Living with chronic pain is no joke. I’ve suffered with various types of pain throughout my life: from debilitating migraines since I was a child to excruciating abdominal pain as a result of my Crohn’s condition, as well as head-to-toe total body/joint/muscle pain as a result of adverse reactions to medication. I’ve been incapacitated for weeks — and even months — at a time, so if you can find me some good pain relief (especially natural pain relief), I’m your new best friend.
Medication is rarely the best solution. Over-the-counter pain medication is only a temporary fix — that is, if it even helps in the first place — and often leads to undesirable side effects. In fact, I can no longer even touch aspirin or ibuprofen because of it’s probability of triggering stomach/intestinal bleeding (yes, this actually happens; it’s not just a legal disclaimer in the fine print). And acetaminophen is controversial because it can lead to liver damage (not to mention it doesn’t do a whole lot for me anyway). In more extreme cases, narcotic pain medication may be prescribed but let me tell you, in my experience: if I’m in a lot of pain, it might help “take the edge off,” but it certainly doesn’t take it away, not to mention it’s potentially addictive and dangerous if used incorrectly. So when I find something that provides pain relief the natural way, it’s like hitting the feel-good jackpot. Here are a few natural pain remedies that have helped me along the way:
Best Methods of Natural Pain Relief
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
For me, pain is usually directly associated with some sort of inflammation, and I’ve found that diet has been the most effective way to manage it. Eliminating foods that can trigger inflammation in the body has completely changed (and literally, saved) my life. For me, it means cutting out all wheat/gluten, most grains and even legumes (yep, legumes can cause inflammation). Sugar is also a huge culprit, which means no refined sugar and even natural sugars in moderation. And although I haven’t cut out nuts, it’s important to know that nuts can cause inflammation, especially if eaten in large amounts, so I choose to keep my nut consumption to small, snack-sized portions. Everybody’s different, so others may find that they have a reaction, intolerance or allergy to other food groups, such as dairy or eggs. Instead of consuming the foods that are a trigger for me, I try to eat a nutrient dense diet rich in vegetables, naturally/ethically-raised animal proteins and other healthy fats, along with fruit and nuts in moderation. It took many years of trial and error, but I’m finally finding a true connection between what I eat and how I feel. If you struggle with chronic pain related to inflammation, I highly recommend figuring out if certain foods are causing – or at least exacerbating – your symptoms. Trying an elimination diet and/or working with a holistic nutritionist (especially if the concept is new to you or if you have a serious health condition) may be helpful.
2. Essential Oils
This blend of essential oils called PastTense from doTERRA has been a life-saver for me. My headaches often stem from tension, knots and pain in my neck and shoulders, and this essential oil blend provides almost instant relief. I used to use one of those over-the-counter drugstore rubs, but those are filled with chemicals and undesirable ingredients (not to mention, they’re kind of stinky). PastTense provides even more potent relief and is pure and totally natural, using a fragrant blend of essential oils which includes wintergreen, lavender, peppermint, frankincense and roman chamomile (among many others). Plus it’s a roll-on bottle, so there’s no messy application. I love the fact that I can quickly roll on a little bit over my neck and shoulders and almost instantly feel my muscles relaaaax. My mom is also in love with doTERRA’s Deep Blue Rub, which she uses topically for all sorts of aches and pains, including joint and muscle discomfort (it also comes in a roll-on version). For questions and further info about these products (or any other essential oils), you can contact a really great doTerra rep here.
3. Fish Oil/Supplements
Fish oil is known for being a natural pain reliever and an important part of a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet. It’s especially effective for joint and arthritis pain (but as you probably know, it has tons of other health benefits, such as promoting healthy skin and a healthy heart). As I’ve shared before, I especially like Carlsen’s Norwegian Cod Liver Oil because I get my omega-3’s and vitamin D all-in-one. Meanwhile, there are lots supplements that have been recommended specifically for migraine pain, including vitamins B2, magnesium and even herbs like feverfew, but always remember to check with a holistic nutritionist and/or medical practitioner before adding supplementation to your diet, especially if you have a health condition.
4. Drinking Plenty of Water
This one may be a no-brainer, but I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I simply forget to drink enough water throughout the day. And it’s almost a guarantee: when I don’t drink enough water, I’m likely to develop a headache or migraine. Dehydration also means all the other aches and pains in my body become far more prevalent. Just be sure to consume properly filtered, purified, and remineralized water.
Again, this is another no-brainer. But even so, I have to often remind myself of this one. Of course, anyone who’s suffered a full-blown migraine knows that just about the only thing you can do at that point is lie still in a dark room (because let’s face it: any intense movement at this point will probably end up with you driving the porcelain bus). So the key here is really prevention, or at the very least, start your exercise at the onset of your pain (before it gets full-blown). Sure, for many of us with autoimmune disorders, we have to be careful not to overdo it (intense exercise will often exacerbate autoimmune symptoms), but mild to moderate exercise is important. So whether it’s strengthening my core to prevent back pain, weight resistance to build my rotator cuffs for headache prevention, or simply getting in some mild cardio, I often have to remind myself: if it starts to hurt, simply move. A little goes a long way.
These are the natural pain relief methods that help me. What natural pain relieving tricks do you use?