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Natural Alternatives for Pain: A Comprehensive Guide

Exploring natural alternatives is a viable and often necessary approach to managing chronic pain, especially when traditional methods fall short. While prescription medications can help to numb pain sensors in the body, most pharmacological treatment approaches fail to address underlying issues that may be causing the pain.

Integrating natural medicines and alternative therapeutic approaches into your daily lifestyle can be life-changing.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective and clinically proven natural strategies to help you start feeling better today.

Herbal Remedies

One of the most popular ways to begin a natural approach to relieving pain is to start with herbal remedies. These tried-and-true plant medicines have stood the test of time and were used by our ancestors to help alleviate pain associated with everything from wounds to headaches.

For those suffering from age-related inflammatory conditions and arthritis, turmeric is a great first step. Curcumin, its active ingredient, has been clinically shown to reduce inflammation and ease painful symptoms. When taking turmeric, researchers suggest you do so in combination with black pepper, as pepper’s active ingredient piperine helps the body to absorb curcumin.

White willow, another powerful natural herb, has been dubbed “nature’s aspirin.” Its active ingredient salicin is believed to target specific pain receptors in much the same way as aspirin and helps to relieve pain and inflammation. If you’re experiencing headaches, arthritic pain, back pain or any other discomfort, try white willow as an option.

Hemp Extracts

As regulations across the United States and the rest of the world have eased for hemp and cannabis-related products, this unusually versatile plant medicine has raced to the front of the line for doctors integrating natural alternatives into patient treatment plans.

The plant possesses over one hundred active ingredients known as cannabinoids, but two of these hemp extracts, in particular, have shown great promise for those suffering from pain.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most popular cannabinoid extract from hemp and works by acting on receptor sites in the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system helps to regulate pain responses, sleep cycles, and stress, among many other essential things in the body. Studies show that taking CBD helps to reduce pain in those who use it regularly. You’ll want to try various dosage levels of CBD, as it is not a one size fits all kind of natural supplement. Some companies like Cannabiva offer free samples of CBD oil-infused softgels so that interested users can see if it helps to relieve their pain.


Another powerful cannabinoid known as CBG, or cannabigerol, is less prevalent in the hemp plant but has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties in higher doses. Taking CBG oil in the proper dosage for your weight on a daily basis may help to support CBD supplementation and contribute to an entourage of benefits for those suffering from pain-related symptoms.


Acupuncture has been a popular natural therapy for pain relief for thousands of years. It uses needles to trigger specific points across the body to help with the healing process.

As a traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture posits that much of the pain we experience is caused by various imbalances within our body. By carefully inserting needles into the body, a professional acupuncturist can activate processes that improve potential blockages of blood flow.

It is also believed that the needles stimulate the body to produce natural chemicals that act as painkillers. Moreover, though it seems counterintuitive, the insertion of the needles, while causing slight discomfort, is believed to interfere with pain sensation by sending signals to the brain and blocking them.

Acupuncture has been used successfully to treat those suffering from chronic back pain, neck pain, migraines, headaches, osteoarthritis, and menstrual cramps.

Message Therapy

When it comes to natural pain relief, massage therapy is a popular non-prescription alternative that can knead away your painful troubles. This ancient practice uses techniques like kneading, tapping, and stroking to work its magic on your soft tissues.

A Massage Therapy Journal review notes that combining regular massage with other natural therapies like acupuncture may provide relief for a number of different types of pain conditions.

Weekly massages may be a back pain game changer, with chronic back pain patients reporting less pain and better functionality over time. Massage has also shown effective results in patients suffering from pain related to everything from fibromyalgia to breast cancer.

In addition to relaxing soft tissue in the body, massage therapy also gets your blood flowing. Better circulation means more oxygen and nutrients for your muscles, resulting in better healing, reduced inflammation and less achy joints.

Those experiencing musculoskeletal conditions may benefit from deep tissue massage, which uses slow and strong strokes to target the deepest layers of muscle tissue.

Swedish massage, on the other hand, has long strokes with circular movements to relieve tension and relax muscles.

For those suffering sports or other injuries, a trained massage professional can develop a specific massage therapy plan that takes a target therapeutic approach for total body wellness.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

As difficult as it may be at the onset, engaging in physical activity to target pain is highly recommended by traditional and alternative medicine professionals. While there may be initial pain when beginning an exercise or physical therapy program to treat your pain, regular movements over time are key to reducing inflammation, improving mobility, and strengthening muscles around the joints. Low-impact activities like swimming, walking, stretching, or cycling may help to relieve many types of pain.

Individuals can also find a qualified trainer experienced in corrective exercise. Rather than focusing on bodybuilding or extreme fitness, corrective exercise is quite different from the typical exercises you’ve seen at the gym. It instead focuses on proper movements during exercise and everyday activities.

So, for example, someone experiencing knee pain who limps on one leg may be compensating in a way that they think their muscles and joints are minimizing the pain, but by doing so they may actually be adding additional pain to the area they are trying to make feel better.

Using a corrective exercise approach helps pain sufferers to modify the movements they make at the gym, while walking, rotating their body, bending over, and even standing up.

An Integrated Approach to Pain Relief

No two people are alike when it comes to exercise and everyone’s pain is different, so individualized plans that factor in age, fitness level, and medical history can be key to finding relief.

For some patients, pain-relieving prescription medications may be a necessary part of a complete treatment plan.

For others, integrating natural medicines like acupuncture, herbal supplements, hemp extracts, massage, and physical therapy may be best.

One of the keys to successfully managing your pain is to find a treatment plan and to stick with it. Engage your body every day, and don’t give up. Depending on your condition, you may see results in just a few days. But it may also take several weeks or months to maximize your benefits.

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