Pain, unfortunately, is just a fact of life. Whether it’s from a misaligned back, sleeping in a weird position, sports injury or a chronic health condition, pain can really get you down. If you’re like millions of other Americans, you could turn to drugs to solve your problem. Pop a couple ibuprofens, sit back and let the pain waft away. Easy as that, right?
Wrong. Pain relievers, even those as supposedly innocent as ibuprofen, can cause your body some serious damage. Many, and especially in the case of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can disrupt important functions within the body, damage certain organs and present a whole host of side effects that can quickly surpass the original pain. Maybe you should think twice before popping those store-bought painkillers, huh?
Natural painkillers without side effects
Luckily, there’s a much healthier alternative at hand. Many alternatives, in fact, and they’re all natural. In many of its plants, animals and minerals, nature has provided painkillers that in some cases are more powerful and long-lasting than your average over-the-counter drug. Not only that, they’re often free of side effects!
Here are some of the strongest natural painkillers on the planet, to ensure you can find pain relief without the repercussions.
Capsaicin for natural pain relief
There’s a reason why capsaicin is at the top of the list: it’s one of the most studied and strongest natural painkillers in the natural world. And it comes from none other than the humble chili pepper.
As the key active compound in chili peppers, capsaicin temporarily desensitizes pain receptors in the body, rendering an affected area relatively pain-free within a short amount of time. Surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry has recognized the pain-alleviating qualities of this natural compound for years. There are plenty of products out there that include capsaicin as an active ingredient.
As this study points out, however, “over-the-counter capsaicin creams have shown moderate to poor analgesic efficacy. This is in part related to low dose, poor skin absorption and compliance factors.” The study then examined stronger, more modern developments in capsaicin pain-relief therapies, concluding that “site-specific capsaicin therapy with high-dose patches and injectable preparations seem to be safe and reportedly provide long-lasting analgesia with rapid onset.”
Rather than getting your hands on some of these new-fandangled capsaicin therapies, however, why not invest in a high-quality capsaicin supplement, or even up the ante with chili peppers? That’s if you can handle the heat!
Exercise for natural pain relief
You might be a little surprised to hear this, but exercise can be an excellent way to naturally alleviate pain. Any exercise that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period of time will promote the release of endorphins, otherwise known as the “pleasure hormones.” They’re also some of the strongest natural painkillers, binding to opioid receptors in the brain to inhibit our perception of pain. And the best part? They’re completely side-effect free! What drugs do you know of that kick pain in the butt, make you feel amazingly happy in the process and don’t leave you worse off than when you started?
If you think your pain is the very thing standing in the way of you getting that endorphin-releasing exercise, there’s plenty of options out there. Find a sport or exercise that works around your pain. An obvious example would be to take up swimming if you have an impact-related injury, or to work only your arms and core at the gym if you have a leg injury.
Curcumin for natural pain relief
You’ve probably heard mention of curcumin by now — it’s the active ingredient in turmeric that gives it that vibrant orange color. And it also just so happens to be dynamite against pain.
Curcumin is now one of the most effective anti-inflammatory agents known to man, and you’ll see curcumin supplements on most health store shelves across the globe. Ancient civilizations came to refer turmeric, and hence it’s active ingredient curcumin, as an almost holy plant, in large part because of it’s amazing healing powers.
Curcumin works by regulating cytokines, proteins and enzymes that are linked to inflammation. This has lead many scientists to conclude that curcumin may be one of the most effective ways to treat chronic neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, metabolic and neoplastic diseases.
If you have low levels of pain, getting plenty of fresh turmeric in your meals each day should allow the curcumin to work its anti-pain magic. But if you’re in a lot of pain, consider getting your hands on a high-quality curcumin supplement.
Arnica for natural pain relief
The flowers of Arnica montana, a European alpine herb, have long been used as a strong natural painkiller. While the leaves and stem of the plant are themselves mildly toxic, for centuries homeopaths have been administering Arnica tinctures to relieve the pain associated with bruising and swelling.
There’s been plenty of research surrounding the pain-alleviating abilities of arnica, particularly with regards to natural pain relief after surgery. A 2002 study examined the effectiveness of arnica following carpal tunnel surgery, determining that there was a “significant reduction in pain experienced after two weeks in the Arnica-treated group.” Another study concluded much the same thing, finding arnica to be an effective treatment for pain and prevention of hematoma after varicose vein surgery.
Massage for natural pain relief
If you’ve got chronic or even acute pain, grab a loved one and set them to work. Massage is a proven treatment for pain, helping to boost levels of both endorphins and serotonin — two of the body’s leading pain relievers and mood regulators. Research even suggest that massage can inhibit inflammation, which is the leading cause of most chronic pain.
Massage is particularly effective for back pain, osteoarthritis, foot pain, leg pain, neck pain, tension headaches and a wide range of other unenjoyable afflictions. Start rubbing away, and let pain become a distant memory!
— Liivi Hess