It’s considered perfectly normal to pop a pain reliever on a regular basis. I’m not against using medication when needed, but if there’s a natural alternative I tend to go that route and avoid the drugs when possible. Even a simple tylenol has side effects and negative health consequences, and I believe even mild pain relievers should be used very sparingly. But no one likes to be in pain! My first rule of thumb is to always remember that pain is my body telling me something. Fixing the root cause of pain is always best, and masking pain can actually lead to more pain down the road if the real cause of pain is ignored.
But there are natural ways to soothe aches and pains, no bottle needed!
Source Most of us get a headache from time to time and the cause can vary. Whether it’s from tension, dehydration, allergies or sinus pressure, there’s a natural remedy to help!
Tension-Gently stretching your neck and back can help ease the tension causing some headaches, and massaging your temples and the base of your neck can bring relief, too. I keep a jar of my simple soothing massage oil (see recipe at the end of this post) on hand at all times for this purpose (and many others, too!).
Dehydration-Lack of water is actually a very common cause of headaches. Many people notice a headache in the afternoon and try to fight it with a cup of coffee (I’m totally guilty of this!). Caffeinated drinks are only going to compound the problem if your headache is caused by dehydration. When I get a headache I try to drink a large glass of water first before I reach for my coffee cup. Many times a glass of water is all it takes to get rid of a headache.
Seasonal allergies-I wrote a whole post about seasonal allergies!
Sinus pressure-You probably already know that the ear, nose and throat are all connected, but did you know that you have lymph nodes under your ears and chin, and that massaging them can help encourage sinus drainage? You could use any oil to massage the lymph areas. I like to use my soothing massage oil blend, but add some essential oils to help fight infection, like cassia, clove and eucalyptus. This works amazingly well for me!
Neck and shoulders
I’m at the computer a lot and I end most days with tense, knotted up shoulders (I should really learn to relax while I’m typing!). I go through a lot of that soothing massage oil! Bonus: peppermint and lavender essential oils help my mind and shoulders relax each evening. I sleep better at night when I use it!
Gentle stretching can help loosen up the kinks causing achiness. I’ve found that stretching the muscles around the problem area makes a big difference, rather than just trying to stretch one isolated area. For example, I tend to hold a lot of tension in my lower back. Stretching just my lower back doesn’t help much, but stretching my legs, glutes, upper back and sides makes my lower back ache just about disappear.
People don’t like to talk about it much, but lower back pain can be caused by constipation, and it’s very common. The cure, of course, is to get things moving. Drinking lots of fluids and eating a high-fiber diet (as in, whole foods that naturally contain a lot of fiber, as in, salad and stuff) can help prevent constipation. Prunes can help if you’re already in trouble, and mixing together a hot cereal-type paste of slippery elm bark powder, ground flax seed, water and a little molasses is another quick and gentle way to move things along.
Source If your body is digesting food properly and you’re eating a healthy diet 100% of the time then you probably don’t have to deal with these discomforts (Unless, say, you’re pregnant and have a 7 lb baby trying to shove his feet up into your throat, which might cause some heartburn. Or so I’ve heard). But I think it’s safe to say that none of us eats a perfect diet 100% of the time, so these are issues from time to time.
Simple peppermint tea can help bring some relief, but I’ve found that a mixture of a few herbs works much better for me. I like to use equal parts peppermint, chamomile, fennel and catnip. Hot or warm tea seems to soothe better than cold or iced tea.
There are many, many remedies for heartburn, so I’ll just share my two favorites. A teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of water was the only things that really worked when I was pregnant last. Well, that’s not entirely true. Half of a whole wheat bagel spread with nutella helped quite a bit . . . :)
As if monthly bleeding weren’t enough of a trial, many women have cramping along with their monthly periods (and a host of other common discomforts). But it doesn’t have to be that way! PMS and women’s cycles are too big to completely cover here, but just on the subject of abdominal cramping, here are a few things that have helped me:
Lavender essential oil- Because it helps relax the muscles, lavender can help ease the cramping.
Heat- Hot packs are easy to make yourself: sew two small rectangles of fabric together on three edges, fill with rice and any desired herbs (to make it smell good!), then sew the final edge shut (you could also do this with a sock and just tie the end shut if you don’t sew). Heat in the oven (carefully!) or microwave. This is also nice if you can’t shake a back ache!
Red raspberry leaf- I really should dedicate an entire post to this herb because I am in love! A blend of herbs can bring more immediate relief, but I have had some amazing results by drinking plain old red raspberry leaf tea. I went from having miserable cramping, heavy bleeding and many other issues each month to having a completely pain-free period that lasts only 3-4 days with minimal bleeding. Not even kidding! I do drink quite a bit of it (a quart each and every day of the month!), but it’s so worth it to have no cramping or other issues.
Joint pain-hips, knees, etc.
Inflammation in joints is, unfortunately, very common, especially among older folks. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but again, a healthy diet can do so much to reduce inflammation! But even if your diet isn’t great, there are natural ways to ease sore joints:
Herbs- Diatomaceous earth, turmeric, cayenne, and red clover blossoms are some of my favorite herbs for reducing inflammation, although there are so many more. Powders (like diatomaceous earth) can simply be stirred into a glass of juice to drink, turmeric and cayenne I like to take in capsule form, and red clover blossoms are easy to brew into a tea.
Baths- Dead sea salt makes a soothing and healing bath to soak in, and adding a little lavender oil makes it all the more relaxing.
Source Everyone has sore feet from time to time! A soak in some warm water with some herbs like thyme, rosemary or ginger feels so, so good at the end of a long day. Follow that with a foot massage with that soothing oil blend and you just might forget that your feet ever ached.
Soothing Massage Oil Blend
1/4 C. coconut oil*
20 drops peppermint essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
1. Place coconut oil in the container you plan to store the massage oil in (I keep mine in a 1/2 pint glass jar). Set the jar in a small pot and pour a few inches of water into the pot. Heat over low heat until the coconut oil turns to liquid, then remove from heat.
2. Stir in essential oils, then let cool. Ready to use immediately!
Notes: you can store this anywhere you want. I keep mine on my dresser most of the time, but in summertime I store it in the fridge so it stays solid.
This oil blend was invaluable when I was in a car wreck a few years ago. The first few days after the wreck I would have been so stiff and sore, but this oil kept my muscles loosened up and soothed the bruises.
*You can use any carrier oil you like. I prefer coconut because it solidifies once it cools, making it easier to work with (i.e. less messy!)
How do you ease aches and pains naturally? Any favorite remedies?
This post is shared at Tuesdays Outside the Box at Crunchy Betty.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I cannot give you medical advice and you should always consult with your health care provider. I share what has worked for me and hope that you find it informative and are encouraged to take charge of your own health and make healthy choices.