Holistic Pain Relief: 9 Natural Ways to Manage and Relieve Pain

By Val Silver

natural ways to manage and relieve pain

When physical pain is a problem, holistic pain relief supplements and techniques offer natural ways to manage and relieve pain. They can be a godsend for easing discomfort, making movement easier, and providing other health benefits. From the perspective of holistic healing, it is important to address the physical causes and symptoms of pain as well as the emotional aspects that accompany them.

Unrelenting pain causes a great deal of mental and physical suffering. It interferes with  sleep and adds to your stress. Quality of life diminishes as you cut back on enjoyable activities and social interactions. You may find yourself making scary choices as you reach for whatever promises relief.

Although you might get lucky using a hit or miss approach, designing and following a comprehensive holistic pain relief plan improves your odds of success. Design your plan to provide the following four elements: 

  • immediate symptom relief
  • systemic inflammation control
  • needed structural and/or system support
  • mental support.

This approach improves your chances of coping, healing, and feeling better long term. The best methods relax your body and mind, reduce inflammation and increase circulation. Some block pain receptors.

9 Ways to Relieve Pain Naturally

No matter which holistic pain relief remedies and techniques you use to manage pain, it is  it is important to keep at it. You may have to experiment before finding what helps you the most. Often it will be a combination of methods, herbs, and supplements. Give remedies enough time to work before giving up on them. You may notice that some techniques relieve your pains right away, but most take weeks to really have a significant effect. Some methods may work at times, but not always.

Consult your medical provider if you natural pain relievers don't help you. You may also need to incorporate pharmaceuticals and medical care into your holistic pain relief plan if if your condition is severe or natural pain remedies are not strong enough to provide relief. 

Uncover and Heal the Cause.

The best types of holistic pain relief address the cause. There may be several possible reasons behind your pain. You and your health provider may have to look beyond the symptoms and diagnosis to the cause.

  • If you are diagnosed with an "-itis" that means there is inflammation. Depending on where it is, there can be different reasons for it. Figure out the reason and heal it if possible, or at least try to stop its progression. For example, inflammation can be caused by an injury or irritation. Gut inflammation can be caused by food sensitivities, junk food or stress. 
  • Listen to your body. Observe how it reacts to certain situations, people, activities and food. Do you ache if you sit too much? Do certain foods cause gut pain? Have your knees hurt more since you gained 20 pounds? Do you get a headache whenever your sister calls? Why?
  • The cause for you pain may be obvious or it may not even seem related to where you hurt. For example: Shoulder pain can be caused by gallbladder distress. Reasons for physical pain can have roots in your emotions and vice versa. A friend of mine traced his terrible joint soreness to drinking a case of soda a day. No soda, no pain.

If you do not uncover the cause and address it (if possible), even the best natural pain remedies may only act as symptom controllers and not stop your condition from getting worse.

Exercise Regularly.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but getting an appropriate amount of the right kinds of exercise is a natural pain reliever that can be as effective as morphine.  During exercise your brain releases endorphins that block pain signals from reaching it. Exercise has many benefits. It improves circulation, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to nourish and cleanse painful areas. It helps you alleviate stress, sleep better, and have more energy.

Careful targeted stretching increases flexibility and range of motion while reducing tension. Two second stretches and assisted stretches targeting painful areas of your body are helpful. So are exercises that improve your posture.

Speaking of posture, take frequent breaks to remind yourself to roll your hips forward. This will straighten you up and put the curve in your back. Don't overextend. Get up and move around frequently as sitting for long periods of time is stressful on your body. Try gentle forms of yoga.

Always listen to your body. Consult a professional for the types and intensity of exercise that are right for you.

In this video, Esther Ekhart demonstrates a sequence of 7 yoga exercises for lower back pain. Note the tips she shares for safety and effectiveness.

Reduce and Prevent Inflammation.

Controlling inflammation is a key part of holistic pain relief. Excess stress, poor diet, and unhealthy lifestyle habits contribute to chronic inflammation. Muscle, joint and other body pains follow. 

  •  Eat a variety of anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables and anti-inflammatory spices and herbs such as ginger, boswellia and MSM daily to quell hot, painful chronic inflammation. Avoid inflammatory trans fats, sugar and highly processed foods.
  • To help prevent inflammation, exercise appropriately, don't sit too much, and mind your posture. Warm up sore, stiff muscles before stretching and exercising.
  • Reduce acute local inflammation with cold packs. Generally, ice is recommended right after an injury or flare-up. Keep it on for 15 minutes at least once a day for a few days. A bag of frozen vegetables works great. After that, try rotating hot and cold packs every 15-20 minutes for a couple of hours at a time to stimulate blood flow and get your body out of the cycle of spasm and pain. Consult your doctor if you are unsure about whether to use cold or heat.
manage pain naturally
  • Stop smoking. Smoking causes inflammation and a host of health problems. 

Get Body Work.

Body work can be an important part of your holistic pain relief plan. There are many types of body work that improve your range of motion and relieve pain. A few examples are rolfing, deep tissue manipulation, trigger point therapy and massage. Massage loosens tight muscles and improves circulation to affected areas and it feels good. 

