Pain is probably the number one complaint I get from clients. Pain from inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease, pain from migraines and headaches, pain from fibromyalgia, pain from ear infections, and pain from sore muscles and joints are common issues I see almost daily.
Over the years, I have accrued a mental list of the remedies I have found to help with various kinds of pain. I finally decided to write these things down and share them with the rest of the world. This is by no means a comprehensive list or guide, but it is a great start if you are looking into something to help manage pain:
Pain Caused by Inflammation in the Body
Whether caused by an autoimmune disease or another trigger, inflammation in the body is one of the top reasons people experience pain. Sometimes, this can be managed by changing your diet. Avoid foods that trigger inflammation, such as processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. Along with diet change, I have used the remedies below to help manage inflammation:
Turmeric – Turmeric is almost always the first thing that comes to mind when I think of natural remedies to reduce inflammation and pain. It is a source of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant with inflammation-reducing properties. I like to peel and finely chop fresh turmeric roots and then tincture them with black pepper kernels to create an anti-inflammatory and analgesic extract. Black pepper has its own anti-inflammatory properties, but one great reason for adding it to turmeric is that it helps the body absorb the curcumin much better. Dosage varies for each person, but I have personally taken two droppers-full, up to three times daily as needed for pain and inflammation.
Above: One of my favorite drinks for soothing pain and inflammation is golden milk. I make this by heating a cup of almond milk (use whatever milk you want) on the stove and then adding cinnamon bark, a tablespoon of ground turmeric, and two cloves. I let this come to a simmer before reducing the heat. I let it cool sufficiently before drinking it. Sometimes I add raw honey or maple syrup to taste. It’s also a great night cap if you’re looking for something gentle to help you sleep.
Ginger – Ginger shares many similarities with its cousin turmeric. Both are roots with a pleasantly spicy flavor. Both contain anti-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is also great for curbing nausea and digestive discomfort. Ginger is available in many forms. Some people prefer to use ginger essential oil diluted topically over the affected areas. Some people like to tincture chopped ginger roots to create an extract they can take internally for pain.
Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an incredibly popular and tasty spice with anti-inflammatory benefits. I prefer ceylon cinnamon, but cassia cinnamon will work too. One easy way to utilize cinnamon is to infuse some in hot water to make tea. Turmeric and cinnamon blend very well together and can be infused in water for a tasty anti-inflammatory tea.
Black Pepper – Research has shown that certain compounds in black pepper may reduce the body’s inflammatory response. It is a great remedy on its own, but when paired with turmeric, you can double the effectiveness, as well as the absorption, of necessary medicinal compounds.
Clove – Clove has been used to treat pain for centuries. It has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may come from an antioxidant compound called eugenol. A simple solution for tooth pain is to gently chew a clove in the affected area. This can reduce inflammation and pain to provide temporary relief. Try adding a few cloves and some cinnamon to golden milk (a drink made with turmeric) for a healing treat.
Nerve pain could be caused by fibromyalgia or damage from an old incident. Another big issue I see that causes nerve pain is Lyme’s disease. The pain is described as the random feeling of a bee stinging the body in different places. Below are remedies that work on the nerves to calm and provide relief:
St. Johns wort – This plant may be known for its ability to help with mild to moderate depression, but St. John’s wort is also a great remedy for shooting nerve pain. I especially like St. John’s wort for nerve-related back pain like sciatica. I prefer to use it in tincture form and primarily use the fresh flowers collected in full bloom. I tend to throw in a few leaves and stems as well for their synergistic effect. The resulting tincture is a lovely, deep red. This coloration is the result of the active constituent in the plant called hypericin. If you don’t want to take anything internally, you may be able to infuse the flowers in a carrier oil to make a salve to apply externally for nerve pain.
Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is especially soothing to the nerves. It seems to pair really well with skullcap. Lemon balm has been used to calm the nerves for conditions like shingles and digestive woes. Shingles is a virus that is characterized by serious nerve pain in the area where the blisters occur. Rubbing the diluted essential oil onto the area or ingesting the tincture can help with this type of pain. I also use the hydrosol that I steam distilled from my own lemon balm for different types of nerve pain. It can be used internally (I take a teaspoon by mouth as needed) and externally.
Skullcap – Skullcap is one of the best nervines I have found to quell nerve pain that causes headaches and migraines. It soothes and quiets overworked nerves very well. It isn’t just effective for headaches. I also use it for nerve-related back pain, neck pain, and shooting pain in the extremities. I prefer using skullcap in tincture form, but this is because this is the easiest way for me to prepare it using what I wildcraft. I have also combined skullcap and lemon balm in tea for nerve pain. This particular blend is both tasty and effective.
Above: Skullcap grows wild on my farm and I love to harvest and tincture it for nerve pain.
Chamomile – Chamomile has great antispasmodic properties, especially Roman chamomile. I love the essential oil for nerve pain that results in spasms. One great way to utilize this oil is in a bath soak. Combine ten to fifteen drops of chamomile essential oil with one tablespoon of a carrier oil. Add this to a cup of Epsom salts and then pour it into a hot bath. Soak in this as long as you can to benefit from its nerve-calming properties.
Passionflower – Passionflower is a gentle sedative, as well as a great remedy for nerve pain. It calms the nerves but doesn’t make you sleepy or tired (if you take it as indicated). This is another great remedy for nerve pain that causes headaches or migraines, spasms, and shooting pain. I prefer it in tincture form. I pull up a portion of the vine and chop everything before filling a glass canning jar with the plant material. Next, I cover the plant material with alcohol completely. I let this sit for four to six weeks before straining it out and viola! I have a tincture. Start with a lower dose, around 10 drops, and go up from there to 30 drops as needed (up to three times daily) for nerve pain.
