If you have a headache, what’s the first treatment option you think of? Do you reach straight for the Tylenol, or even something stronger? These over-the-counter medicines are great and work really well, but long-term or habitual use of pharmaceutical painkillers can lead to other problems. For prescription painkillers, things can be even more serious, as some medications can be addictive and have debilitating side effects. If you want to try another way, there are plenty of natural pain relievers out there.
People all over the world have been using alternative therapies, oils, and herbal medicines for hundreds, or even thousands of years. See below for a few suggestions.
Remember that you should always consult your doctor before starting any new treatment or taking any new medications or supplements, especially if you’re already on medication for an existing condition. They may interact or have side effects.
Massage isn’t just a relaxation exercise, although it undoubtedly works to help us unwind. It also helps reduce pain and promote muscular recovery after exercise. Massage can reduce inflammation, boost circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and increase suppleness. Find out more about how massage can help you – ask a local therapist or conduct research online.
Acupuncture is an ancient alternative therapy that has been practiced for thousands of years. It involves piercing the skin with small needles to reduce inflammation and treat pain related to more than 100 conditions such as neck pain, back pain, and tension headache. It’s even thought to reduce the frequency of migraines.
Research has shown that ginger root can reduce muscle pain as a result of exercise and has anti-inflammatory properties that can speed muscular recovery. The results will likely be mild, but it does work.
Ginger is available as a supplement, but if you can, taking the fresh root is the best option. You can add it to teas, smoothies, curries, and other foods for a healthy kick.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils and is used to soothe anxiety, relieve pain, and as a sleep aid. If you do want to use lavender as a pain reliever, perhaps as massage oil, please be careful. Because it’s not a pharmaceutical, there’s no official recommended dose or ingredients list. Dilute with a carrier oil before applying.
You should also never take lavender or any other essential oil orally. They can be toxic if ingested.
Clove oil has long been used as an alternative treatment for toothache, and studies have shown it to be as powerful as several over-the-counter gels and other topical treatments. It’s also thought to help with inflammation and have antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
Capsaicin, a natural ingredient found in chili peppers, is a great natural pain reliever. It’s usually applied topically and is thought to reduce the sensitivity of the skin to the nerves that carry pain signals. Many pain-relieving topical products contain capsaicin. You may have even used some and not realized it!
It’s worth remembering that capsaicin creams will probably burn or tingle once applied. Don’t worry because it’s completely normal. It’s chili pepper after all!
Photo by Louis Hansel.
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