If you’re taking aspirin, you’re taking a substance that originated as a natural pain killer. Way back in ancient Sumeria, approximately 4,000 years ago, this culture scraped willow bark and took it, discovering that it was a pain reliever. It was the salicin in the plant gave the relief and through the centuries, other plants containing it were used. By the 1800s, Johann Buchner identified that it was salicin in willow bark and other plants that relieved pain and reduced fever. Eventually, Bayer synthesized the pain reliever and created Bayer Aspirin. The first popular over the counter pain relieving drug.
Willow bark and other plants containing salicin are still viable pain relievers.
If aspirin upsets your stomach, its predecessor, willow bark, might be a good option. It has the natural active ingredient salicin, which comes from willow trees that are 2-3 years old. The salicin in the willow bark changes to salicylic acid after you take it. It’s known to be a gentler form of pain reliever for people that have sensitive stomachs. That doesn’t mean it can’t cause stomach distress, because over consumption, whether it’s willow bark or aspirin, can cause stomach cramping and bleeding.
Meadowsweet is another natural pain reliever.
Another ancient pain reliever that really works and is also part of the history of aspirin, is meadowsweet. It was a sacred herb to the Druids and used not only in rituals, but also as remedies for pain, like arthritis or other inflammatory painful condition. It was a remedy for respiratory and gastric problems. It has a sweet scent and was used as a room freshener and flea repellent. The flowers and leaves are dried and used in tea. The young leaves can be used in a casserole or salad, if you happen to be a forager.
Not all pain relievers are for headaches.
Black haw—Viburnum prunifolium and its cousin cramp bark—Viburnum opulus are used to reduce cramps and muscular tension. Both have salicosides, valernianic acid and tannins that help prevent inflammation and bring relief from pain. They’ve been used to relax muscle cramps, especially menstrual cramps, and to ward off premature labor and miscarriages. It has other uses, but like most natural pain relievers, not much research has been done to prove the claims.
- Before taking any natural pain reliever, always check with your health care professional first. Some interact with medications or can aggravate other conditions and make them worse.
- Do you have a tooth ache and can’t get to a dentist immediately? Try the natural remedy of cloves. Clove oil and powder has been used to treat arthritis, indigestion, colds and nausea.
- Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain reliever. It’s the curcumin in it that brings relief. It’s absorbed best when combined with black pepper and has been used for digestive issues, issues from inflammation like osteoarthritis and other conditions caused by inflammation.
- Just like prescription and over-the-counter treatments, even herbs and other pain relievers taken internally can cause problems. Other types of pain relief, like hot or cold compresses or massage are also options that won’t interact with medications.
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