Helpful Herbs for Chronic Pain
Medicinal treatments may help manage chronic pain, but they are not your only options. Natural pain relievers in the form of herbal medicines are becoming increasingly popular for managing and treating pain without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
Herbal medicine involves remedies and medicines made from plants to treat health problems. While most research on herbal remedies and medicines is new, there are many herbs out there may offer pain and inflammation reduction.
One report of out of the Journal of General Internal Medicine finds that at least 20 percent of people are using herbal medicines.
Here are some common herbal remedies you might consider for pain relief:
Cayenne is an herb that has been used in food and medicine for thousands of years. The cayenne gets its hotness and spiciness from a substance called capsaicin.
For herbal use, cayenne peppers are ground up into a powder, which is mixed with other ground herbs in capsules or into a cream to create a topical pain reliever.
Studies find that capsaicin has pain relief qualities when applied to your skin. It reduces the amount of substance P, which is the chemical that carries messages to your brain that your body hurts.
Menthol is an herbal substance made from peppermint oil and generally found in creams, ointments, and lotions. Rubbing a menthol-based pain relief cream instantly brings cooling and soothing relief to achy muscles.
Research shows menthol-based analgesics (pain relievers that block signals in the brain) decrease pain and discomfort. They are also helpful in improving muscle contractions (due to inhabitation from pain) and function.
One study focused on 16 study participants who either used a topic gel containing menthol or ice to their elbow flexors to reduce muscle soreness.
After a couple of days, muscle soreness increased in those who did not receive the menthol cream. Those who used the menthol cream were showing better muscle function at 116.9 percent higher and their pain was also significantly less than those who used the ice.
Feverfew is a member of the daisy family and has been around for centuries to treat arthritis, headaches and even labor pains, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Feverfew is also known for its inflammation-reducing qualities. It may help you to manage inflammation and reduce pain from arthritis, gout, chronic pain and other inflammatory diseases effectively and with little or no side effects.
Chinese skullcap is a potent medicinal herb that has been used for other 2,000 years. It is available as an extract, tablet, or capsule and is believed to soothe pain of muscle spasms and tension headaches and reduce inflammation.
You should check with your doctor before using skullcap because it has been known to interact with prescription medicines. It may be available through some of your favorite online retailers and local health food stores.
Willow bark is an anti-inflammatory herb that is believed to work as well as NSAIDs. It naturally contains salicylic acid, the active compound in aspirin.
Studies show it is effective in relieving headaches, low back pain, osteoarthritis pain, muscle cramps and tendonitis. A 2001 study of 78 people with osteoarthritis in the knee or hip showed that people who received willow bark had significantly less pain than those who took a placebo.
Boswellia, like willow bark, works as well as NSAIDs and may help with managing pain from injuries, osteoarthritis and forms of anti-inflammatory arthritis.
One study that compared the benefits of an NSAID against boswellia and another herbal remedy found that the herbal combination was superior to the NSAID for relieving pain and joint tenderness, and the ability to keep moving.