Raj N. Sureja, MD
Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide, significantly reducing quality of life and leading to other health problems such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular due to concerns about the side effects of medication and the addictive nature of some drugs. In this article, I will review ten natural pain relievers.
- Acupuncture – is an ancient Chinese therapy that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It has been used for centuries to treat chronic pain and has gained popularity in Western countries in recent years. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating chronic pain, including back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. It is thought to work by stimulating the body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms and reducing inflammation.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) – CBD is a non-psychoactive compound (not THC) found in the cannabis plant. It has been shown to have pain-relieving properties and is now legal in many countries. CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates pain, mood, and other bodily functions. Studies have shown that CBD can be effective in treating chronic pain associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and neuropathic pain.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is an effective natural pain reliever for chronic pain. It helps to reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, and walking are particularly effective for people with chronic pain as they do not put excessive strain on the joints.
- Ginger – is a natural anti-inflammatory that has been used for centuries to treat pain and inflammation. It contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Ginger can be consumed in various forms, including ginger tea, ginger supplements, and fresh ginger root.
- Turmeric – is a spice that contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. Turmeric can be consumed in various forms, including turmeric supplements and as a spice in cooking.
- Massage Therapy – is an effective natural pain reliever for chronic pain. It works by reducing muscle tension, increasing blood flow, and releasing endorphins. Studies have shown that massage therapy can be effective in treating chronic pain associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and lower back pain.
- Mindfulness Meditation – is a mind-body practice shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It works by reducing stress and promoting relaxation, which can help to reduce pain levels. Studies have shown that regular meditation practice can help to reduce chronic pain associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia and back pain.
- Ice – is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory pain-reliever for acute musculoskeletal injuries, post-surgical incisions, dental issues, and is even commonly used for pain after delivery in Obstetrical wards in European countries.
- Heat – is well-known for easing the pain and stiffness of arthritis and joint-related issues. Whether it’s generated from a heating pad, a topical rub, a hot bath or shower, heat increases circulation and reduces pain for most arthritis sufferers.
- Capsaicin is a compound found in chili peppers, known for being spicy and for causing a burning sensation on the skin. Capsaicin is believed to work by reducing the production of a chemical compound called substance P, which is involved in transmitting pain signals to the brain. Several studies have shown that capsaicin can reduce pain in people with conditions such as osteoarthritis and neuropathic pain.