Skip to content

7 Natural Alternative Pain Relief Methods

14 March 2023

Key Points

  • Natural pain relief can be a safe and effective alternative to other OTC or prescription pain relievers. There are options that have less side effects and are less habit-forming than prescription medications such as opioids.
  • Medical cannabis is one of the best-known natural pain relievers. The cannabinoids found in medical cannabis may help relieve pain, inflammation and other symptoms of chronic illness.
  • When choosing to go with natural pain relievers, it’s important to remember that some natural pain relief options simply don’t work for everyone. Always consult with your doctor to make sure that these alternatives are safe for you and your unique condition and symptoms. 

Selection of natural oils in glass bottles

Introduction

Painkillers can be very useful when you’re in pain, but many also come with side effects and don’t address the underlying cause of the pain. Natural pain relief may help sufferers get through the pain without the side effects typically associated with prescription analgesics. Always consult with your doctor before starting an alternative treatment regimen. 

This article will cover some of the best natural pain relief options and how they can help you get through your pain.

1. Medical cannabis as a natural pain reliever

Medical cannabis is one of the most effective natural pain relief options. A significant percentage of people who use cannabis use it to treat pain symptoms. Cannabis may be used to treat various types of chronic and acute pain. Cannabis can also help with muscle spasms, migraines and menstrual cramps.

Cannabis works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate pain and other bodily functions. There are two substances (called cannabinoids) that interact with the endocannabinoid system:

  • THC – One of the most well-known cannabinoids is THC (which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, which causes a “high” when it enters your brain.
  • CBD – CBD (which stands for cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce a “high” feeling when taken. It interacts with certain body receptors to help regulate many bodily processes.

When these cannabinoids bind or regulate the activity of endocannabinoid receptors, they enable bodily functions that regulate one’s internal balance or homeostasis. For example, THC has been shown to bind to the CB1 receptor, which helps to regulate appetite, pain sensation and movement. CBD is thought to bind with a different endocannabinoid receptor called GPR55. This interaction may help reduce anxiety and inflammation.

If you’re considering cannabis for your chronic or acute pain condition, it’s important that you understand how it works with your body. The best way to do that is to consult a medical professional who can help you determine whether cannabis is right for you.

As the UK’s leading medical cannabis clinic, we’ve seen firsthand how cannabis can help people manage different kinds of pain. If you’re interested in learning more, our specialists can help you determine your eligibility for this form of treatment. Make your appointment with Lyphe today

2. Mint

Glass bottle of peppermint essential oil with fresh green mint leaves and dried mint on rustic background

Mint has been used for thousands of years to treat pain. It contains menthol, which is known for its cooling and soothing effects on the skin. When applied topically, it can help relieve pain from headaches, muscle aches and joint pains.

A 2016 review published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research suggests that a particular species of mint, the peppermint (Mentha piperita L.), may be more effective than others at relieving pain. It’s known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

People often use diluted peppermint essential oil as a topical treatment, meaning that they rub diluted oil into the area that feels achy or painful. The oil can also be used in the mouth and skin to help relieve mild pains, such as headaches or joint aches.

That said, the active compounds in peppermint (e.g., carvacrol, menthol, limonene) can cause skin irritation and other problems if they aren’t diluted properly. Some people also get allergic reactions from this, so it’s best to do a spot treatment before applying it topically.

3. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is an active ingredient in chilli peppers and a natural pain reliever. Studies have shown that capsaicin can be used to relieve pain from arthritis and joint injuries. Capsaicin works by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, which is a chemical responsible for transmitting pain signals to your brain.

A study published in 2016 found that people with osteoarthritis experienced relief from their symptoms when they added an over-the-counter topical cream that contained capsaicin to their daily treatment plan. The results were especially impressive when participants applied the cream twice daily over three months—they reported significant reductions in pain after just one week.

