9 Natural Alternatives to Prescription Painkillers
Prescription painkillers are both a burden to society (causing more than 40 deaths per day in overdoses alone) and a danger to the health of the individual taking them. More than 2 million people in America are addicted to prescription painkillers, and the side effects–even just the side effects related to cognition and mental functioning–are enough to tear apart families and destroy the well being of those who find themselves caught up in these drugs.
Nevertheless, pain is a serious health concern. It is difficult to assess, diagnose and treat. Doctors, nurses, alternative healthcare practitioners and patients themselves are often at a loss as to how to relieve pain without turning to dangerous drugs. There are, however, several alternatives worth exploring. Here are 10.
- Spicy foods. This is due the agent in some spicy foods that gives it the heat–capsaicin. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In fact, it is more often prescribed for some types of hereditary nerve conditions than opioids because it’s simply more effective. Capsaicin stops the flow of pain signals to the brain by hindering a chemical called substance P. You can just go ahead and eat spicy food, or you can get various capsaicin pain reliever products as well.
- Bone broth. It is particularly useful for bone and joint pain, including arthritis. This is mainly due to the collagen, but bone broth also contains a fair bit of magnesium – see below for more on magnesium.
- Curcumin – Another one of nature’s more powerful anti-inflammatories. It also improves blood circulation, which helps all systems function more smoothly, lower stress and dull the sensation of pain. Curcumin can be taken as a supplement, but it’s a major ingredient of the popular spice, Turmeric, which you can find in high doses in Indian cuisine.
- Frankincense – Another powerful anti-inflammatory that has been found to be particularly useful in managing pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Magnesium Malate – Magnesium deficiency is incredibly common, and it is also linked to several diseases, many of which involve pain. This includes migraines and chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, CFS and osteoporosis. This magnesium ion combined with malic acid is particularly powerful for fibromyalgia sufferers who are also very often deficient in malic acid.
- Cannabis – While controversial for various reasons, the truth is that cannabis is proving itself incredibly valuable for a variety of health reasons. One of those is pain relief. A Harvard meta-analysis of 28 studies on the subject concluded that cannabis was potentially even more effective than opioids for neuropathic pain, chronic pain and spasticity due to MS.
- Kratom – Not many people have heard of this plant-based supplement made from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree. Many people have found it to be very helpful with their chronic pain, and used it to replace their opioid prescriptions–and with fewer (if any) side effects.
- Valerian Root – Again, this relatively obscure plant could be the key to your avoiding an opioid prescription. It actually decreases the sensitivity of your nerves.
- Ginger – This spicy and delicious root is an inflammation killer. A 2013 study in the journal, Arthritis, found it to be more effective at managing joint pain than ibuprofen or tylenol.
As you can see, there are plenty of avenues to explore. These 9 items listed are all things someone can consume, either as a supplement or in food. However, there is ample evidence that various other techniques are incredibly effective and managing pain.
- Yoga – Another Harvard meta-review found yoga was very helpful for patients with fibromyalgia, chronic joint pain and osteoporosis.
- Chiropractic – Several studies have found chiropractic to be very useful for pain management, particularly muscle and bone/joint pain.
- Meditation – The idea here is–and there are studies confirming the effectiveness of meditation in managing pain–that pain is wrapped up in many other parts of your life, i.e., stress, health, mental acuity. Meditation is helpful with these things, therefore it lessens the effects and perceived intensity of pain.
- Acupuncture – This is a way to target specific parts of the body affected by chronic pain. And it works. Even the National Health Institute has said acupuncture is “a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.”
You can control your pain without opiods.