According to a 2012 National Health Interview Study (1), 126.1 million Americans reported some pain in the previous 3 months. Using a simple approach for coding pain severity, the study found that 64% of the reporting Americans were classified as having the highest level – category 4 pain. 11.3% were classified as experiencing category 3 pain. The individuals in category 3 or 4 pain are more likely to have a poor health status, use more health care and suffer from more disability.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that in 2015, up to 11.5 million American adults were prescribed long-term painkiller therapy (2). With a new awareness arising among elder Americans about the dangers of prescription painkillers, there is a light being shed upon natural pain relief.
Some popular at-home, natural pain cures include:
- Ice – this is a common inflammation reliever. It can also take away headache pain.
- Heat – this helps muscle stiffness and joint pain. Heat increased the blood flow in the affected area and relaxes tight tissues.
- Glucosamine – this is a natural chemical compound found in humans that forms and repairs cartilage. Cartilage is important for joint cushioning and may relieve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
- Chondroitin – this is produced from cow or shark cartilage and together with glucosamine, it may reduce symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
- Turmeric – this spice contains curcumin, which is a natural antioxidant and may help fight against cell and tissue damage.
- Willow Bark – the leaves and bark of the willow tree are sold as a dried herb and can be brewed like tea. The herb contains salicin, which is metabolized by the body into salicylic acid (the precursor of aspirin).
Natural painkillers can help prevent turning to pharmacological solutions. However, if pain is persistent and severe, medical attention should be sought.