Pain is often a symptom of disease and one of the major causes that bring a patient to a physician’s office. Commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs have severe short and long term consequences. Many of them-especially analgesics- also tend to be associated with addiction and several other negative social consequences and connotations. As a result, more and more patients are turning to herbs for pain and inflammation.
Let us study the best herbs for pain relief along with typical doses
1. Arnica Montana
Arnica is known by various names like Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Tobacco etc. It is used as a counter-irritant, pain reliever and topically to decrease acne, boils, bruises, sprains, rashes etc. Studies on Arnica Montana gel showed it to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate Osteoarthritis of the knee. Analysis of 8 trials on homeopathic Arnica was found to be better than placebo medicines. Arnica is prescribed by cosmetic/plastic surgeons to patients about to undergo surgery to facilitate healing and reduce pain.
Dose: Use Arnica cream with 15% Arnica Oil topically. You can also use 2g of flowerheads in 100ml of water.
Interactions: May interact with anti-hypertension drugs.
2. Black Cohosh
Also known as Baneberry or Bugbane, Black Cohosh is a muscle relaxant, antispasmodic, anti-diarrheal, and anti arthritic in nature. It is also known to relieve menopausal pain and headaches.
Dose: Take 300 to 2000 mg of dried black cohosh three times a day.
Interactions– Adversely reacts with hormone sensitive conditions/cancers.
Camphor is one of the best herbs for pain and discomfort. It can relieve sinusitis pain and headaches. Apart from respiratory illnesses, it is also used in circulatory regulation disorders and muscle rheumatism.
Dose: Dilute with coconut oil and apply topically for massage. Inhale tablespoon of essential oil added to a quart of boiling water.
Interactions- Do not take orally as it can be toxic and can cause vomiting.
Researchers at a Danish University asked people with chronic aches and pains to take ginger in their diet. Within two months, 63% of them had fewer muscle and joint pain and experts credited the Gingerols in ginger for this. Gingerols help prevent pain triggering hormones which makes ginger one of the best herbs for discomfort and pain relief.
Dosage: Take at least 1 tsp dried ginger or 2 tsp fresh chopped ginger through tea or meals.
Interactions-No known interactions.
Got a toothache? Instead of rushing to a dentist, apply some clove oil or chew on a piece of clove to remedy it. Scientists at the UCLA actually found that sucking on a piece of clove can relieve tooth ache and soreness of gums for nearly 2 hours. The reason for this is the presence of compounds called Eugenol which is a powerful anesthetic. Cloves can also stabilize blood sugar and dampen the production of artery clogging cholesterol in 2 weeks. They can also be used for treating Athlete’s Foot.
Dose: Sprinkle ¼ tsp of ground cloves in your soups, salads etc to protect your heart and also fight chronic pain and inflammation. Take 120-300 mg orally or use 15% tincture as a mouthwash several times a day to prevent toothaches and gum soreness.
Adverse reactions– None.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Though not exactly an herb, organic Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural and effective kitchen remedy that can counter heartburn pain. Experts recommend sipping one tablespoon of ACV with a glass of water before meals to shut down heartburn pain and acidity for over 24 hours. The Malic and tartaric acids in apple cider vinegar aid digestion. They also breakdown proteins and fats to clear acidity and empty the stomach faster before it can wash back upwards to the esophagus to give rise to acidity and heartburn symptoms.
Dose: As stated, add up to 1 tbsp of raw and organic ACV to a glass of water before meals.
Interactions– Large amounts of ACV can reduce potassium levels in the body. It is also known to interact with Insulin.
Chamomile is an excellent pain relieving herbal remedy. It is especially recommended for skin and mucous membrane inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract. It is proven to reduce gastrointestinal spasms and is an excellent antispasmodic for menstrual pain.
Dose: 2-8 grams of dried flowers in powdered form. Topically, you can use tinctures of Chamomile as a rinse to relieve pain and discomfort. As a tea, you can steep 3 grams in 150 ml of water for 10 minutes and drink.
Interactions– Safe when consumed in normal quantities. Do not take in large doses as it can lead to risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants.
Cinnamon improves appetite and also relieves chronic abdominal pain resulting from dyspepsia and indigestion. It is antispasmodic, antiflatulent, and anti-diarrheal.
Dose: Take 2-4g of ground cinnamon daily or steep as a tea-0.5 to 1 g of cinnamon bark in 150 ml of water for 5-10 minutes.
Interactions- Generally considered as safe but might interfere with Antacids.
Got a earache? Then use Garlic which is an excellent earache remedy. Garlic has antimicrobial properties that fight infections. Garlic is also great for the heart and can prevent pain from indigestion. It is considered one of the strongest herbal pain killers. You can easily make your own garlic oil by crushing 8-10 cloves of garlic and adding them to a cup of extra virgin olive oil. Simmer the mixture gently for 2 minutes. Strain and refrigerate the oil for use as an excellent herbal pain relief remedy.
Dose: 2 drops of warm garlic oil can be placed inside aching ear canal can help clear up infection and reduce earache faster than prescription medicines. You can also make a poultice with crushed garlic and apply it on aching body part by covering with bandages.
Interactions– No known interactions.
Cherries contain Anthocyanins –the same antioxidant compounds that impart a bright red color to cherries. These compounds can help eliminate chronic aches and pains resulting from migraines, gout or arthritis. Research now shows that cherries may be 10 times stronger in fighting pain as compared to NSAIDs like Ibuprofen.
Dose: Eat a bowl of cherries daily-dried, frozen or fresh. Enjoy at least 20 cherries daily and see the pain disappear.
Interactions– No known interactions.
11. Fish and Cod liver oil
This natural pain remedy is especially known for tummy trouble and musculoskeletal pain relief. The EPA and DHA in fish oil helps relieve arthritis pain and also known to fight rumbling stomach and gas related pain. So, if you suffer from indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease, eat plenty of fish and take Cod liver oil supplements.
Dose –take 20 ml fish oil per day to relieve pain and also prevent heart disease and support joint health.
Interactions– May interfere with anti-diabetes medicines.
This is one of the most popular Chinese herbs for menstrual pain. It can relieve cramps and alleviate menstrual issues like irregular flow. It can also purify blood to help you manage rheumatoid pain. Use it for hypertension, oral ulcers, anemia and constipation as well.
Dose: 3-4 grams daily with meals. Take it in form of tea 1ml extract three times a day.
Interactions– Generally well tolerated. Do not use if you are taking hormone replacement therapy.
This herb supports colds and chronic infections of the respiratory tract. It can also relieve pain and discomfort caused by Urine infections or UTIs. It can also relieve chronic migraine pain and dyspepsia pain.
Dose: Take Echinacea tea by steeping tea bag of the herb in 8 ounces of water three times a day.
Interactions– May cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Also avoid taking with Acetaminophens.
14. Epsom Salt
Also called Milk of Magnesia, Epsom salts added to bath water help give much needed comfort and pain relief from body ache and pain. You can take a tea spoon of Milk of Magnesia to relieve pain from indigestion and dyspepsia and it is also a laxative. It can also relieve asthma. Epsom salts in bath water help relieve swelling and muscular pain or discomfort. Topically, you can apply it to relieve skin ulcers.
Dose: Varies based on specific disorders
Interactions– Orally, Magnesium could cause nausea, pain, irritation and vomiting in some individuals, especially when consumed in large doses.
Yogurt can be used for reliving menstrual pain and cramps. 2 cups of yogurt per day can reduce the ups and downs in hormones that occur each month. The calcium in yogurt calms the nervous system to prevent pain even when the hormones are in flux.
Dose: Take 2 cups of yogurt each day for menstrual pain relief.
Interactions– No known interactions.
Turmeric is a popular East Indian Spice that is now been proven to reduce pain 3 times more effectively than Aspirin and other pain meds. The Curcumin in turmeric can help shut down cyclooxygenase 2 an enzyme that triggers pain producing hormones. More and more research is also being conducted on Turmeric and its efficacy in stopping fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. This makes Turmeric the strongest herbal pain killer for chronic pain.
Dose: Take at least ¼ tsp of this root’s powder in your meat, rice, soup and other recipes on a daily basis.
Interactions– No known.
Other natural remedies for pain management
Apart from the aforementioned top herbal and natural remedies for pain, use the following natural and herbal remedies (some of the right from your kitchen) to alleviate discomfort:
- Salt– Add 2 tbsp of salt to hot water and soak the feet to remedy foot pain
- Eat plenty of Oatmeal for preventing endometrial pain and menstrual cramps
- Eat fresh Pineapple for relieving digestive pain and cramps
- Take a few drops of Peppermint oil tincture or tea for stopping cramps in muscles
- Eat black Grapes for backache relief and reliving tightness of muscles
- Eat Horseradish for sinus related aches and pains
- Consume a bowl of Blueberries and Cranberries daily for stopping UTI or bladder infection pain
- Take raw local honey for mouth sores and ulcers
- Eat Flax seeds (1 tsp daily) for prevneting breast pain and tenderness
- Drink 1-2 cups of strong black Coffee daily for preventing migraines
- Leg cramps can be cured with a glass or two of tomato juice
- Mustard is effective in stopping arthritis pain, Lumbago and inflammation of the joints
- A few drops of Oil of wintergreen for massage can cure neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain
- St John’s Wort is a well known Homeopathic natural pain remedy for many kinds of chronic aches accompanying depression and anxiety. Take 500 mg capsules twice a day.
So next time you experience pain or discomfort, reach out for these natural remedies/herbs for pain relief rather than going for conventional medication.