Summer loving can often wind up with us aching the morning after the fun. Maybe it was dancing all night long at a summer festival, maybe you were showing off your paddle boarding headstand skills, or maybe, just maybe, you thought drinking too much sangria on your bestie’s patio was a good idea.
No matter the cause, pain hurts. It’s a — wait for it — pain to be in pain!
It can take over our thoughts, dump crap all over our good times and can seriously impair our quality of life, whether that be on your Monday after a weekend of fun, or in long-term, chronic situations. Something else that happens as a result of pain is that we tend to try and tune out of our bodies instead of tuning in. The more pain we experience, the more we work to detach from how we’re actually feeling. It’s how the bod copes with discomfort.
As positive as we try to be, it is almost impossible to be our happiest, shiniest, best-ever selves when we are dealing with pain, whether it’s from a splitting headache, a stubbed toe or a chronic disease like fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.
People with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop psychiatric symptoms like depression and anxiety, and it’s no wonder — when you’re in pain, it’s harder to enjoy doing the things you love. Riding bicycles covered in flowers? Fun. Riding bicycles covered in flowers while reeling from crippling joint pain? Not so fun. (Chronic explosive diarrhea, by the way, is also a buzzkill.)
Thankfully, we have options, and some of the best have been provided directly from nature!
While over-the-counter painkillers can be really helpful, and in some cases may be the best option, they can also cause gastrointestinal upset (see explosive diarrhea, above) and definitely aren’t the best long-term strategy for coping with chronic pain. My goal is, of course, is to try and help relieve pain by getting to the root cause. But sometimes, we need a little something to take the edge off. At those times, I turn to the power herbs and nutrients, whether in food form or ready-blended supplements.
5 Awesome Remedies to Reduce Pain + Inflammation
What it is: A powerful enzyme found in the most delightful of tropical fruits, pineapple.
How it works: While most enzymes get broken down in the digestive tract, bromelaine actually gets absorbed into our bodies whole, resulting in whole-body effects. Once it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, studies show that it reduces inflammation, reduces pain and speeds healing.
How to get it: Eating pineapple can help reduce pain, especially if you juice the hard stem and drink it on an empty stomach. Juicing pineapple in a combo with aloe, ginger and turmeric (see below) is a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory pain relief. Bromelaine can also be found on its own as a supplement.
What it is: It’s a root. It looks a lot like ginger, but it’s bright orange inside. It’s available as a whole fresh fruit, or more commonly in North America, as a dried, ground spice.
How it works: Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a ton of different conditions ranging from infections to cancers to inflammation to digestive problems. In a 2009 study of people with osteoarthritis, researchers found that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) eased pain as well as ibuprofen (Advil.) Read more on turmeric here.
How to get it: Turmeric can be enjoyed as a tea or used in recipes — many Indian-inspired dishes call for turmeric. You can also buy curcumin in capsule form.
3. Devil’s claw
What it is: It is definitely not the paw of a devil, but kind of looks like one. It’s a creepy looking root that is well worth a Google search to take a gander.
How it works: Devil’s claw is a plant that’s native to southern Africa. Studies have shown that it can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis. In one study, arthritis patients taking just devil’s claw had as much relief from pain as those taking traditional pain medication. Devil’s claw contains powerful anti-inflammatory components called iridoid glycosides, the source of its pain-relieving properties.
How to get it: Devil’s claw root can be taken as a tea, and it is also often sold in capsules and ointments. Genuine Health’s fast pain relief+ product also contains devil’s claw.
4. White willow bark
What it is: It is the bark of the white willow tree, obviously! (But please ensure you know the tree well before you start peeling the bark and brewing a tea.)
How it works: White willow bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever and inflammation. It contains salicin, the chemical originally used to develop Aspirin in the 1800s. Studies have shown that willow bark is as effective as Aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation. I like to keep a bottle of this on hand when travelling, as the pressure in airplanes tends to give me an achy head.
How to get it: White willow is available dried as a tea, powdered in capsules or as a tincture. It’s also often used as an ingredient in combination pain-relief supplements.
5. Egg membrane (not as gross as it sounds)
What it is: It’s that transparent layer between the eggshell and the loosey goosey part inside an egg. It’s easy to see on hard-boiled eggs.
How it works: Egg membrane contains the bio-active components of the membrane that is designed to protect the egg, including collagen and glucosamine. According to a recent study, egg membrane significantly reduced joint pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis of the knee when compared to a placebo.
How to get it: Egg membrane can be purchased in supplement form — but definitely don’t try this one if you’re allergic to eggs! If you have a cut or a wound, you can also use the membrane from your boiled egg in place of a band aid for accelerated healing.
What are some of your favourite natural pain management strategies?
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