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Alternatives to going straight to over-the-counter medications
When something hurts, it is easy to reach for the Advil. And certainly, traditional over-the-counter remedies are great and have their uses. But if you are someone who tries to limit your intake of "OTCs," there are other methods you may want to try for pain relief. Here are four of our favorites:
1. Apply Heat
According to the Arthritis Foundation, heat therapy helps relax stiff joints. It also helps relieve muscle tension and soreness. Heat is great for other conditions such as fibromyalgia or low back pain. It is also just really comforting!
I like to take hot baths, which is a great way to relax and loosen up joints. You can also try a reusable hot water bottle or a heating pad. I have this heating pad I ordered from Amazon and I love the size and the settings.
I also found this non-toxic BPA- and Phthalate-free Peterpan hot water bottle with a nice cover. I love that this is eco-friendly!
2. Try Essential Oils
Topical oils not only smell great, they provide potent pain relief. Although scientists are not entirely sure how they work, multiple studies have proven their effectiveness for managing pain--especially pain related to headaches and inflammation. (For more information, you can check out the Healthline article Can Essential Oils Act As Pain Relievers? )
If you're not sure which oils are best for which purpose, here are a few you can start with:
• Peppermint - This is great to rub on the temples or forehead to help with headache pain.
• Lavender - Healthline quoted a study that confirmed lavender oil as an effective analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
• Bergamot - A 2015 study confirmed that bergamot is effective for neuropathic pain.
I have included links for the DoTerra essential oils for each of these. When choosing oils, be sure to look at the sourcing and purity. I use them somewhat sparingly because of the amount of plant material required to produce oils.
3. Use a Natural Topical Pain Reliever
I injured my leg in 2015 and I often need to apply a topical pain reliever. I use this Boiron Arnicare Cream.
Arnica is a homeopathic remedy. According to WebMD, "The active chemicals in arnica may reduce swelling, decrease pain, and act as antibiotics...People most commonly use arnica for pain caused by osteoarthritis." It is effective for muscle aches in general, especially low back pain.
4. Try an Epsom Salt Soak
Remember the hot bath I mentioned a minute ago? Adding Epsom Salt is a great way to bump up the effectiveness of heat. Epsom includes naturally occurring mineral salts, and is a compound of magnesium and sulfate. In addition to relaxing the shoulders, neck, and skull, Epsom Salt may also relieve headaches and migraines. For more information, the Cleveland Clinic has a great article: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Epsom Salt. I personally like Dr. Teal's brand, especially the one with lavender.
By exploring these alternative methods, you can take a proactive role in caring for yourself naturally and finding relief from pain. Remember, it's always important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new remedies, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.
Hopefully, this gives you a few ideas for how to care for yourself naturally. If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out 6 Natural Remedies to Relieve Anxiety.
Note: this article is intended to be educational and is not intended as medical advice. If you have medical questions, please contact your doctor.
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