Health & Wellness

The 5 Best Natural Pain Killers You Should Be Using

Why would anyone need natural pain killers? After all, couldn’t you just turn to everyday, well-known over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers?

I get that question … a lot. Here’s my answer: I want you to consider the how you feel about following: Constipation. Nausea. Drowsiness. Stomach ulcers. Kidney and liver damage.

These are just some of the side effects of using prescription and OTC pain killers. But what if you could avoid these harmful reactions? Fortunately you can—by using natural pain killers instead!

So, let’s take a look at some of my top recommended natural pain killers. We’ll review why they work along with the best ways to use them. After today, who knows—you may find a new favorite natural way to remedy your aches and pains!

 

5 Surprising (and Inexpensive) Natural Pain Killers

Here are five surprising natural pain killers I use before turning to OTC options. They’re effective, all-natural, and don’t come with any of the nasty side effects you’re exposed to with medications. Plus, as a bonus benefit, they’re pretty inexpensive!

1. Turmeric

Largely thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is one of my top go-to natural pain killers. I’ve found that it’s great to ease muscle aches, strains, and pains along with arthritis.

In fact, according to a 2017 study on 36 participants who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, taking curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) for three months improved their joint pain in comparison to a placebo. [1]

Meanwhile, a 2014 study found that taking curcumin supplements was just as effective as ibuprofen to help manage the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis. [2]

But there was more: The researchers also found that taking curcumin offered fewer gastrointestinal side effects than taking ibuprofen

Most of the research on turmeric (and, more specifically, curcumin) is focused on muscle and arthritis pain. So, the next time you’re experiencing an arthritis flare or sore muscles, consider adding a little turmeric to your diet.

You can supplement with turmeric capsules or, for a tasty alternative, try my Turmeric Latte Recipe.

2. Hot and cold therapy

Sometimes the oldest and most shared remedies are the best. And that’s the case with some of these tops natural pain killers.

According to a 2021 meta-analysis of 32 studies involving over 1,000 patients, applying cold therapy within one hour after exercise reduced the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness over a 24-hour period but wasn’t as effective after that timeframe. [3]

Additionally, this same meta-analysis found that heat therapy had obvious effects on pain within a 24-hour period and beyond. Applying a hot pack was found to be the most effective heat therapy technique.

So, why do these methods work so well? Interestingly, using cold therapy helps to reduce pain by reducing the blood flow, inflammation, muscle spasms, and metabolic demand on a specific area of the body.

Conversely, heat therapy offers pain relief by increasing blood flow, metabolism, and the elasticity of your connective tissues. [4]

That’s why applying something cold to a bruise makes it feel better—it reduces the blood flow to the area. It also explains why applying heat therapy to a tight muscle can offer pain relief—by promoting blood flow and elasticity to the area.

So, the next time you’re looking for some natural pain relief, consider the type of injury you have and choose to apply either hot or cold therapy in conjunction with the other natural pain killers listed in this article to reap the most benefits.

3. Acupressure

Believe it or not, one of the best natural pain killers is a form of acupressure known as EFT tapping therapy. EFT stands for emotional freedom technique and is a type of therapy that targets emotional stress.

You see, the idea behind EFT is that emotional stress hinders your body’s natural and innate ability to heal itself. So, once you release yourself of these emotional stressors, you can open your body back up to healing.

Sound like a stretch? Take a look at some of the incredible studies showing just how effective it is for helping to relieve pain.

Amazingly, studies have also shown that EFT tapping therapy can reduce pain by up to 57 percent. [5]

And a 2014 study on 59 veterans with PTSD revealed that using EFT as a supplementary therapy resulted in a 41 percent decrease in pain. Even more incredible? Six months later, the participants still reported significantly decreased pain. [6]

Finally, a 2017 study on 24 patients with chronic pain revealed that EFT helped to decrease pain severity along with anxiety and depression. [7]

Perhaps the best part about EFT? It’s a totally free, at-home treatment anyone can do! To learn more about how to do EFT at home, check out my article that tells you exactly how to implement this therapy.

4. Exercise

From back pain and headaches to arthritis and menstrual pain, exercise is known to be one of the top natural pain killers.

According to a 2019 study, walking for just an hour each day can help to reduce arthritis-induced pain and prevent any resulting disabilities. [8]

Personally, I walk daily and advise my patients to do the same. Simply getting outside and taking a stroll in nature does wonders for your stress levels, which can also contribute to pain.

Meanwhile, if you’re suffering from other types of chronic pain, such as back pain or osteoporosis, you may be interested in taking up yoga.

A 2011 review of 35 studies confirmed that regularly practicing yoga enhances muscular strength and body flexibility; promotes and even improves both respiratory and cardiovascular function; and reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. [9]

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that yoga therapy led to improvements in primary IBS digestive symptoms and pain. [10] It’s even been known to help decrease pain due to menstruation.

If you’re interested in trying yoga as one of your go-to natural pain killers but you’re not quite sure where to start, check out my article on 4 Yoga Poses for Common Health Conditions. You’ll find specific suggestions to help relieve different types of pain.

5. Meditation

Finally, the last tip in my list of natural pain killers is perhaps one of the most researched: practicing meditation.

Amazingly, one study found that practicing mindful meditation was more effective than standard treatment options at reducing lower back pain. [11]

Meanwhile, a 2011 study revealed that practicing meditation for two months reduced pain and improved quality of life in those with multiple sclerosis and peripheral neuropathy. [12]

It’s believed that these positive effects are due to the fact that meditation reduces activity in the region of the brain associated with pain signaling.

If you’re new to meditation, click here to learn the three steps to meditating for beginners. Remember that meditation takes practice, so be patient with yourself as you begin. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to relieving pain and feeling more relaxed throughout the day.

 

Natural pain killers - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • Why would anyone need natural pain killers? To avoid the nasty side effects of OTC and prescription pain medications.
  • Five of my top natural pain killers include: turmeric, hot and cold therapy, acupressure, exercise, and meditation.
  • Consider trying these holistic methods before turning to medications the next time you’re seeking some pain relief.

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