As a society, we often reach for the medicine cabinet for quick relief from pain. It is important to find an alternative to the consistent use of over-the-counter medications, as research is starting to show the negative long-term side effects these treatments can have on our body. This includes digestive damage and leaky gut, liver failure, neurological impairment and an increased risk of heart attack or store. Specifically, NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen can elevate our blood pressure and increase heart failure. As you can see, these side effects can certainly outweigh the benefits of having a quick fix.
Turning to holistic and herbal medicine can be a great natural alternative to these over-the-counter medications. Using holistic medicine not only reduces localized or acute pain and inflammation but also helps in supporting the root cause of the issue! Before reaching into your medicine cabinet next time, try one or more of the recommendations below.
Essential oils are full of superpowers which can help with pain, digestion, stress and respiratory troubles. It is important to dilute essential oils when applying topically, as they are highly concentrated. We love to mix and match essential oils in the diffuser during the workweek or for help falling asleep at night.
Peppermint has an antispasmodic effect, making it helpful in stomachaches and intestinal support. Peppermint can be taken both internally or applied topically.
Lavender is very relaxing and great for a headache, especially tension headaches, as well as stress relief.
Frankincense (Boswellia) has superhero benefits, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, and helps relieve both chronic and acute pain as well as reduce stress hormones in the body.
Rosemary oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory essential oil known to support memory and cognition. Rosemary can be used in cooking as well as applied topically to support the lymphatic system.
Eucalyptus is derived from the eucalyptus tree and supports the immune system, especially any sinus congestion and muscle aches/soreness. This oil is not to be taken internally and is recommended to use along with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil when applying topically.
Clove oil is great for insect bites, pain, and headaches. It is important to mix clove oil with a carrier oil if applied topically.
Arnica Montana is a favorite staple in our medicine cabinets. Arnica is derived from the herb Arnica Montana and has been used for hundreds of years as a homeopathic remedy. Arnica can be used topically (gel or spray) or taken orally. Arnica gels are great to rub on knees and joints when there is bruising, pain or swelling.
Magnesium is used throughout the body and we are often depleted in magnesium and don't even know it! Magnesium oil is the best way to increase your intake of magnesium, as the skin is our biggest organ and it skips the digestive tract and is rapidly absorbed into your cells. Magnesium has been studied to help with nerve pain, muscle aches, and headaches/migraines. We highly recommend Epsom salt baths to support with muscle pain and aches, but I also recommend magnesium oil, which can be a quick and easy option.
In spray bottle:
1 cup magnesium oil
8 drops frankincense
1 tablespoon carrier oil (almond is good) or body lotion
Directions: Rub or spray on achy joints or feet before bed at night for a restful night's sleep!
Homeopathic cell salts stimulate our body’s natural healing mechanisms through providing essential trace minerals. Cell salts are an affordable option and can be beneficial for any neurological pain or if you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Turmeric is a favorite at The Whole Journey; it has so many benefits we just can't get enough of it. Turmeric grows in India and Indonesia and is part of the ginger family; curcumin is the active ingredient. In countless studies, it has been shown to reduce inflammation, pain, and stiff joints. In 2012, it was used in a study to reduce joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis patients, the results showed that the turmeric was just as powerful as the NSAID which was being used in the treatment of RA. Turmeric can be taken orally as a supplement or incorporated into your diet via cooking, juicing, or golden milk lattes!
Our friend Vani, aka The Food Babe just came out with a great turmeric supplement that we’re loving called Truvani. It's a blend of turmeric and black pepper, which is a great pair because black pepper allows for 300% greater absorption of the nutrients of turmeric. This supplement isn't capsulated, so you can take it like a pill, blend it into smoothies, or use it to make one of our favorite elixirs, Golden Milk.
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon turmeric, dried
1/2 teaspoon ginger, dried
1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt
Dark liquid stevia, to taste
Directions: Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Stir while heating. Slowly bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Pour into a mug and serve.
You can watch us make it from scratch here.
Comfrey Root is a native to Europe, North America, and Asia. The root and leaves have been used in alternative medicine for hundreds of years. Comfrey root helps with skin rashes, wound healing, and has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, including joint inflammation. Comfrey is typically used in a cream or ointment form to apply topically as it is not typically recommended to take internally.
Dietary Recommendations: Maintaining a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can have profound effects on your health and any acute or chronic pain you may be feeling. Amino acid-rich foods such as bone broth and collagen peptides can have a beneficial effect on pain and inflammation. These easily-digestible foods allow your body to absorb essential vitamins and minerals which can help cool down inflammation and provide relief to joint pain.
Maintaining a healthy balance between omega-6 and healthy omega-3 fatty acids is important to reduce inflammation and chronic pain. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil can be a great option if you’re experiencing joint pain or inflammation.
Additionally, organic brewed tea can have many healing properties. We love ginger (great for headaches and arthritis), chamomile (helpful in calming the mind and relieving pain) and turmeric tea.
Even trying just one or two of these recommendations can help relieve pain while also supporting your precious organs such as your heart and liver. Let us know what you try and what works for you next time you’re looking for pain relief!