Herbs For Pain
Herbs For PainJuly 26th, 2018 by Cindy Perlin
Using herbs for pain is not new. Before there were pharmaceuticals, herbs were the primary treatment for most ailments. Around the globe, most cultures have traditional medicine systems based on herbs. In many parts of the world, herbal medicine is still the most prevalent form of medicine, particularly in poorer nations. These traditional medicines, used for thousands of years in many cases, would not have continued to be used if they were not effective.
Herbal treatments tend to be much safer than pharmaceutical treatments. Prescription opioids such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, hydrocodone and fentanyl are widely believed to be responsible for millions of cases of addiction and hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths over the last two decades. Even over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen have serious health risks such as heart, liver and kidney damage.
According to Dr. Joseph Olejak, a chiropractor, herbalist and nutritionist practicing in the Albany, NY area, different herbs can target different types of pain. Olejak says, “It is not uncommon to have at least two kinds of pain happening at the same time: nerve pain from an injured nerve and inflammatory pain from chemicals (cytokines and prostaglandins) being released from damaged tissue.”
Dr. Olejak recommends these four herbs for pain
- St. John’s Wort — (for nerve pain) — upregulates, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), to speed the healing of damaged nerves. While this herb has been traditionally used for depression, it is also highly effective for nerve pain in syndromes such as shingles (herpes zoster), tooth pain, facial pain such as trigeminal neuralgia, and extremity pain such as sciatic neuritis (leg pain) or brachial neuralgia (arm pain)
- Boswellia Complex — (for inflammatory pain) — blocks certain inflammatory compounds (leukotrienes) in a dose-dependent manner. So if your muscles are hurting from overuse this is a great herb.
- Turmeric — (for inflammatory pain) –, turmeric works on a different pathway than Boswellia, called NF Kappa B. Because turmeric is hard to get into the tissues it is often not used for joint pain. Luckily, MediHerb has combined turmeric with Fenugreek in its Turmeric Forte product, to make it 24% more bioavailable (compared to about 7% for just ground up turmeric). The ideal use of turmeric would be for deep inflammatory pain in the body, such as arthritic pain, migraine pain and reducing inflammation in areas that lead to chronic diseases such as heart and brain syndromes like atherosclerosis and dementia.
- White Willow Bark (Saligesic) — (for deep spine pain – something called sclerotogenous pain) — in head to head research with COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Bextra, white willow bark was just as effective 6 weeks into the study without the side effects of stroke and heart attacks. This herb would be useful in chronic spine pain and ideally would be combined with another of the herbs from this list.
Olejak says, “You don’t need to be miserable or risk serious complications from medication. The body can heal when given the right natural ingredients.”
Dr. Olejak practices at the Delmar Wellness Center in the Albany, NY area. To schedule a free pain relief consult with Dr. Olejak, call 518-439-5077. You can see his provider profile HERE.