Aspirin and Willow Bark
You might not think of aspirin as a natural pain relief cure, but it’s actually derived from a natural remedy that’s been used to treat all sorts of pain for more than 2,000 years: willow bark. While aspirin itself is synthetic, it’s derived from salicin, an active compound in willow bark.
Aspirin can be used to treat headaches, fevers, swelling, rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatic fever, and there’s even evidence that it can reduce blood clots. Because willow bark contains a similar active ingredient, it can be helpful in many of the same situations, particularly lower back pain. However, willow bark can be more variable in its dosages and may be rougher on the stomach than aspirin — in fact, aspirin was created specifically to offer the benefits of willow bark while lessening its drawbacks. Look for possible drug interactions before using willow bark, and like aspirin avoid taking it regularly without advice from a doctor. If you’re already regularly taking either, you should also avoid suddenly stopping willow bark or aspirin.
Turmeric is a spice used in many South Asian cuisines that comes from a ground root. More importantly, it also contains many antioxidants and has been clinically shown to have significant anti-inflammatory properties due to the curcumin it contains. It can be useful for treating Type 2 diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer.
However, while turmeric tastes great in sauces and other dishes, the turmeric spice you buy at the grocery store only contains around 3 percent curcumin, you may want to take it in supplement form instead to make it easier to take. The choice is a tradeoff, though, as experts such as Mayo Clinic dietician Anya Guy recommend using the powdered form as part of a meal over supplements for quality turmeric.
A daily dose of 200 to 1,000 milligrams of curcumins is usually okay, although you should always check with your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure they won’t interact poorly with your specific health situation. This is particularly true if you plan on taking turmeric to treat a serious condition like cancer or diabetes. The best turmeric supplements contain few additives or fillers, such as gluten, dairy, or soy, while those made with phytosome technology may be up to 29 times as absorbent by the stomach. It’s better to buy turmeric as needed rather than stocking up since exposure to air can decrease its potency.
From hot baths to ice packs, applying heat or cold to painful areas can ease all kinds of pain, especially in the back, neck and joints. While neither can fully cure the source of your pain, they can reduce the pain itself and even speed along your recovery. They’re particularly effective when used alongside other pain treatments.
You can use a cold compress, tub of ice water or even a bag of frozen vegetables to chill an affected area. Blood vessels constrict when exposed to cold, which reduces swelling and in turn pain. Cold can also slow down nerve impulses, which interrupt the transmission of pain. Because many injuries cause inflammation, such as sprains and even bee stings, applying cold is often a good first response.
Meanwhile, heat relaxes the muscles, which can reduce pain, and increases blood flow, which speeds up healing. A heating pad, hot water bottle, electric heating pad, hot bath or even sauna can be useful ways to use heat to treat an injury.