More and more people are looking for natural pain relievers as concerns over prescription drugs continue to grow and for good reason. Synthetic drugs carry a lot of risks that include not only common side effects and possible addiction, but many times they actually only aggravate the existing health condition or cause new health problems. Because, after extended use, the drug damages the liver and the immune system as well as having a variety of other negative impacts on other important organs and systems.
In my experience, the best and most effective natural pain reliever to be found is the use of a particular type of mindfulness-based meditation, which I share with you in, Mindfulness Over Chronic Pain.
It’s ironic that natural pain relievers are considered an alternative and less superior to prescription drugs because it should be the other way around. Prescription medication got its foundation in herbs. When it was discovered that the natural world provided us with many medicinal qualities, the health care field thought they could improve on it and make more money by creating a synthetic form.
The problem is that the human body was not designed to be exposed to synthetic drugs. It’s not natural or healthy and in the long run, often leads to long-term side effects that are even more difficult to contend with than the original health condition and/or they put even more burden on an already over-stressed and weakened body.
Natural pain relievers are safe and effective and offer a variety of different choices that carry none of these risks. The natural world should be the first place we turn to for help. It should be the preferred and first choice, while drugs should be considered when all other options have been exhausted, we are dealing with end-stage disease, or in matters of life and death.
Pain Relieving Herbs & Supplements
There’s an abundance of natural pain relievers out there and we can’t possibly cover them all on this page, but here are a few of the most common and effective:
- Capsaicin is an active ingredient in the chili pepper and has been found to be an effective pain reliever for arthritis, shingles, neuropathy, migraine headaches, and back pain. .
- White Willow Bark is where aspirin originated, however it was a very time consuming process to extract the active ingredient “salicin” so they created a synthetic form which is known as aspirin. It is helpful for any kind of pain that usually responds to aspirin such as back pain, headaches, muscle aches and pains, joint pain and osteoarthritis. Unlike aspirin, white willow bark does not irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Aquamin is a red seaweed that is rich in calcium and magnesium and has been found to be effective for osteoarthritis.
- SAM-e is another very popular natural pain relief remedy that is considered to be as effective against osteoarthritis as many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Fish oil is an effective natural pain reliever for joint pain caused by arthritis or autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, endometriosis, back pain and degenerative disc disease.
- MSM has been found to helpful for conditions like osteoarthritis, joint pain, arthritis, muscle pain, back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and sports injuries. Some people find it works better if it is combined with glucosomine.
- Feverfew is an herb that is effective in relieving pain associated with arthritis, migraines, headaches, muscle tension and pain and menstrual cramps.
- Vitamin D has been found to be very effective for relieving back pain as well as chronic muscle pain anywhere in the body, musculoskeletal pain, diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- D-Phenylalanine is an alternative to NSAIDS. Since it works by increasing the bodies natural pain killing substance, endorphins, it is effective against most any kind of chronic pain like arthritis, migraines, neuralgia, joint pains, back pain and post-operative pain.
- Ginger is another popular herb that provides relief for muscle pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches and joint pain.
- Vitamin B12 has been very effective for relieving chronic back pain and fibromyalgia.
- Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function and provides relief for muscle pain and spasms and lower back pain. It may also be beneficial for migraines.
- Chondroitin and glucosamine are one of the most popular and commonly used supplements that is found to be helpful for arthritis, joint pain and other pain caused by inflammation.
- Kava is a natural muscle relaxant and therefore can provide relief for a variety of aches and pains like back ache and sore muscles and cramps. It is also an analgesic similar to aspirin and be used in place of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Turmeric is another herb that provides natural pain relief for a variety of conditions like arthritis, joint pain, bursitis, tendinitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Vitamin C in very high doses has been found to eliminate pain for some people.
