People in pain don’t often turn to natural pain relievers but to OTC medication instead. Often, when you turn to prescription and OTC pain relievers, you’re getting the same compounds that exist in nature. Aspirin, for example, gets its pain relieving power from salicylic acid, which was first discovered by healers using certain plants, like willow bark and meadowsweet. It may seem easier to reach for a pill than to get used to a natural pain reliever. But once you get into the habit of using more alternative pain relievers, you’ll be sidestepping the secondary ingredients in artificial medications that can cause side effects and even addiction.
Natural Pain Relievers You Can Find in Plants Around You
If you’re prone to chronic pain maladies like an aching back or a migraine, a magnesium deficit may be to blame. The problem can be a lack of magnesium in your diet or an excess of magnesium depleters, especially alcohol. Magnesium seems to be a natural pain reliever because it encourages muscles to relax. Tension can cause everything from headaches to muscle spasms.
You can address these pains by eating more plant-based foods rich in this vital mineral. Sunflower seeds are a top choice. They’re portable enough for snacking when you’re on the go. At home, they add crunch to salads, sandwich spreads, and cooked vegetables. Other seeds and nuts are also high in magnesium as are leafy greens.
Another one of the most useful natural pain relievers is ginger. This spice has anti-inflammatory properties, which is much prized in the medicinal world. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that store-bought pain relievers like ibuprofen are labeled as anti-inflammatories. Unfortunately, too many of the OTC versions can cause digestive issues; other side effects include ringing in the ears. To avoid these problems, try the natural alternative of ginger. The spicy root addresses pain by reducing swelling, which causes joint pain and other chronic pain. Inflammation also leads to short-term but painful illnesses, such as sinus headaches and sore throats.
One of the most special qualities about ginger is its versatility. You can take it internally as a spice, tea, or capsule form. Externally, body oil infused with ginger warms up and eases aching joints and muscles. Obviously, powdered or fresh ginger is a great additive to spicy dishes. Try to add it to stir-fry dishes, rice dishes, curried vegetables or fruit chutney whenever you can. Gingerbread cake and cookies are another delicious way to introduce this natural pain reliever into your diet, as is candied ginger.
Some people dislike the taste of ginger because the taste registers as “soapy.” If that’s the case, you may find hot or chilled ginger tea doesn’t have the same effect on your taste buds. Or try ginger in capsule form, and take it as-needed or as a regular supplement.
Need more good news about ginger? Along with fighting joint pain and other inflammation issues, ginger has additional medicinal properties. It will keep nausea at bay, and sooth stomach aches. Ginger is also a powerful antioxidant, so it helps to boost your immune system.
Cinnamon is another natural pain reliever that helps fight inflammation. Not only does it address internal swelling, but it has naturally analgesic properties. Between these two medicinal properties, cinnamon can help with menstrual cramps, headaches, painful joints and aching muscles.
You can certainly gain some benefits by adding more of the powdered spice to your morning oatmeal or your post-workout smoothies. But to get its benefits into your system on a regular basis, consider drinking cinnamon tea. The tea can be bought in tea bag form, but it is even easier to boil a cinnamon stick for about 15 minutes then drink the resulting tea. If you wish, add some milk for a comforting, pain-relieving warm beverage before bed.
Because they’re all made from separate, individual plants, different essential oils address pain and other problems in different ways. A few, however, are considered “best all-arounders.” If you can only have a few essential oils, these are the most versatile ones to select for pain relief. One reminder: Unless you are using lavender essential oil, these potent liquids need to be diluted into a carrier oil, lotion or water before being applied to your skin. Use about 1 ounce of the carrier medium, blended with 1 to 2 drops of essential oil.
Useful Essential Oils as Natural Pain Relievers
- Lavender. Long used as a classic “temple rub” for aching heads, lavender essential oil soothes small aches, pains, stings and itchy skin. Best of all, it can be used straight from the bottle for most people (it’s always smart to do a patch test first). Add a drop directly onto burns or stings. If you have all-over aches, you can add a spoonful of lavender essential oil to a bath or massage oil.
- Peppermint. Peppermint tea is great for stomach pain, as you may already have discovered. But for fewer spread-out aches, the essential oil may deliver pain relief more efficiently. There’s nothing like a peppermint foot rub to “wake up” your feet and banish discomfort and swelling. Peppermint oil can also relieve sinus pain when applied to the chest or temples. Add one or two drops to petroleum jelly or your favorite body lotion, then rub this peppermint infusion onto the affected area.
- Pine. The active compound in pine is one of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory drugs. Because pine essential oil is extremely potent, dilute just a drop or so into oil or lotion before rubbing it where you have aching joints.
- Marjoram. Marjoram, which is related to oregano, contains pain blocking compounds. The herb’s analgesic properties, combined with its spicy taste, makes it a great tea when you’re feeling a generalized, flu-like achiness. But when you have chronic pain in your knee or other joints, the essential oil can deliver more direct pain relief.
- Cinnamon. As with taking cinnamon internally as a tea, using the essential oil externally can ease aching muscles and joints. Dilute a drop or so into a massage oil or body lotion.
Though a new kid on the block in the U.S., kratom is a well-known natural pain reliever in its native Southeast Asia. The leaves from the kratom tree are unique in that they possess different healing powers depending on how much you take. Small amounts used in tea or extracts are used as sedatives and as painkillers. (Larger amounts have a stimulating effect.) Suggested kratom uses include chronic pain problems such as migraines, joint pain, and nerve damage.
Whether you take kratom in tea or another form, be sure to follow package directions carefully. You may also want to purchase specific strains of kratom because some have higher amounts of the compounds that numb pain. These two compounds, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxy mitragynine are strongest in the Maeng Da kratom and the Red Bali kratom strains.
Kratom and other natural pain relievers shouldn’t be used without researching any precautions and warnings associated with them. Even mild herbs can interact with prescription medications or illnesses. Most essential oils are not to be taken internally and are only safe with external applications when you dilute it in a carrier medium first.
What natural pain relievers have you tried before? Was it effective? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!
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As with any natural remedy, please use discretion on the amount and frequency of kratom you take, as it can have adverse effects. You can find our full disclaimer on kratom here.