A 2010 clinical trial found similar results: applying a gel containing either 0.0075% or 0.05% capsaicin once every four hours significantly decreased painful knee osteoarthritis compared to placebo treatment.

4. Turmeric

Raw organic turmeric root with powder and medicine herbal vitamin supplement pill capsules

A 2013 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s been shown to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness caused by many types of inflammation.

A 2016 review also suggests that curcumin has antioxidant properties that can protect against heart disease and cancer as it helps prevent oxidative damage in cells. Pre-clinical data also shows the medicine’s potential to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, backache and other types of joint pain. 

Turmeric has been shown to be an effective pain reliever for headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps and muscle aches caused by exercise or overexertion. A 2021 meta-analysis published in Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that turmeric extract is as effective as NSAIDs for managing knee osteoarthritis over a 16-week period.

Traditionally, turmeric has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy for reducing inflammation. To include turmeric in its natural form in the diet, try adding it to curries, smoothies or juices with ground black pepper. Pills and other types of supplements are also relatively common.

5. Ginger

Ginger is a natural pain reliever that has been used for centuries. It contains the active ingredient gingerol, which is believed to be responsible for many of the pain-relieving properties of herbal medicine. A 2010 study published in The Journal of Pain found that people who consumed ginger experienced less muscle pain after eccentric exercise (movements that use slow contractions) than those taking a placebo.

In a 2015 review published in The Journal of Strength Condition Research, researchers found that taking ginger (2 grams per day for at least five days) reduced muscle pain caused by resistance exercise and running.

Meanwhile, a 2018 cross-over trial found that consuming ginger with standard medication helped reduce menstrual cramps. Ginger may also help improve circulation as it acts as an antioxidant. 

Ginger can be added to food or drinks to help relieve joint pain and muscle tension, making it an ideal supplement for people who have arthritis or osteoporosis. Ginger also provides vitamin C and potassium, important nutrients that prevent muscle cramps after exercise.

6. Lavender

Lavender is a perennial plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for centuries as an antiseptic, analgesic and sedative. The active ingredient in lavender is linalool, which has been shown to reduce muscle pain by inhibiting the release of histamine. This makes it an ideal supplement for people who have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

On the analgesic effects and safety of lavender, a 2016 meta-analysis published in Pain Research and Treatment concluded the following:

“This study found a significant positive effect of aromatherapy in reducing pain. These results indicate that aromatherapy should be considered a safe addition to current pain management procedures as no adverse effects were reported in any of the included studies.”

Both clinical and anecdotal evidence also suggests that lavender essential oil can be used to alleviate headache pain, menstrual cramps and muscle pain. In some cases, it is reported to be more effective than acetaminophen.

7. Frankincense (Boswellia)

Frankincense resin crystals on a wooden spoon

Frankincense (Boswellia) has been used as a natural analgesic for centuries. It comes from the Boswellia tree, which grows in India, Africa and southern Asia. The resin from this tree is called frankincense or olibanum oil.

In a randomised, double-blind placebo study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found that Boswellia significantly increased the pain threshold and tolerance of those who received treatment. The study also suggested that the natural alternative demonstrated good safety and tolerability.

Aside from increasing pain tolerance, a 2011 study suggests that Boswellia also contains anti-inflammatory properties. When taken in capsule or pill form, the ingredients in Boswellia may help to reduce inflammation caused by the overproduction of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are fatty acids that cause an increase in blood flow, swelling and pain associated with inflammation.

The science behind pain

Pain is a complex process that involves the entire nervous system, from your brain to your peripheral nerves. It’s an essential part of our body’s natural defence mechanism and helps us maintain homeostasis in the face of threats or damage.

The perception of pain takes place in the brain. Nerves send signals to the spinal cord and then up to the brain via electrical impulses, which are then interpreted as pain. Pain can be acute or chronic, depending on its duration and intensity.

