When it comes to aches and pains, it’s easy to pop a pill. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen are just a few examples. These over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers have become such a normal part of our lives – but they’re not the only options. Many natural ingredients also offer pain relief. From headaches to sore muscles, countless minor ailments can be treated with painkillers. Even menstrual cramps, arthritis, and toothaches make the list.
No wonder painkillers have become household staples. While OTC pain relievers are cheap and convenient, there’s a risk for dangerous side effects. For example, too much acetaminophen may damage the liver. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or naproxen sodium can cause stomach bleeding or kidney damage. Proper use will prevent these problems, but the risk is daunting.1
This is why natural alternatives are so useful. Not only can they alleviate pain, but they do it without mysterious chemicals. There’s also a lower risk for problems and side effects. So instead of swallowing
Alternative Painkillers At Your Disposal
1. Peppermint Has Analgesic Qualities
Peppermint is an analgesic, which means that it relieves pain.3 The scent will wake you up, too! As a tea, peppermint aids period cramps, tension headaches, and tummy troubles. The essential oil can also be used in aromatherapy.4 To make a pain-relieving blend, dilute 5 drops of peppermint essential oil in 1 tablespoon of a carrier like coconut, olive, or avocado oil. Rub onto your temple, stomach, or wherever you’re feeling achy.
2. Ginger Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
A holistic pantry isn’t complete without ginger. This pungent root has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to active compounds called gingerols.5 Ginger can be used raw or as a tea, capsule, essential oil, or powder. This remedy works just as well as ibuprofen, according to a 2017 study in Dental Research Journal. It’s been proven to help patients after dental surgery.6 along with sufferers of migraines7
3. Clove Has Anesthetic Elements
Known for its spicy and pungent scent, clove oil is a strong pain reliever. Its oil has been used in blends to treat muscular pain relief.9 Dealing with a toothache? Ease the pain by directly applying clove oil to your gums.10 Eugenol, its active compound, is responsible for the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also an anesthetic, so it can numb the pain.11 Aside from oil, clove is also available fresh or as a tea.
4. Garlic Has Anti-Microbial Properties
Almost every recipe calls for garlic. With minor ailments, it’s the same story! Garlic can treat problems like headaches, migraines, arthritis, sciatica, and acute coughs.12 Allicin, its anti-inflammatory compound, is thought to be at play.
To top it off, allicin also offers anti-microbial and anti-oxidative properties,13 making it a must for overall health. Eat garlic whole, in cooked foods, as supplements or extracts. On the skin, garlic essential oil can be diluted and applied like peppermint oil.
5. Turmeric Is A Powerful Antioxidant
When your joints act up, reach for turmeric. The active compound, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Studies have shown benefits for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The combination of ginger and turmeric is actually better than indomethacin, a super strong nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Alone, turmeric works just as well as ibuprofen but with fewer stomach-related side effects. As an added bonus, curcumin is powerful antioxidant. Various chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes won’t stand a chance.14 To enjoy turmeric, take it as a tea, extract, or capsule. The powder can also be added to your favorite recipes.
There’s no problem with keeping OTC painkillers on hand. However, by using natural remedies whenever possible, you can limit how much you take. Above all, the ingredients will be no secret.
|↑1||Health Hints: Use Caution with Pain Relievers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.|
|↑2||Pain Relievers. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||McKay, Diane L., and Jeffrey B. Blumberg. “A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.).” Phytotherapy research 20, no. 8 (2006): 619-633.|
|↑4||Peppermint. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑5||Funk, Janet L., Jennifer B. Frye, Janice N. Oyarzo, Jianling Chen, Huaping Zhang, and Barbara N. Timmermann. “Anti-inflammatory effects of the essential oils of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in experimental rheumatoid arthritis.” PharmaNutrition 4, no. 3 (2016): 123-131.|
|↑6||Rayati, Farshid, Fatemeh Hajmanouchehri, and Elnaz Najafi. “Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case–control clinical trial.” Dental research journal 14, no. 1 (2017): 1.|
|↑7||Maghbooli, Mehdi, Farhad Golipour, Alireza Moghimi Esfandabadi, and Mehran Yousefi. “Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.” Phytotherapy research 28, no. 3 (2014): 412-415.|
|↑8||Rondanelli, Mariangela, Antonella Riva, Paolo Morazzoni, Pietro Allegrini, Milena Anna Faliva, Maurizio Naso, Alessandra Miccono, Gabriella Peroni, Irene Degli Agosti, and Simone Perna. “The effect and safety of highly standardized Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) extract supplementation on inflammation and chronic pain in NSAIDs poor responders. A pilot study in subjects with knee arthrosis.” Natural product research 31, no. 11 (2017): 1309-1313.|
|↑9||Nawaz, Allah, Zeeshan Ahmed Sheikh, Majid Feroz, Kamran Alam, Halima Nazar, and Khan Usmanghani. “Clinical efficacy of polyherbal formulation Eezpain spray for muscular pain relief.” Pak. J. Pharm. Sci 28, no. 1 (2015): 43-47.|
|↑10||Clove. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library
|↑11||Chaieb, Kamel, Hafedh Hajlaoui, Tarek Zmantar, Amel Ben Kahla‐Nakbi, Mahmoud Rouabhia, Kacem Mahdouani, and Amina Bakhrouf. “The chemical composition and biological activity of clove essential oil, Eugenia caryophyllata (Syzigium aromaticum L. Myrtaceae): a short review.” Phytotherapy research 21, no. 6 (2007): 501-506.p|
|↑12||Mahdizadeh, Shahla, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. “Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine: a review of analgesics and anti-inflammatory substances.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine 5, no. 3 (2015): 182.|
|↑13||Su, Quan-Sheng, Ye Tian, Jian-Guo Zhang, and
|↑14||Dragos, Dorin, Marilena Gilca, Laura Gaman, Adelina Vlad, Liviu Iosif, Irina Stoian, and Olivera Lupescu. “Phytomedicine in Joint Disorders.”