Pain relief has long been a subject of research and medical study. It is used to be second nature for people suffering from pain in various parts of the body to reach for that bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen to ease their pain.
When pain became too difficult for them to manage on their own, pain sufferers would troop to the emergency room of the nearest hospital and ask for stronger pain medication.
Synthetic pain medicine is effective and works almost immediately, however, side effects often abound, even with the correct dosage. Pain sufferers are now looking at herbal medicine as an alternative to synthetic pain medicine.
Herbal painkillers can work just as quickly and effectively, but may offer less of the unpleasant side effects. The following are three of the most common herbal painkillers in use today:
Devil’s claw is a shrub native to southern Africa; it has red flowers, lush foliage, and fruits covered by miniature hooks (hence the name). Its dried roots have been used since the early 20th century to reduce pain and inflammation in degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis.
Scientific studies have shown devil’s claw to be as effective in reducing pain and inflammation as commercially available anti-inflammatory drugs, with fewer side effects.
Osteoarthritis patients taking devil’s claw have also shown significant improvement in physical functioning.
Taking devil’s claw also reduces lower back and neck pains, headaches and fever. Devil’s claw comes in dried or fresh root supplements, in capsule, tablet and liquid extract form, or as topical ointment and infusion (tea). It is non-toxic and safe to use at the recommended dosage for short periods of time.
White willow tree bark is one of the most common alternatives to synthetic medicine for pain relief. It is considered to be the “herbal aspirin”, since its main active component, salicin is chemically similar to the active ingredient in commercial aspirin.
White willow tree bark also has anti-inflammatory properties; it is known to work effectively on pain associated with arthritis and fever. It is available as dried herbs for making tea, powdered herb in capsule or liquid form, or as a tincture. White willow bark takes a longer time than commercial aspirin to take effect, but effects last longer.
Feverfew is a flowering plant belonging to the sunflower family; its name is adapted from a Latin word that means “fever reducer”. It has been in use as a pain remedy for centuries, particularly in southeastern Europe; today its use has spread all over Europe, North America and Australia. It is known to stop migraines and headaches from developing.
Feverfew contains parthenolide, a compound known to help relieve muscle spasms, inhibit the compounds that cause inflammation, and prevent blood vessels in the brain from constricting.
Feverfew leaves are the main sources of the supplement, they are available fresh, dried, or freeze-dried, in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms.
As with all painkillers, herbal or synthetic, these three common herbal pain remedies do have side effects, but the intensity of the effect is milder with herbal painkillers than with synthetic pain remedies. They can cause stomach irritation, indigestion, or abdominal pain; they can also increase the tendency to bleed.
Allergic reactions are also common to users of these herbal painkillers. It is therefore best to consult a medical practitioner who is knowledgeable about herbal medicines and their properties before self-medicating. This will reduce the risk of adverse reactions of the patient’s system to the components of the herbal painkiller.