How to Manage Pain with Herbs: Nature’s Herbal Pain Killers
While we might not enjoy it, pain can be good. It protects our bodies by signalling that we have an injury or illness to deal with, preventing further damage, and helping us instinctively avoid danger.
However, once we understand why we are in pain, our priority is usually to stop it. How we do this depends on the severity of the pain and the cause of it; however, before hitting the pharmaceuticals, exploring what nature has to offer in the way of herbs and supplements could be a good and healthy alternative. Discover the best herbal painkillers and find out how to manage pain with nature.
Managing Aches with Herbal Pain Killers
If your pain is becoming, well, something of a pain, why not consider some herbal supplements to alleviate your woes naturally? Certain botanicals contain potent compounds to help extinguish the fire causing your discomfort.
While we’re not suggesting that you should empty your medicine cabinet of paracetamol and solely stock up on willow bark or that you shouldn’t seek medical advice when experiencing pain that you can’t diagnose or won’t go away, turning to herbs for relief for general aches and pains can be beneficial.
Everyday pains that we can experience can include:
- Headache - From tension headaches to migraines, head pain is one of the most prevalent issues. Stress, dehydration, sinus pressure, and hormonal changes can trigger headaches.
- Back pain - Lower back pain affects most people at some point and can stem from muscle strain, disc issues, arthritis, etc. Pain may be acute from an injury or chronic.
- Joint pain - Many people experience frequent minor arthritis aches in knees, hips, fingers, shoulders and other joints due to ageing, previous injuries, or osteoarthritis.
- Muscle soreness - Post-workout muscle aches or strains from overuse are widespread, especially in the legs, neck and shoulders. Cramping and spasms can also occur.
- Abdominal pain - Digestive discomforts like gas, bloating, cramps, or heartburn affect most people occasionally. The causes range from menstrual pain to food sensitivities.
- Dental pain - Toothaches, dental sensitivity, and jaw soreness are ubiquitous dental problems many endure from poor oral hygiene or dental disorders.
- Menstrual cramps - Nearly all menstruating women are familiar with the dull ache or painful muscle cramping of periods caused by prostaglandins and uterine contractions.
- Minor burns or cuts - Kitchen mishaps and small accidents often afflict people with sore minor burns, scrapes, paper cuts or skin irritation that cause temporary pain.
- Sore feet - Time spent standing or walking, especially in ill-fitting shoes, leads to foot arch, heel, and ball of foot pain issues.
Herbs and supplements may alleviate all of these types of pains and can help you avoid some of the more problematic effects of NSAIDs and opioids.
6 Top Herbal Pain Killers: Backed By Science
Willow Bark - Nature’s Aspirin
Before Bayer chemists discovered acetylsalicylic acid, Hippocrates prescribed willow bark tea to ease headaches and fever. Salicin in the bark gets converted to salicylic acid in your gut, acting as an anti-inflammatory pain reliever similar to its lab-made cousin. But unlike aspirin, salicin is gentle on stomachs and won’t leave you with ringing ears.
Studies confirm extracts of willow bark provide temporary relief for lower back pain, osteoarthritis, PMS cramps, and dental pains. The bark of white willow may work slightly better than black varieties due to higher salicin content. For acute pain, a supplemental dose of 120-240 mg salicin 1-2 times daily should do the trick.
Turmeric - A Golden Anti-inflammatory
Turmeric’s brilliant golden hue comes from curcuminoids like curcumin, which block pro-inflammatory enzymes and cytokines involved in pain pathways. Thousands of studies confirm curcumin’s prowess for arthritic joints, neuropathy, IBS, migraines, and chronic inflammatory conditions. Curcumin has poor bioavailability, so pair it with pepper’s piperine to boost levels significantly. Curcumin is generally safe but may increase bile production in some folks.
Devil’s Claw - A Saviour for Sore Joints
Valued by African tribes for ages, devil’s claw soothes arthritis aches and muscle strains. Research reveals that iridoid glycosides harpagoside and harpogoside reduce joint pain and stiffness comparable to low-dose NSAIDs.
In vitro studies suggest devil’s claw and its components suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines, enzymes, and proteins implicated in arthritis, back pain, and neuropathy. For osteoarthritis, rheumatism, and tendonitis, take 1,000-2,500 mg dry herb or 50-100 mg harpagoside daily. Watch for mild tummy upset.
Jamaican Dogwood - Knockout Headaches and Cramps
Don’t let the name fool you - this rainforest shrub is unrelated to dogwood trees or pups. Jamaican dogwood has traditionally been used as a nerve tonic and sedative. The compound pregnane glycosides is thought to bind to GABA and opioid receptors, reducing muscle spasms, nerve pain, and menstrual cramps.
Research shows the herb has antinociceptive effects in rodent pain models. While human data is limited, Commission E approves the bark for spasmodic pain complaints. It is vital to stick to recommended doses, however, as the herb can be toxic in excess, and effects may take a week or more to feel.
Cayenne - Warming and Soothing for Lower Back Pain
Research has shown that the warming and stimulating components of cayenne, called capsaicinoids, trick nerves into feeling heat and pain. This floods your brain with endorphins, your natural opiates, for temporary relief. Cayenne’s analgesic effects can be helpful when dealing with pain, but do remember that capsaicin tolerance varies from person to person, so start off with a small dose. For some, just a pinch of cayenne does the trick!
Lavender Oil - Soothing Pain Away
There is also some evidence to suggest that lavender oil can help to reduce back pain. Lavender has been used for centuries as a calming, healing plant with a soothing scent. Often used as a natural sleep aid, lavender also harbours fascinating pain-busting properties that can help people go about their usual activities -even when back pain strikes.
Rely on Nature’s Herbal Pain Killers with Baldwins
While it might be tempting to reach for your nearest pharmaceutical painkiller every time you feel a headache coming on when searching for pain solutions, sometimes it’s wise to look to the earth first.
From migraines and headaches to more general aches and pains, at Baldwins, we have a vast range of anti-inflammatory, nerve-calming herbs that offer a time-tested approach to help cope with pain safely, so why not take a look today?