9 Natural Pain Relievers

Here’s an excuse to stay in bed this weekend with no guilt:

Man listening music in headphone and sleeping in embrace with laptop on the sofa

Logging extra hours of sleep can reduce pain sensitivity and increase daytime alertness, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP. The small study included 18 healthy—but mildly sleepy—adults between the ages of 21-35. Their level of sleepiness and pain sensitivity (how quickly they moved their fingers off a hot source) were measured before and after the study. Half the participants stayed in bed for 10 hours per night for four nights, while the other half continued their normal sleep habits. Not surprisingly, the group who stayed in bed longer slept an average of 1.8 hours more than the other group, which led to increased alertness. But the group who slept in also showed a 25% decrease in pain sensitivity by the fourth day!

How does it work? When you take healthy people and you deprive them of sleep, you increase the amount of pain receptors in the blood system,. This suggests that extra sleep potentially has an analgesic effect, particularly if you can do it in anticipation of the pain. Essentially, being well rested reduces that sensitivity.

So the next time you’re training for a marathon—or just planning for a week of awful cramps—sleep in for a few days. Here, 8 more ways to reduce pain without meds:

waterGet a massage

Treat sore muscles or back pain with a trip to the spa. A once-a-week massage treatment was found to be more effective at treating pain than regular medication, according to a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Stay hydrated

When your head is pounding, reach for water. Often headaches are brought on by dehydration. You may just need to gulp down a glass or two of water to fight off the throbbing (especially if it’s post-hangover pain).

Do a little yoga

7-Steps-to-a-Life-Long-Yoga-Practice-Youll-LoveMany people are in pain because their muscles are tight and contracted. So one of the most successful strategies is stretching. Sometimes it takes heat to relax the muscles. So hopping in a hot shower or bath before you get your om on can be even more effective.

Distract yourself

Focusing your attention on a difficult task—like reciting the ABCs backwards—can actually inhibit pain signals to the brain, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology. So the next time you’re getting a flu shot, try doing long division in your head for instant relief.

gingerAdd ginger to your meals

Ginger has been found to help with menstrual cramps, In fact, it’s as effective as an OTC pain reliever, according to a 2009 study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Mix it into your meals or add it to hot tea to fight PMS pain.

Focus on your breathing

Meditation can help relieve belly pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Take a few moments to bring your breathing rate down to six breaths per minute. That helps your body produce a relaxation response, your blood pressure comes down, and many people find their pain levels to be much more manageable.”

Turn up your music

Listening to your favorite tunes can actually reduce your pain, especially if you’re particularly anxious about it, according to a study published in The Journal of Pain. Freaking out while getting your blood drawn? Pop in your headphones and crank up the music, stat.

acupressureTry acupressure

Think of it as the less terrifying (and zero needles) approach to acupuncture. “In the last 10 years, a lot of people have been turning to acupressure,” says Bauer. “And many studies show that it’s nearly as effective as acupuncture.” Try one of the most basic pain-relieving moves by squeezing the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger for one minute.

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20 Things People With Chronic Pain Can Relate To…

stevepb / Pixabay
Millions of people live with chronic pain every day in the US, and they struggle to do basic day-to-day things like getting dressed and going to the shop. Despite their constant pain, their voices are rarely heard by the media because they look ‘normal’ and it is difficult to see the cause of their pain.

Here are 20 things that people in chronic pain can relate to:

  1. We try very hard to look ‘normal’

    People often say to us that we don’t look sick, but it takes a lot of effort to look normal. We often have to nap before going out to deal with the exhaustion, and we normally take pain meds before meeting up with people.

  2. The pain won’t pass in a few days or weeks

    This isn’t a cold or the flu, and it won’t go away in a few weeks – we may live with the pain for our whole lifetime.

  3. It’s not all in our heads

    [Tweet “We are not hypochondriac’s; just because you can’t see the cause of our pain doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”]

  4. We have dreams and goals

    Just like anyone else, we have passions and dreams that we would like to achieve in our lives. We are not defined by our illness.

  5.  We are not making a big deal for no reason

    We are probably in more pain that you think we are in. It can be pretty difficult to understand chronic pain, and we don’t need your sympathy – we just want to know that you understand our situation.