Sore Muscles and Joints
Whether its from overworking your body or arthritis, there are remedies that can help ease the pain and provide relief from the soreness, stiffness, and deep pain that comes from sore muscles and joints. Below are some of my favorite remedies:
Peppermint – Peppermint is a great remedy for sore muscles because it is naturally analgesic. Peppermint essential oil can be applied topically (diluted to a one percent dilution to start) and massaged into sore muscles to help disperse the buildup of lactic acid that causes muscle pain and tension, bringing swift relief. It is also a great remedy for digestive pain and discomfort when massaged into the abdomen. The leaves of the peppermint plant are excellent in tea as well. Just make sure you use caution with peppermint if you are breastfeeding, as it has been known to reduce milk supply. It should also be avoided around children under the age of six.
Eucalyptus – Like peppermint, eucalyptus has powerful analgesic properties. The essential oil is known for its ability to open up the airways, but this wonderfully camphorous plant can also be utilized for sore, tired, or overworked muscles. Add a drop of eucalyptus essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil (this is considered a one percent dilution) and massage this into sore muscles. Avoid using this essential oil on children under the age of ten.
Rosemary – Rosemary is great for increasing blood circulation to areas of the body, as well as providing soothing relief for sore muscles and joints. Rosemary is available in many forms, but one of the most popular forms is the essential oil. It can be diluted in the same way you would dilute eucalyptus (mentioned above) and applied topically to sore muscles and joints, or areas that need increased circulation. Due to its 1,8 cineole content, it is best avoided by children under the age of ten.
Muscle Miracle Massage Blend
Here is a pain relief recipe from my latest book, Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Healing: 120 Remedies to Restore Mind, Body, and Spirit:
Place a small funnel on a 10 ml roller bottle and use pipettes to add eight drops each of rosemary and peppermint essential oil. Next, add 3/4 ounce carrier oil of your choice. Remove the funnel and close the cap tightly. Shake the bottle to blend the oils. Apply a small amount of this blend to the areas where you are experiencing soreness. Massage it into the skin until the oils are absorbed. Repeat this daily, as needed, for the treatment of sore muscles.
Above: For more effective and healing recipes, preorder a copy of my latest book here: Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Healing: 120 Remedies to Restore Mind, Body, and Spirit.
Cayenne – Cayenne is my choice for those needing help with pain caused by arthritis. Cayenne contains a compound called capsaicin that helps to reduce both pain and inflammation. I have a hard time drinking teas with cayenne, so one of my favorite ways to use it is in a salve for arthritis. I love combining it with ginger for this purpose.
Above: My favorite remedy for arthritis and muscle pain is cayenne and ginger salve. It can be made by melting one ounce of beeswax in a double boiler and then adding eight ounces of carrier oil. Blend in two to three teaspoons of ground cayenne and remove the mixture from heat. Add ten to fifteen drops of ginger essential oil and pour it into tins to cool.
Contusions and Sprains
Unfortunately, this is one malady I have had to deal with a lot in the past year. I severely sprained my ankle in March 2019 and it still isn’t right today. I was, however, able to help heal the ligaments and tendons by taking the remedies below. These remedies also helped to lower inflammation in the area, thus relieving pain:
Solomon’s Seal- Solomon’s seal worked amazingly well at helping to draw my stretched and damaged tendons and ligaments back together in my ankle. It can really soothe inflamed tissues damaged by injury. One of the interesting things about it is that it can both tighten or loosen ligaments and tendons, depending on what the body needs. It is versatile like that. This is my number one remedy for sprains!
Above: A photo I took of a young Solomon’s Seal plant on my farm. When the little bell-like flowers start hanging from the stem, identification becomes much easier. It is often confused with false Solomon’s seal otherwise. I dig up the roots to use in a tincture for sprains.
Comfrey- A simple poultice of comfrey leaves can soothe inflammation, relieve pain, and reduce swelling when you have a bump, bruise, or sprain. Try growing comfrey in your herb garden and collecting the leaves when they are big and green. Dry them and save them for use in poultices, or use them fresh as you need them. Apply them to the injured area and cover with a wrap to keep the leaves against the skin. Reapply as needed.
Arnica- Arnica is a flower famous for its healing properties when it comes to pain. There is a homeopathic arnica remedy that is quite popular, but you can also use arnica flowers by infusing them in a carrier oil to make a salve or massage oil. There is one catch if you are wanting to use arnica topically – do not get it in any open wounds. Arnica should not be allowed to enter the bloodstream via open wounds because it can have toxic side effects. The homeopathic arnica is completely safe to use as directed.
Helichrysum- I love this essential oil for sprains and contusions! It offers almost instant relief from swelling and pain. I used this (diluted) on my ankle in a massage blend to help with the awful swelling and pain that occurred after the sprain. This oil tends to be a little more expensive than some other essential oils, but it is totally worth it if you want something to heal and soothe bumps and bruises.
I will spare showing you a photo of my ankle after I sprained it last year. I posted it in the comments under one of my Facebook posts about Solomon’s Seal and I think it disturbed some people…It was pretty nasty. I am glad it is healed and I was able to get back to doing what I love most: foraging and wandering my property in search of more medicinal goodness!
Stay tuned for part 2 of my pain management series. The second part will cover remedies for more types of pain. Specifically, headaches/migraines, ear infections, UTI/bladder pain, and menstrual pain. Look for part 2 later this week.
Many blessings to you and yours,
Amber Robinson, RH(AHG)