Pain is a delicate subject with my patients. When you’re suffering it can be difficult to express just how much it hurts. I’ve seen patients completely debilitated from chronic pain.
But Americans are tough. We don’t mind a little pain. As long as we can fight through it we don’t let it slow us down.
One thing you don’t want, though, is to take a pain reliever and have the side effect be worse than the original pain. And over-the-counter medications for pain have some pretty awful side effects.
In fact, the FDA requires all these pain remedies to come with a clear warning label making consumers aware of the risks for numbness, gastric bleeding, ulcers, allergic reactions and even liver failure.
The good news is, you can reduce pain using natural pain relievers that will help you get going again and get right back in the action.
6 natural pain relief solutions
I’m going to show you six herbs and nutrients you’ll never hear about from your doctor. They’re safe and effective – and completely free of dangerous side effects.
You’ll also see the science backing up these natural solutions.
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine looked at ginger along with traditional pain medications. They found that ginger can reduce pain in the muscles and joints by as much as 25 percent.(1)
Taking raw and cooked ginger daily can be an effective pain reliever – even for inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis. That’s because inflammation is the root cause of all kinds of problems – from arthritis and back pain to muscle aches.
Ginger contains 12 different compounds that fight inflammation. Some block the Cox-2 enzyme, which triggers it. Some lower pain-receptor and nerve-ending sensitivity. Together they work almost the same as anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Studies have shown that 600 mg a day reduces migraine headaches by up to 41 percent.(2)
Look for magnesium that is bound to citrate or malate. Take it with vitamin B6. It will increase the amount of magnesium that accumulates in your cells. You can find magnesium and B6 at your local health-food store.
Also, there’s another form of magnesium you can use for aches and pains… you probably know it as Epsom salts. That’s magnesium sulfate. To soothe aches in your feet, you can add a half cup of Epsom salts to a large pan of warm water. Soak your feet for as long as it feels good.
3. Devil’s Claw:
Despite its name, Devil’s Claw has many healing properties. Studies have proven its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and even lower back pain.(3) Its active ingredients, called harpagosides, also can boost your digestion and immune response.
Devil’s Claw is available in capsule, tincture and tea form. You can find them easily at your local health-food store. If you’re taking a capsule, start with 600 mg three times a day. Look for 50 mg to 100 mg of harpagoside in each capsule.
For the dried root, doses of 0.5 to 1.5 grams three times per day in a water-based solution (like a cup of tea…) are typical. As a tincture, I’d recommend doses of 0.2 to 1 ml three times per day.
Capsaicin gives peppers their heat. It also relieves pain through a number of pathways in your body – safely and effectively.
Research in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association showed that capsaicin has an “across the board” talent for getting rid of joint and muscle pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis and even diabetic neuropathy.(4)
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to add cayenne to your cuisine. I tend to use cayenne by taste and add it to my food in place of black pepper. It’s also quite good in salsa.
I keep a bottle of cayenne in my house for emergencies, too. Once I was cutting down some bananas and accidentally cut my hand with a machete. I sprinkled some cayenne on the cut, applied pressure and the bleeding stopped immediately.
5. Cow Foot Leaf:
The plant is named for its large hoof-shaped leaves, although some varieties are called “monkey’s hand.” It has powerful analgesic properties, and it’s also anti-inflammatory. It’s used to treat migraines, ulcers and infection.(5)
One place where they use the leaf extensively to fight pain and inflammation is in Jamaica. It’s been used by Jamaica’s Maroon healers for almost 500 years to soothe aching joints and relieve headaches.
My friend Ivelyn Harris is a direct descendant of Princess Nanny, the original leader of the Maroons and a legendary natural healer.
I’ve visited her at her retreat in the John Crow Mountains of Eastern Jamaica, and on the way there I saw Cow Foot Leaf growing all through the gullies and other sunny spots in the Rio Grande Valley.
Ivey warms three or four leaves, puts them directly on the painful area and covers it. In less than 30 minutes, the pain will usually be gone. She told me it’s also good for muscle spasms.
Ivey also grinds the leaves and applies them to cuts and scrapes. And she’ll often boil them to relieve people’s stomach pains.
The seeds have 16 analgesic chemicals. Fennel is very soothing, and is used to relieve colic and cramps.
In one study, 80 percent of the people treated with fennel showed complete pain relief. In another study, researchers gave people a fennel extract and reduced inflammation and even allergic reactions.(6)
It makes a nice licorice-flavored tea. A typical dose of fennel is from one to one-and-a-half teaspoons of seeds per day, either in capsules or as tea.
1 Ozgoli, G., Goli, M., Moattar, F. “Comparison of Effects of Ginger, Mefenamic Acid, and Ibuprofen on Pain in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea,” J. Altern. Complement. Med. Feb. 2009;15(2):129-32
2 Peikert, A., Wilimzig, C., Kohne-Volland, R., “Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium,” Cephalalgia 1996; 16(4):257-63
3 Stewart, K.M. and Cole, D., “The commercial harvest of devil’s claw (Harpagophytum spp.) in Southern Africa: the devil’s in the details,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2005; 100.3:225-36
4 Todd, C., “Meeting the therapeutic challenge of the patient with osteoarthritis,” Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (Wash) 2002; 42:74-82
5 Lans, Cheryl, Harper, Tisha, Georges, Karla, et al, “Medicinal and ethnoveterinary remedies of hunters in Trinidad,” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2001; 1: 10
6 Choi, E.M., Hwang, J.K., “Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare,” Fitoterapia. Sept. 2004;75(6):557-65
Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health. His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.
Dr. Sears currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Wellington, Florida with over 15,000 patients. Over the course of his career, he has developed his own approach to heart health, longevity and anti-aging medicine - combining the best of modern medical science with natural holistic techniques and treatments.