Natural Ways to Ease Aches and Pains
When addressing aches and pains, it is important first to identify what pain is. Pain is your brain registering that there is tissue damage in the body. This tissue damage releases inflammatory and nociceptive molecules that stimulates nerve fibers which then carry the signal to the brain. Pain is just a symptom and there is always an underlying cause. It is important to look at these underlying causes when treating aches and pains.
Determining the Underlying Cause of Aches and Pains
There are three categories to consider when determining the underlying cause of pain.
1) Pain due to mechanical issue or overuse – such as pains, strains, and dislocations
2) Pain due to structural issues – such as subluxation; a bone goes out of place, pinches a nerve, and creates pain
3) Pain due to systemic disease – such as Fibromyalgia, cancer, Lyme, and rheumatoid arthritis
When addressing pain it is important to look at the above causes, in the meantime there is a lot you can do to naturally ease aches and pains. There are both internal and external ways to ease pain.
Internal Ways to Ease Pain
1) Botanicals are wonderful tools in our toolkit to help ease aches and pains. Pain is an inflammatory process so anti-inflammatory botanicals will help pain. Here are some botanicals to consider:
- Turmeric – is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It contains a plant compound called curcumin that inhibits pro-inflammatory pathways and also depletes substance P (a neurotransmitter in the pain signaling process)
- Ginger – is a related botanical that is also anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and is good for spasmodic pain.
- Frankincense – is a good anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and it is specific for rheumatic conditions. It pairs really well with the herb, Devil’s claw.
- White Willow Bark – is also an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and contains a compound called salicin. Salicin is converted to the active compound salicylic acid which is similar to the main ingredient in aspirin. Therefore it acts in a similar way.
2) Proteolytic Enzymes can be wonderful adjuncts to easing aches and pains. Enzymes like bromelain, papain, chymotrypsin, trypsin are helpful. They digest the inflammatory proteins that circulate around causing inflammation and then causing pain.
3) Magnesium is also helpful especially in the malate form which has an affinity for muscle tissue. This is a good adjunct if your aches and pains are muscular in nature.
External Ways to Ease Pain
1) Topicals – these are at the top of the list and include things we apply directly to the skin to get immediate pain relief.
- Capsaicin – is the active compound in cayenne pepper. It depletes substance P (the neurotransmitter that is involved in pain signaling) and can be a very effective topical agent for pain.
- Menthol – is the active compound found in peppermint and spearmint. It has a cooling effect when applied topically and helps relieve pain.
- Camphor – relieves pain, irritation, and itching.
- CBD – is a compound from the cannabis plant. It can be taken internally or applied externally. It is an anti-inflammatory and relieves pain.
2) Physiotherapy – are techniques that are wonderful adjuncts to easing aches and pains.
- TENS – involves using low voltage electrical stimulation that directly blocks pain signals from descending from the tissues up to the brain.
- Low level laser therapy – involves using cold laser for its photodynamic effects not it’s heating effects. The light directly penetrates skin, soft and hard tissue, can get deep into the joints and stimulate the mitochondria, accelerate tissue healing, and directly reduce pain levels.
- Therapeutic ultrasound – is the use of sound waves for both its mechanical and thermal effects. The end result is deep tissue healing, stimulating wound healing, and easing aches and pains.
3) Exercise is beneficial in easing aches and pains. When you exercise you release endorphins. Endorphins directly counteract nociceptive molecules that are released when we are in pain.
4) Caster oil when applied topically is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. When coupled with heat it drives the oil deeper into the tissue and can be a wonderful local treatment for whatever area of the body you have pain.
5) Hydrotherapy is the therapeutic use of water and can be effective in reducing pain.
- Epson salt bath – use warm water in the bath and add Epson salt. This helps circulation, it penetrates tissues, and gives a muscle relaxation effect because of the magnesium in the salt.
- Contrast hydrotherapy – uses water with two temperature extremes, hot and cold applications. The hot application opens blood vessels and brings blood flow to areas, oxygen to tissues, and carries away toxic waste. The cold application is a nice contrast because it reduces inflammation and reduces swelling. Contrast hydrotherapy involves 3 minute hot applications followed by 30 second cold applications, repeated as often as you can throughout the day. This is an effective at home treatment to ease your aches and pains.
6) Soft tissue massage and acupuncture are also helpful and should be considered in your care plan when looking at targeting pain naturally.
Pain affects many people and there is always an underlying cause that first needs to be addressed. At North Coast Family Health we can develop a specific, individualized treatment plan that will help you address your aches and pains.
If you have questions or would like to learn more contact the office to schedule your free 10 minute consultation with Dr. Alyssa Christoforou: https://naturopathic-doctors.com/contact/