We all want to eat healthier but still prepare delicious, flavorful meals. Luckily, there are many herbs and spices that help us combine health with taste just inside the pantry door. These nine healthy herbs and spices can help you lead a healthier lifestyle, and many may even help reduce pain. Check out these powerful herbs for pain relief, whether you’re suffering from nerve pain, joint pain, or other conditions.
Why try herbs for pain relief?
Herbal remedies have an amazing history as a part of the evolution of human culture. Every civilization has offered their experience and stories surrounding the gifts of these natural plants. This history now allows modern societies to create compounds and medications to help individuals suffering from a variety of conditions. Leaves, barks, roots, flowers, and every other component of helpful plants can still provide relief for pain or discomfort. Delving into the history of herbs for chronic pain is a rich and exciting place that can lead to a better understanding of the world around us and the way health and science shape our lives.
The earliest herbal traditions were based on experimentation as well as cause and effect. When a root, seed, or plant had a restorative effect on a person, it was used more frequently. Those instances led to understanding the plant’s effect on additional conditions. Over centuries, our experience with these herbs changed. Our knowledge of chemical analysis was born and we were able to determine which specific properties of plants helped certain conditions and, more importantly, why. Research is still continuing and our knowledge base is still increasing, but herbs remain viable treatments for a number of conditions.
It was in the 19th century before herbal remedies transitioned from folklore and witchcraft to science. Chemists began creating their own compounds that kickstarted the early days of the drug industry. In that time, these compounds began to replace herbs as a medical treatment.
Today, herbal remedies are becoming popular again. Individuals dealing with a variety of conditions from acute to chronic pain can benefit from the advancements made in herbal medicine over the course of human history.
14 herbs for pain
There are a number of herbs that you can use to relieve pain, even chronic pain.
Chronic pain is any pain that lasts more than three months. Typically a chronic condition, such as osteoarthritis, causes it or it can result from an injury that did not heal entirely. There are a number of invasive and interventional procedures as well as drugs such as NSAIDs that can be used, but some patients find relief from herbs for pain as well.
Here is a quick overview of some common herbs for pain and how they may help individuals with chronic pain conditions.
Found in chili peppers and spices such as cayenne, capsaicin can be effective at relieving joint and muscle pain when applied to the affected area as a patch. It may feel painful as it works, but over time it blocks pain-sensing neurotransmitters.
In addition to pain-relieving properties, capsaicin also helps to speed up metabolism and burn fat, especially belly fat, the presence of which is a key indicator of health. Capsaicin can suppress appetite and help to slow the accumulation of fat in other areas of the body.
Cinnamon has amazing health benefits for everyone from Type-2 diabetics to athletes. One study showed that not only did cinnamon lower cravings for sugar when added to fruit and tea, but it also lowered blood glucose and blood pressure in those patients with Type-2 diabetes that was difficult to control (see the full study here, and another study that indicates cinnamon’s effectiveness as a treatment for hyperglycemia here).
Cinnamon is also packed with anti-oxidants that fight cell damage caused by free radicals in the environment.
Cumin is another wonder spice that may help relieve the inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis, lowers blood glucose levels, and utilizes antibacterial properties to fight the development of stomach ulcers.
Used prominently in cuisines from Mexico to India, cumin has a host of other health benefits that are supported by new research.
Top to bottom, garlic is one of the most powerful spices in your pantry. Garlic has been used for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects and has also been linked to heart health, reduced cholesterol levels, and weight loss.
Garlic can even be crushed and placed against an aching tooth for temporary pain relief and has also been used to fight the effects of carcinogens in the body. More than just a vampire deterrent!
Ginger is a powerful natural pain reliever for muscle aches and joint pain (two grams of ginger supplement eased muscle soreness by 25% over eleven days) and is also an excellent way to relieve nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and motion sickness.
In fact, in some studies, it’s been found to be more effective than Dramamine at reducing motion sickness. This might make ginger a good choice for those who take pain medications that cause nausea. Additionally, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective at reducing pain. You can add ginger to meals, use in supplement form, or drink in a tea.
Ginger is also a warming spice that helps improve circulation, helps relieve coughs and chest congestion, and has overall anti-inflammatory properties.
