Turmeric roots are dried and ground into a spicy orange powder that has been used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever for hundreds of years in India. More recently researchers have called curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, the “herbal ibuprofen.” One study found that curcumin was actually more effective at reducing pain and swelling in arthritic joints than anti-inflammatory medications.
Wasabi is another spicy food with natural painkilling properties. Scientists are studying the isothiocyanates in wasabi as potential pain relievers. Researcher from University of California San Francisco made a recent discovery suggesting that isothiocyanates could block an inflammation receptor, making it a potentially important natural painkiller. (2)
Pain relief products that provide a cooling sensation can help distract the body from pain signals to ease comfort. One to try is Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, which is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers to relieve muscle and joint pain. The formula contains 4 percent menthol—which is responsible for the cooling sensation—as well as an herbal blend of camphor, aloe, arnica, calendula, and more. The cream is NSAID-free and doesn’t contain parabens or propylene glycol.
Arnica, also commonly known as mountain tobacco, is a plant that is defined as an ideal medicinal plant for “individuals who have suffered a significant fall or have injured themselves at work” in botanical texts dating as far back as the 17th century. It has many qualities from a topical perspective. First and foremost, it provides rapid relief from discomfort in the joints (including knees, elbows, shoulders and hands) and in individuals who suffer from arthrosis and live with chronic pain, and also for muscle cramps, blows, bumps, rheumatism, sprains, frostbite, etc. So what is the reason for this? As it happens, it causes an immediate calm in bruises from bumps and contusions thanks to localised reactivation of blood vessel circulation which reduces inflammation.
Schematic showing another inflammatory pathway that is activated by tissue injury. This is the NF-kB activation, in which once the protein is free as a result of tissue injury, it can enter the cell nucleus and activate the DNA to enhance the inflammatory response further by the production of additional cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules (IKKB = IkB kinase)
If you’re someone who experiences muscle and joint pain from time to time (or on a regular basis), you’ve probably tried quite a few options for pain relief. And you’re probably already using external pain relievers—the kind you apply directly to your skin for fast relief from sore muscles and joints. But have you thought of adding an external pain relief cream to the mix?
Apply to the affected area and massage into the skin gently. Always wash your hands after you have finished rubbing the cream, gel or spray into the skin. This is to make sure that you avoid rubbing this medicine into sensitive areas of the body such as the eyes. Do not apply to skin that is broken, or near the eyes, nose, mouth, genital or bottom (anal) areas. Do not use plasters or bandages (dressings) on top of these medicines. Generally these medicines are applied to the skin 2-4 times a day. However, for specific advice for your medicine, see the leaflet that comes inside the packet.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble and essential nutrient for humans. The most important components of vitamin E appear to be the tocopherols. All four forms of tocopherol have been shown to have antioxidant activity, but alphatocopherol is the strongest antioxidant. Alpha-tocopherol inhibits the oxidation of LDL, which can help prevent LDL from sticking to the arterial walls. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E also acts to reduce blood coagulation and may help to lower blood pressure by eliciting endothelial relaxation.
If you’re sensitive to aspirin, or if you’re taking any over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen), you should avoid willow bark. You should also avoid taking it if you’re taking warfarin (Coumadin) or other anticoagulant treatments, as salicin could increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking willow bark if you’re taking other anti-inflammatory or pain medications.
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