Many of us immediately reach for over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, when dealing with aches, pains, and discomfort. And while effective, these drugs can come with side effects. That’s why I try to avoid OTCs as much as possible.
If you’re looking for an alternative, there are all sorts of ways to soothe your body naturally. In fact, people across the globe have used essential oils, herbs, and other remedies for hundreds of years.
Research still has some catching up to do to fully explore many of these natural approaches. However, some evidence suggests they truly can help—and many people (myself, included) find them quite useful.
Not sure where to start? I incorporate the following four natural remedies into my own routine.
1. Essential Oils
In addition to smelling wonderful, many essential oils have beneficial effects on the body. Some people turn to lavender oil, for example, to relax (both body and mind), sleep well, and ease everyday aches and pains. In fact, a small-scale 2012 study published in European Neurology found that inhaling lavender oil helped relieve pain associated with headaches.
Another helpful essential oil: rosemary. It’s long been used to relax sore muscles, ease headaches, and even support memory. Peppermint oil is equally beneficial—especially when massaged onto your temples or other parts of the body that need soothing.
What’s behind these oils’ powerful benefits? They all possess antioxidant qualities that can support immune function and overall health.
Two important things to remember when using essential oils:
- never ingest them
- always dilute them in a carrier oil—such as almond oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil—when applying them to your body
I particularly love using Genexa’s Pain Crush, a homeopathic roll-on that contains peppermint oil, along with other natural soothers, like organic aloe vera leaf juice and organic licorice root extract.
Long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into the skin on various parts of the body to stimulate specific points.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, acupuncture works particularly well for easing chronic back and neck pain, osteoarthritis-related joint pain, and headaches. In fact, acupuncture may help reduce the severity of tension headaches—and even prevent migraines.
One larger 2018 study published in Pain Medicine even identified acupuncture as an effective way to manage chronic pain and other symptoms involved in fibromyalgia.
Wondering exactly how this ancient method works? Acupuncture is believed to release endorphins (the body’s natural pain-killers) and boost serotonin (the neurotransmitter that improves mood).
As you probably already know, yoga is a mind-body practice. It combines breathing, meditation, and movement to both relax and strengthen you, inside and out. It also happens to be one of my favorite ways to soothe my body naturally.
When practiced correctly, yoga can help relieve chronic pain related to arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, low-back issues, and so much more. According to a 2017 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people with lower-back pain who took a weekly yoga class for three months reduced their pain—and the activity limitations associated with it.
Read More: Does Yoga Count As A Workout?
As an avid yogi, I can attest to the fact that yoga can improve mood and psychological well-being, too.
The turmeric root, which has long been used in natural medicine, is another great way to soothe your body naturally. Turmeric contains an antioxidant called curcumin, which is believed to have powerful immune-boosting properties. Experts credit turmeric with easing discomfort in those with joint issues, supporting digestion, and promoting overall wellness.
Being Indian in background, I have always eaten turmeric in lentil and vegetable dishes—and in chai tea. I encourage you to either try out some recipes that contain turmeric or consider a turmeric supplement.
Dr. Amy Shah, M.D., is a double board-certified physician with training from Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard Universities. With extensive training in health and nutrition, she advises on increasing energy levels, fixing gut issues, managing allergies, and boosting the immune system. Dr. Shah was recently named one of MindBodyGreen’s Top 100 Women in Wellness to Watch and is a member of Genexa‘s Medical Advisory Board.