On my homepage blog, I discussed the wide use of nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In fact, according to Medscape, more than 70 million prescriptions are written in the
United States every year for them. I discussed the side effects of increased
gastro-intestinal issues and an increase in cardiovascular complications with
One solution for me when I was in chronic pain from a herniated disc was
to change my diet to consume more
anti-inflammatory foods which included changing to a whole food, organic diet and
avoiding commercially raised meats.
I also included therapeutic grade fish oil in my plan. Fish oil has a
variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms. For example, they increase production
of anti-inflammatory chemicals called eicosanoids, stabilize cell membranes to
prevent damage, and influence desaturase enzymes favorably causing anti-inflammatory
effects. (1, 2)
Therapeutic essential oils that I used in my healing included: lavender
(3), cinnamonwhich also hasimmune modulating properties combined
with pain relief capacity (4-5), combined with the use of a blend of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) (6), helichrysum (Helichrysum
italicum) (7), clove (Syzygium aromaticum) (8) , and peppermint (Mentha
Here are some more evidence-based options for pain relief that were found
effective in several human studies, sourced from the National Library of
Medicine and reported in GreenMedInfo:
1. Ginger – A 2009 study showed ginger capsules to be as effective as the
drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen for relieving menstrual pain in women. (9) Furthermore,
a 2006 study concluded, “Ginger is as effective as indomethacin in relieving
symptoms of osteoarthritis with negligible side effects. Therefore in patients
with intolerance to indomethacin, ginger may be substituted.” (10)
2. Topical Arnica – One human study in 2007 showed that topical treatment
with arnica was as effective as ibuprofen for hand osteoarthritis. (9)
3. Curcumin- A 2010 study indicated turmeric to be effective for
management of osteoarthritis. (11) According to Dr. Mercola, (12)
Curcumin is most
known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, and it may be able to
provide safe, natural pain relief, provided it is absorbed
There are over 1600 abstracts on curcumin and its potential use for
healing inflammation and a variety of conditions on greenmedinfo.com. (9)
Regardless of whether you use natural or synthetic means to deal with
pain, it is important to get to the root cause of why you’re experiencing it.
Therefore, in order to prevent just using a band aid approach, you may want to
consider consulting with a naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner who
can guide you in calming the body if you are dependent on pain relievers to
1. n-3 fatty acids, inflammation and immunity: new mechanisms to explain
old actions. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013 Aug;72(3):326-36. doi:
10.1017/S0029665113001031. Epub 2013 May 14.
2. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acid©s20.1 42 T0he1 In2sti tuAte pforr
3. Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit
reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic
adjustable gastric banding (abstract).
Obes Surg [online]. July 2007;17(7):920-5.
4. Cinnamon Polyphenol Extract Affects Immune Responses by Regulating
Anti- and Proinflammatory and Glucose Transporter Gene Expression in Mouse
Macrophages. J Nutr [online].
5. Cinnamon extract suppresses experimental colitis through modulation of
antigen-presenting cells. World J
Gastroenterol [online]. 2011 February 28; 17(8): 976-986. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i8.976.
6. Nikolić, Miloš, et al. Chemical composition and biological activity
Gaultheria procumbens essential oil. Industrial Crops and Products. 2013; 49: 561-567.
7. Anti‐inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Helichrysum italicum
(Abstract). Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology [online]. 2002; 54(3): 365-371. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1211/0022357021778600/abstract.
Accessed August 10, 2013.
8. Immunomodulatory activity of Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Salvia
officinalis L. and Syzygium aromaticum L. essential oils: evidence for humor‐and
cell‐mediated responses (Abstract). Journal
of Pharmacy and Pharmacology [online]. 2009; 61(7): 961-967
9. Ji, S. Ibuprofen
Kills Thousands Each Year, So What Is The Alternative? GreenMedInfo.com. June
A, Tavalaei, N, Owlia, MB. Effects of ginger on primary knee osteoarthritis.
Indian Journal of Rheumatology Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 3-7, June 2006.
and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended
administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern
Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44.
J. Turmeric: The Spice That Actually Doubles as a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory. Mercola.com.
April 26, 2011