Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain, fevers, headaches, and prevent heart disease. It’s a wonder that some people continue to take aspirin daily as a way of preventing heart disease. Why, you ask? Because it may just be one of the worst over-the-counter drugs out there.
Some of the most commonly reported side effects of regular aspirin use include ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. All of these things are a sign that your stomach is in danger. Your gut is the gateway to your whole body’s health. The last thing you want to do is ignore these warning signs, but what else can you do when you’re in pain? Try these 5 natural pain relieving techniques and foods you can take instead!
Natural Pain Relievers
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this golden-yellow spice has been experiencing a surge in popularity as a superfood in the last few years. This is because, among other things, turmeric is a potent natural pain reliever. So potent that a study concluded that turmeric is more effective than ibuprofen in reducing the pain in people suffering from osteoarthritis in the knee (Read more about the study here). The source of this pain relief is the compound curcumin which gives turmeric its unique color.
You can find turmeric in its powdered spice form, or as a supplement at your local health food store. The typical recommendation is to work a teaspoon of turmeric into your daily routine in either food or drink.
Cloves are well-known for the warm and sweet taste they add to ginger bread, but did you know this unique spice is an effective natural pain reliever? The pain relieving powers of cloves come from its unique combination of volatile oils and flavonoids. Much of the anti-inflammatory activity comes from the volatile oil eugenol which is often used by dentists to bring pain relief during tooth extractions and root canals. Aside from pain relief, cloves are useful for treating the symptoms of nausea and colds.
To make use of cloves for pain relief, you can find them in capsule, powder, or essential oil form at your local health food store. Like with most essential oils, you must mix clove oil with a carrier oil before topical applications.
Willow bark is an age old natural remedy for inflammation. It’s so effective that the main active chemical in willow bark, salicin, is what aspirin bases its own chemical ingredients after. In the past, people would chew willow bark to receive its pain relieving benefits, but these days you can find it at your local health food store as a tea, capsule and liquid supplements.
Take care when using willow bark, it can be poison when taken in large quantities and has a few side effects. These include upset stomachs and continuous bleeding similar to aspirin. If you’re taking anticoagulants (like Warfarin) or any anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals (like ibuprofen) avoid taking willow bark as they can increase your risk of bleeding.
Heat and Ice
When I was growing up, my family loved going on weekend hikes and canoe trips around the many lakes in Minnesota (they don’t call it the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for nothing!). My siblings and I would get injured all the time, and my mother’s gut reaction was either: “Put some ice on it” or “Get the heat pack”. Knowing they work is one thing, but knowing which one to use is a whole other issue.
So when do you use one over the other? When the pain includes swelling and inflammation like with a sprain, you’ll normally want to apply a cold pack. This will bring swelling down. Applying something cold to your body is a great way to promote healing (for a great full body treatment, try out feng fu).
When the inflammation has calmed down, applying heat can help relax the affected area. If the problem is arthritis, joint pain, and stiffness using a hot pack is your best bet. Try this out next time you or a loved one experiences pain and see the relief almost instantly!
Perhaps it was my aversion to needles, but I was originally skeptical of acupuncture’s abilities to relieve pain. This was until I saw the documentary 9000 Needles. The film is an emotional look at how a community and family come together to support a man from the U.S. recover from a devastating stroke with the help of acupuncture. It opened my eyes to the potential of acupuncture and I’ve since had a few acupuncture treatments myself for my chronic neck pain.
For those like my sister who are squeamish around needles, there’s always acupressure which follows the same principals as acupuncture. Both acupuncture and acupressure work to stimulate points that fall on channels of energy in the body. By stimulating these points, your body releases endorphins that encourage healing and provide pain relief.
These 5 pain relievers are far more natural and safe for you than aspirin which has gained infamy over its destructive side effects on the body.