Pain is a huge problem for Americans. And more and more of us are searching for natural ways to relieve it. Fortunately, you have six safe, natural, and time-honored ways to make pain go away, as I’ll explain in a moment.
Of course, you probably remember a time when your family doctor gave this stand-by advice for pain: “Take two aspirin, and call me in the morning.” But somewhere along the line, Tylenol (acetaminophen) took aspirin’s place. Today, it’s the most common pain reliever in the U.S. And doctors and hospitals widely recommend it instead of aspirin for everyday aches and pains.
But I hope you know by now to never take Tylenol for anything. Ever. Period.
First of all, as I reported last year, Tylenol doesn’t even work at all for lower back pain, the most common cause of pain and disability in working Americans. In fact, it prolonged pain by a full day compared to doing nothing. In another study, researchers found it’s useless for shoulder pain, another common problem.
Secondly, a recent British study found long-term acetaminophen use increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and GI bleeding.
Ironically, they told us to switch to acetaminophen because of the risk of GI bleeding with aspirin. At least aspirin lowers your risks of heart disease. It also lowers your risk of colon cancer and cervical cancer.
Third, Tylenol is also the leading cause of toxic liver failure in the U.S. And it increases the risk of premature death by 60 percent.
Overall, Tylenol is a metabolic poison that interferes with production of glutathione, a vital antioxidant throughout cells of the body. The antioxidants present in blueberries and grapeseed, for example, can help protect you against Tylenol. But nothing can fully overcome this metabolic poisoning.
Fortunately, you have many other safe, effective, and proven treatments to take away your pain.
Your first option is Boswellia serrata, a resin from the gum trees of South Asia and the Middle East. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for pain that made its way into European use during the Crusades. (Although historic evidence suggests it was known even to the ancient Greeks and Romans, probably from the Spice Route.) The common name Frankincense comes from the Frankish King Frederick Barbarossa who led one of the most successful Crusades and probably brought some with him back to Europe. Boswellia helps ease the pain associated with both rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative arthritis. Look for it in better joint supplements. You can safely take 400 to 500 mg per day.
Capsaicin is a natural ingredient found in hot chili peppers. It effectively relieves joint pain, respiratory congestion, and sinus congestion. It works against pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical involved in transmitting pain signals to your brain. Many people seem to think you can only apply it topically on painful joints to get relief. But, of course, you can also take it orally and get results. Indeed, in many countries around the world–such as Eastern Europe, Italy, Mexico, India, China, and Southeast Asia–they routinely incorporate hot chili peppers into cooking.
Curcumin is the bright yellow active compound found in the common spice turmeric. You combine curcumin, coriander, cumin, and, sometimes, red chili pepper to make curry flavoring. Of course, each curry spice on its own has pain-relieving properties. But curcumin reduces pain and joint inflammation. In fact, it reduces inflammation as effectively as the potent prescription drug phenylbutazone (Butazolidine). Plus, according to some natural medicine experts, the right dose of curcumin is the most effective pain reliever available anywhere. Some studies suggest it reduces pain even when drugs are ineffective. In addition, it has potent activities against dementia, depression, and cancer. It also promotes healthy brain and gastrointestinal functions. A common dose is 500 mg per day.
Studies show tart cherries work as well for joint pain and inflammation as ibuprofen. You should eat at least 20 cherries per day to feel a difference. You can also take a 2,000 mg tart cherry extract. This remedy may also reduce the risk of colon and other cancers (as does aspirin). As an added benefit, tart cherries promote restful sleep. (I reported on all the benefits of tart cherries in the September 2014 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.)
The wild cherry known as Ashwaganda (also called winter cherry, or Withania somniferum) is another ancient Ayurvedic remedy for joint pain. I call Ashwaganda, together with Boswellia and Curcumin, the ABCs of effective joint pain relief and healing.
Willow bark contains salicin, a phytochemical similar to acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. Willow bark relieves pain and reduces inflammation. Plus, it may cause fewer side effects than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as ibuprofen. In Europe, it’s approved for the treatment of arthritis and headache. In the U.S., you can purchase it as an herbal extract, powder, or capsules. I recommend a daily dose of 120 to 240 mg per day depending on your pain level.
I’m really just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to natural pain-relief options. You can learn much more about all your options in my special report the Insider’s Guide to Pill-Free Pain Relief.
Just don’t count on tired, old glucosamine and chondroitin for pain. They really don’t address the issue of inflammation. And therefore can’t really help your aching joints.
Instead, look for a supplement that contains all three ABCs–Ashwaganda, Boswellia, and Curcumin–to make a triple play for your joint health.
Aside from all these non-drug herbal treatments for pain, I also recommend trying out some mind-body techniques such as acupuncture or meditation. To learn which technique will work best for you, take this short quiz.