by Laurie Roth-Donnell, Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner

Natural Pain ManagementThere are many alternatives when considering avenues to manage chronic pain. Herbal Therapy is one area that is rapidly growing in popularity. Herbs rarely have an adverse side effect like many pharmaceuticals do and are now easy to access, thanks to the
Internet.

When using herbs for pain management, please be reminded that anti-inflammatory herbs will not heal your condition itself, despite their pain-easing effects. Addressing the cause of chronic inflammation is essential when working your way toward optimal health; inflammation triggers pain and is a major risk factor for chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Warnings aside, here are five herbs that combat inflammation and are all readily available online and at some health focused stores.

  1. White Willow Bark—This herb contains salicin, the compound from which commercial aspirin was originally extracted. The analgesic actions of the bark are slower acting than synthetic aspirin, but results last longer. In addition to its pain-relieving properties, it is an anticoagulant, assisting in the prevention of Herbs - pineapple2blood clot formation and thickening of blood that may lead to stroke or heart failure. It has also been credited with the alleviation of acute back and joint pain, as well as osteoarthritis. Native Americans simply chewed the bark from the tree for natural pain relief.
  2. Boswellia—Sourced from a resin found in the bark of frankincense trees, boswellia has been shown to thwart chemical reactions involved in the creation of inflammation. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have long used boswellia to treat arthritis; the herb may also benefit people with inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. Bromelain—An enzyme extracted from pineapple stems, bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins, hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions marked by musculoskeletal tension (such as TMJ syndrome), as well as those suffering trauma-related inflammation. What’s more, the enzyme may promote healing in muscles and connective tissues. Some holistic health practitioners have prescribed patients to eat 8 whole pineapples for 10 days, and they claim their pain was reduced significantly.
  4. Turmeric CurcuminCurcumin—An Ayurvedic remedy known to tame arthritis pain, curcumin is a compound found in the curry spice turmeric. In an animal-based study published in 2007, scientists discovered that curcumin could overpower proinflammatory proteins called cytokines. The compound may also help decrease pain associated with autoimmune disorders and tendonitis. This herbal news is a great reason to eat a little curry! Red Coconut Curry is one of my favorites.
  5. Ginger—Sipping ginger tea not only helps relieve cold-related congestion, but supplementing with ginger may deliver other long-lasting health effects. Research indicates that ginger may calm arthritis pain by lowering your prostaglandin levels. One 2005 study even suggests that ginger could reduce pain and inflammation more effectively than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin). Ginger is available in most grocery produce sections, and ginger tea is quick and easy to make. Slice a thumb-sized bulb of fresh ginger, add to 4 cups of water, and boil for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey, lemon or your choice to taste.

If you consider the use of herbs for pain management, please consult a doctor or holistic health professional before you begin the regimen. Some herbs interact with drugs you are receiving for pain or other conditions you may be medicated for and the combination may harm your health when improperly administered.

Sources:
WebMD.com
Secrets of Self Healing by Dr. Ni

 

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