Natural Pain Relief: Alternative Therapies for Pain Reduction

Natural Pain Relief: Alternative Therapies for Pain Reduction

Chronic pain can significantly deteriorate your quality of life. Other than triggering a constant feeling of discomfort, pain that lingers for months can restrict your daily activities, limit your social life, and cause a myriad of emotional and psychological issues, such as insomnia, fatigue, and depression. Diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, and sports and accidental injuries, can all cause chronic pain.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up to 40% of American adults live with chronic pain. This public health problem costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity every year. Currently, the most common treatment options for chronic pain relief are conventional pharmacological therapy. Conventional treatments for chronic pain can provide temporary relief, but they cause a variety of adverse health effects.

Conventional Treatments for Pain

Most cases of chronic pain are treated via pharmacological means. Pharmacological therapy for pain relief includes prescription opioids, benzodiazepine agents, and over-the-counter pain medication. Each type of pain medication employs a different mechanism to alleviate your discomfort.

Opioid Medication

Opioid painkillers are prescription medications that are used to relieve chronic or moderate to severe pain. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017. Opioid medications are traditionally prescribed to relieve excruciating pain after surgery, alleviate pain from accidental or sports injuries, and soothe chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Opioid medications work by attaching to and activating opioid receptors on your nerve cells. Once these receptors are activated, they block your nerve cells from transmitting pain messages from your spinal cord to your brain. When your brain does not receive pain messages, you feel no pain. Opioid medications are very powerful and effective at relieving pain (although they come with their disadvantages, like reliance and damage to other areas of the body).

Benzodiazepine Agents

Benzodiazepines, also known as Benzos, are psychoactive medications that are prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and other mental health problems. These sedative medications are also commonly used off-label and along with opioids to relieve chronic pain as their tranquilizing action helps produce a calming and relaxing effect.

Benzos work by increasing the activity of GABAs, which are neurotransmitters that reduce the activity of nerve cells. Once nerve cell activity decreases, essential bodily and cognitive functions slow down, producing an overall relaxing effect. Benzo’s sedative effects have made it a popular medication for calming pain and its associated mental symptoms.

Over-The-Counter Pain Medication

Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers are medication you can acquire without a doctor’s prescription. There are two types of OTC pain medication: acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin and ibuprofen. OTCs are generally effective for mild to moderate pain relief.

While acetaminophen’s mechanism of action is not well understood, other OTC medications work by inhibiting an enzyme from producing a substance that causes pain. NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen disrupt the activities of cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme that is responsible for producing prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins serve many important bodily functions, but they are also responsible for triggering feelings of pain at the site of injury. NSAIDs reduce prostaglandin production, making you feel less pain.

Adverse Health Effects of Conventional Pain Treatments

Conventional pharmacological treatments provide fast and effective pain relief, but they trigger a plethora of adverse health effects when consumed frequently or for a lengthy duration. Frequent consumption of painkiller medication can cause gastrointestinal disease, kidney damage, stroke, drug tolerance, and addiction.

All pain medications harm your health when taken regularly. Frequent intake of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, renal damage, heart attacks, and stroke. Consuming acetaminophen regularly causes liver damage. While over-the-counter pain medications have detrimental health effects, the side effects of prescription painkillers are even worse.

Regular intake of prescription painkillers can lead to addiction and possible death from overdose. Tens of thousands of people die every year in the United States due to prescription painkiller overdose. The risk of dying from prescription opioid overdose is increased ten-fold when opioid medication is taken along with Benzodiazepines.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to conventional pharmacological treatments that are drug-free, safe, and provide effective pain relief without harming your health.

Alternatives to Conventional Pain Management

Pain medication is not the only option you have to alleviate your discomfort. There are many safe and effective pain reduction therapies and treatments that are scientifically proven to relieve your suffering and help you feel better. Below, we will specify the most effective pain relief therapies and treatments to help you manage your pain without any side effects:


Hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy, is an effective treatment for pain relief. During a hypnotherapy session, your conscious awareness will be regulated by altering your focus and concentration. Studies have shown hypnotherapy to be more effective than physical therapy for relieving chronic pain conditions. Hypnosis helps you direct conscious attention away from your discomfort, helping you cope better with pain.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) technology uses a device to deliver mild electrical currents to your pain points. TENS devices are small, portable units that deliver electrical impulses through your skin, targeting the affected area of your body at a cellular level. These electrical impulses disrupt pain signal transmission to your central nervous system. When less pain signals reach your brain, you will experience pain relief.

Many studies have found TENS technology to be a safe and effective therapy for pain relief. A systematic review published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Reviews revealed high-intensity TENS applications were effective for relieving chronic pain. TENS technology is also FDA-approved for treating acute and chronic pain. TENS is a drug-free, scientifically proven technology that can alleviate your pain without any adverse side effects.

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is a tried-and-true natural, at-home remedy for relieving pain. People have used heat therapy for centuries to alleviate their discomfort. Heat therapy works in different ways to reduce your pain perception. Applying heat on the afflicted area can dilate your blood vessels and disrupt pain signaling to your brain.

Countless studies have confirmed the efficacy of heat therapy for pain relief. The application of heat on the site of pain dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation to the area. The increased flow of blood to the pain point soothes discomfort and promotes a calming and relaxing effect. Heat application also activates the thermoreceptors on your nerve cells, which disrupt the transmission of pain messages to your brain.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is another natural and effective at-home remedy for relieving pain. The application of cold on the site of pain decreases blood flow and circulation to the area, reducing the inflammation that causes pain. Cold therapy also slows down and decreases nerve cell activity, reducing the transmission of pain signals to your brain. This results in reduced pain perception by the individual applying the treatment.

Herbal Painkillers

Many herbs and spices have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a major cause and trigger of pain. When you consume anti-inflammatory substances, you can decrease inflammation, resulting in reduced pain perception. People have been consuming herbal medicine for thousands of years to relieve their discomfort and pain.

One of the most popular and effective herbal painkillers is the willow bark. The bark of the white willow tree contains the chemical salicin. Salicin is similar to the main active ingredient in aspirin. When consumed, the willow bark reduces the inflammation that causes pain and discomfort, bringing you quick pain relief. Willow bark is available in powder form, liquid supplements, and capsules.


Massage is another effective method of pain relief. It’s relaxing, and works tension out of your muscles and joints. The application of massage on the site of pain introduces another sensation to your nervous system. This additional sensation can interfere with the transmission of pain signaling to your brain. Massage’s relaxing and disruption of pain-signaling can help alleviate and soothe your pain.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that is used to relieve pain. The practice involves inserting multiple tiny, ultra-thin needles into areas of your skin that are related to the original source of pain. The procedure is harmless, and causes no discomfort or pain.

Acupuncture is gaining widespread acceptance in the medical community as a safe and effective pain relief therapy. A study published in the Journal of Pain found acupuncture to be effective for relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis, migraines, sports and accidental injuries, and back pain. The researchers in the study recommend acupuncture for treating chronic pain.

Acupuncture’s mechanism of action is not well understood. Some hypothesize that acupuncture relieves pain by triggering the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical with pain reduction effects. Others hypothesize that acupuncture blocks the transmission of pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain, reducing your overall pain perception. Acupuncture is a safe, painless, and scientifically-proven therapy that can provide natural and long-lasting pain relief.

Use Alternative Therapies to Relieve Your Pain

Alternative pain relief treatments and therapies are safe, effective, and scientifically proven to alleviate your pain and discomfort. Unconventional pain relief methods alleviate your suffering without any adverse effects on your health. Incorporate the alternative pain relief therapies and treatments specified above into your pain management plan to provide pain relief and improve your quality of life.