Before modern medicine, there was natural pain relief.
Teas, salves and tinctures were what the doctor ordered for everything from menstrual cramps to headaches. Now, when we hurt, we typically turn to over-the-counter pain remedies. NSAIDs, aspirin, heat patches and pain creams – could we live without them?
Well, yes. To some extent, anyway. And a lot of people are looking for alternatives to them, whether they’re trying to manage how much medicine they take, control their budget or make more things by hand. (Which increases happiness and decreases depression, by the way.)
To see a small sample of the natural pain remedies out there, go to Pinterest and search for “pain hacks” or “natural pain relief.” You’ll find pages of posts focused on helping you manage pain, whether chronic or acute. While you’re there, check out our Pinterest board: DIY and Pain Hacks.
A lot of those natural pain remedies call for things you probably don’t have on hand, like beeswax or a particular essential oil. So we challenged ourselves to find pain hacks you could do with 2-3 ingredients already in your pantry.
Why we like it: When you’re hurting it can be hard to fall asleep – or get back to sleep. This scientifically proven recipe combines two basic ingredients, sugar and salt. This is the sweet-salty nexus of natural pain remedies.
Why it works: The nutrients in the sugar and salt keep your stress hormones in check by lowering the metabolic state.
How you use it: Keep a bag by your bedside and when you wake up, put a little under your tongue and let it melt. You can also lick it off of a wet finger or take a small spoonful, though putting it under your tongue gets it into the bloodstream fastest.
Ingredients:– 5 tablespoons organic cane sugar
– 1 tablespoon sucanat (unrefined cane sugar juice with the minerals intact)
– 2 teaspoons sea salt
Put this in a baggie and shake it up. You can go up to a 1:5 salt-to-sugar ratio, so experiment to find out which dose works best for you.
Aches and Pains Rub
Why we like it: This super-simple recipe harnesses the power of chili peppers – perfectly natural pain relief for achy joints, sore muscles and even headaches.
Why it works: Capsaicin, the “heat” in chili peppers, blocks nerves’ pain impulses, making it a pain hack of its very own. Coconut oil is a better carrier agent than Vaseline (though you can use that, too) and a great natural moisturizer.
How you use it: Apply it up to three times a day. You may feel a burning sensation at first; this should dissipate. (If it’s really burning your skin, wash it off, add more coconut oil – and drop the amount of cayenne powder in the recipe next time.)
Ingredients:– Cayenne powder
– Coconut oil
Mix one part cayenne powder to five parts heated coconut oil. Pour into a jar and let cool. The coconut oil will solidify as it cools. To use, scoop some out and rub it into the pain point.
DIY Gel Ice Pack
Why we like it: These customizable packs are great natural pain remedies for everyone, from a kid with a boo-boo to a grown-up with arthritis. You can never have too many, plus they’re super-cheap to make.
Why it works: Rubbing alcohol keeps the water from freezing completely, allowing you to shape it to any part of your body.
How you use it: Like any gel pack, simply put it where the relief is needed.
– 1 baggie with a zip closure
– 1 part rubbing alcohol
– 3 parts water
– Food coloring for fun
Combine the rubbing alcohol, water and food coloring in the baggie. Zip tight, shake and place in the freezer until it’s frozen. If it’s too slushy, add more water; if it’s too hard, add more alcohol. Make several and you’ll be ready for anything.
If you have any favorite pain hacks or natural pain relief tricks, let us know in the comments. We might even add them to our Pinterest board.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.
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