Many types of mild to moderate pain can be controlled with natural pain killers as an alternative to medication or involved medical procedures. Some people prefer natural pain relievers because over-the-counter and prescription pain killers often have undesirable side effects. The most common types of natural pain remedies include herbs, supplements, physical activity, and alternative therapies.
Various herbs and supplements contain anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can help patients manage pain. White willow bark can be taken as a supplement or brewed into a tea to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Devil's claw and stinging nettle are herbs that act as analgesics to help relieve pain, particularly osteoarthritis pain.
Boswellia, arnica, and curcumin from turmeric are herbs often used in topical products to reduce muscle and joint pain. These extracts are often found in over-the-counter pain relief creams, though some of these products also contain traditional medications. Capsaicin is another natural pain killer that is extracted from chili peppers. Topical natural pain killers are safe for most people, though they should not be applied to irritated areas or open wounds.
Other nutrients, supplements, and vitamins, including vitamin D, fish oil, and methylsufonylmethane (MSM), also act as natural pain killers. Vitamin D is in dairy products, supplements, and sunlight, and can help control pain, and many chronic pain patients have a vitamin D deficiency. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, back pain, and nerve pain. MSM is found in some plants and animals, and can help reduce arthritis pain.
Diluted eucalyptus oil or lavender are often used as natural pain killers in aromatherapy. Eucalyptus oil is particularly effective for sinus and chest pain caused by respiratory infections. Lavender has calming and sedative effects when inhaled and is often found in bath products and cosmetics. It can also be prepared as a tea for relaxation and relief from mild pain.
Exercise releases endorphins, which act as natural pain killers. Patients with joint or muscle pain should start slowly with exercise and choose low-impact activities, such as riding a bicycle, swimming, or walking. Other alternative therapies can also help patients reduce pain. Meditation, relaxation exercises, and counseling or therapy help patients learn to mentally manage their symptoms. Massage helps loosen tense muscles and increases circulation to reduce pain.
Patients with chronic or severe pain should talk to their doctors about their conditions before using natural pain killers. While some forms of pain relief, such as meditation and gentle exercise, are safe for everyone, some herbal remedies can cause side effects. Those who take other medications or herbs or have a chronic medical condition should check with their doctors or pharmacists before adding anything to their pain-management plans.