Chronic pain plagues 11.2% of adult Americans.
Whether it’s caused by an injury, surgery, or you suffer from a condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia, living with chronic pain can severely affect every aspect of your life. Not only can pain itself be intolerable, but it can have negative psychological effects as well, leading to low mood, anxiety, or even depression.
Opioid-based medications are commonly prescribed for pain relief, but many are trying to avoid these drugs because of their dangerous potential side effects. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, you may be interested in methods for natural chronic pain relief.
Follow me and we’ll explore 10 methods for natural pain relief.
Why Natural Pain Relief?
Even over the counter medications can have some unpleasant side-effects. It can be dangerous to rely on even the most common drugs for regular pain management. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage, ibuprofen can cause kidney or stomach problems, and aspirin can cause stomach ulcers and kidney damage if you are taking it regularly.
Beyond over the counter drugs, many are prescribed prescription painkillers for their chronic pain. While they’re effective at pain relief, these drugs are highly addictive and have many negative side effects.
Opioids work by blocking the nerve signals that communicate the feeling of pain to your brain. But the more often you take them, the higher your tolerance becomes, meaning you need to take more and more to find relief. It can be incredibly difficult to stop taking opiates if you become addicted, and the withdrawal process is known to be painful and unpleasant.
A weakened immune system, depression, drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness are other common side effects of opioid-based pain killers.
Researchers and doctors are becoming increasingly interested in studying the benefits of natural pain relievers, in an effort to find ways for people to manage chronic pain without the dangerous effects of opioids.
So what are some of the most common and effective natural pain relievers?
10 Methods For Natural Pain Relief
Through a process of inserting tiny, thin needles through the skin at specific points in the body, acupuncture is believed in eastern medicine to balance the flow of energy in your body or your chi, meaning your life force.
Practiced for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the oldest practices in traditional Chinese medicine. While some consider it a pseudoscience, it has been increasingly subject to scientific studies that suggest it can help manage certain pain conditions.
This mind-body exercise that focuses on a combination of movement, meditation, and breath control can help alleviate the negative psychological side effects of pain in addition to reducing or eliminating pain itself.
Studies have found that yoga can help with many different types of chronic pain, including low back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines.
- Medical Marijuana
In the United States, 62% of medical marijuana users do so to alleviate chronic pain. Doctors are increasingly under pressure to not prescribe opioid-based drugs, and many people are turning instead to medical marijuana for chronic pain.
While there are still many more studies to be done on the potential benefits or drawbacks of medical marijuana for various conditions, many people rely on it for herbal pain relief.
While it might seem counterintuitive to exercise when your body is in excruciating pain, research has shown that it can be an effective way to reduce chronic pain.
Finding an exercise that you’re comfortable doing, like walking, pilates, tai chi, swimming, or yoga, can alleviate pain in a number of ways.
First, exercising reduces joint stiffness and inflammation, as well as building muscle strength. Second, it engages your endogenous opioid system, meaning your body produces natural pain relievers. Lastly, exercise can decrease stress, and stress can increase people’s pain sensitivity.
Some research has supported that therapeutic massage can be beneficial for a number of chronic pain conditions. It’s thought to be effective by relaxing your muscles, joints, and tendons, as well as decreasing anxiety and stress which is known to increase pain.
- Mindfulness Meditation
This practice of deliberately focusing your attention on the present moment through meditation has been shown to provide natural pain relief.
The effectiveness of this in easing pain points to the incredibly complicated relationship between the brain and the body. In clinical trials, mindfulness meditation has been shown to decrease chronic pain from 57% to over 90%.
Used in traditional Asian medicines for centuries, ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain.
Studies have shown that ginger can reduce discomfort and inflammation for people suffering from arthritis.
The rhizomes of the turmeric plant have long been used in Indian and Asian cuisines as well as in Ayurvedic medicine.
Curcumin is the chemical produced by the turmeric plant believed to provide natural pain relief. While there aren’t scientific studies to back up or refute these claims, many people swear by turmeric supplementation for relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and general pain.
- Vitamin D
It’s been shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to multiple pain-related conditions.
Vitamin D is considered a hormone, and every tissue in our bodies have vitamin D receptors. It’s possible that raising our vitamin D levels through supplementation or otherwise could be beneficial to treating pain and many other health conditions.
- Willow Bark
Believe it or not, natural pain killers actually grow on trees.
The bark of the white willow tree has been used for thousands of years as an antipyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. The chemical salicin found in the bark is responsible for theses medicinal properties and is similar to the main ingredient in aspirin.
Natural Pain Relievers Can Reduce Your Chronic Pain
This list only contains some of the methods you can use for natural chronic pain relief. There are many other potentially beneficial practices, supplements, and herbs for pain. Some have been studied extensively, some have not.
As the scientific community grows more open-minded towards alternative medicines, we can expect to see more research regarding the potential benefits of natural and herbal pain relief.
I hope you found this article helpful in your quest to overcome your chronic pain naturally. If so, share it with your friends or let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more great health and wellness articles.