Dealing with pain is something that we all have to face during our lives. When it’s a minor injury or a sore muscle, most people reach for over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
While these drugs work, they can have adverse side effects, like nausea, weakness, sweating, diarrhea, or even liver failure. Some people can't use these medications because of allergies. Then there's those who want to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. That's where cultivating plants that relieve pain comes in.
Whether you want a garden that can keep you healthy in the event of a crisis, or you need some extra help to supplement commercial meds, the following plants that relieve pain can give you some comfort when you're feeling pain.
Plants That Relieve Pain
1. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory herbs, and it's proving to be more effective than ibuprofen or similar drugs. Instead of blocking inflammatory compounds from forming, ginger targets those compounds while also have antioxidant effects that stop existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid inside of the joints. All this can spell relief for anyone suffering from certain kinds of pain.
2. Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Have you ever had a toothache? If so, you know it feels like the gates of Hell opened inside of your mouth. Pain is a mild word for what a toothache can feel like. Next time your mouth is screaming, reach for cloves.
You’re probably more familiar with cloves in the whole or ground up forms that spice up meat and rice dishes. For medicinal purposes, cloves can be found in powder or capsule forms, and you can also make clove oil. Clove oil is the best choice if you have a toothache. Cloves can also help to ease nausea and treat colds.
The benefits don’t stop there. When used as a topical cream it can ease arthritic inflammation or back pain.
The reason that it works is simple. Cloves have an active ingredient called eugenol, which is a natural pain reliever that you can find in some over-the-counter pain creams. Be careful with cloves if you have a bleeding disorder or a blood-thinning medication. They can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding.
3. Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
You might not have a taste for hot stuff, but peppers offer dozens of benefits, including being a natural painkiller. Capsaicin comes from chili peppers, and it can be used as a topical remedy to soothe nerve, muscle, and joint pain.
Peppers relieve pain because capsaicin contains chemicals that stop pain signals from being sent to the brain. By stopping pain perception, the chemical triggers the release of pain-relieving endorphins and provides analgesic action.
Cayenne pepper, for instance, can be used to help relieve post-operative pain as well as migraines and muscle pain. You can also make a cayenne pepper cream to help with back pain. If you twist your ankle, applying cream can help it feel better.
If you don't want to grow your own, you can find capsaicin in gel or cream form. It's safe to be used three to four times daily to ease arthritic and nerve pain. If it contains .025 percent capsaicin, it can reduce osteoarthritis pain, and higher concentrations are useful for peripheral nerve pain, such as diabetic nerve damage.
4. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric has many beneficial properties, including the ability to reduce pain. While it's most known for adding flavor to curry dishes, turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, and there's evidence that it contains cancer-fighting elements. Taking turmeric regularly can help to improve your blood circulation and help prevent blood clots.
How is this possible? It’s because turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin that lowers the levels of two inflammation-causing enzymes in the body.
Turmeric is simple to grow in a container in your backyard. It's one of those plants that relieve pain but also makes a tasty addition to the kitchen.
5. Lavender (Lavandula)
Having lavender essential oil on hand is smart if you suffer from headaches. Using lavender essential oil can help relieve pain naturally, and there's evidence you can use it to help get some sleep and ease anxiety. Inhaling lavender oil also helps to relieve pain that’s associated with migraine headaches.
Lavender oil also has other useful properties. It’s an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
Peppermint essential oil is a fantastic way to reduce pain naturally. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving properties. Peppermint is thought to have some useful active compounds, such as carvacrol, menthol, and limonene.
When diluted, you can use peppermint essential oil as a topical treatment. Applying peppermint to your temples may be able to help you kick a tension headache as well.
7. Aloe Vera (Aloe)
Of all the plants that relieve pain, aloe vera is one of the most well-known. It's popular for treating skin injuries. Practically everyone has slathered the cooling cream on a sunburn, but you can also take it orally for aching joints. Keep an aloe plant growing in your kitchen for quick pain relief from burns.
