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7 Handy Natural Pain Relievers Everyone Should Know!


Natural Pain Relief

Pain relief, it’s a common topic and I hear many people telling me they don’t use prescription drugs for pain. The likes of headaches or cuts and scrapes, even broken bones! To that, I say fair play; I wish there were more out there like you.

I myself lived on ibuprofen and motrin for years after a bad car accident, not ever knowing or even considering the effects this was having on my body. From my gut microbiome to my chances of miscarriages, should I decide to try and have kids. Note that last point has been heavily debated and in studies that are more recent, has shown to have little to no effect. However, it is up to you to determine your comfort level with the risk (1, 2).

In any case, whatever your motivation for trying to be more natural in all areas of your life, you are right to do so, in my humble opinion of course!

So below is a well-researched, tried and tested list of herbs and the like that can help you kick start your more holistic approach to pain relief.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that many of these suggestions also have a plethora of other benefits on the body so it’s a win win I assure you!


Devils Claw - While it may sound menacing it’s anything but. In truth, the little hooks are used to get animals to spread its seed.

Potential Uses:

- Arthritis including Osteoarthritis

- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

- Gout

- Muscle pain including Fibromyalgia and Tendonitis

- Upset stomachs

- Heartburn

- Fever, Migraine, and Headaches.

- It can also be used in Allergic reactions, Kidney and Bladder disease.

MOA (mode of action) - Devils Claw works like an anti-inflammatory there by reducing inflammation and relieving pain in that area.

Use Caution If:

- You are pregnant or breast-feeding

- Diabetic

- Have Heart problems including High or Low blood pressure (3).


Birch Leaf - From the Birch tree as suspected, I'm sure, appears to act like Cortisone (a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress). The effects are a reduction in swelling and inflammation.

Potential Uses:

- Urinary tract infections of the kidney and bladder

- Diuretic

- Arthritis

- Skin rashes

- Reduces oxidative damage and can be detoxifying as it promotes enzymatic secretions in the body

MOA - The chemical compound methyl salicylate (similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin) works as an antispasmodic, analgesic (pain reliever), diuretic and anti-inflammatory.

Use Caution If:

- You are pregnant or breast-feeding

- Allergic to Celery, Wild Carrot, or Mugwort

- Have High Blood Pressure as it is speculated that Birch leaf may increase sodium retention (4,5).


Wintergreen Essential Oil - Worth noting below Birch as it also contains approx. 85-99% methyl salicylate, the same ingredient in aspirin. Lending itself to be a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.


Turmeric (Curcumin) - This amazing root could have a post all to itself and there are hundreds of them out there due to the proven and beneficial effects it has.

Potential Uses:

- Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory

- Increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) a growth hormone that functions in your brain. Decreased levels of BDNF are linked to Alzheimer’s and Depression (6).

- Improvements in Memory

- Reduced risk of heart disease due to endothelium protection and reduction in inflammation.

- Reduce Risks of Cancer and potential to help with treatment in large doses (4-8g daily - not advised unless prescribed by a health care practitioner) (7).

- Arthritis

- Delay of age related disease are last but not least on this superfoods resume.

MOA - By working at a molecular level to reduce oxidation and inflammation, affect the growth of cancer cells, along with the direct work on increasing BDNF, turmeric has many ways of improving our health and wellness. Just remember to add pepper to your turmeric as this helps activate it.

Use Caution If:

- You are pregnant or breast-feeding

- Have a Bleeding Disorder

- Diabetes as it may lower blood sugars

- GERD

- Hormone Sensitive conditions.


White Willow Bark - Dates back to 400BC and still used today throughout China, Europe and much of the Western world for its impressive ability to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Potential Uses:

- Osteoarthritis Pain

- Back Pain

- Inflammatory conditions

- Menstrual Cramps

- Headaches and possibly even Fever and Flu (8).

MOA - White Willow Bark contains Salicin which is a chemical similar to Acetylsalicylic Acid in Aspirin, therefore provides similar anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.

Use Caution If:

- You are pregnant or breast-feeding

- Consult your GP if you have Asthma, Diabetes, Gout, Stomach Ulcers, or Kidney issues.


Cayenne Peppers (Capsaicin) - For those that like spicy foods you can benefit even more naturally by just eating this pepper but for those that don’t do spicy, there are alternative ways to benefit without eating the hot chilli pepper from which capsaicin comes.

Potential Uses:

- Analgesic (pain relieving) specifically nerve pain due to its interaction with substance P and C-fibers, which cause the pain response.

- Headaches

- Boosts Metabolism due to thermogenics.

- Reduces Blood Pressure

- Aids in Digestive Health

- Reduce Cancer Risk (still under test in labs and mainly on animals but showing promise) (9).

MOA - Capsaicin temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors, while decreasing the amount of substance P that is produced and therefore reducing the pain response.

Use Caution If:

- You are taking Warfarin or ACE Inhibitors for blood.

- Spicy food in pregnancy is at your own discretion and may be discussed with your GP first.


Bromelain - You may know it already that this impressive little enzyme comes from the stem/core of the Pineapple.

Potential Uses:

- As a dietary supplement for Nasal Swelling

- Hay fever

- Inflammation

- Osteoarthritis

- Cancer

- Poor Digestion

- Sore Muscles

- Topically for Wounds and Burns.

MOA - Without getting to sciency on you, Bromelain produces substances that fight pain and contains chemicals that interfere with the growth of tumor cells.

Use Caution If:

- You are allergic to pineapple, latex, wheat, celery, carrot, fennel, or pollen as you may have an allergic reaction to bromelain. It is worth testing for as the benefits are substantial.


GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid) - A notable mention for its ability to:

- Reduce nerve pain associated with diabetic conditions

- Maintain brain function

- Stimulate hair and skin growth

- Beneficial in the treatment of Psoriasis, and Eczema.

It can be found in numerous seed oils like Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, Hemp seed Oil, as well as in some edible versions of Hemp, Spirulina, Oats and Barley.


Peppermint, Arnica, Boswellia, and Cherries also have very potent anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.


So there you have it, a few easily attainable plants and herbs that you can start using right away if needed. For a more comprehensive list of uses, side effects, and dosages drop me an email and I’d be happy to advise you more on the uses and benefits of going a bit more plant based.


Now go forth and conquer pain naturally :)


References:

1. (CMA no author 2014) ‘NSAIDs do not increase the risk of miscarriages, study finds’ Published online by Science Daily, 2014. Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203122731.htm

2. (NHS no author 2011) ‘Ibuprofen may ‘raise miscarriage risk’’ Published on line by the NHS, 2011. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/ibuprofen-may-raise-miscarriage-risk/

3. (WebMd no author 2018) ‘Devil’s Claw’ Published online by WebMd, 2018. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-984/devils-claw

4. (Mazurkiewicz, O. 2016) ‘Global Day Against Pain’ Published online by the NTOI, 2016. Available at: https://www.ntoi.ie/global-day-against-pain/

5. (WebMd no author 2018) ‘Birch’ Published online by WebMd 2018. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-352/birch

6. (Shimizu et al 2003) ‘Alterations of serum levels of BDNF in depressed patients with or without antidepressants’ Published in Biology Psychiatry Volume 54, Issue 1, 2003. Available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006322303001811

7. (Gunnars, K. 2018) ‘10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin’ Published online by Healthline, 2018. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric

8. (Ehrlich, S. 2015) ‘Willow Bark’ Published online by the Pennstate Hershey Medical Centre, reviewed 2015. Available online at: http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000281

9. (Raman, R. 2017) ‘8 Impressive Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper’ Published online by Healthline, 2017. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper

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