Herbal remedies for pain

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:19 May 2015 

Pain is considered to be a sensation that hurts. It is an individual experience, and can sometimes be difficult to describe properly. Pain can be intense and short-lived (acute), or constant and lingering (chronic) and it can present as a dull ache, a sharp stabbing sensation, throbbing, pulsating, burning pinching and many others. However it manifests, it is unpleasant and we like to remove the pain sensation as quickly as possible, as well as prevent future pain experiences.

There are many anti-inflammatory herbal remedies which may help in relieving pain and inflammation, and there are also analgesic herbs, some of which have been shown to target specific types and areas of pain. Some examples of herbal remedies for pain are listed below.

Corydalis (Corydalis ambigua) – Has strong analgesic properties and is used to alleviate many types of pain, especially arthritic, muscle and period pain. The active constituents include alkaloids which have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and act on the central nervous system, helping to decrease pain sensation. Widely used in Chinese herbal medicine, the herb corydalis is said to alleviate pain by moving qi (energy) and stimulating the blood.

Willow Bark (Salix Alba) – Has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions in the body. The active ingredient in willow bark, salicin, is responsible for willow bark’s anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Willow Bark has demonstrated analgesic activity in people with chronic low back pain and people suffering from osteoarthritis. Willow Bark has traditionally been used in Western Herbal medicine for muscular and arthritic pain. Even the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates used the bark to help reduce inflammation in his patients. Willow bark is particularly beneficial for pain caused by inflammation. Orally, Willow Bark is used for headache, pain, muscle pain, osteoarthritis, and period pain.

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus) – Traditional uses for Cramp Bark in Western herbal medicine include muscular cramps and ovarian and uterine pains. Active constituents appear to have smooth and skeletal muscle antispasmodic effects, which indicates Cramp Bark can be used orally for cramps and spasms, period pain and cramps, pain in thighs and back and cramps in the legs. Native Americans used cramp bark as a treatment for stomach cramps and “pain over the whole body.” 

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)Ginger is commonly known for its use to help reduce the severity and duration of nausea and vomiting associated with travel and morning sickness. But did you know that ginger has a strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic action as well! Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help relieve the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis, as well as helping relieve muscular discomfort associated with osteoarthritis.

It also helps increase joint mobility and helps relieve morning stiffness associated with mild osteoarthritis. Ginger has been shown to help relieve period pain and cramps. It may also help reduce the incidence and frequency of migraines, flatulence, bloating, and enhance circulation, warm the body, joints and muscles.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – Is considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been used in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Many studies, particularly on turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin, have shown significant anti-inflammatory benefits providing temporary symptomatic relief for mild osteoarthritis. Curcumin also helps support cardiovascular, digestive and liver health.

Written by Kerryn Dingey BHSc (Naturopathy)

Kerryn holds a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) and is passionate about educating and empowering others to make informed choices around nutrition and lifestyle and take steps towards optimal health. Kerryn has previous experience in retail Naturopath roles where she was able to apply her knowledge and learn about customers’ needs first hand.

With a focus on moderation, Kerryn believes that preventative medicine is the key to good ongoing health.