Let’s be honest, most of us easily grab our painkilling tablets whenever we feel the need to. There is no doubting the fact that painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol help reduce pain. However, studies have shown that heavily relying on painkillers (both prescribed and over-the-counter) can have adverse side effects. Besides these side effects, prescription medications may also be addictive. The question then is this: ARE THERE NATURAL REMEDIES FOR PAIN RELIEF?
The answer to the above question is an absolute YES!
Whether you suffer from acute pain or chronic pain, there are a number of natural remedies for pain relief out there. Acute pain (short term pain) is that which is more sudden and immediate while chronic pain (long term pain) is that which lasts for a longer period of time. Chronic pain can last from months to years.
Piece Of Advice….
This article’s aim is not to get you to completely abandon your conventional medications. The natural remedies for pain relief we’ll be looking at do not have to completely replace what your medical doctor provides you. In fact, the two forms of pain relief and management can be used to complement each other.
We are all unique. As such, our bodies react differently to different forms of pain relief. What might work for a colleague of yours might not necessarily work for you and vice versa. It is therefore imperative that you consult a qualified medical practitioner before adopting alternative therapy, especially if you already have an ongoing medical condition. Alternative therapy is basically any form of medical treatment or relief that is adopted in place of conventional medication or treatment.
Let’s now take a look at some simple but effective natural remedies for pain relief. You may be surprised by some of these alternative remedies.
The next time any form of pain is holding you back, resist the temptation to reach for the pills and consider these alternatives:
This is understandably the last thing you want to do when you are in pain. Believe it or not, exercising helps the body to produce its own natural painkillers such as endorphins and hormones that increase your pain threshold. Endorphins work by interacting with brain receptors to block the perception of pain, similar to what morphine does to the body. Beside the pain relief, increased production of these natural hormones can also help you feel very positive about yourself.
There are numerous bodyweight exercises that can be done right in the comfort of your homes without the need to hit the gym.
That being said, we do have to be cautious when exercising. There is the need to ensure we do not overdo it. Strenuously exercising when already in some form of pain may worsen the condition by causing more pain and inflammation.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to improve mental and physical wellbeing. It is a physical meditation practice that has the ability to provide natural pain relief. The breathing exercises and techniques associated with yoga also gives it the ability to relieve pain associated with stress. This is very vital as any chronic pain can be worsened by stress.
The improved flexibility associated with yoga helps to improve strength and relax the muscles. This goes a long way to help with pain management and relief.
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy derived from ancient Chinese medicine. The practice of acupuncture seeks to enhance the flow of energy (known as qi, pronounced ‘chee’) throughout the body. Acupuncturists place thin tiny needles into your skin to enhance the body’s energy pathways. Good flow of energy (qi) means good health. The needles’s point of insertion is related to the pain’s source.
These needle insertions results in the body producing natural pain-relieving hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. Increased serotonin levels leads to improved mood and natural pain relief.
Studies have shown acupuncture can help with various types of pain, especially neck, knee and lower back pains.
Heat And Ice Therapy
Directly applying heat and ice to points of discomfort and pain is one of the most common natural pain remedies. The only challenge here is knowing when to use which.
Ice helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. It acts as a natural anaesthetic by interrupting pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, aids in pain relief by increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to injured muscles by dilating the blood vessels of the muscles. This increased flow of oxygen and nutrients helps in healing damaged tissues.
Aromatherapy is used either as an alternative therapy or a complementary therapy. It is often used as a natural remedy for chronic pain via the use of essential oils and aromatic materials in inhalation and massage. Several studies have shown aromatherapy may help ease pain.
Essential oils used for pain relief include, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus oil. Besides the reduction of inflammations and pain relief, these essential oils can help to ease anxiety and improve sleep.
Massage is one of the most effective natural remedies for pain relief. It relieves pain by reducing stress and tension build-up in muscle tissues. Massage is basically a hands-on technique of manipulating the body’s muscles and other soft tissues in order to improve a person’s health and wellbeing. Massage stimulates blood flow and improves lymph circulation, which in the long run, helps the body to get rid of toxins.
