Pain is something that many people have to deal with on a daily basis. Many turn to pharmaceutical drugs to manage their symptoms, but these can sometimes come with unpleasant side effects. Even seemingly innocuous painkillers, like paracetamol, can be toxic to the liver. And others, like those which contain codeine, are downright addictive.
The alternative – to suffer through the pain – isn’t an option. So is there an alternative route to pain management?
The good news is that, for some people, there is. Some pharmaceutical painkillers are derived from plants, and so it’s no surprise that you can find natural painkillers in the plant kingdom.
If you’ve recently been injured, have received help from a personal injury lawyer, and are on the road to recovery, then capsaicin is one of the most effective herbal remedies available. Why? It turns out that capsaicin – found in chili peppers and spicy food – contains a chemical which helps to “delete” chemical pain messengers in the nervous system. People who eat a lot of spicy food often report that the sensation of spiciness diminishes over time. This is because the chili literally “uses up” the pain signaling chemicals, depleting them and causing the sensation of pain to fall.
Cumin is a spice found in Moroccan, Indian, and Middle-Eastern cuisine. Known for its pungent aroma, it’s a staple for many cultures.
Although you’re probably used to seeing cumin as a ground spice, it actually starts life off as a tiny seed. Researchers have found that cumin seeds – as used in cooking – have similar pain-relieving properties to aspirin and could be equally as effective for some types of pain. What’s more, all of cumin’s side effects are beneficial. It helps digestion, assists nutrient absorption, and helps to improve blood biomarkers, improving health more generally.
Although there has recently been some bad press about turmeric, this yellow spice has plenty of science backing up its health claims. Made from a ground-up rhizome related to ginger, turmeric has impressive anti-inflammatory properties which might be why it’s so useful in pain relief.
Scientists have discovered that turmeric contains a beneficial compound called curcumin (not to be confused with cumin). Curcumin is the yellow pigment that gives turmeric its color. The compound is believed to play a role in helping patients with severe heartburn and reducing inflammation in the body’s cardiovascular system. Lower inflammation over the long term leads to better health outcomes and a reduction in morbidity-associated pain.
Devil’s claw originated in South Africa. It’s a herb, but it’s not widely used in cooking. The best way to get devil’s claw is to buy it in supplement form from a reputable manufacturer.
Research suggests that devil’s claw may be beneficial for people suffering from certain types of arthritis and back pain. Side effects from the herb are infrequent, and experts recommend that people go on a devil’s claw course for a few weeks at a time to see if it relieved symptoms. Long term use is not recommended.