Herbal Pain Fighters to the Rescue

One of the most common of all health problems is pain. It can be caused by injury, illness or degeneration, and most people don’t like it one bit. Pain affects us deeply, wearing us out and reducing energy. In nature’s vast botanical pharmacy, a number of herbs provide relief of pain, without causing the stomach, kidney or other problems associated with some pain-relieving drugs.

High on the list of pain-relieving herbs is Turmeric root, which contains an array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds known as the curcuminoids. A perennial shrub native to Southeast Asia and cultivated widely throughout India, China and Indonesia, turmeric root is the yellow in curry powder. Concentrated extracts of turmeric root are rich in the curcuminoids, which help to reduce inflammation and thereby relieve pain. How to use it? You can purchase turmeric root fresh in some supermarkets, and use it as a vegetable. You can add the powder to vegetables, soups, stews, meats and fish. And you can take special supplements of concentrated turmeric extract. Some turmeric supplements can relieve pain quite effectively. See Curamin by EuroPharma, or Turmeric capsules by New Chapter.

Ginger root may seem like something better suited for ginger ale than for pain relief, but this spicy root native to Southeast asia is a pain-fighting heavyweight. Ginger is cultivated in virtually all tropical regions, and I have seen it in many places in my travels. Ginger root is rich in two groups of compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory in their activity. Ginger root tea will relieve a sore throat faster than just about anything, and will also soothe aching, arthritic joints. Finely grate a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, and put into a one-cup tea strainer. Pour boiling water into the cup and let sit for five minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey if you like. This will give you a strong shot of pain relief. Also you can eat Ginger Chews or Ting Tings, two ginger-rich chewable candies.

If the name cat’s claw sounds a bit exotic, maybe it’s because this potent anti-inflammatory herb comes from the heart of the great Amazon rainforest, and is the most widely used of all pain-relievers in that vast region. Cat’s claw derives its name from sharp, claw-like thorns which help the plant to climb toward sunshine. The root and bark of the vine contain compounds called oxindole alkaloids, which demonstrate very significant pain-relieving power. In human studies cat's claw extract proves effective in the treatment of both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. For brands check out Saventaro Cat’s Claw capsules or liquid the cat’s claw extract from Raintree Nutrition. Let the healing power of the Amazon rainforest provide relief for you.

Rosemary is not only a great savory seasoning for vegetables, meats and fish, but it also stands among the great anti-inflammatory herbs. Native to the Mediterranean, this fragrant perennial herb is widely cultivated around the world for its delightful aroma and flavor. But rosemary is more than just a pleasant seasoning. The herb, eaten or taken as a tea, is excellent for the liver, helping to eliminate toxins. Like turmeric, ginger and cat’s claw, rosemary is rich with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Two great ways to derive benefit from rosemary are to add it to foods, and to drink rosemary tea. Check out Alvita brand rosemary leaf tea.

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It may seem counter-intuitive to turn to hot chile peppers for pain relief, but these incendiary relatives of the sweet pepper are rich in a resinous substance called capsaicin, which is responsible for the heat that hot chiles produce. Capsaicin rapidly relieves pain when topically applied to hurt and sore areas. But just a tiny bit goes a long way. Next time you’re in a pharmacy, look at the Capsaicin creams. Each one contains just one quarter of 1 percent capsaicin (the stuff is extremely powerful). Capsaicin cream is the most widely recommended pain relieving cream by doctors, because it works. Who would have thought that a primary component of salsa could relive pain in joints and muscles? By the way, hot chile peppers are also great for digestion, and help to greatly improve circulation when chopped in foods or in hot sauces. I favor Tabasco Sauce, but there are a great many excellent hot sauces available today.

Even with something as difficult as pain, nature provides safe, effective solutions. Chronic pain especially will respond well to the herbs I’ve just described. Make them part of your ever-healthier lifestyle, and rid yourself of the burden of pain. Best of health to you.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com