Feet contain many hardworking joints, so it’s no surprise they ache for more than half of folks over 60. Luckily, natural fixes relieve pain better than meds.
Feel it in your big toe? Sip ginger ale!
The big toe is the most common spot on the foot for osteoarthritis, say Harvard Medical School doctors, and it can make walking painful. A delicious fix: homemade ginger ale. Scientists recently found that just 500 mg. of the spice — that’s just 1⁄8 tsp.! — is as fast and effective at reducing pain as Advil.
“Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties similar to NSAIDs used to treat pain and inflammation,” notes podiatrist Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City. To do: Mix the juice of 1 lemon, 8 oz. of sparkling water, 1⁄4 tsp. of ginger powder (or 1 Tbs. fresh) and stevia to taste. Amazing as it sounds, massaging your mid-foot — between the ball and the heel — with olive oil every day is more effective than using the topical prescription NSAID gel piroxicam, according to a four-week study. A unique compound called oleocanthal in extra-virgin olive oil tamps down pain-triggering, inflammatory enzymes in exactly the same way NSAIDs do. Warming the oil before applying will boost the effects, says foot surgeon Karen Smith, DPM: “Heat and massage not only feel great, they have healing benefits as well, since they both improve blood flow to the injured tissue.” This delivers more oxygen, growth factors and nutrients that heal aching arches.
Feel it in your ankles? Try a fiery cream!
When rubbed on skin, capsaicin tricks the brain, says Dr. Cunha. By faking a sensation of warmth, it confuses the body’s chemical messengers, making them less able to transmit pain signals. A study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that 80 percent of folks with osteoarthritis who used capsaicin cream daily reported less pain in two weeks — that’s better than NSAIDs, and without side effects.
Why we like it:
- High potency of capsaicin
- No odor
- Deep penetrating
A little of this capsaicin cream goes a long way — because it gets hot. The high-potency formula penetrates deep into muscles and joints for instant pain relief. Reviewers rave that it works for all types of pain, but recommend using gloves to apply.
Promising review: “My husband uses this for peripheral neuropathy pains in his feet. His neurologist recommended it as a natural pain relief. This concentration allows him to apply it only once a day before bed and relief is long lasting. A small amount is sufficient.”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.