As in other areas of medicine, there are alternative therapies that can prove to be helpful when it comes to pain relief. Though they’re not all well studied, some have enough promise to try out. Here are a few alternatives that might be worth looking into.
Devil’s claw (200 mg): This name comes from the herb’s unusual fruits, which are covered with small, claw-like appendages. The tubers (roots) of the plant are used in herbal preparations. Devil’s claw is used as a tonic to relieve arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and ease sore muscles.
Boswellia (900+ mg/day): Boswellia, or olibanum, is a relative of the biblical incense, frankincense. This has been used historically in the Indian ayurvedic medical system for various conditions such as arthritis and other inflammatory issues.
Arnica (1-10 grains or more in gel for direct application): Popular in Europe, this homeopathic remedy seems to benefit those with muscle aches and osteoarthritis.
Capsaicin (twice a day, in higher than 0.075-percent preparation) rubbed on your skin: The active principle in hot chili pepper, capsaicin depletes the pain-causing neurotransmitter substance P, over time. You’ll have some burning for a while, until the substance P is almost undetectable in your nerves.
Others: There’s some evidence that other therapies might also help, such as green algae and SAMe for fibromyalgia; willow bark and ginger for arthritis; thunder god vine for various pain conditions.
Older Theories About Pain: An older theory of pain sensation is the gate-control theory. The gate consists of specialized nerve cells in the spinal cord. They act as gatekeepers to filter pain messages on their way to your brain.
For severe pain that’s linked to bodily harm (like touching a hot stove), that gate’s wide open and the messages take an express route to the brain.
Nerve fibers that transmit touch also affect gatekeeper cells. They decrease the transmission of pain signals. This is why rubbing a sore part of your body makes you feel better. Acupuncture may work by closing the gate and not letting pain sensations through.
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