It was the middle of winter, and the excruciating pain in my muscles and spine were shooting up into my neck. It hurt so much I was screaming into my pillow. I could not stop crying.
I begged my boyfriend, “Cut my back out.”
He looked at me like I was crazy.
“Cut it out,” I said. “I’m over this.”
I was in the middle of a flare up of my rheumatoid arthritis — a disorder for which I'd been on a prescription cocktail of fentanyl patches, Flexeril, and Celebrex for the last 12 years.
The moment that cutting out my own back seemed like the only way to get to the root of my pain, I knew something really had to change. The pain, exhaustion, daily blackouts, excruciating aches, and emotional toil needed to stop.
I was done masking the pain. I wanted to cure it — naturally, intuitively, and straight at the source.
I knew that a whole medicine cabinet full of ancient herbs, tonics, rituals, and secrets existed in nature thousands of years before modern medicine came along. I also knew that while my thoughts had a huge hand in my depression, pain, and anxiety, so did what I was putting in my body.
I decided to come off my 12-a-day dosage of prescription medication cold turkey (not a method I'd ever recommend to anyone). I replaced it with a more natural approach to healing, one that used food not just as a fuel but as a powerful medicine.
I thought that if I could tap into the healing properties of food and use them to propel my health, everything would shift.
My research was simple, but it changed my life.
Here are four healing herbal remedies that I've found can curb pain and promote relaxation. Bonus: most of them are probably already in your kitchen.
Chamomile has been globally promoted as a relaxation herb for thousands of years. It has anxiolytic properties, meaning that it naturally inhibits anxiety. Chamomile extract is also a powerful pain reliever that can soothe aches at the source by lubricating joints and inhibiting bone loss. It's also been shown to help ease menstrual cramps.
Plus, you can find chamomile practically everywhere. Speaking as someone who's sensitive to caffeine, I can attest that it's the most common caffeine-free tea available today!
Ginger was one of the first herbs I discovered in my healing journey, and luckily I already loved it! Ginger has quite the history of pain relief. It has been commonly used since the dawn of Ayurvedic history and was described as “the beverage of the holiest spirits” by the Ancient Koreans. Today, medical journals have found that a few tablespoons of ginger a day helps ease muscle pain caused by exercise.
Ginger works on a cellular level because it contains anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, and antioxidant agents as well as analgesic (inflammation-fighting) properties. Ginger has been shown to reduce cytokines — inflammation-causing substances that are often linked to pain — by breaking down existing inflammation in the joints (naturally)!
I used ginger for the excruciating daily pain of my arthritis and scoliosis. I started by buying raw ginger and putting pieces into a tea catcher, boiling hot water, and drinking it as a tea. You can also buy premade ginger tea or supplemental ginger vitamins.
Used for more than 4,000 years, turmeric boosts more than just your circulation. A member of the ginger family, it's an effective anti-inflammatory that can help with joint problems and arthritis. It's been used to treat rheumatoid and osteoarthritis pain straight at the source.
It’s also one of the easiest herbs to incorporate into your daily routine. My joints felt more fluid after just a week of incorporating turmeric into my diet, and it’s now replaced many of the drugs I took for pain and inflammation.
Egyptians worshipped it. Entire literary genres have been written about it. It was even used as currency in previous centuries! While these may not be your very first thoughts about garlic, this powerful plant contains naturally occurring antioxidants that are amazing for fighting discomfort, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It’s great for healthy joints and pain management. Simply toss a few cloves of garlic into your tea catcher, boil water, and drink with some honey. You can also put garlic cloves in your bath as aromatherapy.