Pain Management: Herbal Remedies
Pain Management: Herbal Remedies. This is the second in a series of ten articles on pain management from the book Pain Management by Robert C Hoffman.
Pain is a fact of life, and pain relief is a multi-billion dollar industry. For many minor aches, such as toothache, headache, stomach cramps, and muscle pain, you probably turn to over-the-counter medicines.
Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAIDs may seem like a gift from heaven with their ability to provide fairly rapid, albeit temporary, pain relief. However, what many people are not aware of (or don’t pay much attention to) is that long-term use of such drugs to ease your pain can have adverse effects on your health, particularly to your liver and gut lining.
Instead of popping up a pill every time you feel something painful in your body, there are alternative remedies that can provide natural pain relief that you can turn to. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Ginger is a remedy that is most likely available in your kitchen – be it ginger root, powdered ginger, or ginger juice. Studies have shown that it can be more effective than synthetic drugs in treating inflammation. With ginger’s active medical ingredients, such as gingerols and shogaol, this herbal remedy has long been used to ease pain due to upset stomach, nausea, menstrual pain, migraines, and arthritis.
In addition to its traditional culinary usage, you can add ginger to your vegetable smoothies, hot or iced tea, lemonade, stir-fries, and cereals.
If you love Asian food, especially Thai and Indian cuisine, then you’re familiar with turmeric. Aside from making these foods flavorful, turmeric is an effective remedy to pain. Its active ingredient is called curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, ulcers, psoriasis, and even cancer, incorporating turmeric in your diet or taking turmeric supplements can help improve your pain.
You can make a turmeric juice with lemon or hot tea, warm soup with turmeric, or egg dishes with a pinch of turmeric.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark has been used as an analgesic for centuries. It contains salicin, a chemical that is similar to what aspirin is mainly made of. It also contains apigenin, another anti-inflammatory. White willow bark can help ease back pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches, among many other conditions.
Be careful not to use it for the long-term, however, because it can irritate your stomach and affect your liver. Our ancestors used to chew the bark as it is, but today, you can get willow bark herbs that you can brew as tea. Liquid and capsule willow bark supplements are also now available.
Cloves are aromatic flower buds that have been proven to be an effective pain remedy. They are normally used as spices for food. They have compounds that can ease sores, including toothaches, headaches, and arthritis. Today, you can take cloves in capsule, powder, or oil form.
Oregano is commonly used in cooking, as well as in treating cough. However, it has been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory and pain relief for various conditions. Oregano has 32 anti-inflammatory compounds.
If you are suffering from back pain, neck pain, arthritis, sore muscles, or cramps, oregano can provide you relief. You can apply oregano oil directly to the affected area, or you can mix dried oregano with other herbs to make a tea.
Devil’s claw is a South African herb that contains active ingredients called harpagide and harpagoside, that provide anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It has long been used to relieve low back pain, arthritis, rheumatism, muscle pain, chest pain, upset stomach, migraine, and even skin injuries. Devil’s claw is available in tincture form, as well as tea. You can also take the extract.
Over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicines can be effective in providing pain relief, especially if you follow the right dosage and your doctor’s instructions. However, long-term use of them can lead to other problems, which is why it makes sense to consider natural alternatives.
Because they are natural, herbal remedies have no harmful chemicals that can aggravate your condition. They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can provide you with other health benefits aside from pain relief.
This does not mean that all-natural remedies are without side-effects. Even the known actions may adversely affect other conditions you have, or other medications you may be taking. You still have to be careful when taking herbal remedies, especially if you are pregnant, prone to bleeding, or have any other serious health conditions.