Herbal therapies: “When back spasms are so strong you can barely move from the bed,” Grossman says, she suggests the homeopathic medicine Bryonia; when you have soreness after overexertion, she uses Arnica.  Keep in mind, there’s little scientific evidence that herbals such as Bryonia and Arnica are effective treatments for back pain; though, a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2016 suggested they might help to reduce chronic low back pain from arthritis when combined with physical therapy.
Whether the pain that someone experiences is activity related, leftover from an old injury, or due to a chronic inflammatory condition, bone broth in the diet can help to reduce chronic pain and flares. This is due to the presence of collagen in bone broth, which can help to alleviate joint problems and repair pain that originates from the digestive tract. (23)
"My go-to muscle soothing product is Topricin Pain Relief Cream ($17; topicrin.com) as it is a combination of 11 homeopathic ingredients proven to be safe for your skin. I typically apply it to my lower back (where I've had trauma) before I go running and again before bed. I'm a believer!" —Kira Stokes, creator of The Stoked Method (Try her 30-day plank challenge to score tighter abs, faster.)

1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
Most of these gels and creams won’t cure your ailment. You’ll probably run into countless negative reviews of products from people that complain that their pain is not gone. These types of products are not a cure. Pain relief creams and gels are a helpful way to reduce pain. With acute pain, these gels and creams help users get relief until treatment can occur. In the case of a sprained ankle or torn muscle, for instance, using this kind of medicine can be a good alternative to NSAIDs to help reduce pain. For chronic ailments like arthritis, these substances are merely a way to help sufferers cope with pain. They are a band-aid. Some aches and pains may be helped with further treatment but don’t expect miracles with these types of products. Just because they don’t completely remove pain doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful in some instances and for some people.
Not as popular as many other essential oils, arnica oil belongs in every medicine cabinet. Considered generally safe for topical use, arnica oil used on the skin helps ease inflammatory pain associated with insect bites, bruises and even arthritis flare-ups. (5, 6) To treat bruises, applying arnica oil twice daily (as long as the skin is not broken) helps reduce bruising inflammation even better than low-concentration vitamin K formulations. (3)

1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.

There is nothing worse than having to wait for your pain medication to kick in when you’re in a bad way, only for it to wear off in a few short hours once it does start to work. What you need in these times is fast pain relief that acts fast and lasts for several hours. Thanks to the LUMINAS Pain Relief Patch, this is now possible, even without the use of harmful drugs.
Try taking one 250-milligram capsule of valerian four times a day. Some scientists claim that this herb’s active ingredient interacts with receptors in the brain to cause a sedating effect. Although sedatives are not generally recommended, valerian is much milder than any pharmaceutical product. (Valerian can also be made into a tea, but the smell is so strong-resembling overused gym socks-that capsules are vastly preferable.)
“For years I have suffered with sciatica pain going down my right side. It is so painful that even sitting hurts. Nothing has ever worked well. I tried your patches by putting 3 discs on the painful area. For 3 days, I was pain free. As you suggested, I replaced the patches with new ones after 3 days and it no longer hurts. I also used it on my shoulder after a fall. It works! Thank you for helping me find relief.” – Norma M.
How much do you have to use at once and how often? Is it easy to apply too much? Generally, roll-on applicators are the best choice for reducing waste since it’s hard to put on too much when using them. It is also important to note that if you need deep muscle penetration roll-ons often don’t provide the same effect as hand rubbing gel or cream into the affected area. So be sure to keep that factor in mind as you review these products.
Try taking one 250-milligram capsule of valerian four times a day. Some scientists claim that this herb’s active ingredient interacts with receptors in the brain to cause a sedating effect. Although sedatives are not generally recommended, valerian is much milder than any pharmaceutical product. (Valerian can also be made into a tea, but the smell is so strong-resembling overused gym socks-that capsules are vastly preferable.)

Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated Jan 9th, 2019), Cerner Multum™ (updated Jan 14th, 2019), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated Jan 7th, 2019) and others. To view content sources and attributions, please refer to our editorial policy.
Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.
Many readers assume that “skeptics” will always favour mainstream and pharmaceutical treatments like Voltaren, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, some skeptics are leading the charge against bad pharmaceutical industry science and practices (and a great example is Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients). Pharmacist Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy was certainly skeptical about topical NSAIDs like Voltaren when he first tackled the topic early in 2011.13 “When I recently noticed a topical NSAID appear for sale as an over-the-counter treatment for muscle aches and pains … I was confident it would make a good case study in bad science.”
With more than 23,000 reviews on Amazon, customers give Penetrex sky-high marks for effective pain relief. If it doesn’t work for you, it comes with a 100 percent, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. Formulated to fight inflammation, it contains a mix of ingredients including arnica, choline, glucosamine, Vitamin B6, and MSM. It’s not odor-free, but rather has a light scent that disappears quickly after you apply it. You can use it alone or in conjunction with heating pads, massagers, ice, and other therapies.
For a blast of cool pain relief, Biofreeze has been a go-to for arthritis sufferers for decades. Made with 4 percent menthol, this gel promises immediate relief from pain that’s long-lasting. It has a light green color, so you can see where you’re applying it, but it also comes in a colorless version as well. Both versions are greaseless and have a scent that’s designed to disappear after application.
My doctor reddened and paniced a bit when he took my B/P and blamed it on the tablets which I rarely took, but the gel had been increased due to a worsening scoliosis and and a damaged knee getting worse with age. Recent research states clearly that this is a serious side effect, and it was not just a small rise but one of 25-30 points on my normal B/P!!! It can also cause hardening of the arteries and eventually a heart attack.
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.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown efficacy in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) pain but are also associated with a dose-dependent risk of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, hematologic, hepatic, and renal adverse events (AEs). Topical NSAIDs were developed to provide analgesia similar to their oral counterparts with less systemic exposure and fewer serious AEs. Topical NSAIDs have long been available in Europe for the management of OA, and guidelines of the European League Against Rheumatism and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International specify that topical NSAIDs are preferred over oral NSAIDs for patients with knee or hand OA of mild-to-moderate severity, few affected joints, and/or a history of sensitivity to oral NSAIDs.


Hi Pauline, sorry to hear about your knee. Yes, capsaicin/capsicum cause stimulation of nerves endings so their chemicals are depleted and they reduce the level of pain messages they send on. The brain also naturally dismisses persistent signals. Some people do find it irritating, however, but better than the traditional treatments that mimic this action -bee stings and nettles! Best wishes, Sarah B
Aspirin is now believed to target both the NF-kB and COX pathways. These agents inhibit the NF-kB pathway in endothelial cells and block NF-kB activation to inhibit leukocyte recruitment.[114,115,116] NSAIDs have also been found to inhibit both the COX system and the NF-kB pathway. Immunosuppressant drugs also reduce nuclear expression of NF-kB.[39,70,75] Research now indicates that blocking the activation of NF-kB along with other inflammation mediators [Table 2] is the major mechanism for reducing inflammation by natural compounds.
Ginger can be eaten raw or pickled, grated or brewed into tea, added as a spice to dishes, or encapsulated. Ginger tea or capsules seem to be the most efficient way to regularly consume it. You can drink up to four cups of tea daily, and capsules should follow daily recommendations or what practitioners suggest. Similar to turmeric, those on blood thinners should consult their doctors before adding daily ginger to their diet.
Diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren, also available as a generic). When used for osteoarthritis pain of the hands, elbows or wrists, apply 2 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 8 grams per day). When used on knees, ankles, or feet, apply 4 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 16 grams per day).  However, the total amount used on your body should not exceed 32 grams per day. A dosing card comes with the gel so you can measure the correct amount.

One way to increase the effectiveness of Biofreeze is to add it to a massage! And what do professional massage therapists use in their practice regularly? Creams and oils to help their hands glide across the skin and focus on relieving pain. External pain relief creams can be used as a part of your at-home massage to not only enhance your comfort, but to soak in and relieve any residual pain.
The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a natural pain reliever that’s also used in some OTC pain rubs. Rubbing a tiny amount of clove oil on your gums may temporarily ease toothache pain until you can get to a dentist. But too much undiluted clove oil may actually hurt your gums, so discuss this approach with your dentist before trying it at home.
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