When pain hits, you head straight to the medicine cabinet for a few pain pills—it’s something we all do. Yet while pain medications can effectively treat your pain symptoms, you may not realize that natural pain-fighting remedies are closer to your fingertips than you may think. These four spices have been proven to fight a variety of pains with fewer side effects than typical pain relievers, and you can find them right in your own kitchen!
Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its characteristic gold color, has been shown to help relieve stomach pains, depression, and symptoms of IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that works as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in your body. In recent studies, it has proven to be just as effective as ibuprofen, but it is associated with less abdominal discomfort.
Another study suggests that it significantly decreases symptoms of IBS by reducing swelling and muscle contractions in the bowels. Yet another study performed on this spice showed that it reduces symptoms of depression without the side effects of common over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Sprinkle ½ a teaspoon over your food each day to reap the benefits! Turmeric may cause low blood sugar when combined with diabetes medications, so be sure to talk to a doctor before adding this spice to your diet if you have sugar imbalances.
Black pepper has been proven to help mitigate stomach pains, digestive problems, and arthritis. Like turmeric, pepper is bursting with anti-inflammatory properties.
Piperine, the active component in pepper, has recently been demonstrated to have positive effects against arthritis by counteracting inflammation and cartilage damage. Grind whole peppercorns over your dinner, or try taking it in capsule form. Pepper can slow the metabolism of selective drugs, so speak with your doctor before adding significant doses to your daily intake.
We have heard of the power of ginger to settle the stomach, but did you know it is also a great headache reliever? In a study performed in 2014, individuals suffering from migraines were given either 50 mg of the migraine drug sumatriptan or 250 mg of powdered ginger. Within two hours of treatment, 70% of the people that took the migraine drug and 64% of people that ingested the ginger noted an extreme decrease in pain. Furthermore, 20% of people that received sumatriptan experienced severe side effects including heartburn and vertigo, while only a few people in the ginger group reported mild indigestion.
You can cook with liberal amounts of fresh or powdered ginger to liven up your meals, eat pickled or candied ginger, or pour hot water over fresh ginger and sweeten with honey to enjoy a nice tea. Ginger should not be taken if you are on blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder.
Take peppermint oil to relieve an upset stomach or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint oil has been clinically proven to help with abdominal bloating, pain, and gas because the substance causes smooth muscles in the digestive tract to relax. These same muscle relaxant properties in peppermint oil also help reduce muscle spasms and cramping, thus ameliorating pain and discomfort. Enjoy a warm cup of peppermint tea by steeping dried peppermint in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink this 4-5 times a day between meals. You can also try taking enteric coated peppermint pills for the same effect. Peppermint oil may relax the valve at the top of the stomach and increase heartburn in people with GERD. So instead of popping open the pill bottle next time the pain hits, try opening up the spice rack instead.