Natural Pain Relief Techniques
Although most people automatically think of herbs or something took orally when they think of natural pain relievers, there are a variety of techniques one can employ that are also natural, safe, and effective. Like self-hypnosis, music therapy, yoga, massage, a warm bath in mineral salts, biofeedback, and magnet therapy are some popular methods that work for many people.
Techniques that stimulate endorphins are very powerful natural pain relievers. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers and they can provide pain relief that is as powerful as any prescription medication. There are a variety of ways to stimulate endorphins, but some of the easiest and most cost-effective are having sex that results in orgasm, exercise, yoga, dancing, singing, deep breathing exercises, laughter, smiling, communing with nature, and mindfulness meditation.
Personally, I have found deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, and mindfulness-based meditation to be superb natural pain relief for headaches, migraine headaches, myofascial pain, and TMJ. Typically, the two are performed together. In mindfulness meditation, the source of your pain is used as the focal point of your meditation. The pain literally just melts away in a few seconds. Mindfulness meditation has also been found to be helpful for many conditions like cancer, IBS, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and general aches and pains.
Acupuncture and TENS are two more ways of stimulating endorphins that are a little more complex, however, they work great for many people. Acupuncture, as you may know, involves placing needles along particular meridians of the body. For reasons unknown this method triggers the body to release endorphins and provides relief for a variety of different types of pain like headaches, facial pain, low back pain, shingles, arthritis, and even a spastic colon.
TENS is short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and is a technique that attaches electrodes to your skin and it sends little jolts of painless electrical currents to the nerves in the area where you have the pain. It is non-invasive, non-addictive, and won’t interact with other medications or natural remedies. It too works by increasing a large amount of pain-killing endorphins into the body. It is very effective for a wide variety of acute and chronic pain types like post-operative pain, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal pain like arthritis and rheumatoid, neuropathy, lower back pain, myofascial pain, and visceral pain. TENS units require a prescription from a doctor.
Precautions and Contraindications
It’s important to keep in mind that although herbs and nutritional supplements are natural they can sometimes be very potent as well. If not taken correctly, they too can cause unpleasant side effects and if taken in conjunction with prescription medications or other natural substances can cause drug interactions. A particular herb that is effective for one health condition can aggravate another health condition. For example: if you’re allergic to aspirin or have a peptic ulcer you should not take white willow bark and people with Parkinson’s should not take SAM-e. People with high blood pressure need to be extra careful as many natural substances can raise blood pressure naturally. Each natural substance has precautions and directions just like prescription drugs.
Not everyone reacts to a particular treatment in the same manner. We each have a unique biochemistry and what works for one body may not work for another. Some people may have a negative experience with a particular substance while someone else may find total relief. It may take some trial and error to find what works for you. One should also be aware that some herbs take time to work and may not produce instant relief. Unlike prescription medication, some natural substances may have to be taken consistently for a couple of weeks before you see results. For example, feverfew must be taken on a daily basis to be effective for migraines.
Additionally, there are so many different kinds of pain so it’s important to find a method that is effective for your type. Some natural pain relievers may work great on one type of pain and be completely ineffective for another type of pain. Also, keep in mind that natural pain relief remedies come in many different forms. They may be in homeopathic preparation, capsules, pills, liquids, teas, creams, ointments, etc. One particular herb may be very effective as an ointment, but not so good as a dried herb in a capsule and vice versa. It’s important to pick the preparation that will be the most effective for your condition. Also, keep in mind that not all substances are manufactured equally, company A may have a fish oil supplement that is superior to company B. Be sure to pick products that are manufactured by companies with high standards.
All of these issues mean that it’s crucial that you do your homework and have a thorough understanding of the choices you make. Research your condition, the natural pain relievers you are considering, and the best manufacturers before making a decision. Consult with an herbalist or your holistic health care provider who can give you competent advice and guidance. If you’re taking prescription medication, always discuss this honestly with your health care provider. Being as informed as possible ensures that you’ll be able to make the safest and most effective choices for you and your health. Always consult with your doctor prior to using herbs or any natural remedy.