Pain: like it or not, it’s a part of life. From an earache to a tummy discomfort, sore muscles to achy joints, pain is difficult to avoid. But that doesn’t mean you need to turn to drugs to ease it, as medications often come with undesirable side effects and in many cases can be costly. There is definitely a place for prescribed or over-the-counter medication when you need it we prefer to go the natural route first.
Would you like some suggestions on how to manage common painful conditions naturally? Then check this out!
You may have heard that you can treat earaches using garlic (Allium sativum), and that includes sticking a clove in your ears! (Not recommended for children.) Cut the end off one clove of garlic, wrap the clove in gauze, and place the cut end near your ear canal but not inside. Hold a warm washcloth over the ear until the pain subsides.
Another approach that will allow you to benefit from the antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of garlic is to use naturopathic ear drops that contain Allium sativum and other herbs. One study of 103 children with middle ear infections got relief similar to that of numbing over-the-counter ear drops when using the naturopathic remedy. You can also consume fresh garlic or take garlic supplements.
Headache, sore muscles
What do headaches and sore muscles have in common? Peppermint can help relieve both of them! Peppermint essential oil contains a high level of methol, which can help relax muscles and relieve pain. For both headache and muscle pain, you can apply peppermint essential oil mixed with a carrier oil (e.g., coconut, almond, jojoba) to your temple or the muscle ache. Peppermint oil can also calm muscle spasms whether it is applied on the skin or inhaled.
If gout pain in your big toe has you hobbling around or is attacking other joints, cherries may help. This common form of arthritis can hit suddenly and severely, causing swelling, redness, and pain in one or more joints. Approximately 25 percent of people with gout turn to cherries for relief, and there is scientific evidence to support it.
For example, in a 2019 report, experts noted that cherries and their products contain numerous properties that can help with gout, including antioxidant power, an ability to inhibit processes associated with an inflammatory response to crystals involved in gout, and an ability to reduce bone resorption that occurs with gouty bone erosion. Cherries also contain anthocyanins that inhibit factors involved in inflammation.
Indigestion (acid indigestion)
Indigestion (acid indigestion or heartburn) is a symptom of acid reflux, which has a prevalence of 20 percent in the United States. If you are looking for peer-reviewed scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar is effective, you won’t find it, but you will find that many people report getting relief from indigestion when taking this natural remedy.
To use apple cider vinegar for indigestion, dilute 1 teaspoon of the vinegar in 4 to 6 ounces of warm water and drink before a meal. This may prove helpful if the indigestion is associated with too little stomach acid and the vinegar helps rebalance the stomach pH.
Whether you have exercised too much, are feeling the effects of changing weather, or are getting a little older (aren’t we all?), joint pain can be the result. Turmeric, the yellow spice full of the active ingredient curcumin, may provide some relief. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, experts found scientific evidence that turmeric extract (about 1,000 mg daily of curcumin) is effective in reducing symptoms of joint arthritis. Adding turmeric to your daily menu can be helpful as well, including veggie dishes, soups, stews, and smoothies.
If you have ever had a sinus headache or painful sinuses, you know how challenging it can be to get relief. Before turning to over-the-counter medications, try horseradish. This cruciferous vegetable is rich in sulfur and has a history of helping with sinus problems. If you are looking for help with clogged sinus or upper respiratory passages or you feel a sinus infection coming on, grab a piece of fresh horseradish (prepared will work in a fix). Grate about one-half teaspoonful and put a pinch into your mouth. Hold it there until the flavor fades. A small drop of prepared horseradish also can be used. After the flavor fades, swallow the horseradish to help clear mucus from your throat.
When your stomach aches, a tasty and effective way to feel better is to chew on ginger, whether it is candied or raw, or by enjoying a cup or two of ginger tea. Ginger for stomach pain relief has been the subject of many studies, including one in which the herb was found to increase gastric emptying, which can help relieve abdominal pain. Other research has shown ginger can reduce pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which in turn reduces bloating and gas associated with stomach pain.
Swelling (after surgery)
Have you ever had dental surgery and suffered from the swelling afterward? An effective, natural way to relieve swelling and pain is with bromelain, an enzyme extracted from the fruit and stem (main source) of pineapple. In one study, individuals who underwent surgical removal of their third molars were given bromelain and amoxicillin. Seventy percent of the patients experienced a reduction in swelling and pain after dental surgery. Another study involving the same procedure also reported that “the obtained results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of bromelain in treating postoperative edema after third molar surgery.”
Bromelain supplements are available either alone or as part of a multi-enzyme product. Since bromelain is concentrated mostly in the stem of pineapples, you would not be able to eat enough of the fruit to get the desired results.
If you have ever had a toothache, you know how much it can disrupt your life. Cloves are a spice that can help, and there are several ways you can use them. A drop or two of clove oil on a cotton ball applied to the painful area can reduce pain and inflammation as well as work as an antiseptic. You can also place a drop of oil directly on the affected tooth or swish your mouth with 4 ounces of water with a drop of clove oil. If you don’t have the oil, place a dried clove between your cheek and the hurting tooth.
Urinary tract infections
Lots of research has been conducted concerning the use of cranberries (Vaccinium spp.) for managing urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in women and others at risk. One meta-analysis, for example, involved 23 trials and 3,979 participants and reported that the risk reduction was 32 percent, 45 percent, and 51 percent in women with recurring UTIs, children, and individuals using indwelling catheters, respectively. Another study noted that taking cranberry supplements could reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs among otherwise healthy women.
Pain is part of life, but you have the power to alleviate it in many cases by using natural remedies. You might consider these natural healing methods next time you experience any of the painful events discussed here.