Since the time of Hippocrates white willow bark has been in use as a natural means of reducing inflammation and pain, specifically associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as headache, backache, gout and PMS. The bark of the willow tree contains the chemical salicin, which has a similar effect in the body as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). But it’s better than aspirin, because it has none of the gastrointestinal side effects, and it naturally contains flavonoids (anti-inflammatory compounds found in plants).
NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory (reduce inflammation), analgesic (relieve pain) and antipyretic (lower temperature) effects. Although different NSAIDs have different structures, they all work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. There are two main types of COX enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Both types produce prostaglandins; however, the main function of COX-1 enzymes is to produce baseline levels of prostaglandins that activate platelets and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas COX-2 enzymes are responsible for releasing prostaglandins after infection or injury. Prostaglandins have a number of different effects, one of which is to regulate inflammation. Most NSAIDs inhibit both enzymes, although a few are available that mainly inhibit COX-2. The pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are mainly due to inhibition of COX-2, and their unwanted side effects are largely due to inhibition of COX-1.
Capsaicin cream, also called capsicum cream, is available in drug stores, health food stores, and online. A typical dosage is 0.025% capsaicin cream applied four times a day. The most common side effect is a stinging or burning sensation in the area. If possible, wear disposable gloves (available at drugstores) before applying the cream. Be careful not to touch the eye area or open skin. A tube or jar of capsaicin cream typically costs between $8 and $25.
When you think of a needle poking into your skin, the last thing you probably think about is natural pain relief. The truth is, though, that dry needling works by stimulating trigger points to reduce pain or disability. A 2007 study found dry needling significantly reduced shoulder pain by targeting a trigger point. Dry needling can also help deal with trigger points that reduce a person’s range of motion, which can lead to serious pain and musculoskeletal side effects.
I am allergic to anti-inflammatory pills since they affect my stomach. I don't like the bad side effects they give either. So I look to topical anti-inflammatory cream to help when I have back, hip and/or shoulders sprains and strains. I have tried endless products: Penetrex, Aspercreme, Australian dream, Celadrin and so on. Out of these, Muscle Care works best for pain management. However, I do have some skin reactions to it so I have to give it a rest. When that happens, I use Topricin which works quite well. However, to me, SynthaFlex works as well, if not better. On top of that, it gives a strong cool menthol effect which Topricin doesn't. So when I overwork some muscles, I like to use SynthaFlex and/or Topricin. When my skin reactions calm down, I go back to using Muscle Care from time to time. I also use a roller to stretch which also helps. I hope this review gives others a better sense of what might work for them.
In addition to the other methods and strategies discussed throughout my book, I recommend taking natural remedies that reduce pain and inflammation, protect joint health and promote healing without side effects. Below I offer an overview of 20 different supplements formulas or ingredients often found within such formulations. Read each, keeping in mind your specific condition and how some may be more effective for you than others.

"Having excess weight pulling on your back all day (except when you're lying down) is just bad news for your back," says Lauri Grossman, DT, a licensed chiropractor in private practice in New York City. "Often times, when people who wrestle with back pain for a lifetime lose a few pounds, they find that the pain that they've taken a million medications for and a million vitamins for just goes away." If you're having trouble shedding extra pounds, consider consulting with a registered dietitian or personal trainer.
A combination of Boswellia and curcumin showed superior efficacy and tolerability compared with nonsteroidal diclofenac for treating active osteoarthritis. Boswellia typically is given as an extract standardized to contain 30-40% boswellic acids (300-500 mg two or three times/day). Boswellia has been well tolerated in most studies, although some people may experience stomach discomfort, including nausea, acid reflux, or diarrhea.[1–10,42,48,56,62,103,104]
You never want to put a heating pad on top of the topical product after it’s on your skin. It can cause skin irritation and possible burns. If you apply a lotion or gel having methyl salicylate, do not start exercising. Your body can absorb too much of it from your increased blood circulation and that’s not good. Do not put on areas such as broken skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, or irritated area. Pregnant and breastfeed women should not use topical pain relievers without consulting their doctor. Babies should not use these products, nor young children.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse.[3] In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.[4]
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