  6. Sometimes it is impossible to get out of bed in the morning

    Some days the pain is too bad to get out of bed, but we don’t let that get us down. In fact, we will probably Skype our friends or partners so we can have a giggle to take our mind off the pain.

  7. We hate being called lazy

    Every job is twice as hard if you’re experiencing chronic pain, so we don’t feel lazy – we feel super accomplished for getting dressed and going to the shops. Everyone experiences different challenges in life.

  8. Chronic pain doesn’t become less painful with time

    Pain doesn’t become less painful over time, but you become better at dealing with the pain. I am still in pain; I’m just not letting it rule my whole life.We don’t always have enough spoons
    Christine Miserandino, a woman with lupus, created the ‘spoons’ analogy to describe living with invisible pain.

  9. When you have chronic pain, you start each day with a certain amount of spoons.

    Every task, like making a sandwich, takes a spoon away from you. Once you have run out of spoons for the day, you cannot complete any more activities – your pain is too much. This analogy helps us to complete our tasks without exerting ourselves too much.
    [Tweet “PLEASE take the time to read  “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino this is probably the BEST essay to help you understand chronic pain!”]

  10. If we don’t work, it is because we can’t

    We don’t shy away from work; in fact, we would do anything to be healthy and able to work full-time. Sadly for some chronic pain sufferers, this just isn’t an option.

  11. Just standing in queues is uncomfortable and painful

    Having to hold your body in a certain place for even a few minutes can be extremely tiring and painful, and sometimes we have to ask our friends and families for help.

  12. Good days do happen

    Some days we wake up feeling better than normal, and we get super excited! Normally we will try to be productive and social on these days, because we don’t know when the next good day will be.

  13. So do bad days

    Some days are very painful, and on these days even going to the bathroom is a difficult task. On a day like this, brushing your teeth is a huge accomplishment!

  14. We feel guilty about not always replying to our friends

    Pain can be mentally exhausting, and sometimes it means we feel too tired and ill to reply to our friends. This makes us feel bad – we love our friends and we hate not replying, but thankfully our friends don’t take it personally when this happens.

  15. We are so thankful for the friends and family who are there for us

    Often we have to ask our loved ones for help with tasks like cooking and shopping, and we are so grateful for the help. Our friends are more than just friends; they are lifelines and saviours.

  16. Medical help can be frustrating

    It can take years to diagnose chronic pain due to a lack of training, and when we find an understanding doctor, we try to keep them in our lives for as long as possible.

  17.  We don’t seek drugs – we seek pain relief

    Sometimes chronic pain is treated with medical marijuana and opioids, but that doesn’t mean we seek drugs. We seek anything that will help us to control and manage our pain.

  18. We don’t need advice (unless you have chronic pain yourself)

    We really appreciate people who are trying to be helpful, but it can be mentally draining to repeatedly discuss the same pain-management methods. We always look out for ways to help manage the pain, so the likelihood is that we have already tried most suggestions.

  19. We hope to heal one day

    We don’t want to live our whole lives in pain – we want to heal and get better. We will always look out for answers and cures that could change our lives

  20. Love and support helps us to keep going

    From strangers and co-workers, the little gestures like offering to help with our bags can really help to make our lives easier.

Medical searches on Google

When you do a Google search for certain medical conditions, you can learn about their symptoms and treatments. This includes information from medical doctors about how common a condition is, whether it’s critical or contagious, the ages it usually affects, and more.

Get info about chronic pain

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RikkiSpeaks – You Have To Trust Someone Somehow

As I boarded my first bus, tears filled my eyes…

I watched as my family pulled away which tore at all of my emotions. I knew I had to make this trip, there was no question in my mind. I was doing what was right, although it didn’t lessen my knowing how badly I would miss them.

My first stop was in an inner city bus stop. I was faced with an extremely long layover and was now surrounded by a hoard of strangers. Looking at my surroundings, I noticed that this stop never slept. I was not unlike the place, as there was no way I could have closed my eyes. For the longest time, I just watched, as people moved about and children cried. Every type of person, of every ethnic background, seemed to swallow me making me the minority. After all, I was traveling alone.

Originally, while learning it would take me twenty  three and a half hours to travel what should have taken me nine by car, I was a little bit scared. It was a typical response, as people fear what they do not know. I was no where near a seasoned bus traveler. I made sure to my luggage within arms reach, as I was unsure of what to expect. I felt that making it to my destination with clothing was the best route to take and I wanted no chance of not ensuring this simple thing.

