It might be tempting to pop a Tylenol, Aleve, or an even more potent, potentially prescriptive drug to relieve pain, but the side effects and risks might not be worth it. If natural alternatives are available–that don’t cause side effects like nausea, stomach pain, rashes, headaches, heartburn, and rare conditions like anemia, bleeding of the stomach, chronic heart failure, and depression–what's there to lose?
Visit your local natural food store or alternative care practitioner to pick up these 4 natural pain relievers.
What: Arnica is a yellow-flowered perennial that is as pretty as it is potent. Scientifically named Arnica montana and native to central Europe and parts of Siberia, the plant can be found in certain areas around the United States like mountainous regions of Colorado.
Why: Arnica can be used to treat everything from sore muscles, bruises, arthritis, stiffness, and even overexertion. I’ve personally used arnica following races up to 100-miles in length with terrific results, while family members have used arnica as an alternative to chronic back pain and longstanding arthritis issues.
How: Since high doses of arnica can be toxic, it’s best to use an already-diluted form of arnica, readily available in most natural health stores. A favorite brand is Arnicare by Boiron, though many local practitioners and health shops usually sell their own salves. Find it as a topical gel, absorbable cream, or as a salve.
Source: This study suggests that topical arnica works just as well as its NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) counterpart.
2. CBD Hemp Oil
What: Not to be confused with THC-filled marijuana, cannabidiol hemp oil contains no psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so no, you won’t get high from using this topically or orally.
Why: Cannabis has been widely studied, with over 23,000 peer-reviewed studies detailing the effects of the herb available in medical journals.
How: Several homeopathic and natural health stores sell CBD Hemp Oil as a salve or topical cream. The cream will likely not be available in states that have not passed marijuana legalization.
Source: This study explains the growing trend of CBD Hemp Oil for pain management as indicated by 81% of chronic pain patients in the study who refilled prescriptions for CBD.
3. Epsom Salts
What: Epsom salts are a naturally occurring mineral compound, meaning they’re a combination of both magnesium and sulfate. So named because of saline springs found in Epsom, near Surrey, England, epsom salts are a staple for many athletes and chronic pain patients due to their natural pain and stress relieving capabilities.
Why: Epsom salts are readily absorbable and while part of the compound, magnesium, can be taken orally as a drink or topically as a cream or lotion, enjoying a bath using epsom salts can be additionally beneficial.
How: Epsom salts can be found in most natural health stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies. While several brands may upcharge for the addition of toxic fragrances, avoid the chemical mess and simply buy epsom salts. You can easily add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil, along with a few squirts of a skin-friendly oil like jojoba, to make your bath extra decadent. Add 1 cup to a full bath and soak for at least 15 minutes.
4. Turmeric Curcumin
What: Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and a perennial plant whose rhizomes are used for flavoring cuisine, responsible for giving dishes, like curry, its bright orange color. Over the past decade, turmeric has become well known as an anti-inflammatory thanks to a special compound called curcumin.
Why: Turmeric has an earthy, pungent taste, though can be found as a supplement in many health food stores. A study published in 2012 details curcumin as a promising treatment for sufferers of everything from cancer to Crohn’s disease to chronic arsenic exposure. Most commonly turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory for professional athletes and chronic pain patients.
How: While simply ingesting turmeric can have benefits, those looking to maximize its potential should look into a supplement form, or the compound curcumin.
Source: Numerous studies cite the benefits of turmeric curcumin for those looking to relieve pain. One study concluded the benefits of curcumin against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Talk about a cure-all!
As always, consult your doctor or holistic health professional before starting any new health regimen.