Pain can take over our thoughts, dump crap all over our good times and can seriously impair our quality of life.
As positive as we try to be, it's almost impossible to be our happiest, shiniest, best-ever selves when we're dealing with pain, whether it’s from a splitting headache, a stubbed toe or a chronic disease like fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.
People with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop psychiatric symptoms like depression and anxiety, and it’s no wonder. When you’re in pain, it’s harder to enjoy doing the things that you love.
Luckily, we have options. While over-the-counter painkillers can be really helpful, and in some cases may be the best option, they can also cause gastrointestinal upset and definitely aren’t the best long-term strategy for coping with chronic pain. My goal is, of course, to try and help relieve pain by getting to the root cause.
But sometimes, we need a little something to take the edge off. At those times, I turn to the power herbs and nutrients, whether in food form or ready-blended supplement.
Here are five remedies to reduce joint pain and inflammation:
Bromelain is a powerful enzyme found in the most delightful tropical fruit, pineapple.
While most enzymes get broken down in the digestive tract, bromelain actually gets absorbed into our bodies whole, resulting in system-wide effects. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, studies have shown that it can reduce inflammation and reduce pain (though it's not well-understood why this happens).
Eating pineapple can provide you with some bromelain, especially if you juice the hard stem and drink it on an empty stomach. Juicing pineapple in a combo with aloe, ginger and turmeric (see below) is a powerful of anti-inflammatory pain relief remedy.
Bromelain can also be found on its own as a supplement.
Turmeric is a root. It looks a lot like ginger, but it’s bright orange inside. It’s available as a whole fresh fruit, or more commonly in North America, as a dried, ground spice.
Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a ton of different conditions ranging from infections to cancers to inflammation to digestive problems. Amazingly, in a 2009 study, researchers found that turmeric eased pain as much as ibuprofen did in patients with arthritis.
Turmeric can be enjoyed as a tea, or used in recipes (many Indian-inspired dishes call for turmeric). You can also buy curcumin (the powerful compound in turmeric) in capsule form.
3. Devil's Claw
Devil's claw is definitely not the paw of a devil but it kind of looks like one! It’s a creepy looking root that's well worth a google image search to to catch a glimpse of its funny shape.
Studies have shown that it can reduce pain and physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis. Devil’s claw contains components called iridoid glycosides, which are thought to be the source of its pain relieving properties.
Devil’s claw root can be taken as a tea, and it is also often sold in capsules and ointments.
4. White Willow Bark
White willow bark is the bark of the white willow tree, obviously! Please ensure are very familiar with identifying the tree before you start peeling the bark and brewing a tea!
White willow bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever and inflammation. It contains salicin, a compound very similar to aspirin. Studies have shown that willow bark is effective for reducing lower back pain. I like to keep a bottle of this on hand when traveling, as the pressure in airplanes tends to help with my headaches.
White willow is available dried as a tea, powdered in capsules or as a tincture. It’s also often used as an ingredient in combination pain-relief supplements.
5. Egg Membrane
The egg membrane is that transparent layer between the eggshell and the gel-like part inside of an egg. It’s easy to see on hard boiled eggs.
Egg membrane contains the components of the membrane that is designed to protect the egg, including collagen and glucosamine. According to a recent study, egg membrane significantly reduced joint pain and stiffness in patients with arthritis of the knee when compared to a placebo.
Egg membrane can be purchased in supplement form. If you have a cut or a wound you can also use the membrane from your boiled egg in place of a Band-Aid for accelerated healing.
What are some of your favorite natural pain management strategies?