Millions of Americans suffer from the debilitating effects of pain. While some people seek conventional medical treatment for their pain, others turn to natural substances that have been used for thousands of years. Many herbs contain healing and pain-reducing properties that provide effective relief for those stricken with all kinds of ailments.
Best Herbs for Easing Pain
Pain is often caused by inflammation in the body. Herbs used in the treatment of pain have intrinsic, anti-inflammatory properties that work to reduce swelling and irritation. In addition, some herbs are powerful antioxidants, analgesics and immune system builders.
Evening Primrose Oil
According to the Natural Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, evening primrose oil (EPO) is commonly used for skin conditions such as eczema, but it is gaining attention for its anti-inflammatory properties and its use on conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties in EPO are similar to those found in Omega-3 fish oils (OFAs). In fact, if used together, EPO and OFAs may produce double the pain-relieving effect of fish oils alone.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that arnica has been used in medicine since the 1500's. Found in the form of an oil or topical rub, this perennial herb is useful in the treatment of pain caused by muscle strain, bruising and broken bones. This pretty, daisy-like flower packs a powerful pain fighting punch for those suffering from arthritis, as well.
Flaxseed oil is rich in essential fatty acids that promote balance between Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids in the blood. This balance reduces the inflammatory response in the body. Although most commonly used as a laxative, flaxseed is also beneficial for women who suffer from breast pain according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Health.
Although more commonly used for treating urinary and prostate problems, stinging nettle has a long history of use for treating pain. The University of Maryland Medical Center cites that the sharp hairs of this plant, although painful to touch, actually work to effectively reduce pain chemicals in the body when they come in contact with the painful site. People with painful gout, arthritis, muscles or joints may find relief with this plant when it is used as a compress. Nettle also appears to be useful in the treatment of pain associated with stress injuries such as tendonitis.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also reports that ginger is effective for treating nausea and inflammation. This herb, used for centuries for the treatment of rheumatism, muscle pain and rheumatoid arthritis, is packed with strong anti-inflammatory components. This safe and effective herb is gentle enough for children to use.
While Cayenne adds spice to ethnic dishes, it is also a potent pain fighter. The George Mateljan Foundation, committed to educating the public about healthy foods, acknowledges cayenne to be an effective pain fighter in people suffering with cluster headaches and osteoarthritis. Cayenne is found in commercial pain products such as muscle rubs.
White Willow Bark
Native Americans used White Willow Bark to reduce pain, swelling and fever. Asperin was created as a result of studies conducted on this natural pain reducer. The use of white willow bark dates back to the fifth century BC when Hippocrates used this herb as a natural pain reliever. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center cites that clinical studies indicate the use of white willow bark in treating back pain and pain associated with osteoarthritis. There is also some indication that this herb may be useful in treating pain in the low back.
Researchers at The University of Purdue call skullcap a "powerful medicinal herb." Research indicates that stress-related headaches are often relieved by using skullcap, or scutellaria, a perennial plant that works to reduce the inflammation that causes pain. Some people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome also experience a reduction in pain with Skullcap.
Tumeric is a member of the ginger family and is more than just an ingredient in curry. The George Mateljan Foundation recognizes tumeric as a safe and potent ant-inflammatory. Known for its ability to ease pain associated with Fibromyalgia, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, tumeric appears to be just as effective, if not more, than over-the-counter pain and inflammation reducers. It not only has anti-inflammatory properties but is an effective analgesic as well.
Acacia is the fruit from a tree native to South Africa with powerful medicine in its bark. For many years, people have used the bark to fight pain, treat bacterial infections, and help with high blood pressure and stomach problems. It is often blended with skullcap, boswellia and white willow. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports on studies that indicate the potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers of this fruit.
Herbs are powerful plants packed with healing components that can be taken in many forms. However, it is always best to check with your health practitioner before using any herbal supplement. Always work with a professional herbalist, who is experienced in pain management to ensure that your treatment is safe and effective.