Natural Pain Relief – Can it Work For You?

What do you use for pain relief? Most of us reach for a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like aspirin and Advil or acetaminophen (Tylenol) when in pain.

With over 13 million regular NSAID users in the US and at least 30 billion over-the-counter tablets sold each year, you might say we’re “sold” on NSAIDs and acetaminophen for pain relief.

Yet, these drugs aren’t as friendly as their advertisements suggest. They help relieve pain, but their side effects can kill!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that NSAID-induced disease causes at least 103,000 hospitalizations per year and every year 16,500 arthritis patients die from NSAID-related gastrointestinal damage.

These drugs increase the chance of a heart attack and stroke. They cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Worse yet, these side effects can happen suddenly without warning symptoms and may cause sudden death.

Acetaminophen, another potential killer, likely lurks in your medicine cabinet too. This common over-the-counter (OTC) drug found in Tylenol, cold medicines, and prescription drugs like Vicodin and Percocet is widely used for pain relief and fever.

Though generally considered safe when used according to the directions on its labeling, acetaminophen can cause liver damage and even death according to a FDA 2009 consumer update. Unfortunately, overdosing is easy as many drugs use acetaminophen in combination with other drugs in their formulas.

Fortunately, you can avoid these risks by using simple and effective natural pain relief methods like these:

Ice. Ice is a well-know pain reliever especially in the early phase of injury. “Try to ice the area as soon as possible after the injury and continue to ice it for 10 to 15 minutes four times a day for 48 hours. If you use ice, be careful not to use it too long, as this could cause tissue damage,” reports Mayo Clinic staff on their website. After 48 hours, try heat.

Heat. Heat promotes pain relief and it increases blood flow to the area bringing nutrients and specialized cells to speed healing.

Fish Oil. An April 2006 study in Surgical Neurology found that after seventy-five days on fish oil, 59% of patients who were taking NSAIDs for chronic spinal pain and who had degenerative spine disease were able to discontinue their prescription NSAIDs. Eighty percent stated they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue to take the fish oil.

Zyflamend. This preparation contains a synergistic blend of 10 specially processed herbs including ginger, rosemary, turmeric, holy basil, green tea, Hu Zhang, Chinese goldthread, barberry, oregano, and skullcap. Laboratory cell studies found it inhibits the COX-2 enzyme that triggers inflammation.

If you’re already taking NSAIDs for your pain, “Take Zyflamend at half the recommended dose along with your prescribed medication; after 1 month, cut your NSAID dose in half and increase Zyflamend to full dosage; a month later, drop your NSAID and see if your symptoms are controlled. If your pain returns, you may need to resume taking your NSAID again,” recommends natural health expert, Andrew Weil, MD in Prevention magazine.

Proteolytic Enzymes. These enzymes including papain, chymopapaine, bromelain, and pancreatic preparations can “fast forward” the healing process, support the removal of damaged tissue, and reduce swelling, report natural health experts Ross A. Hauser MD and Payson Flattery, NP, DC, in The Cure for Chronic Pain: End the Pain of Arthritis, Sports Injury and Other Joint Problems.

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). An analysis of the 2002 National Health Interview published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that a majority (60 percent) of survey respondents who used CAM therapies for back pain perceived “a great deal” of benefit and they reported improved health status. Here are the most commonly used therapies with their percentage of usage:

  • Chiropractic (66 percent)
  • Massage (56 percent)
  • Yoga/Tai Chi/Qi Gong (56 percent)
  • Acupuncture (42 percent)
  • Herbal Therapies (32 percent)
  • Relaxation Techniques (28 percent)

These CAM therapies count as side effects potential improvement in all aspects of your life: body, mind, and spirit.

This is only a partial list; there are many other natural pain relief methods like physical therapy, meditation, and more. Ask your health provider about natural pain relief.

Before you decide to take drugs like NSAIDs and acetaminophen, try natural pain relief methods. You can use them in place of these drugs or along with them, in order to decrease the amount you need to take.

Natural pain relief methods can work and without the nasty side effects of drugs!