Chiropractic helps a variety of painful conditions. It helped me greatly with neck and back pain, muscle tension, and associated nerve pain. Months of headaches disappeared with a hip adjustment. 

Some types of body work such as physical therapy correct muscle imbalances and tightness. Others, like the Alexander Method, correct postural alignment. Egoscue exercises do both. They have many exercise videos on-line. Here's one.

Practice Grounding or Earthing.

Grounding connects you to the energy of the earth. As you draw in electrons from the earth, your body discharges unnatural EMF waves and built up static energy. Fans of grounding claim that it is a relaxing natural pain reliever that also helps cool inflammation.

The earth is negatively charged. Things that break down your body are positively charged. Grounding helps your body remineralize and strips off calcification. 

You automatically ground in water. That is one reason washing your face or taking a shower feels so good. You also ground when you touch the earth or a living tree with your bare skin. For indoor use you, use a grounding mat or special bed sheets.

Experts suggest that you spend 30-90 minutes a day grounding to relieve pain. 

Get laser therapy.

Lasers are gaining popularity with chiropractors, physical therapists, surgeons, and even in veterinary hospitals to accelerate healing and to ease pain.  Healing light energy relaxes muscles, stimulates nerve regeneration, speeds wound healing, and reduces inflammation and pain. For neuro-muscular conditions, best results are obtained with a high power 30-watt laser. (1)

For long term chronic inflammation consider deeply penetrating infra-red light therapy or infra-red heating pads that deliver heat directly to the muscles. K-Laser treatment is gaining a good reputation for cellular healing and easing pain. Sunshine or a hot bath or shower may also help.

Use Natural Pain Remedies.

Natural pain relievers, such as herbs and supplements, provide support internally and/or externally. For example, DMSO is applied topically. SAMe and Boswellia are taken internally. 

Most supplements and herbal pain remedies are not as strong as prescription drugs, so you may need to experiment or use combination remedies. One great benefit of finding natural pain remedies that works for you is avoiding the toxic and sometimes dangerous side effects of pharmaceuticals. 

Enjoy Quality Sleep and Relaxation.

Sometimes pain causes insomnia, which can then increase pain. Relaxation is an important part of holistic pain relief. Your body produces healing DHEA when you are relaxed. Restorative sleep promotes healing and energizes your muscles.

Use stress relief aids such as meditation and calming herbs to relieve pain caused by mind and body tension. Stress has a direct effect on fascia. Sympathetic fibers contract when they are irritated by stress hormones. Contraction equals tightness which worsens pain. Visualize and feel every muscle group relaxing. Imagine the area of pain being massaged by tiny fingers of healing light energy.

Support your energy system.

Your body is an energy system. When your energy is flowing optimally, your body is better able to relax and heal. 

Meridian therapy techniques reduce stress and facilitate the flow of subtle energy in your body. They have a good record of reducing or eliminating many types of physical pain caused by unresolved emotions and tension.

The Mental Emotional Side of Holistic Pain Relief

When the body is hurting it's natural to focus on its symptoms and to want to address them solely at the physical level. This is important, for sure, but it is just as important, if not more so, to explore the mental and emotional aspects that accompany them as part of your holistic pain relief plan. 

It's virtually impossible to have uncomfortable physical ailments without having thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about them. You may feel resentment, guilt, anger, or sadness because of your body limitations and pain. You may be jealous of people who aren't suffering and angry at those you blame for your condition. You may reject your body for failing you. Pain causes you to feel stressed, and stress causes physical tension, causing more discomfort. It can be a vicious cycle.

Not only are emotions a response to physical issues, they can be a cause. Your beliefs may cause or contribute to physical pain. It may be a way you punish or protect yourself. I have learned this on multiple occasions.

Techniques to address the mental emotional aspects of pain

Hypnosis is a well-documented technique for relieving pain naturally. Studies suggest that hypnosis changes the way the brain processes pain signals. Even when pain sensations continue to be received, the brain's response is reduced. (Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 2004).

Techniques that release negative emotions can be a valuable part of your holistic pain relief plan. Even if your physical pain doesn't go away, these methods help ease the emotional stress that accompanies the pain. When the tension in your mind is relieved, you may also experience an easing of muscle tension, which could make your body feel better as well.

One personal example that stands out is when I had a bicycle accident. The pain in my face woke me during the night. After an emotional hour of tapping, it was revealed to me that the pain was there as a protection from further injury. I thanked my body for doing a good job and said I would take over. In that moment, the pain vanished and never returned. It felt very strange having oozing wounds that didn't hurt. 

Summary of Holistic Pain Relief

Following a holistic pain relief plan includes gentle exercise, addressing the cause and related emotions, reducing inflammation, and using natural pain remedies as forms of alternative or complementary therapy to help you heal and ease discomfort.  Then, you can get back to focusing on your life instead of pain.

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Holistic Pain Relief page updated 10/2020

Source: 1. Pain Relief and Healing with Laser Therapy

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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