3 Natural Sources of Pain Relief

Friday, April 13, 2018

     Pain relief is a tricky subject, especially within the context of the current opioid epidemic, which is ravaging communities across the US. When we experience even a minor pain, something which is a common part of everyday life, we are all too quick to reach for a Tylenol or ibuprofen tablet. We have been conditioned to see pills as an easy fix for many of life's problems.
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3 Natural Sources of Pain Relief
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     While powerful pharmaceutical pain relief, including opioids, is sometimes appropriate, most of us could manage just as well with natural alternatives to common painkillers. Whether it's for personal philosophical reasons, or a simple desire to experiment with alternatives, the following natural products have been shown to be effective in providing pain relief for many people.

Ginger

     Ginger has a number of useful properties from a medical perspective. In addition to being an effective painkiller, ginger is also regularly used as a natural treatment for nausea - including morning sickness. There is also evidence to suggest that consuming raw ginger might have benefits for our digestive systems.

     The mechanism by which ginger is able to provide pain relief is by blocking the biosynthesis of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins. This is also how drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin work. Ginger is something commonly found in many households. When someone experiences pain and finds themselves wondering “what helps knee pain that I have easy access to?” ginger isn’t the first thing they think of, but perhaps it should be!

Turmeric

     Turmeric is another spice which is widely used for its medicinal properties. In countries and regions where turmeric grows naturally, its medicinal properties are well established. Turmeric has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. There are also studies which point to turmeric improving blood clotting and circulation. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, this substance in isolation has been shown to lower the levels of a couple of different enzymes, which are responsible for inflammation.

Capsaicin

     Capsaicin is a fascinating compound. It is this ingredient which gives spicy food its characteristic hotness. When capsaicin comes into contact with certain cells in the body – such as those in our mouths and, as anyone who has neglected to wash their hands while cooking with chilis can attest to, our genitals – it acts as a potent inhibitor of a particular enzyme. Inhibiting this enzyme causes the nerves in that area to become much more sensitive to heat. To the point where our own body heat is enough to make us feel like we’re on fire!

     But as well as causing pain upon contact with some areas of the body, topical application of capsaicin inhibits the transmission of the imaginatively named substance p. Substance p is responsible for transmitting pain signals through the body.

     Finding effective ways of managing pain that don’t involve strong pharmaceuticals is a priority for everyone. Doctors would love to be able to treat pain in their patients without having to worry about devastating side effects. Patients, meanwhile, would love to be able to kill their pain without risking their health.

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