Christina Sarich | Are you in pain? You don’t have to reach for over-the -counter pain killers, or even the heavy pharmaceutical hitters prescribed by your doctor; there are literally hundreds of natural pain killers waiting for you in the abundance of nature. You can count on plants and herbs to alleviate everything from arthritis pain, to headaches, to burns – read on to find out more.
Many pharmaceutical pain medications, while effective and useful at times, can be downright dangerous, but there is another solution to your pain problem. “Almost always, if we find pharmaceuticals doing the trick, we’ll find a plant doing the same trick—and doing it more safely,” remarks botanist James A. Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods.
James N. Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution says:
“No matter how well you prescribe medication, chronic sufferers don’t get complete relief. It’s an enormous problem, and the medical community is doing a bad job solving it.”
Before you do anything else though, you have to ‘quit the junk food that riles up the body’s pain system.’ The modern Western diet comprised of highly refined foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates, while devoid of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc., is going to block the ability of other non-pharmaceutical remedies to halt pain.
Once you’ve done that, you can turn to the many herbs that truly deliver. There are also over 60 different essential oils for pain that have analgesic properties. Analgesic means that a substance has shown to relieve or reduce pain. So many plants have pain-relieving properties.
Here are just a few natural pain killers.
- 1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
- 4. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) – This ominous sounding herb is actually great for treating numerous health conditions, among them are liver problems and heart burn. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain from arthritis, headaches, and low back discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center has published several studies that had great success treating Osteoarthritis with Devil’s Claw.
- 5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.
- 6. Wintergreen Essential Oil – Also among natural pain relievers, Wintergreen Essential Oil contains 85-99% of methyl salicylate, the same component of aspirin.
- 7. White Willow Bark (Salix alba) – The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. This tree’s covering lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. What’s more, white willow bark doesn’t upset the stomach or cause internal bleeding like many over-the-counter aspirins. Turn to this herb for relief from menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, or after knee or hip surgery as it promotes blood flow and reduces swelling.
- 8. Capsaicin (Capsicum) – Found in hot chile peppers, this natural remedy does wonders for pain. Capsaicin, the active pain-reducing ingredient, temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors called C-fibers which cause the pain response. Capsaicin also diminishes soreness for 3 to 5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Patients at the New England Center for Headache decreased their migraine and cluster headache intensity by applying capsaicin cream to their nasal passages.