  • Acute pain is short-lived and sharp: it’s experienced when you cut yourself with a knife or bang your head while running around the house.
  • Chronic pain lasts longer than three months and generally results from a disease state or injury that damages tissue (such as arthritis) or changes how nerves function (such as fibromyalgia).

Other conditions, like inflammation, can also cause pain. When this happens, the body releases chemicals that signal pain to the brain. These signals may be felt as an ache, itch or burning sensation in the affected area. Pain can make it difficult for you to sleep, work and enjoy life.

Traditional painkillers: boon or bane?

Painkillers are used to treat pain that an injury or other medical condition can cause. They can also be used to relieve pain that is caused by surgery or cancer. Some well known medication-based painkillers include paracetamol (Panadol), aspirin (Anadin, Bonjela gel), ibuprofen (Nurofen) and naproxen sodium (Naprosyn, Stirlescent).

Painkillers can be helpful when you need relief from minor aches and pains, but they’re not without risks:

  • Painkillers can cause serious side effects. Some are short-term, like stomach upset or headaches; some are long-term, like kidney damage or liver damage.
  • Taking too many painkillers over a long period of time for chronic pain can become addictive. If you stop taking the medication suddenly, your body might have withdrawal symptoms like nausea and muscle aches.

Why should I consider natural painkillers? Benefits of going natural

Natural painkillers are natural alternatives to prescription or over-the-counter painkillers. They can help with many types of pain, including backaches, muscle aches and headaches. Natural painkillers include herbs, vitamins and minerals, and foods such as ginger root, turmeric and green tea. Always consult with your doctor before starting an alternative treatment regimen. 

Some possible benefits of natural pain relief include:

  1. Natural painkillers don’t have the same side effects as prescription painkillers.
  2. They are generally more affordable and accessible than most prescription painkillers.
  3. You might find that natural painkillers work better for you than over-the-counter ones.
  4. Essential oils may come with added therapeutic benefits like relaxation, mood enhancement and immune support.

Some natural pain relief can be used as an adjuvant or complementary treatment in addition to conventional painkillers. For example, you can use a natural remedy like medical cannabis oil to boost your body’s endocannabinoid system and help ease pain without the side effects of prescription painkillers. Always consult with your doctor before starting an alternative treatment regimen. 

When should I see a doctor for a painkiller?

If you are experiencing chronic pain or pain that lasts longer than three months, it is important to speak with a doctor. Typically, a doctor will prescribe you a medication-based analgesic like oxycodone or hydrocodone. These types of medications can be highly addictive and should only be used for a short time.

If you are still experiencing pain after three months, it is important to speak with a doctor about your options. Many natural ingredients can relieve pain and help you feel better. It is also important to explore all other options before taking strong medications.

As with all home treatments, it helps to perform a patch test (especially with essential oils). In this way, you can determine whether or not a certain ingredient is causing an adverse reaction. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to talk to your doctor about which ingredients are safe for you before trying out any home remedies.

Conclusion – natural relief for chronic and acute pain

There are many ways to relieve pain; some methods are better than others. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, it is important to understand the different ways you can manage your pain to choose the best option for your specific needs.

Many natural ingredients can relieve pain and help you feel better. It is also important to explore all other options before taking strong medications. By switching to natural alternatives, patients may reduce their dependence on prescription medications over time.

If you suffer from chronic pain, some of these options might be worth considering. Here at Lyphe, we can help you to find the right treatment for your chronic pain. We have a team of highly qualified doctors who can assess your condition and recommend the most effective course of action. Make an appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most natural pain relief?

Some herbal supplements and oils contain ingredients that work similarly to prescription medications. One of the most popular is cannabis oil, which can be prescribed to treat and manage chronic pain symptoms. Always consult with a doctor before starting an alternative treatment regimen.

Which natural painkiller is best for inflammation?

Some people prefer herbal remedies, while others prefer a more natural approach using essential oils or supplements.

What gets rid of pain naturally?

