Your Pathway to Natural Health
Natural & Herbal Remedies Blog
The worst aspect of many medical conditions is the pain associated with them. The pain alone can cause a number of effects, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia, which themselves hamper healing. It is therefore often desirable to manage the pain as an entity in itself whilst treating the condition giving rise to the pain.
Alternative therapies, in the form of meditation, hypnosis and herbal treatments, all have an important place in the field of pain management.
Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe, and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis.
Willow bark (Salix) contains salicin, the original aspirin. It is a recognized general pain reliever, which is also effective for reducing inflammation. Some studies have shown willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation (but not fever), and at a much lower dose. Researchers theorize that may be due to the other compounds in the herb.
* Dried herb (used to make tea): boil 1 - 2 tsp of dried bark in 8 oz of water and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes; let steep for ½ hour; drink 3 - 4 cups daily. Or use the "Aches and Pains Tea" recipe below.
* Powdered herb (available in capsules) or liquid: 60 - 240 mg of standardized salicin per day
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has brought relief to many people suffering the pain of arthritis. However, it needs to be taken daily and it may take two to four weeks to feel the full effects.
Dose: Take 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 oz of water, 3x a day. You can also find relief by soaking arthritic joints in hot Apple Cider Vinegar. Use 1/4 cup of ACV to 1.5 cups of hot (but not scalding) water.
Cloves have long been a popular folk remedy for the relief of toothache. Apply clove oil directly to the painful tooth.
The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is primarily due to a substance known as capsaicin, which has pain-relieving qualities. Capsaicin has very powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the surface of the skin.
Dose: Take it sprinkled on juice or on food. For topical use ( eg. for shingles, psoriasis, arthritis, muscle pain) use a capsaicin cream (0.025 - 0.075% capsaicin) applied directly to the affected area up to four times a day. Because cayenne works by first stimulating and then decreasing the intensity of pain in the body, the pain may increase slightly at first, but then should diminish greatly over the next few days. Capsaicin should be applied regularly several times a day. It usually takes 3 - 7 days before noticeable pain relief begins.
Red chilli pepper contains capsaicin (see Cayenne Pepper above) that stimulates the release of endorphins. Use in recipes.
Ginkgo Biloba may help those suffering from the pain of headaches by increasing the blood flow to the brain.
Dose: Generally, 120 mg of standardised extract daily in divided doses. Tea - one teaspoon of dried herb per cup of boiling water.
Pau d'arco is used traditionally to treat a wide range of conditions including pain, arthritis, inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis), fever, dysentery, boils and ulcers, and various cancers. Laboratory studies have confirmed that pau d'arco has pain killing, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, anti-psoriatic, and anti-cancer abilities.
* Tea - Use 1 tsp of pau d'arco loose dried bark per 1 cup water, boil for 5 to 15 minutes. Drink 1 cup of this tea two to eight times a day.
* Tincture (1:5): Solution made from herb and alcohol, or herb, alcohol, and water-take 20 to 30 drops, two to three times per day.
* Capsules: 1,000 mg three times per day.
Aches and Pains Tea
1 Tablespoon White Willow Bark
1 Tablespoon Catnip
Put in a tea ball and steep in boiling hot water for five minutes. Drink as hot as you can stand it, then lie down for a nap.
Pros and Cons of Natural Pain Relievers
One of the benefits of natural pain relief remedies is that they are multi-functional, acting on the organism in a wholistic fashion. This means that any particular ingredient will frequently be associated with additional, complementary effects. Thus not only will your herbal solution act on your pain, it may also assist in relieving your anxiety and improve your quality of sleep. As an added benefit, it will generally do this without any toxic effect on other organs and tissues. This is not to say that herbal remedies are entirely without side effects, but these are far rarer and less severe than with allopathic drugs.
This is in contrast to conventional drugs which are frequently associated with unwanted side effects. One possible reason for this is that whilst pharmaceutical agents are directed specifically at one organ or syptom, they are exremely concentrated chemical compounds which frequently and inadvertently impact other systemic interactions within the body. This can lead to their having deleterious effects on bodily systems not being targeted for treatment.
Another downside to treating pain with herbal remedies is the fact that are usually not quick to act. A herbal treatment can take from a few days to a few weeks to have any noticeable effect. This often leads people to assume that the treatment is not working, and to give up before the realising the benefit. Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand, have an almost instantaeous impact, which is obvious and which encourages the patient to keep taking the drug. Again however, the point needs to be stressed that pharmaceutical drugs are powerful, concentrated forms of artificially manufactured chemicals which act throughout the body. Even paracetamol, one of the "safest" analgesics available, can cause liver failure and subsequent death if the recommended dose is exceeded.
It goes without saying that herbal treatments are not suitable for every painful condition. Severe, acute pain requires a rapid and dramatic resolution, and is a perfect indication for the short term use of allopathic medicine. Western medicine however is ill suited to treating chronic pain. The powerful drugs have a cumulative impact on the system over time, often resulting in the requirement for further drugs to treat the side effects. There is often also a requirement to treat the associated conditions of depression and anxiety. These additional drugs may themselves have unwanted side effects, requiring additional treatment. And so it begins - the spiral into iatrogenic disease - needing more and more drugs to treat an ever expanding list of side effects unrelated to the original complaint. Chronic pain conditions however are where herbal remedies come into their own - they provide an effective, healthy, wholistic treatment which has helped millions to cope with chronic, debilitating pain that modern medicine was unable to alleviate successfully.
Effectiveness of Herbal Pain Relievers
Are herbal treatments for pain relief effective? The answer must be a resounding "Yes!". There have been a number of scientific studies which have concluded that herbal remedies such as valerian and willow bark do provide pain relief to sufferers. So why is there still so much controversy in this area? One reason is likely to be due to the non-compliance of patients, who, not understanding that herbal remedies take time to work their magic, terminate the treatment before the benefit is obvious and then conclude that herbal remedies "don't work". Another reason people sometimes don't achieve the best results with herbal treatments is that they either use poor quality products, take the wrong dose or prepare them incorrectly. If you want to self-medicate, ensure the product you purchase is of the highest and purest quality, and then follow the directions or seek expert advice. Then there is the fact that different remedies will work differently for different people, and the effect will also differ according to the location and causation of the pain. Because of this it may be necessary to try a number of different alternatives before finding the one that suits you best.
This might sound like far too much trouble. However, if you are suffering from chronic pain, you are likely to require a long term treatment. Herbal remedies are known to work, and to work safely. The side effects associated with the long term use of pharmaceutical analgesics however can be severe and permanent, ranging from tissue damage and organ failure to addiction. Isn't it worth taking the time to investigate the natural solution?
Natural Home Remedies