Over the counter (OTC) pain killers like Ibuprofen, Alleve and prescribed medications like opioids have wide variety of side effects, drug interactions and addiction properties. Many of the natural herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties which helps body heal in a natural way with no side effects. Alternative techniques like music therapy, acupuncture, heat and massage therapies can provide much pain relief as well.
So, next time if you have headache or arthritic pain, instead of reaching out to an OTC pill or prescribed pill consider following natural remedies for pain relief.
You might be surprised by following ways of natural and most potent pain relievers :
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has had a wide range of uses in middle eastern and oriental traditional medicine. (1) Some of the medicinal effects include :
- Anti-inflammatory properties (2)
- Anticancer properties (3)
- Antidiabetic activities (4)
- Helps with dementia (5)
These medicinal properties of turmeric are due to Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) which is a compound present in it and extensively studied in medical literature. Next time you cook your food remember to add little turmeric to it.
2. Willow bark
Willow bark extract has been used for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic. Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) is one of the most widely used drugs in the world and the compound is derived from salicylates which are found in the Willow bark and leaves.
However, willow bark comes with its own risk of side effects. It can cause stomach upset, may slow down your kidneys, and can prolong bleeding time, just like aspirin.
Consult your physician before you take it on daily basis.
Ginger is a popular spice used to treat a variety of maladies, including pain.(6). It has following beneficial effects:
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-analgesic effects (7)
- Strengthens the immunity (8)
- Antimicrobial activities (9)
- Helps with digestion and weight loss (10)
Capsaicin is the compound found in peppers that gives them their hot and spicy kick. This compound is well-studied for its pain-relieving properties. It works by affecting the neurotransmitter that communicates pain signals to the brain.
Some of the common uses of capsaicin are
- Neuropathic pain
- Gastrointestinal disorders (11) or cancer as it promotes gastric protection against ulcer and induces apoptosis (death) of the tumour cells. (12)
5. Omega 3 fatty acids
It has been suggested that consumption of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, derived from fish and fish oil, is associated with a reduced risk of Rheumatoid arthritis probably due to their anti-inflammatory properties. (13)
You can get omega-3s in plant form, too. However, your body doesn’t use it as well as it does animal-sourced omega-3s, so make sure you eat these on a regular basis:
- canola oil
- Flaxseed or flax oil
- Dark leafy greens
Many medical Studies have shown that boswellia may reduce inflammation with cardiovascular or Gi side effects of NSAIDS ( 14). Boswelia may be useful in treating the following conditions:
7. CBD hemp extract/oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product that’s derived from marijuana plants and Hemp plant. Unlike marijuana, Hemp derived CBD oil does not have any psychoactive component.(17)
Lately, there’s growing awareness about the possible health benefits of CBD oil. Here’s what you need to know about Hemp CBD oil potential medical uses:
- Pain relief by affecting pain channels in the body (18)
- Epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases (19)
The natural painkillers listed above may give you some decent options to try with minimal or no side effects before you turn to pharmacological solutions. It’s possible that these options may be effective only to certain kind of pain and might not work in severe or advanced cases.
Remember, if your pain is severe or long lasting you should seek professional medical evaluation to diagnose the source of your pain, and discuss some natural options for treating it.