company) was diagnosed with scleroderma and lupus in June 2017. Without possum and possum merino I would not be able to tolerate cold and damp conditions in Ireland. I can’t go into a supermarket and put my hand into the chiller units, the pain is instant and unbearable. I need to wear my possum gloves even to pick up groceries. I am now my own patient.
Proven solutions to the Occupational Therapy (OT) departments in Ireland
Annette O Driscoll from Cork University Hospital (CUH) was first out of the traps to recognise the benefit of possum for pain management (especially in winter with the issue of cold intolerance). Over the past four years Kiwi Country Clothing has been making gloves and mitts for clients from all across Ireland, due to referrals from a small number of OTs (and some GPs).
Word of mouth is spreading, as we now are getting referrals from the UK. We are also making foot wear for people with serious health issues with their feet, again pain management and the added bonus of aiding healing ulcerations and damaged skin.
We have started making in Ireland the possum pain relief bands for backs, shoulders, knees ankles and wrists. These can be made to order and delivered within one week.
For hand and feet we need to make these items in NZ. Please note we make to order, and nothing is impossible. We have had some very unqiue requests and have managed to create one –off products. It takes on average two weeks from order placed to delivery (December can be three weeks) from NZ.
The fur is vegetable tanned so it is totally environmentally friendly. No chemicals are used in the process.
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