This natural remedy has been clinically proven to help get rid of the discomfort associated with muscle over-use, everyday stresses, as well as many acute and chronic pain conditions.
Self Myofascial Release
Self myofascial release exercises such as foam rolling seeks to relieve pain by relaxing stiff muscles, stimulating the muscle’s stretch reflex and improving blood and lymphatic circulation. Foam rolling has gained popularity in recent times as it helps to reduce the risk of developing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is a very common exercise-related pain.
Besides being used to spice up our dishes, ginger has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. According to some research, ginger’s anti-inflammatory prowess is even stronger than drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Ginger can be helpful in relieving muscle pain caused by exercising. Ginger prevents the formation of inflammatory compounds and also has an anti-oxidant effect that breaks down inflammation.
For those of us who don’t know, turmeric is part of the ginger family and it is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour. Turmeric contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin. Circumin is responsible for lowering the levels of enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.
Turmeric can also be used for treating other conditions such as stomach upset, ulcers and indigestion. It also boosts blood circulation and prevents blood clotting.
Present in chili peppers, capsaicin can be used as a natural pain relief. It is a topical remedy that reduces joint and muscle pain. This reduction in pain is caused by the stopping of pain signals to the brain. It is worth noting that, many pain relieving products contain capsaicin.
Users just need to be aware that it causes a mild burning sensation when applied topically.
Cherries are said to have the highest antinflammatory content of any food. They contain the compound called anthocyanins which help to relieve pain.
Studies also show that cherry juice supplements can help to reduce swellings, inflammation and pain. The anti-inflammatory prowess of cherries also play a part in improving your sleep.
Cloves, besides being used to spice up rice and meat dishes, can be used to tackle a wide range of conditions. Cloves as a medicine, comes in oil form, powder form or capsule. Cloves have the ability to relieve pain associated with toothaches and headaches. They have also been shown to help ease off pain from arthritic inflammation.
Bone broth is basically a liquid (stock) containing brewed bones, marrow, tendons, skin and connective tissues. It is made by simmering the connective tissues and bones from just about any animal. The common ones include bones from animals such as chicken, cow, turkey, lamb, buffalo, venison and fish.
Bone broths are rich in minerals such as magnesium, sulphur and calcium, just to mention a few. The minerals contained in bone broth are easily absorbed into the body and help in reducing inflammation and joint pain.
Feverfew (also known as bachelor’s button) is a flowery plant with pain relieving prowess. It is a traditional medicinal herb used to tackle migraine headaches, stomach aches, tooth aches, fever and arthritis.
This plant, occasionally grown for ornament, is rich in compounds that may reduce muscle spasms and inflammation. It is important to seek expert advice before using this plant as overuse could result in side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Valerian root, often referred to as “nature’s valium or tranquilizer”, is an ancient herb that is used to relieve insomnia, stress and nervous tension caused by anxiety. Valerian’s use has been in existence for centuries. It has become a common ingredient sold in dietary supplements.
Valerian root’s role in relieving pain is associated with its ability to reduce nerve sensitivity.
Pineapple contains a powerful enzyme called bromelain. Studies have shown bromelain to have an inflammation and pain reducing effect once absorbed into the bloodstream. Bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins in our body. High levels of prostaglandins cause inflammation, which is associated with the symptoms of swelling and pain.
Eating pineapple will provide you with enough bromelain to feel the full pain relieving effect, especially when taken on an empty stomach.
Despite the effectiveness of the above mentioned natural remedies for pain relief, there still might be times when conventional medicine is rightfully needed to tackle whatever health condition you might be experiencing.
Natural remedies for pain relief may not always be effective for all types of pain, especially when the pain is way too severe. What might work for your neighbour might not be that effective for you.
As mentioned earlier, you can combine these natural remedies for pain relief with your conventional treatments. Pain can either be temporary or a signal of serious health problems requiring professional attention. It is therefore important to consult your healthcare provider to uncover the source of your pain and to avoid any unwanted reactions with natural remedies.