We've all been there, hunched over in pain and desperately looking for the packet of paracetamol that permanently resides in the bottom of our bags. One quick swig with a glass of water and we can rest assured that the tablets will work their magic and we'll be feeling better within the hour.
Our dependency on over-the-counter painkillers for those annoyingly common aches and pains is pretty understandable. They're quick and easy to use, and we tend to ignore the side effects outlined on the box, as many of us never really feel them. But in recent years, research continues to suggest that prolonged use of painkillers like paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen might have side effects that are more serious than we previously thought.
With this in mind, and as more of us look to alternative and holistic health to give us a helping hand, it's worth taking a look at some natural ways to relieve pain. We've given you a bit of a head-start to get you going.
When you're slouched over a desk for the majority of the day then have to contort your body into an unnatural position just to fit on the train home during rush hour, it can really take a toll on your body. All this physical tension usually makes its way to our neck, shoulders and back, giving us those pesky muscle pains. Combine that with the hours clocked at the gym and the fact that our stress usually manifests itself in these areas too, relieving these aches is a real necessity.
Sure, a bed of nails doesn't exactly sound like the most comfortable addition to your Sunday routine, but hear me out: with over 8000 spikes, this mat is designed to replicate the benefits of acupuncture and relieve tension and pain by releasing feel-good endorphins. The sensation is highly addictive—I promise.
When you're battling muscular pain or stiffness, the desire for a massage is strong. If you can get one, then do it, but if not and you need some desk-side relief, then have one of these on hand. It's a magnesium spray, which relaxes muscles and also contains soothing lavender and healing arnica to work out any knots or built-up tension.
Regardless of the type of headache—cluster, tension, sinus, migraine or good old-fashioned dehydration, there's not much to say about headaches other than that they truly are the worst. They tend to linger like that bad face cream you wish would be empty faster so you can get a new one. Surprisingly, there are some natural ways to ease the severity and get some much-needed relief, at least until you can sleep it off.
This little jar of herbal goodness deserves to be front and centre in your bathroom cabinet. With a blend of camphor, menthol, clove and cajuput to rub into your temples and forehead, it can help to calm headaches. Be warned, as the scent is addictive.
Elevate the cold flannel on the head trick by creating your own aromatherapy compress. In a bowl of warm water add a few drops of peppermint essential oil, Naissance True Lavender Essential Oil (£7) and Tisserand Marjoram Essential Oil (£6) with a teaspoon of almond oil. Soak a flannel in the mixture before squeezing out and placing on the forehead. It smells divine and the oils will get to work on reducing the pain.
There's nothing quite like an excruciating toothache that makes you regret the entire packet of Haribo you consumed at the weekend. Toothaches also have the tendency to show up at inopportune moments, like in the middle of the night before you can make it to a dentist. When your tooth is throbbing uncontrollably, it needs a heavy-duty solution.
Clove oil is the only thing that got me through a nine-hour flight with debilitating pain in my wisdom tooth. The eugenol in clove oil is a natural anaesthetic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory, so it works wonders. An easy remedy is to dip a cotton bud or cotton wool in a few drops of clove oil then apply it straight on the gums of the tooth in question. If it's too strong for you, you can also dilute in olive oil. Whole cloves also work, so you can just leave one over your tooth and lightly bite down.
A classic for a reason, a saltwater rinse can be soothing and beneficial for promoting healing after dental work, especially if you're struggling with pain, as it also reduces bacteria. It also helps before a dental visit if your tooth is aching due to irritation caused by food getting stuck.
Oh, this monthly delight that has us screaming out in pain in the foetal position. It's usually so excruciating that it doesn't feel like anything can even come close to helping, other than taking painkillers like clockwork. Luckily, there are many solutions to get us through it, but generally giving yourself some downtime to relax and give your body what it needs always helps to reduce the severity.
In holistic health and wellness circles, castor oil packs are the holy grail for healing and boosting circulation. Thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation, it works well in helping with period pains, and if you don't believe the hype, there's just something incredibly blissful about having warm oil on your tummy.
First, you need to soak a wool flannel in castor oil until it's completely saturated. Then lie down and place the flannel on your lower stomach. Cover the flannel with plastic then pop a hot water bottle or heating pad over it, followed by a towel to insulate. Be sure to wear old clothes and lie down on some towels, as the oil will stain. Then take an hour to relax, and you can keep doing this for a few days when you have the pain. You can reuse the flannel if you store it in a jar or plastic bag in the fridge.
Raspberry leaf tea is about to become your favourite homegirl for soothing your cycle. If you're an avid herbal tea drinker, then this is an easy one to add to your day. It's said to help with PMS symptoms and soothes and relaxes spasms and cramps, and it gets extra bonus points for being delicious.
Cuts and Grazes
Broken glasses, tripping over the same steps in the office and deciding not to use a chopping board, cuts aren't reserved for the accident-prone among us. It's always these insignificant occurrences that result in bleeding that seems never-ending and pain that you're too embarrassed to cry over.
This needs to be a vital component in your first aid kit. Calendula oil is a super healer, as it's great for repairing and soothing skin. It is also mildly antiseptic, so it will get to work quickly on treating cuts. If you don't want to sport a plaster for a week, apply this cream ASAP.
Of course, as with any real health issues, be sure to consult your doctor if the pain continues, but here's hoping you'll be able to treat your next ache or pain in a more natural way.