Do you find it difficult to take medication for pain? If the answer is yes, then you’ll be happy to know that there is probably a non-medicinal way of easing or even getting rid of pain.
And lucky for you, we did research and chatted to experts to give you a round up of natural ways to beat pain before turning to pain medication.
Read more: How to relieve back pain without medication
Try these natural tips, tricks and buys to beat pain…
1. Snack on cherries
Cherries gain their deep red colour from anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, similar to those found in aspirin.
2. Roll with it
Neck pain? Try this tennis ball trick. Stand against a wall, put the ball behind your neck and carefully move it around the painful area. The pressure increases blood flow, bringing more oxygen to the tissues to aid repair.
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3. Have a chuckle
‘Laughter can trigger endorphins, feel-good hormones that lower cortisol, which can promote an overall feeling of well-being,’ says holistic therapist Rebecca Kelly. ‘Laughter can’t take away the pain, but it can detract from its intensity.’
4. Good vibrations
A TENS machine uses bio-electrical nerve stimulation to block pain signals to the brain. It’s great for menstrual cramps, arthritis, nerve pain and more; see hidow.co.za
‘Regular yoga sessions can be effective in addressing chronic pain including osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia,’ says osteopath Sam Maddock. ‘Joint pain, muscle stiffness and overall physical discomfort can all be improved by practising yoga.’
6. Sleep well
‘Good sleep can function like low-level pain medication,’ says Sam. Aim for seven to nine hours’ sleep every night.
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7. Eat salmon
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is great for alleviating period pain. The fatty acids help control the overproduction of pain-stimulating prostaglandins in the lining of the womb, plus they help lubricate tight joints.
8. Breathe out
‘Breathing techniques can calm your nervous system and reduce muscular tension,’ says Sam. ‘Breathe in through the nose for a count of four. Pause for a count of one, then breathe out slowly for a count of six. Encouraging a longer out breath is a simple way to calm the body.’
9. Play it cool
Cold compression packs help reduce swelling and numb pain. Simply use a bag of frozen veg or an ice pack. Don’t leave cold compresses on for more than 20 minutes and never put any ice directly onto your skin.
10. Get to the point
‘By stimulating different points on the body, acupuncture can give long-term pain relief,’ says acupuncturist Maureen Cromey. To find a registered practitioner, visit the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa website; ahpcsa.co.za
11. Distract yourself
‘Take your mind off things by watching TV or reading – or jot down how you feel,’ says GP Dr Sarah Brewer. ‘Writing about bad experiences seems to reduce pain perception.’
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12. Go green
Leafy green veg are great anti-inflammatory foods. Loaded with vitamins C and K, which aid healing, they also contain antioxidants that fight oxidative stress, one of the main triggers of chronic inflammation.
13. Use a rub
‘Rubbing stimulates nerves that block pain messages,’ explains Dr Brewer. ‘Menthol or capsicum in gel rubs help to give continuous, low-level stimulation of nerve endings so they become less sensitive and pain subsides.’
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14. Chin down
‘If you get a headache, sit up, put your hands behind your head and drop your chin to your chest,’ says physiotherapist Sammy Margo. ‘Press down for a minute, then turn to the right and hold for a minute. Return to centre. Repeat to the left.’
15. Better brew
Drink a turmeric and ginger tea daily, says lifestyle expert Sarah Jones. Tumeric helps to lower inflammation, while ginger helps to relieve muscle soreness. Bring 1 cup of water to the boil, add ½ tsp ground ginger and ½ tsp ground turmeric. Reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain.