As someone who has been living with chronic pain for years, I’m slowly learning that nature has all the answers. We just need to ask the right questions and be willing to listen—listen to our bodies, to our minds, and to our souls. In our lifetime, we all go through physical and mental pain—not to mention heartache. And nature has everything that we need to heal, ready and waiting.
Natural remedies have been around for thousands of years. They’ve been tested on generations of people, well before pharmaceuticals and clinical testing were a thing. Chinese Medicine alone has been around for over 2,000 years.
This is not to say that modern medicine is not valuable. Thanks to modern medicine, we now live longer and our quality of life has improved significantly. Unfortunately though, with the rise of giant insurance industries and pharmaceutical companies, our health has become big business and as with any other business, many times it’s about the bottom line. It’s about how much profit can be made and not about how many diseases can be cured and how many people can be helped.
I’ve come to realize that it is important to have a balanced and open-minded approach to health, illness, and pain so that you can benefit from both nature and science. Nature can address and provide relief from all sorts of ailments, including pain due to inflammation, neuropathic pain, muscular pain, headaches, and even pain caused by depression and anxiety. It is critical to know the root cause of your pain…but sometimes that’s easier said than done! It might also take a lot of trial and error to find what works for your body so next time that you find yourself reaching for the medicine cabinet, consider some of these natural alternatives…
Ice can help reduce inflammation. It can also help dull or even numb the pain. It generally works best for fresh injuries but it also works great on migraines. Heat is generally used for more chronic pain, such as stiff and achy muscles.
Most herbal remedies can be consumed as food or in the form of supplements. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve pain—especially pain caused by arthritis.
- Ginger contains phytochemicals that can help reduce or even stop inflammation.
- Boswellia is an extract made from the Boswellia serrata tree. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can treat a variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and osteoarthritis.
- White willow bark is the bark of the Willow tree and contains salicin which is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.
- Devil’s claw contains chemicals that can reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Feverfew is a medicinal plant traditionally used for the treatment of fevers, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, stomachaches, toothaches, insect bites, and problems with menstruation and labor during childbirth.
- Ginseng is known to reduce inflammation. It is believed that ginsenosides are potentially responsible for targeting pathways in the immune system that could lower inflammation.
- Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple stem and juice which causes the body to produce substances that relax the muscles and reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Arnica flowers can be used to create supplements and topical treatments that can be used as treatments for pain, bruises, swelling and inflammation.
- Mushroom species, such as reishi mushrooms, are known to reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue which will in turn help reduce pain. Chaga mushrooms are known to boost the immune system and fight long term inflammation.
- CBD oil, when purchased from a responsible and reputable source, can have anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects. CBD oil is known to interact with receptors in the brain and immune system that trigger anti-inflammatory and painkilling responses in the body and can be helpful for people suffering from chronic pain.
- Aromatherapy can help with pain, too. Certain essential oils are known to ease pain, including bergamot, cinnamon, geranium, ginger, lavender, and lemongrass.
Side Effects & Interactions
Some herbal remedies can interact with medications and cause harmful effects in the body. They can also cause allergic reactions in some people so it’s important to do your research and consult professionals. Keep in mind that natural remedies and some supplements are not regulated and monitored by the FDA. However, most natural remedies have been around for centuries and have been tested on generations of people around the world.
Other Natural Remedies For Pain
A good night’s sleep (and short naps during the day), cognitive behavioral therapy, bio-feedback, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, cupping, Reiki, yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung, are all excellent ways to deal with pain without worrying so much about the side effects or interactions with other medications. These treatments can also be calming, rewarding, and even fun.
A Different Perspective On Pain
I’ve come to understand that pain is made up of two parts: a sensory component and a suffering component. A balanced approach is one that treats the mind as well as the body.
Nature tends to be a gentle healer so it is important to be patient and know that healing takes time. It’s even more important to know that you are not alone and to have a support system, whether it’s in the form of your friends and family, a good therapist, and/or support groups.
And don’t forget to thank your body and be grateful for all the parts that do work. Be KIND to your body and remember that you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this body that you live in.
Pain is usually a sign that something is wrong in the body, but pain can also be attributed to many other things such as emotional trauma, depression and anxiety, and much more. I truly believe that my pain is here to teach me some great lessons. For me, it has been a great friend and teacher. It has sent me down paths that I didn’t even know existed. Pain for me is also a reminder that I am alive—and that’s a beautiful thing.
Remember one of the fundamental parts of Buddha’s teachings is that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional!