6 Awesome Natural Pain Killers

natural pain killers

Nowadays we have so many choices for medicinal pain killers, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and there’s no doubt they can be powerful and effective at relieving pain.  But the sad truth is they come with a host of harmful side effects ranging from digestive symptoms and gut-damage, to CNS depression, drowsiness and potential addiction.

Knowing this, it’s important to be aware that there’s a whole selection of natural pain killers and therapies that can be turned to instead, which are gentler and more sympathetic on the body and can be combined to produce a multi-modal effect.

Let’s take a look at some of the best natural pain killers you can take advantage of…

6 Awesome Natural Pain Killers

1. Natural Oils

Essential oils contain plant-based compounds with all manner of therapeutic properties and many make fantastic natural pain killers.

Diluting them with a carrier liquid such as coconut oil, is a great way of creating a natural rub for sore places such as tight aching muscles and joints, and helps them dissolve into the lipid layer of the skin.

The following three natural oils, are some of the best for helping with pain:

  • Peppermint oil – Studies have shown this lovely minty oil can be a great headache relief when combined with eucalyptus oil, and also in an ethanol preparation when it appears to be at least as effective as paracetamol [1][1a].
  • Arnica oil – Arnica is an oil with which has shown significant post-operative pain reduction in scientific studies, for example after carpal tunnel surgery and tonsillectomy [1b][1c][1d]
  • Eucalyptus oil – Eucalyptus is another oil that has demonstrated good post-op pain relief in scientific studies, even in major surgery such as knee replacement [1g].

Tiger Balm is an example of a fab topical ointment made from natural oils and ingredients such as camphor, cassia, menthol and cajuput.  It can be rubbed into temples for headaches, or deep into aching muscles and joints, producing strong soothing heat and gentle pain relief.

It’s cheap, popular and widely available, in either Red or White varieties.

2. Really Hot And Spicy Foods

Even though they cause a real ‘burn’ when we eat them, many of our very hot spices have wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits.

  • Mustard and Wasabi – Both these hot foods, mustard and wasabi, contain special compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs) which have various therapeutic effects including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [2a][2b].
  • Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne has been shown to provide excellent topical pain relief, particularly in the treatment of neurological pain. And that’s because of one of its powerful healing compounds called capsaicin [2c][2d][2e].  Trials have also shown it to be good for low back pain, compared to placebo and other herbal treatments [2f].

3. The Gentler Spices

Two of the big anti-inflammatory kings in the world of natural therapy are ginger and turmeric, and their extensive healing benefits are backed by thousands of scientific studies.

  • Ginger – Ginger has pain-relieving power in abundance, with various scientific studies demonstrating it helps with period pain, arthritic pain, muscular pain and migraines for example [3g][3h][3i][3j][3k].
  • Turmeric – Turmeric contains the powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin, which has pain relief as one of its many benefits.  Curcumin has been shown to relieve pain from all manner of causes including post-operative pain, burns and wound healing, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and mastitis, as well as certain neuropathies [3a][3b][3c][3d][3e][3f].

4. Rolfing – A Hands On Treatment

Rolfing (named after its inventor Ida Rolf) is an intriguing type of treatment that combines posture correction, physical manipulation and deep tissue massage to help realign and reposition tight, painful areas of the body.

It has shown a proven effect on soothing pain associated with peripheral nerves and muscular tissue [4][4a].  And also incorporates foam-rolling which has been found to reduce exercise-induced discomfort and stiffness in many studies [4b][4c].

You can find out more about rolfing and rolfing practitioners here at Rolfing UK and Rolf.org.

5. Auricular Point Acupressure (APA)

As we all know, thousands of scientific studies have shown the ancient art of acupuncture to be a hugely effective therapy not only in treating pain and inflammation, but a whole host of medical conditions [5].

But more recently an exciting new branch of treatment in this field involves treating tiny acupressure points on the ears, which hold a microsystem map of the body, and is known as Auricular Point Pressure or APA.  The selection of which points to stimulate depends entirely on the condition being treated, exactly as it does in whole body acupuncture.

APA can use various forms of stimulation on these ear points – including micro needles, electrical stimulation and massage, as well as magnets, ‘seeds’ or adhesive patches.

Ear acupuncture has demonstrated excellent effects on various types of pain, including chronic low back pain, period pain, cancer-related pain and post-operative pain [5e][5a][5b][5c][5d].

6. Herbs As Natural Pain Killers

And of course many herbs make great natural pain killers and have been used since ancient times for good reason.  Two scientifically-studied herbs which have also been shown to work well together are:

  • St John’s Wort (Hypericum sp.) –  St John’s wort has traditionally been used to treat inflammation, pain and fever, and this is supported by a number of recent studies.  More specifically some of these studies have shown it’s improvement of neuropathic pain and migraine, as well as pain associated with oedema and burning [6a][6b][6c][6d][6e].
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) – Another ancient medicinal herb is Feverfew, which shows similar pain-relieving benefits to St John’s wort.  Trials describe it as ‘potent pain killer’ and have shown its effectiveness in the treatment of acute, inflammatory, articular and neuropathic pain [6f].

If you’re feeling inspired to get going with some natural pain killers, why not try making your own soothing natural ointment, by checking out my recipe for a DIY Muscle Rub that’s made with healing essential oils and spices.

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