When aches flare, OTC meds seem like an easy fix. But relying on them can lead to GI upset and liver damage. Plus, a study suggests that reaching for pain relievers ups the odds of COVID complications by as much as nine-fold. And while taking the meds up to three times a month isn’t problematic, why bother when the best natural painkillers provide the same relief?
Back pain? Slap on a patch.
Surprising but true: Ibuprofen is no more effective for back pain than a placebo. What works? Australian scientists found 74 percent of folks who used a capsaicin patch rated their back pain relief as “excellent.” Capsaicin, which gives cayenne peppers their fire, depletes a compound that transmits pain signals to the brain. Try: Equate Capsaicin Pain Relieving Patch (Walmart.com)
Joint pain? Sip this soother.
Drinking a cup of pomegranate juice daily calms joint pain and stiffness by 62 percent, according to research out out of Israel. The juice’s polyphenols are powerful anti-inflammatories. Plus, they blunt the activity of joint-damaging enzymes.
Neck pain? Nod it away.
Nodding your chin while lying on your back eases neck pain by 91 percent, Spanish scientists say. The move corrects pain-producing posture problems by activating deep cervical flexor muscles that support the neck. For an easy how-to, simply search YouTube for videos on “Craniocervical Flexion Exercise.”
Headache? Unbind it.
Up to 80 percent of women are deficient in muscle-relaxing magnesium, a shortfall that can lead to tension headaches and migraines. Luckily, correcting a deficiency makes a big difference, says Alexander Mauskop, M.D. German research found magnesium is a natural painkiller and reduces the duration and frequency of headache episodes by up to 50 percent. Dr. Mauskop advises 400 mg. of magnesium glycinate daily.
Heartburn? Chew on this.
Chewing 1 ⁄2 tsp. of anise seeds releases digestive enzymes that soothe heartburn pain fast, Stanford scientists say.
Sinus pain? Massage it.
For speedy sinus-pressure relief, firmly massage your hairline from the base of your skull to the center of your forehead. Manchester Memorial Hospital scientists say this stimulates the release of painkilling endorphins and boosts circulation to flush inflammation, easing discomfort by 60 percent in two minutes.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.