Chronic pain is one of the most common ailments, outnumbering cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. If you are one of the estimated 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, you have turned to aspirin, surgery, and a whole host of other traditional solutions for relief with varied success. For those suffering from chronic aches and pains, here are some natural home remedies you should try.
1. Fish oil
A centuries-old health supplement, fish oil has a long history of use for its various nutritional benefits and has been found to help reduce or prevent symptoms leading to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s. As far as pain relief is concerned, fish oil breaks down into prostaglandins, chemicals resembling hormones that reduce inflammation. The supplement is best taken for joint pains caused by arthritis or autoimmune disorders.
About 1,000 mg of fish oil is suggested for daily heart health, but you will need to increase the amount of pain. Consult your doctor before you take fish oil as it is known to thin the blood.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is most prominently used for relieving sunburns, healing wounds, and reducing the itchy feeling of mosquito bites and poison ivy, but the plant extract can also be used to treat joint pains and arthritis. The plant contains a natural anti-inflammatory substance that relieves pain and aids the immune system. Aloe is also rich in chondroitin and glucosamine, two of the fundamental elements of cartilage in your joints.
Aloe is available in gel and lotion forms but can also be used in its normal plant form. Simply break off a leaf and rub the sap into the affected area.
As a kid, your mom may have had you drink some ginger ale to help settle an upset stomach. Ginger is a fantastic digestive aid but it works just as well in your joints. The root contains gingerol, paradol, shogaol, and zingerone, all of which work in conjunction to block the key enzymes involved in the inflammatory process. Ginger also dampens nerve fibers that send pain signals.
This remedy is easy to include is any meal. Grate up to three teaspoons of ginger into a soup, salad, or some stir-fry for some deliciously effective pain relief.
One of the most common spices in Indian cuisine, turmeric does more than enhance a dish’s flavors. Recent studies found that turmeric is as effective as ibuprofen in fighting the pain presented by rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting NF-kB, a protein that activates the body’s inflammatory response. The spice has also been found to hamper arthritis’s destruction of joints and cartilage.
The jury’s still out about how much turmeric you should actually consume, but using turmeric as a spice in any dish should provide you plenty of its beneficial effects.
If you’re looking for additional alternatives to treat your chronic pain without synthetic chemicals or invasive surgery, try some of these.
- Laser therapy. Low-level laser treatment for chronic pain is administered with medical laser equipment that stimulates aching, inflamed tissue without invasive surgery. The treatment is usually best suited for shoulder and neck pain.
- Acupuncture. It’s that mysterious, miraculous treatment that many of us are skeptical about—but it’s proven itself effective time and time again. While scientists aren’t quite sure why it works, it’s been proven to help ease chronic pain like headaches, backaches, and arthritis.
- Chiropractic and massage. In some cases, a good chiropractic massage can ease tension and stress, realign the spine, and leave patients feeling refreshed. Depending on how severe your pain is and what is causing it, a chiropractor might be able to help you.
- Food. We can think of food as medicine that helps our bodies function optimally. The wrong foods, though, can be seen as toxins. Since a lot of chronic pain is caused by inflammation, add a healthy amount of these inflammation-fighting foods to your diet:
- Foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as wild salmon, flaxseeds (or oil), walnuts.
- Extra virgin olive oil is a great anti-inflammatory agent and helps to protect your heart. Make olive oil your cooking oil of choice, rather than vegetable oils or butter.
- High-nutrient, fruits, and vegetables like berries, cherries, watermelon, kale, spinach, broccoli, and bell peppers contain healthy antioxidants.
- Spices and herbs like dried oregano, fresh basil, ground cloves, and dried marjoram fight inflammation and add wonderful flavor to all kinds of dishes.
- Don’t forget your daily green tea, which can help fight inflammation and ease painful joints.
- There are some foods you should avoid that increase inflammation, like excessive processed sugar, dairy, alcohol, and refined grains.
Remember that pain is just your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right. As bad as it may seem, pain is a necessity. Whether you choose at-home remedies, laser therapy for pain, or alternative medicine, be sure to take care of your pain and increase your quality of life.