Many natural pain relief options are available, including herbal supplements and topical creams. These can be used alongside other treatments to provide a holistic approach to pain management.

References

Aggarwal, B. B., Yuan, W., Li, S., & Gupta, S. C. (2013). Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Molecular nutrition & food research, 57(9), 1529-1542.

Anand, P., & Bley, K. (2011). Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 107(4), 490–502. https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/aer260

Black, C. D., Herring, M. P., Hurley, D. J., & O’Connor, P. J. (2010). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. The journal of pain, 11(9), 894-903.

Chung, M. K., & Campbell, J. N. (2016). Use of Capsaicin to Treat Pain: Mechanistic and Therapeutic Considerations. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 9(4), 66. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9040066

Hill, K. P., Palastro, M. D., Johnson, B., & Ditre, J. W. (2017). Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Mary Ann Liebert Inc. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0017

Kosuwon, W., Sirichatiwapee, W., Wisanuyotin, T., Jeeravipoolvarn, P., & Laupattarakasem, W. (2010). Efficacy of symptomatic control of knee osteoarthritis with 0.0125% of capsaicin versus placebo. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet thangphaet, 93(10), 1188–1195.

Kuptniratsaikul, V., Dajpratham, P., Taechaarpornkul, W., Buntragulpoontawee, M., Lukkanapichonchut, P., Chootip, C., Saengsuwan, J., Tantayakom, K., & Laongpech, S. (2014). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clinical interventions in aging, 9, 451–458. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S58535

Lakhan, S. E., Sheafer, H., & Tepper, D. (2016). The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain research and treatment, 2016, 8158693. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8158693

Prabhavathi, K., Chandra, U. S., Soanker, R., & Rani, P. U. (2014). A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, cross over study to evaluate the analgesic activity of Boswellia serrata in healthy volunteers using mechanical pain model. Indian journal of pharmacology, 46(5), 475–479. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7613.140570

Rad, H. A., Basirat, Z., Bakouei, F., Moghadamnia, A. A., Khafri, S., Kotenaei, Z. F., … & Kazemi, S. (2018). Effect of Ginger and Novafen on menstrual pain: A cross-over trial. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 57(6), 806-809.

Siddiqui M. Z. (2011). Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 73(3), 255–261. https://doi.org/10.4103/0250-474X.93507

Sultan, S., Ahmed, Z., Afreen, A., Rashid, F., Majeed, F., & Khalid, N. (2020). Analgesic effect of ginger and peppermint on adolescent girls with primary dysmenorrhea. Food Science and Technology, 41, 833-839.

Wang, Z., Singh, A., Jones, G., Winzenberg, T., Ding, C., Chopra, A., … & Antony, B. (2021). Efficacy and safety of turmeric extracts for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Current Rheumatology Reports, 23(2), 1-11.

Wilson P. B. (2015). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an Analgesic and Ergogenic Aid in Sport: A Systemic Review. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 29(10), 2980–2995. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001098

Unlu, A., Nayir, E., Kalenderoglu, M. D., Kirca, O., & Ozdogan, M. (2016). Curcumin (Turmeric) and cancer. J. buon, 21(5), 1050-1060.

 

Author: Bojan
Author page

Bojan Ambrus, Head of Marketing & Digital Product at Lyphe Group, is a data-driven growth marketing professional with over 15 years of rich experience. His background includes roles such as Head of Marketing at Vaping.com and growth marketing roles in various enterprises, startups, and scale-ups. His expertise in building and positioning businesses is particularly valuable in the cannabis sector, where he navigates its complexities and regulatory challenges. His strategic marketing insights make Bojan a key player in shaping Lyphe Group's marketing and digital product strategies.

Latest posts

Become a patient today

Ready to start your journey?

Check if you are eligible
Start your journey in getting treated with medical cannabis
Get Started
Speak to an advisor
Free appointment with our expert Patient Advisor
Speak to an advisor