For many of us with chronic pain, we have gone the route of pharmaceutical medications, only to find that their effectiveness has greatly decreased and the cost of the medications not to mention the side effects (not to mention long term effects) can often be debilitating when struggling with chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. It’s important to know that there are a variety of natural and indeed cost effective and cheap options available to provide pain relief – some are even free! And to top it off, some might even provide you with other health benefits to boot! Let’s explore our options available…
Turmeric & Curcumin
Turmeric and significantly the curcumin in the turmeric, may be the biggest and best option to use in not only reducing pain from inflammation but also for it’s vast repertoire of amazing positive health properties from anti-aging to ant-fungal and even anti-cancer. It is one of the main spices used in Indian curries (it’s what makes them yellow) and has been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic medicine. If you haven’t noticed, turmeric is all the rage right now – and for good reason!
However…the curcumin content in turmeric isn’t very high. And it isn’t easily absorbed unless combined with peperine/bioperine (black pepper). Ultimately, the best way to get the anti-inflammatory properties (and everything else!) is through a supplement that also has black pepper.
The Schwartz Bioresearch Curcumin and Bioperine offers the highest potency available. (I find it really interesting that Schwartz – known for their herbs and spices for cooking, is now working on natural supplements…Obviously, they see there is something else beyond just adding some zing to cooking (plus profits, of course)!).
For more information on turmeric and a lovely recipe for spiced turmeric milk, go here.
As with all supplements, please speak to your doctor to ensure that they don’t have any negative interactions with your current medication as well as whether or not you can take these (or any other) supplements with your health condition.
Heat & Cold Therapy
Using a heating pad, hot water bottle or a microwaveable heat pack can help to increase the blood flow to the area in order to promote healing.
One of the main tips that Dr Harris McIlwain, author of the Fibromyalgia Handbook (definitely one of the best books on the market for fibro) says that moist heat therapy, twice a day for 15-20 minutes each time is one of the best ways to reduce pain. Moist heat being a shower, bath, steam room or hot tub. (Oh to have a hot tub…!).
Personally, a heating pad is the best option simply because you can adjust the heat setting on it, you aren’t fussing around with hot water (or the fear of it bursting if you are lying on top of it – not to mention that it can be uncomfortable) and the heat lasts generally 90 minutes before many pads automatically switch off.
Ultimately, this means you aren’t constantly reheating a pack in the microwave and you can be comfortable with the heat and relax for a much longer time. Getting an extra large heating pad also means you can cover more mileage on your body! 🙂 This Sunbeam XL Microplush heating pad is the bee’s knees in my opinion (and over 5,000 other people’s as well!).
Cold therapy (ie ice/ice packs) reduces inflammation and swelling – and pain. Now I know not everybody can tolerate the cold, but if you can, a combination of cold and heat if there is swelling can be very beneficial. For full information on heat and cold therapy the University of Rochester Medical Center has an excellent guide.
Having a hot Epsom salt bath is an excellent way to not only get the heat therapy happening, but also magnesium from the Epsom salts through transdermal therapy (ie soaks in through your skin) is proving to be very effective for many in pain relief. It also works great as a detoxifier, too! For more information about Epsom salt therapy, go here.
The Triumvirate of Pain Relief
Ok, so we know moist heat is good for us. We also know that Epsom salt is helpful in reducing pain and inflammation as well as has detoxifying properties. So why not take it to the next level to incorporate aromatherapy to help relax muscles and even improve sleep? So that’s ultimately 3 pain relieving options all rolled into one!
By simply adding a few drops of essential oils to your Epsom salt bath, you can gain even further benefits. Try an essential oil specifically created for muscle pain relief such as Muscle Relief Synergy Blend. It contains a lovely variety of essential oils: Clove, Helichrysum, Peppermint and Wintergreen. I find aromatherapy can really make a difference, such as lavender oil to help with sleep! Essential oils are all-natural and are made from flowers, herbs and spices and they smell loverly, too!
BE INSPIRED: Place 5 drops of Muscle Relief on a cold compress and place on the tired or strained muscle. Breathe deeply and let your muscles relax.
One thing I will say in regards to buying Epsom salt – buy a LARGE bag of it – because you are going to need around 2 cups for every bath. I order my Epsom salt from Amazon, so no need for hubby to shlep it to and from the car. I just leave it in the garage and refill a smaller container for my bathroom when needed.
Ok, I know, I know…Easier said than done. However, we do know that when we are stressed out our muscles tense up. Being able to relax is a huge thing…and added bonus – it’s free! Here are several tips:
- Practice the Attitude of Gratitude – Take a few moments every day to think about all the GOOD things that are in your life. (Which could even be the fact that you are able to read this blog, have electricity to fire up your computer or charge your smartphone…you get the drift).
- Meditation- Of course there’s a gazillion different meditation options out there – however, I love using YouTube to find ones that suit my needs. Did you know that binaural beats (a specific vibration) can really help with pain and that there are wonderful pain relief meditations out there? Check this one out!
For around 10cents a patch, these have to be one of my favourite go to’s when I am struggling with a lot of pain. Actually, I have found them to work better than the very expensive prescription Versatis pain patch (which is Lidoderm). I actually use them for all sorts of stuff …I cut the patches in half and put them on my temples for headaches and migraines…they even really help with bruising! For more information on Salonpas, you can check out my review here.
TENS therapy is one of the most effective systems for managing chronic pain, especially muscle and joint pain. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.
Hopefully there’s a few suggestions in here that will make a difference for you in regards to getting some relief from pain – that is not a prescription and is either free, cheap or cost effective! Ultimately, it is important to just keep trying different things until you find what works best for you.