Worried about recent warnings about food-borne illnesses such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria? Load up your pizza with oregano! Oregano has thymol and carvacol, phytochemicals that act as powerful antimicrobials that can help kill bacteria that causes food-borne illness, and it also has four times the antioxidants of blueberries.
Oregano can be used fresh, and some natural mouthwashes contain oregano oil.
Rosemary is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and an excellent source of vitamin E. Additionally, rosemary has been used to treat asthma because it helps reduce the effects of histamines, the chemical that restricts the airway.
When taken regularly, rosemary improves liver and kidney function and is helpful to flush toxins out of the body. Some caution is necessary with this herb, though. Some people have had allergic reactions to the powerful oils, and pregnant women are advised to avoid rosemary in large quantities. As a precaution before taking rosemary or consuming it in quantity as oil or a supplement, consult your medical professional.
Thyme contains thymol, a volatile oil that is helpful in fighting chest congestion, bronchitis, coughing, and other respiratory illnesses.
Aromatherapists recommend using thyme as a mood-lifting scent, and studies have shown that washing fruits and vegetables in a solution that contains just 1% of thyme oil drops shigella bacteria below detectable levels.
A list of herbs for pain wouldn’t be complete without turmeric. This yellow Indian spice is common in curries, but recent research is showing that it can also provide relief for arthritis or even joint injuries.
Turmeric is a powerhouse of a spice. There is powerful evidence that curcumin, found in this spice, helps increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer treatment. Research is even indicating that turmeric is an effective agent that suppresses the growth of head and neck cancers. It turns out that the pigment itself may be responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of the spice. The best way to obtain the healing effects of turmeric is to eat it, so it really may be one of the most delicious pain remedies you can use.
One easy way to reap the health benefits of this spice (and a few others on our list!) is to make a tea of unsweetened coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and honey (add amounts to taste, and certainly play around with proportions). Use turmeric carefully: this spice has also been used as a dye and can turn hands (and teeth!) yellow.
While this name may be unknown to you, this is the plant that brings us frankincense. Boswellia has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat arthritis and other forms of joint pain.
Boswellia comes from a family of resinous trees that gives us the burnable and beautifully fragrant frankincense. The restorative properties of this herb for chronic pain are found in a gum yielded by the paper bark of the plant.
Migraine sufferers may find relief in the powdered leaves of the feverfew plant. Feverfew is part of the daisy family and grows throughout North America and Europe.
The plant is best used as a preventative measure for migraines. Patients who take feverfew for their headache pain report a reduction in the occurrence of their migraines over time.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative condition often associated with the body’s natural aging process. Over time our bones begin to lose mass. In some cases this can be extreme and result in easy breaks that can be difficult to heal. Osteoporosis affects more women than men, especially after menopause.
Flaxseed is a natural hormone replacement therapy alternative, which is one of the more common treatments for osteoporosis. Patients who take flaxseed supplements may be able to lessen the effects of the condition on their bodies.
13. White willow bark
The earliest building blocks of modern-day aspirin are found in the bark of the white willow tree. In fact, the bark of several forms of willow trees can help alleviate pain in a similar way to over-the-counter pain relievers.
You can use it for headaches, muscle pain, or even low back pain. Low back pain is one of the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims in the United States. However, white willow bark can have some of the same side effects as aspirin, so do use it with caution.
14. Holy basil
Another plant that may help make life easier is holy basil, which is a variation of the type of basil you’ve probably used in cooking.
Holy basil extract is known to reduce stress and might also alleviate headaches. You can also prepare it as a tea.
How to use herbs for pain safely
For information on the best way to use these herbs for chronic pain, it is best to seek out a trained herbalist to learn more. Talk to a physician or pharmacists before taking any herbs or supplements, especially if you’re taking any other medications. Healing herbs might interact with other medications, or they might have side effects that worsen existing conditions. Discuss dosing with your physician, too, and make sure you don’t take more than the dosing instructions.
Additionally, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements, herbs aren’t regulated by the FDA at all. This makes it very important to buy herbs from trusted sources. Look for a seal or certification notating that the herbs have been inspected by a reputable group, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
Also check out the Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). These websites provide a fact sheet for different dietary supplements and herbs, detailing the main ingredient, what forms it’s available in, what the science says about its effectiveness, and potential side effects and cautions.
For more information about treating your pain condition, you can always talk to a pain specialist. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.