When it comes to pain, I’m a “bite the bullet” sort of gal.
As long as it’s not a lead-based bullet, I suppose that’s a natural remedy for pain, right?
Tylenol, aspirin, Motrin, Advil, and generic pain relief tablets certainly have a good thing going in the pharmaceutical market, don’t they?
From headaches to arthritis to sports injuries to chronic pain, people in our culture are often medicating for pain.
The very first line of defense against pain is completely countercultural: Instead of treating the symptom, seek the root cause of the problem.
If you get headaches, are they caused by stress, inconsistent sleep, sensitivities to fragrances or air pollution, a food sensitivity (additives like MSG and artificial colors and artificial sweeteners often cause headaches), or another condition that may have diet at its root?
I can’t go into every sort of pain here, but trust me – covering up the problem by masking the pain is like telling your child, “I don’t want to see that 65% on your spelling test. Let’s make some origami out of it, and then it will look pretty again, no problem.”
If your body is in pain, it might be telling you something. Try listening.
(For me, it’s usually, “You idiot, you just ran your hip into the counter because you’re multitasking and rushing around too much.” My body is kind of snarky and sarcastic. And you?)
Related: Recovering From A Concussion
Natural Home Remedies for Pain Relief
When you do need something to ease pain so you can get through your day, there are natural solutions that don’t involve Big Pharma!
It must be said: natural medicine isn’t like modern medicine, in that it’s never “one size fits all.”
First, there isn’t one remedy for “pain.”
With OTC meds, it’s easy. Have pain, take pill. It doesn’t really matter where the pain is or what’s causing it.
With essential oils and homeopathics, you need to know a little more about why you’re in pain and where the pain is located, and then you can find your solution more easily.
Secondly, what works for one person might not work for the next. That’s why there are so many options to try. It can be annoying to pin down what works for you, but I think (I hope!) it’s worth it.
And finally, I have to come back to root cause. So much pain is caused by poor dietary choices in general or food sensitivities that people just don’t know about or understand. Sometimes an elimination diet may be the best way to get to the bottom of your issues. (Here are some tips on starting an elimination diet with kids.)
Now is a great time to mention that this is a crowdsourced list without any medical training, so please read and use it as you would a tip from a mom at Bible study or a neighbor down the street.
Basic First Line of Defense: Natural Remedies for Pain
A hot pad (the only reason we have a microwave) is an investment you won’t regret. Craft shows often sell them filled with flax seed, rice, field corn, or other natural products. My mom made some for our kids filled with rice. In a pinch, fill a long tube sock with dry white rice and tie it off. Hot water bottles are a real thing, too, not just in old books! 😉
1-2 minutes in the microwave is all it takes to begin relief from earaches, neck pain, backaches, and pretty much everywhere, even tummy aches!
Sometimes the opposite is needed: an ice pack or even an ice bath (ice in water and soak the appendage as long as you can stand; warm up afterward with lots of blankets).
Traditional wisdom is to ice 20 minutes, heat 20 minutes, rest 20 minutes.
Lying down to rest and drinking water is simple too, but it can’t be understated.
And when it comes to wanting a “medicine” for pain but avoiding toxins, homeopathic arnica 30c is very inexpensive and simple to use, with no side effects. Genexa even sells a pain relief blend that can help multiple types of pain at once without you needing to know anything about homeopathy. These are all safe for children and babies. Get 20% off your first order with the code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP!
Home Remedies for Headaches
The headache is the holy grail of avoiding OTCs, if they plague you.
Popping a pill is super common for headaches, but in natural health, there’s often a root cause or at least a different flavor headache that could benefit from different remedies.
My husband has never had luck with essential oils for headaches, but some people love them (likely best used in a quiet, dark room with a glass of water and some time alone!):
Essential Oils for Headaches
- peppermint and lavender essential oils, rubbed on the feet or temples/neck/forehead, or breathed in, is supposed to help ease headaches (my husband hasn’t had any luck with that solution though)
- rosemary, eucalyptus, and frankincense are also recommended for headaches
- My EO book, Modern Essentials, says: “Apply 2 drops each of peppermint, eucalyptus, and frankincense to neck, temples, and forehead.”
- For migraines, basil essential oil is also mentioned
- Important EO note: many of the oils listed above are NOT rated safe for although lavender IS. These remedies are much more suited for adults. Check out my list of safe essential oils for children and babies and info on bringing down a fever without Tylenol to educate yourself more, or just shop from Plant Therapy‘s Kid-Safe line and skip the research. 😉
If you feel like essential oils aren’t your thing, the Earthley Pain Potion is loved by many, even for migraines, and it’s an herbal tincture, so not as concentrated as essential oils. Earthley is very affordable, too, and this product is safe for kids ages 6 and up. Check out the journal sources on this product, which also supports healthy blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation, and helps pain related to arthritis.
Homeopathy for Headaches
With homeopathy, understanding HOW the head hurts is the most important step to feeling better.
Pay attention to where the hurt is located in the head, how it feels (e.g. throbbing, dull, sharp), and when it occurs (e.g. when you move, with noise or light, during your cycle, etc.).
You can take a homeopathic remedy once every 15 minutes, and if you don’t feel any relief after an hour, it’s the wrong one. (Be sure to avoid food and drink during this time.)
