Using Herbs for Pain Relief
Spring is here and it’s time to start cleaning up the yards and preparing our gardens. And when the weather cooperates and we are finally able to enjoy some outdoor fresh air and exercise, there’s a good possibility we may ‘overdue’ it and we suffer the results the next day with sore muscles and achy backs! Ouch!!
Or perhaps the changing weather patterns are affecting some existing arthritis and you are having trouble sleeping with the pain. You could reach for the aspirin or Tylenol, but these can put a strain on your kidneys and can upset your stomach.
I’ve found a better way to deal with pain using pain-relieving plants that have limited to no side effects. Some of these can be taken as tinctures or capsules and some have been made into pain-reliving salves.
Here is a list of my fave’s in no particular order:
Topical Pain Relievers:
Arnica, St. John’s Wort, Peppermint, Comfrey, Rosemary, Burdock and CBD.
Arnica: One of the best for sudden injuries, bumps, bruises, sprains and strains. This herb when applied as a salve, tincture or liniment, applied as soon as possible, will help reduce the swelling caused by bone fractures, help prevent bruising and relieves the pain almost immediately. It should not be used on a broken wound as it can stimulate healing on the surface of the wound too quickly and not allow the deeper tissues to heal properly, possibly causing infection. Do not take internally! Arnica Extract >
St. John’s Wort: An oil infusion of St. John’s Wort is soothing for burns, wounds, sores, bruises and other skin problems. It is anti-spasmodic and very calming, and can be very healing for damaged nerves. Can be used externally or internally. St John’s Wort Extract >
Comfrey: Applied externally, comfrey can relieve pain, swelling and inflammation. To make a poultice of the dried leaves, coarsely chop them, then dampen them with a little hot water. Allow to cool before applying to the painful area. Cover with gauze or clean cloth and leave on for at least 15 minutes. Reapply four times per day or as needed.
Peppermint: An infusion of peppermint leaves applied to hot, itchy skin conditions and will calm and cool the skin and relieve the itch. A poultice of peppermint can help relieve headaches. Peppermint Oil applied to sore joints can help relieve the pain of arthritis. Peppermint Extract >
Rosemary: In folk medicine, rosemary is utilized as a mild pain reliever. In a two-week study, stroke survivors with shoulder pain who received a rosemary oil blend with acupressure for 20 minutes twice daily experienced a 30% reduction in pain. Those who received only acupressure had a 15% reduction in pain.
Rosemary oil is known in folk medicine as a pain reliever. Preliminary studies support its pain relief benefits and suggest that it may be more effective than Ibuprofen.
When people with rheumatoid arthritis were given 15-minute knee massages using a rosemary oil blend three times weekly, they had a 50% decrease in inflammatory knee pain in two weeks, compared to a 12% decrease in those not given the oil. Rosemary Oil > Rosemary Extract >
Burdock Leaves: Use fresh or dried leaves, soaked in hot water. Let cool until you are able to place on your skin without burning. These can be placed on the skin to relieve pain and help heal sunburned skin, sore joints, and broken toes, apply for 20 minutes or longer. Also good for the fungal infection of ringworm.
Many of these are available in our Herbal Extracts >
Oral Pain Relievers:
California Poppy, White Willow, Turmeric, Chamomile, Mullein
California Poppy: California poppy is used as a gentle and effective remedy for general discomfort and as a natural way to promote relaxation and sleep. It has been shown to be effective to relieve everyday aches and pains resulting from exercise or stress while lessening restlessness and nervousness. California Poppy Extract >
White Willow: Willow’s active chemical constituent – salicin – was identified in 1829 by the French pharmacist H Leroux. While this chemical is a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, studies show several other components of Willow bark (including polyphenols and flavonoids), have antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic and immune boosting properties. Some studies show that this plant is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation at much lower doses.
It has been shown to relieve headaches and is less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects than synthesized pain relievers such as ibuprofen. White Willow Extract >
Turmeric: Turmeric’s main active component — curcumin — is what gives the spice its yellow color. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential treatment for a number of health conditions, including reduced pain and increased ease of movement in people with osteoarthritis. One study found that taking turmeric extract three times daily was comparable to taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen daily. However, more research is necessary to confirm these effects. Turmeric Extract >
Chamomile: The anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile flowers and the essential oil derived from it can help to reduce physical pain. Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years to help reduce pain for those experiencing headaches, back pain, toothaches, and other inflammatory-related symptoms.
A 2013 study from the University College Dublin found that after taking an herbal beverage composed of chamomile, meadowsweet, and willow bark for four weeks, the mechanical joint function was improved and lower back and knee pain was reduced for participants. A flavonoid called apigenin is one of the main anti-inflammatory compounds found in chamomile contributing to this effect. Chamomile Tea >
Mullein: Mullein is probably best known these days for its use as a key ingredient in herbal ear drops. Whether it’s for a child, an adult or beloved pet, mullein ear drops are an effective and well-researched remedy for ear complaints.
Having ear pain from an external infection that needs disinfecting? You can try applying a mullein compress or oil. Suffering from painful bursitis somewhere on your body? Mullein can come to the rescue once again.
But mullein’s impressive medicinal use doesn’t stop there. Whether it’s a tea or a tincture, mullein can be used to treat everything from colds, coughs and sore throat, to bronchitis, tonsillitis and asthma.
You’ll find most of these in our Herbal Extracts >
Happy Gardening Everyone!
And stay tuned for upcoming herbal events!
Love and Peace