While many people use pain relief medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) with no problems, long-term use can cause side effects. Studies have linked long-term acetaminophen use to an increased risk of heart attacks, bleeding in the digestive system, and impaired kidney function. In addition, some research suggests that long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen increases the risk of stomach ulcers, kidney failure, and stroke. And it almost goes without saying, but prescription pain medications – in addition to being addictive – can have even more adverse effects. That’s where using natural pain relievers can be beneficial for many people with acute and chronic pain.
Herbal remedies may even have other health benefits besides just relieving pain, such as having antioxidant effects that help keep the body healthy. Some traditional remedies (including things like yoga, meditation and acupuncture) have also been shown to benefit your mental health.
What are some of the best natural ways to relieve pain?
Staying active and releasing endorphins. The body produces certain chemicals that act as natural pain relievers, called endorphins. Endorphins work by binding to the same receptors in your that many prescription drugs do (called opioid receptors), which helps block feelings of pain. Boosting the amount of endorphins that your body produces not only helps with pain, it can also improve your mood.
The simplest way to get your body to work for you and produce more endorphins is through exercise. Even moderate activity, such as walking, can have a significant impact on your endorphin levels, and it also comes with the added benefit of improving your fitness and strength levels.
Massage therapy. Therapeutic massage has a number of benefits. It’s been shown to increase blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and even improve your mood and feelings of wellness. Make sure you choose a qualified massage therapist who can help you determine which type of massage is best for which type of pain, and bear in mind you may have to try more than one approach to find what works best for you.
Meditation and relaxation exercises. Meditation, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques can help you in a number of ways, reducing stress and anxiety, helping you get to sleep, and relaxing the body to reduce pain. There are plenty of different techniques and plenty of ways to get started, including websites like mindful.org and YouTube, which offer a number of free resources and videos to help you get started.
Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet. Anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce pain. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can also have a major impact on your overall health, as eating anti-inflammatory foods has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Learn more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Trying herbal remedies and supplements. Natural pain relief compounds that are present in certain herbs and spices may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Some of the herbs and spices with the most evidence to support their anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Whole Cloves
- Green tea
Most of these herbs and spices can easily be incorporated into your diet and consumed in food and drink, but they can also be found as extracts, or even in supplement form. As with taking any drug, there is the potential for side effects and complications to occur when taking herbal remedies.
Getting enough restorative sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep can play a major role in managing pain, boosting your mood and promoting healing – and there are a number of natural ways to enhance your sleep, from proper diet and exercise, to some of the meditation and relaxation techniques we discussed earlier. You can even try natural sleep aids like Valerian and Chamomile tea or Melatonin.
Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help
The natural pain relievers described above may be effective for managing pain, but it’s important to remember that pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong. If you’re suffering from any kind of acute musculoskeletal pain, the experts at Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help. We‘re experts at diagnosing and treating pain, and we want to be your source for holistic pain management, offering diet and nutrition plans, exercise and physical therapy plans and more to help you not only get relief from pain, but improve your overall health and wellness.
Call 469.913.6136 or contact us to learn more.