Here are some options:
- If you actually hit your head, start with Arnica
- Belladonna for a headache with “throbbing sensation” and sense of fullness or swelling, headaches sudden by nature
- If worse when you move and just want to lie down, Bryonia should help (this one actually DID make a huge difference for my husband, the skeptic, one day!).
- For headaches after too much physical exercise or exertion or bad posture (that also makes you feel like lying down), combine Bryonia 200 with Rhus Tox 30. Some call these “tension headaches.”
- When you feel a pulsing sensation in the head and down into the body, usually after overheating, too cold, or high blood pressure, try Glonoinum
- My favorite, Mag Phos, is for headaches with stiffness in the neck which might start after working at the computer too much, and shoulder muscles are stiff
- The “I overdid it” remedy is Nux Vomica, whether you had too much to drink or spent too much time at the office
- Sinus headaches have a Banerji protocol: Sanguinaria 200+ Bell 3c every 30 minutes until relief achieved. These headaches generally are located in the forehead, and Sanguinaria can also be helpful for menopausal headaches and hay fever headaches.
- Sharp nerve pain starting at one point and radiating in different directions, especially settling behind the left eye and/or getting worse with stormy weather calls for Spigelia.
Reader Recommendations for Natural Headache Relief
My readers are almost always smarter and more experienced than I am. I’m so happy to share the floor today!
You should still read the comments – some amazing stories there! Remember that this is just advice like you’d get at a church group or grocery store, written as people use things, not as a medical doctor or naturopath would prescribe:
- Magnesium for headaches and growing pains plus: “For quick relief from a head ache massage the pressure point in the web next to your thumb, you will know it when you find it, it kills.”
- “For headaches I have Feverfew; one leaf is eaten daily; Dandelions will help to ‘stabilize’ or ‘neutralize’ your body and bring it back to ‘normal.'” (This reader had a lot of experience with herbs and recommended searching for more on them…)
- “Aye Nasal Rinse (like Nettie pot effect) to relieve sinus pressure.” Also hot shower, warm cloth on face, facial massage.
- “Turmeric (I make capsules with bulk turmeric powder) works great for aches and pains I get from running too much.” You can buy pre-made turmeric caps from Paleovalley here with15% off!
- “Another cause for headaches can be a misalignment somewhere – either in the cervical or in the cranial sacral area. Finding a really good chiropractor who specializes in those areas will go a long way in correcting headaches. Another source for headaches could also be hormonal imbalances – doing a good cleanse and supporting the reproductive system as well as the glands/organs in the endocrine system with herbs and essential oils can make a huge difference.”
Wish You Knew All the Answers to Keep Your Family Healthy?
How about a crash course?
I’d love to send you a 7-day “Quick Start Guide” email mini-course to give you Health Agency! When something goes wrong in your family, YOU can be the agent of healing and not allllllways have to call a doctor for every little thing.
Imagine this email series as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who’s raising 4 kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.
Looking forward to connecting to help you learn EXACTLY what you need to know to stock your natural remedies “medicine cabinet,” deal with normal childhood ailments, and even the dreaded, “What’s that on my skin?” issue! 🙂
Natural Pain Relief for Ear Aches
A hot pad is the fastest relief, even faster than anything a doctor can give you.
As long as the eardrum isn’t ruptured, you can try ear oil for earache relief (either make homemade with garlic and olive oil, gently warmed, mullein herb optional).
Homeopathic Options for Ear Pain:
- Antimonium Crudum: ringing and feeling as if bandaged; hard to hear
- Apis: redness and swelling, stinging pain in both ears
- Belladonna: for ear infections and hot, sensitive, painful ears, bulging eardrums
- Bryonia Alba: Inflammation in ears as if stopped up, can’t stand noise, feels worse when moving
- Chamomilla Vulg: The best option for infants and small children with ear aches; localized soreness and ear feel stopped up. (Although if worse at night and warmth doesn’t help, try Pulsatilla.)
- For swimmer’s ear: Aconite, Belladonna, Chamomilla: give one every 10 minutes in ABC order.
- China Officinalis: tinnitus then vertigo. Ringing in ears with headache.
- Mercuriuos Sol.: Chronic ear infections, swimmer’s ear
- See Joette Calabrese’s info for ear pain from flying in an airplane
When I suffered from carpal tunnel, I really just needed to buy a new keyboard external to my laptop because my fingers were too crunched and my wrists held wrong. Often the “cure” is to remove to cause! 😉
The homeopathic Banerji protocol for carpal tunnel is:
- Symphytum officinalis 200CK 2x daily
- Hypericum perforatum 200CK 2x daily
- I recommend taking it upon waking and then again at a child’s bedtime since you shouldn’t eat or drink within a half hour.
Magnesium (Epsom salts or mag flakes) or Redmond Clay baths help sore joints and muscles, and even bone pain.
Another reader recommended turmeric capsules for cramps and backaches, as well as headaches.
RELATED: Check out my top recommendations to have on hand for your natural remedies “medicine” cabinet.
Does Pain Require Medicine?
The bottom line is that most pain can be managed with natural home remedies, rest, and seeking the root cause.
We need to be listening to our bodies, not covering up the symptoms that are possibly trying to tell us something.
That’s one thing I love about the complexity of natural health — although it’s frustrating at times to not just turn to a “quick fix” pill, I know that in the long run, the deep work and observation are worth it.