Nature is abundant with plants and herbs which are natural painkillers and can be used to ease different types of pain ranging from burns, toothaches, backaches, arthritis, and headaches. They offer a safe and efficacious alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers which can suppress the pain but cause harmful and dangerous side effects in the process. Good diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, whole grains etc also assists in mitigating pain as opposed to junk food (processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars etc) which block the ability of non-pharmaceutical remedies to do their magic. There are many plants and oils which have analgesic or pain-relieving properties. There are also other alternative forms of treatment to drugs, including acupuncture, yoga, and reiki. We mention a few of the more commonly known ones (plants, herbs, and other treatments) below.
Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil
These herbs are commonly used in the Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is frequently used as a spice in curries and contains the compound curcumin, an antioxidant which protects the body from damaging radical molecules. It also is used to treat conditions like ulcers, stomach upsets, indigestion, cancer, and psoriasis. Furthermore it can help with conditions like osteoarthritis and relieve pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
This is a spice commonly used in meat and rice dishes and is available as a medicine in capsule and powder form or also as an oil. Cloves have many medicinal properties and can help, for example, with nausea and colds. They are a common cure for toothaches and also help with arthritic inflammation and headaches. Cloves contain eugenol which is a natural pain reliever also used in some OTC pain balms. Cloves should not be taken by people on blood-thinning medication as it can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding.
This is a Chinese system of medicine which helps with pain relief by balancing the flow of energy (‘qi’) throughout the body. Very thin needles are placed in parts of the body which have some relation to or are affected by the source of the pain. Acupuncture stimulates the body to release serotonin, a chemical that helps with easing pain. The treatment is effective for conditions like osteoarthritis, migraines, and other forms of chronic pain.
Heat and Ice
These are opposites in nature but common in their ability to help with pain. Ice packs can help with reducing swelling and inflammation for strained muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Painful blisters caused by burns can be made less uncomfortable by immediately running cold water over the affected part or using ice packs. Likewise, applying an ice pack on the forehead can help relieve headaches. Heat rubs or hot water bottles help with strains and sprains once the inflammation has come down with an ice pack. Moist heat is more effective than ice for arthritis and hot towels or compresses can be directly applied on the affected joint(s) for pain relief.
Cranberries are a well-known home remedy for the treatment of urinary tract infections as well as ulcers caused by bacterial infections like H. Pylori which attacks the stomach’s lining and small intestines. Cranberry juice is capable of killing the bacteria causing both types of infections.
This is commonly found in hot chilies and helps with pain by temporarily desensitizing the C-fiber nerve receptors causing the pain. If applied to patients suffering neuropathic pain, it can provide pain relief for up to 3 months and reduce soreness for a time frame of 3-5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation.
This may be surprising to many people but cherries possibly contain the highest inflammatory content of any food, making them among the most effective of all natural remedies for reducing pain. They contain compounds called anthocyanins which block inflammation and restrain pain enzymes much like non-steroidal medications like aspirin and naproxen. They provide a great alternative remedy for arthritic pain management.
Arnica is a recognized homeopathic remedy used to treat bruising and trauma, so much so that some plastic surgeons recommend using it after cosmetic surgery. It is a herbal plant abundant in inulin, a natural sweetener. It also contains selenium and manganese which are powerful antioxidants and the manganese is key for healthy bones, the healing of wounds and the metabolism of proteins, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
Peppermint is used often to treat toothaches, skin irritations, muscle pain, headaches, and discomfort resulting from bloating and gas.
The treatments for pain mentioned above are effective for certain types of pain. They offer an alternative option to drug medications for specific conditions. There are many more that can be incorporated into the natural remedy list including birch leaf, wintergreen oil, bromelain, white willow bark etc.
The relief they offer may be temporary depending on the condition they are being used to treat. If the pain is a long-lasting condition it is better to consult a doctor to diagnose the source and cause of the pain and then the options for treating it (pharmacological, surgical, or natural) can be weighed up to decide what is best for the individual concerned.