Pain is an inevitable part of life. Even so, knowing this fact doesn’t make pain suck any less! While there is a very scientific and biological reason for why we feel pain (that’s right— pain exists to alert us if something’s wrong with our bodies)… …we do sometimes need a means of blocking out pain from time to time so we can function, focus, get things done, or simply go about our days happy and clear-headed. If you’re no stranger to chronic pain, you’ll know this to be true. It’s no coincidence so many different means of relieving or stopping pain have been invented, whether derived from the natural world or synthetically created. While manmade pain relievers and painkillers can be very effective, they often come with nasty side effects— including symptoms from overuse, addiction, dependence, liver damage, and more. Luckily, there are natural ways to support and relieve some types of pain that don’t have these issues. The only question is…do they work? Here is my caveat for natural pain relievers and pain supporters: they do work, but differently than pharmaceutical drugs or medications. You won’t find something natural that works just like morphine or Vicodin (not that you’d want it to), and that isn’t a placebo. However, you will find natural pain relievers that can help your body holistically deal with inflammatory pain better or which greatly reduce feelings of pain for a short period of time. Even relying on these a little bit more than your go-to pills and NSAIDs (which can have some undesirable side effects) can have a great impact. That said: some natural remedies are advertised as being more effective for killing pain than they actually are. This gives the natural pain supporters that are truly effective and helpful out there a bad rap. If you're curious, you might be wondering: which natural pain relievers are the ones worth trying? Here are the ones I’ve found to be the best all-around, and many are even supported by science.
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Cannabis (THC / CBD).
Besides its edible/smokable use, science and tradition both show that cannabis as a balm, salve, or ointment can make for an incredible topical pain healer—even for nerve pain!
Both straight and homeopathic arnica preparations— when used on closed, unbroken skin— can work wonders for the pain of bruises, joints, sprains, breaks, contusions, and more.
This one is not for the faint of heart. The active “spicy” compound found in hot peppers, capsaicin, is an amazing ingredient in some topical nerve pain healers. It’s hot and intense— but it’s brutal how well it works!
On the “cooler” side of things, peppermint may sound like an unlikely pain-relieving contender. But it IS effective: peppermint essential oil (diluted) can be used topically for mild nerve pain and is often helpful for taking away some of the pain of migraine and other types of headaches.
Just like with other superfood adaptogenic mushrooms, regular use of reishi can have great benefits for inflammation. When used daily in the long-term, such as an herbal tonic, this holistic anti-inflammatory effect could support the pain of conditions like autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, migraine, inflammatory diseases, digestive disorders, and other chronic pain issues.
There is still a lot of research to be done on this incredible herb, and it should only be recommended and used under the supervision of a natural health care professional (since the wrong doses can be toxic).
Despite this, Jamaican dogwood has very intriguing potential as a natural sedative for nerve and other types of pain (not unlike opium or California poppy).
Ginger & Turmeric
As two of the most powerful anti-inflammatory herbs on Earth, either (and/or both) of these substances can make for powerful pain fighting remedies. Especially when used consistently over time, the cumulative effects on inflammation (and therefore pain) are not to be overlooked in your search for relief.
Red light therapy.
This approach, which involves infrared light exposure to painful areas, has been shown to help with very stubborn forms of pain like temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), arthritis, back pain, and more. You can find my favorite red light unit HERE. I've used it for years now. One of the most relaxing and recharging activities of my day. (**If you visit Joov at the link above, use code 'ECL' to get $50 off!) It’s definitely an up-and-coming natural remedy to watch.
Here’s to a natural pain-free life!