Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs AKA NSAIDS. You probably know these from your local pharmacy shelves under names like Ibuprofen, Advil, Naproxen, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex, the list goes on and on.
These drugs block the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins throughout the body. Prostaglandins are a family of chemicals that promote inflammation to encourage healing, support blood clotting, and protect the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid. NSAID's will reduce ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever. The downside is that since the prostaglandins that protect the stomach and support platelets and blood clotting also are reduced, NSAIDs can cause ulcers in the stomach and promote bleeding.
This is what happened to me. I have been dealing with chronic inflammation for well over a decade and repeated use of NSAIDS caused ulcers, intestinal bleeding, and bad burns in my esophagus. Damage that I am still dealing with today. I struggle with keeping my food down most days, I have had painful gum surgeries to repair the damage my excess stomach acid caused to my gums, and reflux is something I will probably live with for the rest of my life.
With that being said I understand that pain is pain and sometimes we NEED something to take the edge off or else it can spiral out of control and over take us. What I am proposing is try one of these alternatives before reaching for the pill bottle. The goal is to integrate holistic solutions for pain to reduce chemical based pharmaceuticals as much as possible to avoid the long list of side effects that come with them and avoid long-term damage. Pick a few and leave a comment on what you found to be most effective.
It may seem really old school but applying heat or ice can bring down pain fast! I am not a fan of dry heat from heating pads because it can pool blood and increase swelling. I like wet heat. A quick fix is to fill a big sock with rice, tie it up, and microwave for 4-6 minutes (turning over half way through) until hot. Lay these socks on painful areas (these actually travel well and stay warm for road trips). For immediate and acute pain I like ice. 10 minutes on 20 minutes off or until the skin has returned back to its normal temperature. Keep doing these rounds until pain and swelling has reduced.
Epsom Detox Bath
Shut down your pain by slipping into this wonderfully rejuvenating bath. Epsom salt, baking soda, and lavender to soothe and heal. Feel free to use other oils that you respond well with. Use about 3-6 drops per oil and be cautious to not touch your eyes especially if using anything minty. The bonus feature about Epsom salt is that it helps to detox from toxins and pharmaceutical drugs, which can be very helpful if you have been using over-the-counter or pharmaceuticals or recently had a surgery where a lot of drugs were used.
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- 1 cup Baking soda
- 2-4 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Add to hot bath soak for 25-30 minutes and towel dry vigorously to stimulate lymphatic system. Drink a lot of fresh water to replenish.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. When you breath in deeply, the hand on your belly should rise higher than the one on the chest. We call this belly breathing.
- After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4 while internally saying the word "relaxation".
- Hold the breathe for 7 seconds then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 while internally saying the word "pain". As you exhale fully, gently contract your abdominal muscles to push the remaining air from the lungs and even let your tongue hang out of your mouth to really expel all the air. Remember we deepen breathing by exhaling deeply not inhaling.
- Repeat the cycle internally repeating the words to signify the pain leaving your body on the exhale and filling your body with relaxation on the inhale for four more times for a total of 4 deep breaths.
Mix a few drops of these oils into a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil to blend smoothly into the skin. Wash your hands after applying so as to not get any into your eyes.
Wintergreen/Birch: The wintergreen and the birch tree are the only plant in the world that contains natural methyl salicylate, the main ingredient in aspirin. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic properties, and therefore is often effective against headaches, muscle pain, and stiff joints – anything you would use aspirin for!
Ginger - Has wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-nauseas properties that can be used for migraines, headaches, arthritis, as an expectorant, stomach ache, chest pain, and back pain.
Pan-Away made by Young Living Oils is a wonderful all-in-one blend for pain relief containing
- Peppermint (has powerful pain-blocking properties)
- Wintergreen (reduces inflammation)
- Clove (which is used in the dental industry to numb)
- Helichrysum (provides anesthetic and analgesic properties)
Golden Elixir of the Gods
Make this drink as substitute for over the counter pain meds
- 1/2 tbl fresh ginger juice or 2 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
- 8 oz Coconut milk or Goat Milk
- 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Wild or raw honey to taste
- Pinch of cayenne
- Heat the coconut milk over medium heat until just under a simmer.
- Add the ingredients and whisk to combine.
When the milk is steaming and everything is well mixed, pour into a beautiful mug and savor the moment