Athletes often reach to ibuprofen, or “vitamin I” as they like to call it, to get through the pains and aches of training.
Unfortunately, athletes are not the only ones who depend on NSAIDs for relieving their pain. Every day, over 30 million people in U.S. take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDs for everything from muscle cramps, headaches, and sport injuries, to back pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and other chronic conditions.
Your pain is mostly caused by inflammation, a defensive reaction that results in swelling of the tissues and increasing the intensity of the pain nerve signal. This makes anti-inflammatory ideal for reducing your pain.
Although NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce the pain by blocking the enzymes which cause inflammation, they usually come with pretty awful side effects. Taking NSAIDs regularly increase the chances of bleeding in the stomach, ulcers, kidney damage, and heart attack, as they interfere with prostaglandins – important, hormone-like compounds.
The medical director of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington, Jonathan Wright, MD, says he wouldn’t take them regularly longer than few months. According to him, some can experience side effects even after several days of taking them regularly.
Luckily, Mother Nature has provided a wide range of effective and safe remedies that reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Thanks to them you can say goodbye to “vitamin I” and other painkillers.
This herb is also known as frankincense. It relieves both, minor and chronic pains as boswellic acids in its content reduce the production of inflammatory compounds involved in various chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Take 750 milligrams of formula standardized to 60% boswellic acids on a daily basis in 3 divided doses. As for the new formula of 90% boswellic acid that came out this year, follow the dosage given on the label.
Arnica montana is a herb with specific large bright yellow flowers which are used in the production of this very old remedy. The sesquiterpene lactones in its content are compounds which can reduce inflammation and improve the immunity.
In 2007, a study in Sweden proved that topical arnica gel can alleviate the pain and restore the joint function in 200 osteoarthritis patients equally well as Ibuprofen. Arnica cream or gel is also great for acute injuries like bruises, strains, sprains, and postoperative healing. It should be applied 3-4 times on a daily basis. For even better results, take arnica homeopathically simultaneously, using remedies of 6, 12, or 30c potency, 3 pellets under the tongue, 3 times daily.
Curcumin is the active compound of turmeric, also known as the “spice of life”. It blocks the inflammatory proteins and improves the ability of the body to put an end to inflammation. Many studies have proven that curcumin relieves the chronic pain in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, whereas various animal studies suggest that it helps prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
The recommended daily dose of curcumin is 400-600 mg, 3 times a day. You can take it with equal doses of the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain (found in pineapples) to increase absorption. Take it 20 minutes before meals.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for reducing chronic pain, as they are broken down into anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. If you have insufficient omega-3s intake, you will have greater inflammation and more pain when you do get ill or injured.
Omega-3s are found in hempseed, flaxseed, and cold-water fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel. You can also take them as a supplement. For chronic pain, take 2000-4,000 milligrams daily, whereas for basic maintenance, take 1,000-2,000 milligrams daily.
To prevent them from oxidizing and attacking the healthy cells in your body, take them with 400 IU of vitamin E every day (in “mixed tocopherols” form).
The enzymes found in this flavorful root prevent the production of inflammatory compounds. However, as Paul Anderson, ND, at Bastyr University in Seattle explains, taking ginger as a spice, in candy or tea is not going to be enough for relieving your pain. You need to take 2g of ground dehydrated ginger per day in 3 divided doses for acute pain, and for chronic- 1g per day, divided in 3 doses.
6. Devil’s Claw
This fruit comes from South Africa, and it’s covered with sharp little hooks which can injure our skin. However, taken as an herbal remedy it eliminates pain, and as researchers explain, it significantly reduces arthritis and back pain.
One study conducted on 120 knee and hip osteoarthritis patients discovered that devil’s claw reduces the pain and improves the function equally well as common osteoarthritis drugs, but with drastically fewer side effects. Similar studies have demonstrated similar outcome for low back pain.
Iridoid glycosides are the active compound of devil’s claw, with the main called harpagoside. They provide powerful inflammation-fighting and pain-relieving effects. The recommended daily dose of dried devil’s claw is 400 mg a day, whereas of harpagoside is 50-100mg. This herb stimulates the production of gastric acid, so consult your doctor before using it in case you have stomach ulcer.
7. White Willow Bark and Feverfew
Headaches can be really awful, and the first thing most people do is taking an aspirin. However, white willow bark is a natural pain reliever that works equally well. The compound salicin in its content acts very similar to aspirin. It reduces inflammation just like this painkiller, but only gentler. However, don’t give it to kids because there’s a risk of Reye’s syndrome. Take a white willow bark extract with 120-140 milligrams standardized salicin every 3-4 hours.
Feverfew offer long-term relief and prevention of headaches. It relaxes the blood vessels in the brain, thus preventing the main cause of migraines – constriction of blood vessels. A new research have shown that 16-week treatment with extract form feverfew reduced the number of migraine attacks from 5 to 3 per month.
This plant works better in preventing rather than treating already developed migraines. However, expect the first results after 1 to 2 months. The recommended daily amount is 100-200 milligrams standardized containing a minimum of 0.2% of parthenolide – the active compound of feverfew.