Whether it is backache or headache, pain can be unbearable and often our first instinct is to reach into the medicine cabinet in search of pain relieving pills. However, there are many natural, vegan pain relievers that won’t provide you with the horrible side effects of medication. Some of these have even been directly compared (through trials) to pain relief medication in the treatment of pain and come out as equals if not on top. Natural pain relievers include:
Ground flaxseeds and whole chia seeds
Both contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), one of three omega 3 fatty acids. When consumed in ground form (flaxseeds) and whole form (chia seeds) the ALA is converted into the other, more powerful omega3’s, docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acids. Both have been shown to significantly decrease pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Over the counter medication such as Ibuprofen also decreases inflammation, but unfortunately side effects ensue.
Corycepin is a phyto-chemical from the cordyceps mushroom. This ingredient of the cordyceps mushroom has been shown to block the inflammatory process of osteoarthritis on the cells of the cartilage connective tissue. Some research suggests that cordycepin could even provide total pain relief for osteoarthritis sufferers.
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine for easing pain from bruises to joint pain and from sprains to strains. The pain relief comes from turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, which lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.
Ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory, has also been used for thousands of years by the Chinese who realised early on it’s ability to help relieve pain. In studies it has been shown to provide relief for arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps and muscle soreness.
Valerian has become known as “nature’s tranquilizer”. It has been used for centuries as a natural pain reliever that reduces sensitivity of the nerves. Therefore, it is useful in treating pain associated with irritable bowel and migraines in particular.
Cat's claw is an anti-inflammatory that inhibits tumour necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is exactly what powerful Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) drugs target. So this is a natural way of targeting RA associated pain. It can also be used in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, bursitis and gout.
White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark is often called “nature’s aspirin” because aspirin is basically a synthetic version of the active element of willow bark, salacin. In the 1800’s production of synthetic acetylsalicylic acid, trade name Aspirin, was introduced in Germany by Bayer. White willow bark tends to be used for headaches and back pain.
Lavender essential oil was used during both World Wars as a pain reliever. Today there is evidence that inhaling lavender oil can help relieve pain during migraine headaches, backpain and pain associated with surgery.
Beta-Carotene rich vegetables and fruits
Sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, butternut squash also contain beta-cryptoxanthin which can reduce pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Acai berries contain something called anthocyanins which provide an anti-inflammatory action and by inhibiting pain enzymes in the same way many over the counter pain relievers do.
It is recommended to think of better food choices and supplement choices as a preventative measure for pain i.e. if you know you suffer from back pain or headaches, for example, make sure you regularly include the foods mentioned here in your diet or remedies mentioned here in your healthcare regime.