After sitting for quite some time, and suffering waffle butt syndrome from the uncomfortable iron benches, I decided I had to move. Exhaustion had set in, and I just couldn’t stay seated anymore. Hauling my luggage with me, I made my way outside.

Being a very friendly person, I have always been able to speak to whomever I am around. Boredom caused me to do just that. I made conversation with several people. Some were a little more apprehensive of my open abilities to say “hello”, while others seemed somewhat thankful to have someone to talk to.

We all spoke of why we were making our way, to our final destinations. Some were traveling as far as across the country. There were people who were making a new start while others decided simply to meet family and friends on the other side. There were even full families taking a quick vacation together. I, myself, was heading to help my very ill father.

I looked in the eyes of these people, from all walks of life, and found a little of myself in each of them. Oddly we were, after all, in this together. The more people I met, the more I felt responsible to watch out for each of them. Strangely, they all felt the same about me.

I had taken a couple of young fellas under my wing. The pair had met on a bus, and made it a point to watch out for each other. I decided to take care of them because I found them to be unworldly and it seemed they had no idea what to expect from life. We spoke of the girlfriends they had left behind, and they had asked for my advice on love and other topics. They listened as I vented about my fears of what I would learn when I got to my father’s hospital room. After a long while, they both became very tired and I agreed to watch their things, while they laid their young heads on a table and fell asleep. I woke them, when their bus was called, to ensure that they didn’t miss it. A small nod and wave and they were gone. Yet this time I didn’t feel so alone.

I had met a family who I connected with quickly. One of them won over my heart with her honest approach. She said to me, “I don’t understand why people steal luggage, because I don’t even want to lug mine, let alone someone else’s things.” Between giggles, I agreed. This family didn’t see me as a different color, nor did I them. We’d traded off luggage watching duties when each of us needed to get up and walk away. They had offered to feed me from the supplies that they had carried with them. I knew that their trip would be a long one, and yet they had offered to care for me from the little they had. I politely declined, knowing they would inevitably need it more than me, as they had many more mouths to feed. It didn’t change the fact that the offer had touched my soul.

A man who was seated on his luggage, beside the soda machine, passed me a handful of change from a purple Crown Royal drawstring bag. The money changer had met it’s demise and he saw me struggling to find enough change in my purse for a water. He refused to take any money in return, because as he had said, “my trip is now coming to an end, and yours has just begun.”

After boarding my next bus I met another man, who was a minister. He was heading to the same final stop as me. For the longest time, I listened as he spoke to the others on the bus, of God and His glory. He, then, began speaking to me and we quickly befriended each other.

Together, we’d made a layover in a very sketchy area. I had been speaking to some of the residents of the Indiana town we had stopped in. Those people were, without a doubt, some of the roughest people I had ever met.

There were two who I had made the acquaintance of at separate times during the stop. One had been assaulted by a bat and pipe, just days before, and wore the most terrible bruises I had ever seen. Another had been stabbed in the neck while falling asleep next to the town’s river bank. Curiosity took over and their broken bodies made me want to find out what had torn apart their souls. I had learned that drugs had been a part in each story and my heart broke for them. I reasoned that although they had made their own decisions in life they might not have been given any opportunity to avoid these mistakes. Each openly told me their stories and seemed comfortable in doing so. I reminded each of them that they had lived through their attacks, and were still here to tell about it. I challenged each of them to find the reason they had been given that second chance.

As I spoke to the people that everyone else would have shied away from the minister had later admitted that he had watched over me, the whole time, from afar.

As I stepped foot at my last stop, it occurred to me that I had been afraid for nothing. People are people no matter where you are. Everyone has a story to tell, although some are more sinister and terrifying than others. Some people just need someone to listen, and to care enough to give advice that no one else has the guts to give.

While becoming a bleary eyed traveler, I found I was never really alone. It is important, in life to remember that you have to trust someone sometime, even if it is someone that no one else would take the time to try to understand. No matter how soft or hardened the people were that I had met on my travels, just offering an ear and a heartfelt word seemed to sate the savage beast in all of them.

I shall board a bus again soon, to head back home. Though it will be heart wrenching leaving my father behind, I fear not the people I will encounter. Strangers are, after all, just friends I have yet to meet.

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