Long before the advent of western medicine, people found ways to cope with the sensation of pain. It’s not like they just had to deal with it because pharmaceutical companies hadn’t been invented yet. And while narcotics, for example, are certainly powerful, they aren’t without their fair share of side effects, most notably a dulling of the senses and a strong level of physical and psychological addiction over time. Even over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and NSAIDs can cause problems. The point is that there are natural treatments for pain that have been in practice for thousands of years, and even though they haven’t been “clinically tested”, that doesn’t meant they don’t work. So if you find that you are unable to utilize western medicine for the treatment of your pain, or you simply don’t want to, here are a few of the best natural remedies that you might want to try instead.
1. Capsaicin. This chili pepper derivative is most commonly found in topical creams and it offers pain relief through the desensitization of certain nerve receptors in the skin. It is often used to treat conditions like sore muscles, arthritis, and sometimes neuropathy (like shingles, for example), and in all cases it has been shown to significantly reduce pain temporarily, although it is unable to completely negate it. Capsaicin is not generally used for chronic types of pain, probably because it produces an unpleasant burning sensation in large doses, which means that topical creams that contain it generally have only a small percentage.
2. S adenosylmethionine. More commonly known as SAM-e, this supplement is basically composed of an amino acid that, when taken over time, can reduce inflammation and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which counteract pain and make you feel good. It has been compared to NSAIDs in the type of relief it offers, with the added benefit that it is less likely to cause stomach upset and it is also safer for your heart. However, you may have to take it for several weeks before you notice any effect, so it could be good for those who suffer from mild, chronic pain. But you aren’t exactly going to take it to treat a headache.
3. Magnesium Malate. For those who suffer from chronic pain, this form of magnesium has been shown to be a safe way to combat symptoms. As such it is often sought out by those who have conditions like chronic inflammation or fibromyalgia.
4. Exercise. The type of pain you suffer from, or more to the point, the condition that causes the pain, could have a marked effect on the type, duration, and intensity of activity you are capable of undertaking, but many forms of pain can be diminished through physical fitness. In some cases this is linked to weight loss, as with joint pain, perhaps. In others it has to do with the release of serotonin. However, any form of exercise that helps to make your body stronger or more flexible may provide a form of therapy for your pain. Physical therapy could also be a good option.
5. Acupuncture. This form of therapy has become popular enough that it may even be recommended at your average pain management center as an alternative to narcotic solutions. What’s attractive about acupuncture, aside from the fact that it has been in practice for thousands of years, is that it can be used to treat many kinds of pain, from migraines to arthritis to back pain, and then some. Of course, you must often go for regular sessions to keep pain at bay, but if it can help you to cope without medication it could be well worth it.