If you’ve ever suffered from arthritis, back pain, headaches or a number of other conditions that cause pain, you may have reached for ibuprofen or other over the counter medications to help with your pain. These may offer temporary respite but you can experience unpleasant potential side effects such as feeling sick, indigestion and headaches.
If you’re wary of over the counter medication the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives – natural ones – that have science on their side. From herbs that attack inflammation to techniques that encourage the brain to release natural pain killers into your body, nature offers a number of suggestions for painful conditions such as arthritis, headaches and muscle strain. Here are some natural remedies you may want to consider; they can help soothe you and leave you feeling healthier and happier for the long term – without the side effects.
Fish Oil: for arthritis related joint pain and period pain. Research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce joint pain and may also help prevent arthritis. Omega 3 fatty acids work by reducing inflammation and studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune condition) who took omega 3s had a reduction in joint pain.
Women with period pains who were given omega 3 fatty acids for three months experienced had a significant reduction in pain intensity compared to those women given a placebo. And those women with extreme period pains were able to reduce the dose of ibuprofen they were taking.
It is better to take the omega 3 fatty acids which have been derived from the body of the fish and not the liver. In the sea the fish can accumulate toxins and mercury which are stored in the liver. If you follow a plant-based diet consider supplementing with an algae EPA and DHA supplement.
Do make sure you look at the EPA and DHA content of the fish oil you’re using and don’t be swayed by how much total fish oil content there is. Choose a capsule which contains 770mg EPA and 510mg DHA a day. Ideally, you are aiming to do this in the smallest amount of capsules.
Magnesium: for headaches
Magnesium is classed as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and helps to relax muscles and relieve anxiety and tension. Research has shown that people who take magnesium supplements have migraines on 43% fewer days than those taking a placebo. And it is known that people who have migraines have lower levels of magnesium that those who don’t get them.
Yoga and gentle exercise: for back pain
The worst thing you can do if you have back pain is take to your bed. If you follow a programme of stretching and low impact aerobics, you will make a faster recovery from back pain than if you don’t exercise at all. So to keep back pain at bay try the following gentle stretching exercise four to five times a day – it will help to keep your back flexible: from a neutral standing position lean forward gently and then lean back and then move from side to side. Repeat.
You may also want to try the following yoga stretch, called a cat stretch, which can help keep your spine mobile and rid it of tension. To perform a cat stretch, kneel down and place your hands on the floor in front of you so that you are on all fours with your knees, feet and hands about a foot apart. Now slowly arch your back into a hump, dropping your head. Hold for a few moments and then gently and slowly lift your head and at the same time gently drop your lower back and stick your bottom out. Repeat this three times slowly and without strain. Just doing this part of the exercise is great for removing tension from your spine and can really help with an aching back. Then gently bend the elbows and place your chin on the floor between your hands.
In addition to gentle exercise and stretching, applying heat or ice can reduce pain, stimulate blood flow and speed the healing process by bringing blood cells to clear the damaged tissue site. Generally, heat should be applied on the first day of injury and ice is better for spasms. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel, for no longer than 15 minutes at a time though or the cold itself could trigger a muscle spasm. If cold doesn’t help try using a hot water bottle and applying for no more than 15 minutes at a time, up to four times a day. A bath with Epsom salts can also soothe pain, as can bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme derivative of pineapple and research has found it can be as effective as ibuprofen in relieving back pain – without the side effects.
If you would like to explore whether a consultation with an expert nutritionist at the Glenville Nutrition Clinic could help you, please contact us on 01892 515 905 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org