8. White Willow (Salix alba)
White willow bark is nicknamed “the original Aspirin.” This plant contains salicin which converts to salicylic acid when you consume it, and salicylic acid happens to be the primary component of aspirin. No wonder it's considered a natural version of the ubiquitous pain reliever.
In synthetic versions, salicylic acid can irritate your stomach. White willow bark is natural, so it's easier to tolerate for some people. It's useful in relieving pain, fevers, and inflammation.
To reduce pain, take 1 to 2 drops of white willow bark tincture daily or as needed. It’s effective against acute back pain, joint pain, and osteoarthritis. Be careful because consuming too much white willow bark can affect kidney function and increase the risk of bleeding. It’s not safe for children.
The history of white willow bark is fascinating. Years ago, people chewed on the bark to help relieve pain and fevers. Nowadays, you can purchase dried white willow bark and drink it like tea. It also comes in a capsule form. No matter how you take the herb, it all works the same.
NOTE: If you're sensitive to aspirin or are already taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin or ibuprofen), avoid taking white willow bark.
9. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus)
Eucalyptus smells wonderful, and it also helps relieve pain from inflammation. On top of that, it's antimicrobial. You can make a muscle rub using jojoba oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil. Applied to sore muscles, it can generate heat that eases discomfort. It's one of those plants that relieves pain and smells marvelous while doing it. It can also ease the irritation of an itchy scalp.
10. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Have you ever heard of valerian root? If not, you’re missing out. Some people claim that valerian root is like a natural tranquilizer. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Valerian root can be used to soothe tension, irritability, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It eases pain because it helps to reduce feelings of discomfort by limiting your nerve sensitivity. The best way to take this supplement is by drinking valerian tea; it’s great for natural pain relief or to get your brain to settle down to go to sleep.
11. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
Cat’s claw looks like hooked horns, which is where it gets its name. It’s a woody vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest, along with some places in South America. Cat’s claw is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties that block the production of the hormone prostaglandin. This hormone contributes to inflammation and pain in your body.
You have to be careful, though, because too much cat’s claw can cause diarrhea. The recommended dose is 250 to 1,000 mg capsules one to three times per day.
12. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew is a well-known medicinal plant that has many uses such as treating fevers, migraine headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, and rheumatoid arthritis. There's some evidence that women can increase their breast milk supply with feverfew.
How does it work? Feverfew has several active compounds that can reduce inflammation and muscle spasms. The active compounds in this plant work together to reduce the pain you feel from a sore muscle.
Be careful with feverfew. When taken in the wrong dose, feverfew can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and increased risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor about taking feverfew.
13. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John's Wort has a reputation as a way to support emotional health, but it can also be used to ease pain. Some herbalists claim that St. John's Wort is one of the essential herbal pain relievers and it can be used when you have sharp pains or injuries in parts of the body that have a lot of nerves. This herb reportedly targets the nervous system.
14. Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Black cohosh is considered useful for women because it can be used to treat the pain from menstrual cycles, and some midwives use it during labor. Pregnant women should avoid taking black cohosh.
Black cohosh can be used as an antispasmodic herb that can ease cramping or muscle pain of all types. It can also be used to treat nerve related pain, whiplash, and back pain because it contains anti-inflammatory properties.
When using plants that relieve pain, approach things with a skeptical eye. Not everything has been proven by science to be effective. That doesn't mean that it isn't worth giving these plants a try, but it does mean that you should be ready to try something else if you aren't getting relief.
You should also be careful to be sure you know what you are taking and how much you should take. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Treating pain naturally doesn’t stop with herbs. Don’t forget yoga, acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and rotating heat and ice. When used in combinations, all of these methods work together to nip pain in the bud.
Don't wait for the pain to get too bad! Taking herbal remedies works best if you don't wait for the pain to get excruciating. When you're reaching for over-the-counter medication, consider trying one of these 14 plants that relieve pain, instead.