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Treating Pain with Herbs

Inflammation, Joint disorders | January 28, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Inflammation, Pain, autoimmune

Treating Pain with Herbs

Pain can be defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is not just a physical sensation, instead it is something that can be influenced by attitudes, beliefs, personality and social factors, and can affect emotional and mental wellbeing.

There are two main categories of painAcute pain

Acute pain

This lasts for a short period of time and occurs following surgery or trauma or other conditions. It acts as a warning to the body to seek help. Although it usually improves as the body heals, in some cases, it may not.

Chronic pain

This lasts beyond the time expected for healing, (usually three months) following surgery, trauma or other conditions. It can also exist without a clear reason. Although chronic pain can be a symptom of disease, it can also be a disease in its own right, characterised by changes within the central nervous system.

Conditions such as migraines, osteoporosis, arthritis and other musculoskeletal ailments are well recognised chronic diseases. However, there are other chronic pain conditions that may not be as common or well known. They include conditions related to nerve pain, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, facial pain and persistent post-surgical pain.

Acute pain can transition into chronic pain if it is untreated or poorly treated. This happens when neuroplastic changes occur within the nervous system, which make the body more sensitive to pain and can create sensations of pain even without external pain stimuli. For example, people can feel pain from a breeze or clothes touching their skin. This is called pain sensitisation.

The longer pain remains untreated, the greater the risk of the body becoming sensitised to pain, and the pain becoming chronic. Therefore timely and effective treatment of acute pain is essential to prevent transition to chronic pain.

Common Forms of Pain

Chronic pain is very complex and everyone experiences pain differently. Chronic pain can be associated with surgery, trauma or other conditions, or it can exist without a clear reason.

Common Forms of PainIt can be a symptom of another disease(s), or it can be a stand-alone condition. It may show up in a scan or test, or there may be no evidence of its existence. It can occur anywhere in the body, or at multiple sites. One person can have several forms of pain, or just one and chronic pain can occur daily or be recurrent like migraines.

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Pain is not always curable, but there are many ways to treat it. Treatment does not have to depend on the cause and type of pain when using natural remedies such as herbs. There are currently over one hundred plants that are known to have pain-relieving properties.

Effective herbs for Natural Pain Relief


Turmeric comes from the curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries. The dried root of the curcuma longa plant is ground into the distinctive yellow turmeric powder. There are several chemical compounds found in turmeric, known as curcuminoids. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin.

turmericTo date, there are over 10,000 studies referencing turmeric, the most interesting finding is that when it’s compared to conventional medicine, turmeric benefits equal that of many pharmaceutical medications. In fact, a number of studies have even reported that using curcumin is more advantageous than certain prescription drugs.

One of the more widely accepted properties of curcumin amongst scientific research is its ability to manage pain.

It seems that curcumin naturally activates the opioid system which is typically manipulated by pain-relieving drugs, which, more often than not cause unwanted side-effects or are ineffective.
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Boswelia Serrata, or Indian frankincense as it is otherwise known, is a potent supplement that helps to reduce inflammation. Boswelia can be found in several concentrated forms, including therapeutic-grade oil that can be massaged directly into the skin or taken in a capsule form. There are many natural pain relieving supplements in tablet form that also contain high doses of Boswellia. The herbal extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

According to the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, Boswellia oil is capable of reducing arthritis pain through several mechanisms: supporting overall immune function, interfering with cytokine production that raises inflammation, delaying reactions to sensitivities, helping regulate lymphocytes (white blood cells) and T-cells interactions and reducing autoimmune effects related to immunoglobulin G antibodies.
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The Chinese and Indians have used ginger tonics to treat ailments for over 4,700 years and today, ginger is the most widely used dietary condiment in the world.

GingerIt belongs to the same plant family that includes turmeric, which may explain why the health benefits of ginger are so extraordinary. Ginger is known for its anti-pain properties. Its active constituent gingerol is derived from the oily resin found in the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Gingerol has the ability to act on pain receptors that are located on sensory nerve endings, therefore directly affecting pain pathways but at the same time also relieving inflammation.

Devils Claw

Devil’s claw is one of the most frequently used home remedies for pain, especially the pain of arthritis. Like turmeric, devil’s claw serves as a natural anti-inflammatory and therefore can be used on all types of pain. It also shows amazing potential as an anticancer herb.

Devils claw reduces inflammation and inflammatory pain in a variety of conditions, including acute pain, with few adverse effects. In one particular study, neuropathic pain (shooting or burning pain often the result of some type of nerve damage) and postoperative pain were reduced after 21 days of treatment with an extract of devil’s claw.

Research conducted in 2001 found that devil’s claw extract given for a period of eight weeks helped to relieve chronic back pain and improve mobility in 117 patients over a six month period. Within that time frame there was not one adverse reaction or side-effect recorded.  

There are many more treatment options for relieving pain naturally. These include herbs, supplements such as MSM, fish oils, bovine and bromelain and many dietary changes that can be implemented in order to reduce inflammation and toxicity in the body. Not only are natural treatments highly effective in helping to treat pain as shown in hundreds of clinical trials but they have the added advantage of not causing side effects that medication can cause.
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Bode A. M, Dong Z. Ginger. Packer L, Ong C.N, Halliwell B. New York: Marcel Dekker; Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health. 2004

Altman R. D, Marcussen K. C. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44(11):2531–8

Black C. D, Oconnor P. J. Acute effects of dietary ginger on quadriceps muscle pain during moderate-intensity cycling exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008;18(6):653–64

Bliddal H, Rosetzsky A, Schlichting P, editors. et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study of ginger extracts and ibuprofen in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000;8(1):9–12

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