When you are living with chronic or acute pain, you may feel like your best hope lies in traditional pain medications. Although these medications can sometimes be effective, they come with some dangerous side effects and a serious risk of addiction. More and more people are turning to alternative therapies for natural pain relief due to these risks.
Thankfully, pain relief doesn’t have to come from a bottle of pills. There are many natural and safe steps you can take to manage your pain, including acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. Don’t forget that other things like dietary changes, herbal remedies, and other natural therapies can be extremely helpful as well. Here are 11 things you can do at home that will provide natural pain relief.
1. Get Your Blood Pumping
Take advantage of the pain-relieving endorphins your body produces during exercise for natural pain relief. Endorphins work in a way that’s similar to opioid pain medications, like oxycodone, by binding to the opioid receptors in your brain to block your perception of pain. These natural hormones increase when you engage in physical activity and can substantially reduce your pain and even produce feelings of satisfaction and pleasure.
Avoiding activity in an attempt to avoid pain is usually a bad idea. In fact, the lack of movement can make your pain worse. If you are in too much pain for vigorous exercise, start with short walks, even just to the mailbox and back, or sit in a straight back chair and lift some very light weights. Or, consider adding yoga to your routine each day. Stretching is a low impact activity that will get your blood pumping and provide additional relief by loosening up your spine and soft tissues, such as your tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
2. Use Essential Oils
You have probably heard that certain essential oils can have an analgesic effect on the body. Essential oils provide relief by providing oxygen and improving circulation to joints that are inflamed. You can take advantage of essential oils through aromatherapy or as a complement to a therapeutic massage. Using essential oils in conjunction with massage is especially effective because they bypass the digestive system and are absorbed right into your bloodstream. Some of the best essential oils for natural pain relief are peppermint, rosemary, and lavender.
3. Try Heat Therapy for Muscle Pain
Heat therapy can be a very effective way to relieve pain. Muscle pain responds especially well to heat therapy. Heat works by suppressing pain signals and increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area.
Enjoying a warm bath can help to alleviate muscle spasms and muscle pain, as well as arthritis. If you can take advantage of a whirlpool tub, that’s even better. Adding Epsom salts or essential oils could provide additional benefits.
There are other ways to take advantage of heat therapy, too. You could try a hot water bottle or an electric heating pad. For longer-lasting relief, try wearing a heat wrap. Heat wraps are great because they fit underneath your clothing and release low-level heat for hours so that you can go about your day.
4. Replace Traditional Pain Relievers with CBD Oil
The concept of using CBD oil (or cannabidiol) for pain relief has become more popular in recent years, and for a good reason. It can start to bring relief in as little as 20 minutes, and there are a few dangerous side effects. One of the biggest advantages of using CBD oil over cannabis is that it is legal in most places because it doesn’t cause the “high” feeling that smoking cannabis does. Even better, CBD oil can also be useful for other pain-related conditions like depression, anxiety, fear, and stress.
5. Use Ice to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a major contributor to most types of pain. Sometimes, it’s the simplest of things that work the best. One of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation is to apply ice to the area. The ice will also act as a mild local anesthetic, and it will slow nerve impulses that send pain signals to the brain. It is especially useful for calming swelling and reducing muscle spasms.
6. Certain Herbs Can Reduce Inflammation
Adding certain herbs to your regimen can also be helpful in reducing inflammation, especially when combined with alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. Some of the most effective herbs to try are devil’s claw, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and boswellia. Herbs can sometimes interact with other medications, so be sure to talk to your healthcare professional first.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
We all know that drinking plenty of natural alkaline water is important, but did you know that staying well hydrated can help to prevent and relieve pain? Staying well hydrated can help your intervertebral discs stay healthy and reduce stiffness. It can also help to flush toxins out of your muscles and other soft tissues of the body.
8. Get Plenty of Rest
Getting plenty of rest is critical for promoting healing and managing pain. If you are having trouble sleeping, try tiring yourself out with regular exercise or utilizing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
9. Eliminate Inflammatory Foods from Your Diet
Believe it or not, the foods you’re eating could be increasing your pain. You can help to minimize inflammation, reduce pain, and improve your circulations with some simple changes in your diet. Avoid fatty meats, refined sugar, fried foods, dairy, and refined grains are all inflammatory. Instead, you should eat lots of whole foods, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.
10. Get Your Omega-3’s Every Day
Try to include oily fish packed with Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, or sardines, in your diet regularly. They have a natural anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Don’t worry! If you don’t like fish, a fish oil supplement will work, too.
11. Incorporate Homeopathy into Your Treatment Plan
Homeopathic remedies consist of plants, minerals, and sometimes animal products or other compounds, that have been diluted many times over. They work by stimulating your body’s healing powers. One of the most common homeopathic treatments for pain is arnica and is in topical treatments. You can find it in salves, muscle rubs, as well as tablet form. There are hundreds of homeopathic remedies, so it’s best to work with a homeopathic practitioner. Make sure to find the best homeopathic treatment for your particular type of pain.
Thankfully, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs aren’t the only way to get relief from chronic pain. There are many safe and effective forms of natural pain relief for you to use in combination with your acupuncture and chiropractic treatments that don’t come with dangerous side effects.
So, if you live or work near the SF Telegraph Hill – North Beach – Financial District and are looking for natural pain relief, we would love to meet you. To schedule an appointment with our San Francisco Acupuncturist, please call 415–415–1115 or book an appointment online.
Also published on Medium.