When it comes to seeking relief from extreme pain, most people will immediately reach for the strongest pharmaceutical painkillers they can get their hands on. Although those opiate-based drugs are typically highly effective, the medical community and society has recently been highlighting the fact that many of these substances are addictive and come with the risk of serious side effects. As opium and sedative addiction reaches epidemic proportions, many people are looking for more natural and gentle painkillers that are effective yet safe.
Unfortunately, finding non-toxic painkillers is no easy task, as most potent drugs will cause some sort of negative reaction if taken in excess. However, there are at least a few exceptions to this rule, with researchers discovering a number of compounds and therapies that have remarkable sedating and painkilling effects without the toxicity and addictive qualities of opium and synthetic opiates. With that said, here are seven types of natural painkillers you should give a try the next time you have a stubborn ache or pain:
1. CBD Oil
Let’s admit it, most of us have tried a toke of the herb at one point in our lives, but not many of us can say we’ve ever tried a pure cannabidiol (CBD) concentrate. This component of the cannabis plant is known for possessing some of its most powerful medicinal properties, yet when isolated into an oil it contains no THC, so it doesn’t produce any of the psychoactive “high” that cannabis does.
Another highly appealing aspect of CBD oil is that it can be administered via vapor for almost instant pain relief. For this method of delivery, you can either use a vaporizer or a glass piece called an oil rig (similar to a bong) to drop dabs on a hot nail and inhale the resulting vapors that are captured in the main chamber. The CBD oil can also be applied topically for relief from muscle/joint, soreness, rashes, and skin infections.
2. Spicy Foods
While spicy foods cause temporary pain when you’re eating them, many peppers have also been shown to have measurable effects on the neurotransmitters responsible for causing humans to feel pain. The cayenne pepper, in particular, is worth noting because it contains the chemical capsaicin, which has been extensively studied by pharmaceutical companies for its ability to affect blood pressure and clotting.
This fiery red pepper is often recommended by naturopaths as a post-operative painkiller and it has even been used to help with pain after amputations and mastectomies. Capsaicin has also been used topically to relieve external pains like muscle soreness, cuts, and skin infections. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well, and it comes highly recommended as a cure for candida yeast infections. Folk medicine even lists a spoonful of dried cayenne pepper stirred into a hot cup of water as an instant remedy for a clogged artery or heart attack.
3. Hot and Cold Therapy
A great way to get quick relief from pain related to inflammation is to use hot water to facilitate draining of the fluids and then cold water to constrict the vessels and pathways afterward. Physical therapists have used hot and cold water alternations to reduce swelling since before the invention of imaging technologies that have allowed us to explain how it works. In simple terms, the heat causes your tissues to expand and relax, thereby releasing fluids back into the body’s eliminatory systems. The expansion caused by the heat also dilates the blood vessels, resulting in increased blood flow.
Furthermore, the heightened body temperature speeds up the metabolism and boosts the immune system. However, leaving everything open and dilated will invite the inflammation to return soon after. Thus, cold water is used to cause the tissues to contract, thereby mitigating any secondary inflammatory response. A similar technique is used by beauticians to open the pores and clean them out using hot water, and then close them back shut with cold water. Although this technique has been proven to work for many conditions, it’s not a cure and shouldn’t be used excessively. Therapists recommend alternating with 15 minutes of hot water, followed by 15 minutes of cold water, with a gradual transition from hot to cold to prevent symptoms of hypothermia.
4. Get More Vitamin D
According to a study conducted by Boston University, people who get the minimum daily recommended value of vitamin D (400 to 800 UI) tend to experience less pain and fewer bouts of depression than those who are deficient in vitamin D. A separate study showed that people with lower back pain tend to have lower levels of vitamin D than those who do not, indicating that there may be a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cases of chronic pain.
As if there wasn’t enough evidence already, a third study conducted by the University of Minnesota showed that more than 90% of the participants who experienced idiopathic musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient. Contrary to popular misconception, drinking milk is not the best way to assimilate vitamin D. Standing in the sun is actually the most effective way to fully absorb vitamin D in a way that can be utilized by the body.
Numerous studies have found that patients who engage in meditation heal faster and have better prognoses than those who do not. Researchers have also recorded measurable changes in brain waves, blood pressure, pulse, body temperature, and other vital statistics when a person starts to meditate. One study monitored the pain levels of osteoarthritis patients for a period of 12 weeks while giving one group guided imagery in combination with mediation. The group that used guided imagery and meditation was found to have significantly lower pain levels at the end of the study.
Guided imagery and meditation go hand in hand and can easily be practiced by anyone with a simple audio tape or even by listening to a YouTube video. However, most people find this type of therapy to be somewhat “quacky” and would only try it as a last resort. Nonetheless, the scientific and anecdotal evidence is there, with meditation being the subject of praise and interest in cultures around the world for eons. So, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re in search of a holistic way to finally get rid of your problem pains once and for all.
6. Bone Broth
You might be thinking that a bone broth sounds like one of the least appetizing things you could make in your kitchen, but, in reality, it’s actually quite delicious and incredibly healthy. Typically, this kind of broth contains bones, skin, tendons, marrow, ligaments, and other juicy but not so desirable animal parts that you normally wouldn’t eat.
The broth soaks up all the vitamins and minerals and presents them in an easy to absorb form, giving you a quick boost of essentials like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, silicon, collagen, glycine, glutamine, proline, Glucosamine, and other natural compounds that work wonders in restoring cartilage and reducing joint and tendon pain. Bone broths are very high in gelatin – a substance that helps build up the soft tissues between your bones and ligaments to reduce the friction that often causes inflammation and scarring around joints.
7. The Graston Technique
This one might sound like a totally unnatural, borderline torturous technique, but it actually has shown promising results for a number of painful physical conditions. The Graston technique involves using a special instrument to apply pressure and create a minor aggravating injury in a spot that is suffering from chronic pain. This interesting form of manual physical therapy is a useful option for anyone dealing with location-specific sources of pain like carpal tunnel syndrome, back or should pain, shin splints, fibromyalgia, tendinitis, joint pains, and similar problems.
The idea is to stimulate the immune system to essentially “remind’ it that there is scar tissue or other structures that need to be more thoroughly repaired in that area of the body. It may sound unconventional and even painful, but if you have a nagging source of pain that isn’t responding well to other forms of treatment, this technique is certainly worth a try, as there’s a great body of anecdotal and clinical evidence suggesting that it has some merit.
Trying Them All for Good Measure
When you deal with chronic pain or an unbearable ache that won’t go away, there’s really no limit to what you will and won’t try to make the pain dissipate as quickly as possible. People have gone to extreme lengths to stop pain, so why not try a few simple things that are known to be safe and effective?
Although some of the above recommendations might seem a bit too hippy-ish for your liking, there certainly is scientific evidence to back most of the anecdotal claims that have long labeled these substances and activities “natural painkillers.” Thus, just to be sure you’re well-equipped to deal with the pain the next time it comes back, it’s a good idea to experiment with all of the above to see what kind of effect you get out of each.