For people with chronic pain, finding relief from the discomfort is essential in improving their overall quality of life. Oftentimes, patients worry that the only way to get pain relief is through over-the-counter or prescribed medications. However, this isn’t always the best option for every person with chronic pain. So, what are people who either don’t want to or are unable to take medication supposed to do to manage their pain?
This is where natural painkillers can be extremely helpful. Below, we’ll go over four different types of natural painkillers, including what they are, how they help, and if they could be the right fit for you.
Why Do People Use Natural Painkillers?
There are a lot of different reasons as to why somebody might prefer natural painkillers as opposed to over-the-counter or prescribed medications. For starters, certain medications can come with some serious side effects, such as liver damage, stomach bleeding, and more. This is true for over-the-counter medications as well as prescribed opioids.
Prescription opioids can be useful for some people, but for others, they would rather not deal with the side effects, which can include:
- Brain fog
Alongside these side effects also is the risk of addiction. Research shows that some people are predisposed to struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers. People with chronic pain are also more likely to become addicted to these because of how accessible they’ve become during the opioid epidemic.
Addiction to prescription painkillers is not something to take lightly. Unfortunately, some people who have chronic pain, depression, and other co-occurring disorders are at an even greater risk for overdosing from opioids. Furthermore, for those who are already in recovery for an addiction, taking prescribed pain medication is simply not an option.
For a handful of people who live with chronic pain, these risks are just too dangerous. Thus, they often end up coping with their pain because they don’t want to take medication but they aren’t sure what else they can do. But this is why natural painkillers can be a good alternative.
What Are Some Natural Painkillers?
The following are some examples of natural painkillers. Please be sure to always speak with your doctor before trying any natural remedies.
1. Essential Oils
More and more studies are proving that essential oils, when used correctly, can provide effective, natural pain relief. For example, studies show that rosemary essential oils can help to decrease the amount of pain that someone feels and even boost the effectiveness of traditional painkillers.
A few other examples of essential oils that have been shown to reduce inflammation, build up the immune system, and/or calm the nervous system include:
- And more
Essential oils can be used in a few different ways. One of these ways would be aromatherapy in which patients inhale the scents of one or more essential oils. Not only can this interrupt pain signals from reaching the brain, but it can also ease mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression. Essential oils can also be applied topically, though this must be done with the right concentration and mixture, as the wrong combination of essential oils can serve as irritants to the skin and might even result in more serious side effects.
Doctors state that essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin and should be diluted to the right consistency before use. Also, for aromatherapy, topical use, and any other practice with essential oils, experts should be consulted. This guidance will help you to understand which essential oils can be helpful for your specific symptoms as well as how to administer the therapy in a safe and effective way.
2. Chili Peppers
Surprisingly, research into chili peppers has not only revealed some of the ways that pain signals work, which allows experts to understand chronic pain a little bit better, but the makeup of chili peppers can also be used to reduce pain. The substance that is in chili peppers that gives them their heat is called capsaicin. This can be used in topical pain relieving creams. It’s known for helping conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve pain from diabetes and other conditions
- Muscle spasms
- Headaches and migraines
Most importantly, scientists believe that they can start to use this heat-activator in chili peppers to make natural painkillers—medications that are derived from natural sources and that do not bring the risk of addiction or other serious side effects.
3. Physical Activity
Another approach to natural pain relief involves finding movement that does not cause more pain. It can be quite challenging for people with chronic pain to find exercises that work to ease their pain rather than those that exacerbate it. However, there are gentle exercises and stretches out there that can assist in strengthening the core, releasing tight muscles, and improving range of motion in stiff joints.
For the best results, you might consider working with a physical therapist to get specific exercises that address the symptoms you are having. On top of this, you will want to slowly build up your endurance for exercise. Start off with gentle movements and work your way up when you feel ready. Be sure to keep track of your pain levels and other symptoms and stop any exercise that makes the pain worse.
4. Heat and Ice
One of the most simple ways to naturally relieve pain would be to apply heat or ice to the affected areas. Knowing when to use heat versus when to use ice can help to make the pain relief more effective. For instance, heat might worsen already-swollen joints that are causing pain whereas ice can reduce inflammation. Heat might be better used for muscle spasms and releasing tension. A combination of heat and ice can also help to desensitize the nerves in some cases, which leads to less pain in the long run.
How To Make Natural Painkillers Work For You
It can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to trying natural painkillers. If you are considering trying natural remedies to relieve pain, you might want to work with an integrated medicine specialist. This is somebody in the medical field who is knowledgeable about natural methods in reducing pain. They could have more specific recommendations for you on essential oils, exercises, or even diet changes that can reduce inflammation and ultimately lessen the amount of pain you feel.
It’s also important to note that natural painkillers won’t work for everyone, especially not on their own. Many times, it takes trial and error to figure out exactly what relieves the pain most effectively, and these natural remedies might need to be combined with other approaches for the best results. As you try different natural remedies, stay in touch with your doctor, your care team, and others who are going through similar experiences to make sure that you are relieving pain in a safe, healthy, and productive way.
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