It’s no secret that many people pop a pill, often out of habit and without second thought, to fight off everything from muscle pains to headaches. However, whether they’re an over-the-counter purchase or one jotted down on a prescription pad, such pills typically come with a slew of side effects. In fact, an increasing amount of findings show the negative consequences result from taking them.
For example, researchers have found that when painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen are taken with an antidepressant, that the compounds used as antidepressants do not work as effectively.(1) In turn, people may actually become even more depressed.
As for athletes who take painkillers like ibuprofen in an effort to stave off muscle pain before it sets in, they too, may find their efforts ineffective. Researchers have found that damage in the body occurs when combining exercise and ibuprofen, including colonic seepage that could lead to more inflammation in the body, difficulties in proper nutrient absorption, and the inability for muscles to effectively repair themselves.(2)
However, many natural alternatives to ibuprofen and aspirin exist so that pain can be diminished but without the side effects.
Natural Ways to Fight Pain, Relax Muscles
White Willow Bark
This herbal remedy has been in use for more than 2000 years, providing relief for everything from headaches and lower back pain to osteoarthritis and bursitis.(3) It’s made from the bark of willow trees, and while relief may not occur as fast as with aspirin, its effects last longer.
This bark and root of a thorny vine may not sound pleasant, but it’s ability to help heal is. Cat’s Claw contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that help diminish pain, and research has found that it also helps to lower blood pressure and relax smooth muscles.(3)
Curcumin is an ingredient in the spice Turmeric, which is becoming increasingly popular for its multiple health benefits. It helps to lessen the signals of pain that are sent to the brain while also blocking the proteins that cause inflammation.(3) Furthermore, it’s been found to be an effective method to help with the treatment of everything from certain cancers and diabetes to inflammation-related eye diseases.(4)
Three oils in particular – roman chamomile, clary sage, and lavender – each work to relax muscles, reduce pain and help manage stress.(3) They’re most effective along with a light finger massage or when poured into a bath.
Of course, reducing stress helps reduce both headache and body pains associated with the muscle tension that occurs in less than relaxing situations. A variety of techniques exist, from listening to binaural beats and yoga to getting in regular amounts of daily exercise and proper amounts of sleep.
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