It seems we cannot get enough of painkiller type products, however, there are a number of potential side effects, including kidney damage, asthma and gastric ulceration. More recently, one of the newer Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) which were introduced because they were less likely to cause intestinal bleeding were withdrawn due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, fortunately the natural world has a host of many all of which can help to deal with the pains without the dangerous side effects.
The Ayurvedic spice, turmeric, contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant that lowers inflammation by reducing formation of inflammatory substances. Like aspirin, it helps to reduce abnormal blood clotting. Unlike aspirin and other NSAIDs, however, far from causing peptic ulcers, turmeric has been used to successfully treat gastric and duodenal ulcers, gastric erosions, gastritis and dyspepsia.
Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France and is found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits. The extract has been widely studied for the past 35 years with over 200 research papers supporting its benefits. Pycnogenol improves blood supply to muscle tissue creating a relief effect on muscle cramping and pain. Poor circulation in the muscle is known to cause cramps and Pycnogenol improved the cramping in patients due to a stimulation of blood flow to their muscle tissue. Nitric oxide (NO) a blood gas is well known to enhance blood flow and Pycnogenol may be influencing the activity of NO. The insufficient production of NO is the common denominator responsible for impaired blood flow in vascular disease.
For general pain relief the Indian herb boswelia, is every bit as powerful as Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter painkillers. Produced from the gum of the Boswelia serrata tree, the key active ingredient is Boswelic acid. This is a powerful anti-inflammatory and vascular-supporting herb that can help relieve headaches, for example, by opening up the blood vessels that are constricting and causing the pain. (Suppliers include Solgar, Biocare and Viridian)
Salicylic acid the active ingredient in white willow lowers the body's levels of inflammatory prostaglandins - hormone-like substances that promote pain and inflammation. White willow bark can be used to relieve both chronic and acute pain and is therefore helpful in easing conditions from lower back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and neuralgia to headaches, toothache and menstrual pain. It is also effective in reducing fever, related to colds and influenza.
The recommended dosage for white willow bark is one 400mg capsule taken one to three times a day.
Bromlain is a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme. It works much like NSAID’s and COX-2 inhibitors, by blocking the production of prostanoids that can cause pain and swelling. It also breaks down fibrin, a blood-clotting protein that can impede circulation
The amino acid Phenylalanine helps to enhance the production of endorphins, which control our perceptions of pain. Available in two forms, L and DLPA this offers a safe alternative to opiates for the management of chronic pain. They do not cause the gastric distress and other side effects associated with NSAID’s and COX-2 inhibitors. Phenylalanine may also be used to enhance the effects of NSAID’s so that a lower dosage of traditional pain relievers would be necessary to achieve the same effect.
MSM is a pain-reducing agent. It blocks the transmission of impulses in nerve fibres that carry pain signals. It also decreases pain by altering cross-linked collagen, resulting in less scar tissue.
Studies indicate that individuals suffering from arthritis often have low levels of sulphur in their system. MSM is a sulphur-based compound. Sulphur is known to have an affect on production of immunoglobulins, which are necessary for proper immune function. MSM also blocks histamine activity, reducing allergy-induced symptoms, which may contribute to inflammation. Supplementation of MSM has been used for over 20 years with no adverse side effects.
Homeopathic remedies that can also support the muscular-skeletal system include;
Arnica montana, for the relief of bruising and muscle aches. Hypericum perforatum can provide relief of injuries to nerve endings. Ruta graveolens for pains and strains.
Symphytum officinale for the relief of joint, tendon and bone injuries