How do we address the issue of natural pain relief ? We live in an increasingly hectic world, and many of us have no time for pain management solutions. We may often feel pain, but we don’t know where it comes from or why it’s affecting us – and even if we would like to investigate, we still have to rush to our next meeting, or make the next deadline, or get on that phone call. So we pop a couple of pills, forget about it, and before we know it, we’re dependent on ibuprofen and aspirin to get us through the day.
But don’t the drug companies know what’s best for us? Isn’t there a reason that painkillers are so often used, and even prescribed? People give aspirin to kids, and many Americans take aspirin regularly to lower their heart attack risks, so aspirin and ibuprofen should be completely safe, right? Not necessarily. Like any drug, these two daily friends of ours are proven to contribute to increased gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcer irritation – both conditions that worsen with more aspirin, which aggravates any sores already present on the lining of the stomach.
Also, stronger painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin – while they control pain – are habit-forming, which also makes them dangerous. And for many, painkillers are a perfectly acceptable solution despite these risks. But there are alternative methods of pain management out there, and consumers should know their choices before they give their money to massive drug companies.
Read below for five highlights on natural pain management:
1. White Willow Bark
This wonder bark is a potent source of salicin, a pain reliever and is anti-inflammatory, used for thousands of years. A derivative of salicin, acetylsalicylic acid (patented by the Bayer company) was synthesized, and is now known as aspirin. If more people knew about white willow bark, profits for aspirin would plummet; that’s the only reason that the bark is a somewhat under-the-radar pain solution.
2. Sour Cherry Juice
It seems an unlikely candidate for pain relief, but this fruit has an anti-inflammatory effect which can help to reduce pain and contribute to overall muscular health. And this isn’t their only benefit: cherries are also high in helpful antioxidants.
3. Olive Oil
Although it’s not effective as white willow bark in terms of reducing pain, studies have shown that olive oil contains a natural anti-inflammatory content and a regular dose of it can be helpful in a long-term pain management regimen.
Some people claim that exercise produces in them a “natural high,” but this is rare except in cases of long-distance runners. However, even though it seems counter-intuitive, moderate levels of physical activity can help to alleviate pain and stiffness.
5. Emotional Freedom Technique
I list this one last, because it doesn’t actually involve ingesting anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. EFT is hailed by many as a highly effective pain management solution. It involves tapping on pressure points (similar to acupuncture points) to clear blockages in the body’s natural energy flow. A beginning FAQ and manual can be found here.
All in all, every symptom has a physical cause. This means that pain is usually the result of some kind of misalignment in the body; seeking the source of the misalignment should help to figure out the symptom. We should seek a communicative relationship with our bodies and not just eat a painkiller anytime we feel a slight twinge. This article is meant as a primer; read more articles like it, but most of all, listen to your body and do your own research to find out the best solution for you.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.