When one thinks of pain, the first stop is almost always the chemist. However, you don’t have to travel very far to find pain killers. Nature has gifted us with natural remedies to alleviate pain. But as with all natural remedies, herbs, fruits and foods tend to work slower than drugs so in some cases a trip to the chemist cannot be completely ruled out.
I think of natural remedies as working with the body to heal whilst drugs go into the body and ‘exterminates’ the problem.
The ancient Greek healer Hippocrates Cos (460-377BC) recommended willow bark for pain associated with childbirth. Healers in Europe and China also used the herb for thousands of years for pain, fever and inflammatory conditions. It is also called salix alba and white willow and contains salicilin, which was used to make aspirin in the 1800s. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, Willow Bark may bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but has a longer-lasting effect.
The Chinese have been using ginger for centuries as a natural pain relief. This is because ginger contains gingerols, which block the vanilloid receptors to reduce pain and inflammation. Ginger was traditionally used to soothe the stomach, relieve nausea and seasickness. But it also helps to ease headaches, muscle soreness, arthritis and menstrual cramps. You can press a warm cheesecloth filled with grated ginger root to relief pain in the sore spots on your body. Alternatively, drink ginger tea or cook it with vegetables. You can also reap relief from pain by applying a ginger compress to the affected area.
Other herbs with anti-inflammatory properties include turmeric and holy basil.
The spice that gives curry its eye-popping colour and flavour is also good for your body. Its healing properties come from curcumin which deals with the enzymes in the body that causes inflammation. Therefore, it’s great for sprains, bruises and joint inflammation. It is also said to have anti-cancer properties, improve blood circulation and prevent blood clotting.
Add cold water fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel to your diet and you may see a reduction in inflammation and pain. A regular intake of Omega-3s in the diet has also helps with many conditions such as cardiovascular problems, depression, asthma and auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. You can also take in fish oil supplements.
Chilli doesn’t just add a spicy zing to your meals. Its active component, capsaicin, helps alleviate pain. Capsaicin is said to be a natural analgesic because it blocks the activity of the vanilloid receptor. Due to this, is it any wonder that capsaicin is an ingredient in many topical creams to treat the pain associated with osteoarthritis?
In fact, according to patients at the New England Centre for Headache, migraine and cluster headache intensity decreased after applying capsaicin cream inside their nostrils.
Not only is the great looking cherry delicious, anthocyanins which give the fruit its ruby red colour is a powerful antioxidant that can block inflammation and pain enzymes in the body. Most reports indicate cherries have seen success in lowering arthritis and muscle pain but the large amount of antioxidants also has a side benefit. It is a potent weapon against the destructive effects of free radicals existing in our bodies which causes signs of ageing.
Any food with soy protein such as tofu, tempeh or endamame is good for pain associated with osteoarthritis ie from wear and tear on our joints. This is not to be confused with soy protein isolates such as those in processed snacks. Those don’t do anything for you at all.