One of the most unpleasant of sensations experienced by human beings, pain is a kind of sensory experience that can point to serious tissue damage or potential damage that can happen in a short while. Studies suggest that millions of men and women live and suffer in pain and would go to any extent to get relief from this harrowing condition.
Whilst painkillers are the most sought after short-term remedies used for controlling and numbing pain, there are several side effects and addictive tendencies that stem from long-term use of such pain controllers. One must turn to the inherent benefits of analgesic herbs and their ability in controlling and sometimes even treating the cause behind the pain.
Herbs for Pain
This ancient Indian spice is extensively used for controlling tooth decay and pain. Its analgesic and anti-bacterial properties do not just end there. In ancient China, clove has been used for treating hernia, bronchial problem, diarrhea, skin, and intestinal infections etc. For treating arthritic and muscle pain, clove oil can be added to any regular massage oil and used for massaging on the affected area. This provided instant relief from the symptoms due to its numbing action.
The essential oil eugenol, which is present in clove, is what causes its analgesic action on the body. Clove flower is known to have the most concentrated quantities of eugenol, an antiseptic, antibacterial, and analgesic, which makes it a herb that every household must store for an emergency.
One of the best among herbal teas, green tea has high amounts of anti oxidants that help in preventing a host of life threatening and coronary artery diseases. While green tea is not an analgesic per se, it has several anti-inflammatory and anti bacterial properties that actually do away with the cause behind the pain. Best suited for treating pain associated with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, gastritis etc., it is also excellent for relieving tension headaches, as it is also a stress buster and muscle relaxant. Two to three cups of the herbal beverage can keep your body relaxed and free from aches and pains that can sometimes interfere with your daily activities.
Excellent for bloating and menstrual pain, fennel seeds mostly aid in digestion and treatment of respiratory ailments. The essential oil content of fennel seeds helps in treating several aches and pains related to stiff joints, arthritis etc. This is why it is a much preferred ingredient in massage oils that soothe and relieve joints. A pinch of fennel seeds after meals is all you need to control a particularly bad episode of gas and indigestion and within minutes you will be relieved of the pain.
A common ingredient in several topical creams that help in controlling pain, capsaicin is an effective and instant solution to trick the nerve and change its attention by irritating the skin surface. Capsaicin is found abundantly in cayenne pepper and is used extensively for treating pains associated with diabetes, psoriasis, osteoarthritis, neuropathy etc. Available in several forms like ointments, gels, lotions, pads, liquids etc., it is the burning sensation caused by its contact with the skin that actually helps in masking the pain. Capsaicin blocks substance P, which is a chemical that transmits pain signals to the brain.
The oil of peppermint is used for application and massage on the skin to control muscle, nerve, joint pains and also headache and other skin irritations. Peppermint is also a suggested remedy for menstrual pain, tooth pain and pain associated with shingles, though there is no research back up for these claims. The fumes of peppermint oil can be inhaled as well for instant relief from aches and pains. Being a refrigerant, peppermint oil imparts a deep and lingering coolness to the area on which it is applied, causing a certain numbness that can lead to masking of pain.
Known as ‘the sweet root’, licorice root too has a certain numbing effect on the body and this helps in treating and diminishing pain. It acts in the same lines a steroid, albeit a natural one with fewer side effects. However, intake of licorice must be still done with caution as several side effects are reported in people such as high blood pressure, heart problems, weight gain, numbness etc.
Devil’s claw extract in standard dosages have been scientifically proven to be effective in treating a variety of pain sensations as felt in knee pain, hip pain, back pain etc. People who took devil’s claw have reported an average reduction of pain by about 30-40%. The herb has also been reported to have caused side effects like gastrointestinal problems, allergic rashes, vomiting, nausea etc. in which cases the usage has to be completely arrested and medical attention sought. Devil’s claw an anti-inflammatory agent and helps in treating inflammatory conditions that can lead to severe pain.
One of the strongest pain relieving agents, especially for the relief of arthritis and arthritic pain, oregano is a natural antibiotic that can help deal with a variety of infections and diseases caused by germs. Oregano oil can be applied for bruises, muscle pain, sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis etc. to mention a few, and bring about an instant relief from swelling and pain. For sensitive skin, oregano can be diluted along with a carrier oil like olive oil before application and massage. The herb can also be consumed internally for relief from inflammatory and painful conditions.
Turmeric has wonderful anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that also make it a wonderful herb that can be used for pain relief as well, while it heals. Turmeric controls the formation of new blood vessels and this helps in preventing not just swelling and possible pain, but also a host of other diseases including cancer. The compound in turmeric that brings about such wonderful responses on the body is ‘curcumin’, which has antioxidant and detoxifying benefits, apart from its healing properties. It also masks and sometimes removes pain entirely, depending on what kind of condition you are suffering from.