Humans have used herbs, essential oils, and other natural substances for thousands of years to relieve pain. Many of these natural substances are firmly planted in the alternative and folk medicine traditions, yet there is a lack of scientific study about just how effective they are.
In this article, we’ll examine some issues with common pain medications and take a look at nine natural pain relief ingredients with a solid track record that show real promise in relieving pain.
The Problem With Pain Medications
Pain is a problem for many Americans, and billions of dollars are spent every year on pain medications. While there are many success stories in pain management through traditional medicine, you should understand how these medicines work and their potential side effects.
OTC (over-the-counter) medications
Take a trip to your local drug store and you’ll find plenty of pain medications. While these are safe and effective for many uses if you need to use these medications every day you could be setting yourself up for trouble. There are two many classes of OTC pain medicines.
- Acetaminophen drugs like Tylenol relieve pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. They’re useful for treating almost all types of normal pain, whether caused by illness or injury and are effective at reducing fever as well.
- NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), like Advil or aspirin, reduce the production of prostaglandins — substances that trigger pain in our body. NSAIDs are also useful in reducing inflammation and swelling.
Caution should be observed with both classes of drugs. Combining these drugs with heavy alcohol use can cause liver damage, heartburn, and stomach pain. And long-term use of NSAIDs can cause blood clotting, increasing your risk of stroke. While effective, you should use OTC pain meds sparingly.
The opioid crisis facing many communities is a cautionary tale about what can happen when prescription painkillers are abused by drug companies, doctors, and patients. Beyond addiction, there are other side effects to beware of with prescription painkillers.
- Sedation or drowsiness
- Clouded thinking
- Slowed breathing
There are many legitimate uses for opiate painkillers, such as post-operative recovery. But great care should be used when these drugs are prescribed and taken.
Natural Ingredients for Pain Relief
Left untreated, pain can severely impact our lives. And conventional pain treatments, relying on over-the-counter medications and prescription medicines aren’t always effective and can have serious side effects, especially when used long-term. It’s only natural that alternative natural ingredients are sought out to aid in pain management. Here are some of the most promising and proven natural ingredients for pain relief.
By now you’ve probably heard of CBD. This chemical, found naturally in marijuana and hemp plants, doesn’t have the active ingredient THC, so there’s no worry about getting “high” from taking it. But CBD oil is used for a variety of other applications, including relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, in the field of pain relief, CBD shows real promise. Here are some of the pain-relieving uses of CBD.
- Chronic pain relief. Issues with chronic pain are sometimes difficult to deal with, and approaches that rely on opiates or other addicting drugs can do more harm than good. The use of CBD to treat different chronic pain complaints, like cancer pain, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia has been studied, and a 2018 review found that CBD provided effective pain management without negative side effects.
- Arthritis pain. Arthritis pain is a crippling affliction for many, and the long-term effects of taking medication to control the pain of arthritis can have its ill effects. A rat study has shown that a decrease in pain and swelling can be achieved with daily doses of CBD, administered orally. More human studies will be required to understand how well CBD can help humans with arthritis pain.
- Migraine relief. Studies have shown a decrease in migraine frequency and intensity when CBD is paired with THC. Studies with CBD alone are limited at this time.
Be sure that you choose a CDB treatment that is reliably sourced and free of THC or contaminants. The CBD used in ASYSTEM’s Radical Relief Pain System is from hemp-raised sources and meets strict quality standards. And this system includes both oral tablets and topical creams for different uses.
This spice has a 4000-year-long history of use in Ayuverdic medicine, particularly for its curcumin. As much of an inflammation-fighting immune-boosting substance it is, curcumin unfortunately has low bioavailability due to its fat solubility, meaning it’s tough for the body to be able to absorb enough curcumin to really reap its benefits. Luckily, Turmacin®, another more bioavailable, water-soluble extract, is now available as a supplement, including as an ingredient in ASYSTEM’s Radical Relief Pain System. It touts anti-inflammatory benefits, with results of a clinical study showing improvements in knee pain and mobility when compared with a placebo. It truly is turmeric-derived powerhouse! You can check out our deep dive into Turmacin® here.
Menthol and Methyl Salicylate
The warm and cooling effects of menthol and methyl salicylate make them excellent topical treatments for minor pain, particularly for joint pain associated with arthritis and exercise. Both are derived from natural sources, menthol from peppermint, and methyl salicylate from wintergreen. Balms and creams with these two organic compounds as ingredients offer excellent short-term relief, with no worries about side effects or drug interactions. Many topical creams will contain both of these ingredients.
Arnica is also a topical pain treatment. Derived from the arnica plant, it has anti-inflammatory properties and a reputation for decreasing healing time in bruises. The verdict on the effectiveness of arnica is mixed, but it has shown promise in treating bruises and the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
Essential oils are a staple of alternative medicine, used for many conditions and ailments. Essential oils are derived from the roots, stems, or petals of plants and applied topically when mixed with a carrier oil or are inhaled with the use of an infuser that creates a dilute mist. These essential oils have demonstrated a capacity to alleviate and control pain, either alone, or as complementary treatments to conventional pain medications.
- Lavender essential oil is prized for its calming effect, but it is also used for pain relief. A topical application of lavender essential oil compared favorably with prescription medicine in a 2015 study and a 2012 study demonstrated that inhaling lavender scent provided relief to migraine sufferers.
- Rose oil is commonly recommended for the relief of cramping pain caused by menstruation. Research has shown that aromatherapy with rose oil combined with conventional therapies may be effective in reducing pain from kidney stones.
- Rosemary essential oil may be useful for headaches, muscle pain, and for reducing pain in people suffering during opiate withdrawal.
- Diluted peppermint essential oil is commonly used as a topical analgesic, diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed into the skin. In particular, peppermint essential oil has shown effectiveness in relieving pain associated with arthritis.
Essential oils are a safe and often effective way to experience pain relief, either by themselves or in conjunction with over-the-counter and prescription medicines. And many people find the use of essential oils in aromatherapy a great way to relax and take their mind off of issues with pain. Give them a try!
Get Natural Pain Relief
Anytime you consider using a natural supplement, it’s smart to consult with your health-care provider for their advice and to check on potential interactions between the supplements and any medications you take now.
But when examining the best ways to control pain, you owe it to yourself to see what natural pain remedies can offer you. The use of alternative methods of pain relief may free you from excessive use of OTC and prescribed pain medications, allowing you to live a better life, with less pain, and fewer worries about the long-term effects of those drugs.