Pain & Inflammation
"50% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to inflammation-related diseases
David Furman et al
Pain is invisible, and to a large extent so is chronic inflammation, yet they are two things that at some point, young or old, are highly likely to effect you in some way. Chronic inflammation has been directly linked to a wide variety of physical and mental health problems, and chronic pain, such as that experienced with long term back pain, arthritis, migraine and fibromyalgia, is one of the biggest health burdens in the world today and affects millions of people globally, and the problem is growing.
It goes without saying then that chronic pain and inflammation are a huge problem and often cause huge distress to those who suffer with them, especially pain. Pain is such a complex thing to treat because it can stem from physical, psychological and social factors, which often leads to those suffering with no diagnosis and often little hope of improvement or cure. For most people struggling with chronic pain, pain management is often the only thing that is offered. We also know that chronic pain often leads to more than just pain over time, with sufferers more prone to developing anxiety and depression.
Both environmental factors and lifestyle choices have been shown to have a big impact on both chronic pain and inflammation and science is in more recent years exploring the effect of nature exposure (green space) on people suffering with these conditions.
Exposure to green and natural spaces provide exposure to natural sights and sounds, environmental microbiomes, phytoncides (from plants and trees), negative air ions, and sunlight (vitamin D), which have all show to have varying affects on pain and inflammation in a positive way. One study (Stanhope et al, 2020), which looked at the evidence of nature exposure on chronic pain reduction concluded that ‘green spaces are a safe and accessible strategy to help alleviate the global burden of pain and exposure to green space should therefore be encouraged for those experiencing pain’.
There are many botanicals shown to have anti-pain and anti-inflammatory benefits, some of which are already being used in pharmaceutical medicines today such as capsaicin and peppermint (menthol). Many functional foods have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties too and can be used to help reduce inflammatory levels in the body.
Managing pain and inflammation takes a multifaceted approach, but nature and all the medicinal effects it offers, should certainly play a large part in this management.
Is a powerful anti-infllammatory & anti-nausea agent so great for those people who suffer nausea or sickness with their head pain. It has been shown in some studies to reduce symptoms of migraines, as well as reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. It can be consumed in a tea or you can apply ginger essential oil to the temples using a dampened cotton wool ball so the oil is diluted slightly before application to the skin. You can also add fresh ginger to your meals or purchase as a supplement.
This flowering plant is part of the daisy family and out of the six mentioned naturals, is the one with the least evidence for its actual benefit to migraine and head pain. However it has got some, all be it mixed evidence, and many people do report improvement in migraine symptoms with reduced frequency and severity after taking it. It has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory action also, which could explain why it may reduce head pain and migraine, but more research is needed to confirm the extent of its benefit . Do NOT take during pregnancy though as it can cause contractions.
This popular and fragrant plant has shown to reduce the intensity of head pain when lavender essential oil was inhaled. The frequency of attacks were also shown to reduce. Lavender essential oil can also be applied topically to the temples once diluted in either a small amount of water on cotton wool pad or adding to a carrier oil or moisturiser. Lavender is also well known for its calming and stress reducing properties and as research shows that addressing stress is vital for the prevention of headaches and some migraines then lavender is a good choice for stress headaches.
This plant has been used for centuries in the treatment of migraines and head aches and has been shown in studies to be an effective treatment by not only reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, but also the length of time they last. It has also proved effective in reducing childhood migraine frequency too. Although it is still unclear why Butterbur has such positive effects on migraine it is thought to be due to the anti-inflammatory action of the active components it contains.
This well known garden herb has been shown to reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of migraine attacks quite significantly when taken as oral peppermint extract. It is also very effective in relieving migraine and tension headaches when applied topicallty to the temples in the form of an essential oil. Apply topically by adding a 4-6 drops of oil to a moisturiser or dilute with a little water and apply with cotton wool. It is the menthol in peppermint that has the medicinal effect by relaxing muscles and reducing pain. You can also add peppermint oil to an aromatherapy diffuser and inhale it.
Studies have shown that people who suffer with migraine and regular headache tend to have lower magnsium levels than those who dont suffer head pain. Magnesium deficiency is estimated too be present in up to half of migraine patients and has shown to be common in those women suffering menstural migraine. Taking a magnesium oxide supplement has been shown to be effective in preventing migraines & headaches in many sufferers so certainly worth a try. Foods high in magnesium should also be eaten and include avocados, nuts, bananas, spinach and pumpkin seeds.
For more information on migraine and the support available in the UK, please visit the Migraine Trust website
If You Are Struggling With Your Mental Health, Or Know Someone Who Is, Then Our 'Mend Your Mind' Online Course Is Made For You
The ‘Mend Your Mind’ online course is a practical, easy to follow course, suitable for all ages, and thus can easily be completed with children (with adult supervision), who may be suffering mild to moderate mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, grief, low self-esteem. Perhaps you just want to reconnect with nature? Learn how to utilise nature to physiologically and psychologically improve, benefit and restore your mental health through 25 scientifically backed nature tasks, proven to boost mental health status.
Find Out More About Which Foods Can Reduce Inflammation And Pain With our Medicinal Foods Online Course
There are many foods known as functional foods, which offer positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition. Many foods are scientifically shown to offer specific medicinal health benefits including foods shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be very helpful in both prevention and alleviation of symptoms. Learn about foods that have proven to be helpful in relieving and improving migraine, arthritis, fibromyalgia, skin conditions and digestive symptoms to name a few. Check out our online course and eat yourself healthy now.
Part of the mint family, and used for over 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine, the roots of this plant contain a flavonoid called Baicalin, which in some animal studies suggest that it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties and may also protect against arthritis. When Scutellaria b. (also known as Skullcap) was combined with another botanical called Acacia catechu (a thorny tree also known as Khatta), the beneficial effects were increased further to further alleviate pain and joint stiffness, leading to improved mobility. Just 500 mg per day for just one week had a significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms of the knee with reduction in pain and improved range of motion.
Commonly found in countryside hedgerows in autumn, this nutrient packed fruit is packed with goodies that have been shown to help alleviate some arthritic symptoms. Rosehips provide one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, 50% more than oranges in fact and vitamin C has shown to be of benefit in helping in the treatment of chronic pain including arthritis, although relief was found to be better in those with rheumatoid as opposed to osteoarthritis when looking at pure vitamin C
For more information on arthritis and the different types, please visit the Arthritis foundation website
This well known food ingredient has some excellent proven medicinal benefits and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Gingerol, the potent phytochemical found in ginger is shown to have offer benefits in both oseto and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies have found ginger to be as effective as Ibuprofen and as effective as Non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) in arthritis treatment. Just two grams of either raw ginger or heated ginger has shown to reduce pain and inflammation in muscles and joints, with ginger shown to benefit inflammation at the cellular level. In one study looking at osteoarthritis of the knee, ginger was shown to reduce stiffness and pain by 40% over placebo.
One of the active components of the chili pepper, called capsaicin, is widely used in pain relief treatment and is often used in topical applications to treat arthritic symptoms. Applied topically to painful joints it is quickly absorbed through the skin and can offer pain relief in both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
"The greener the setting, the better the relief"
How to Make a Medicinal Yarrow, Thyme and Rosemary Muscle and Joint Rub
Rosemary, thyme and yarrow have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which make them excellent ingredients to make a topical oil or balm with that can be applied directly to your muscles and/or joints to help relieve inflammation and provide some pain relief. So let’s get started!
You will need:
Fresh Yarrow leaves and/or flowers
Olive oil or grapseed oil
Glass jar with lid or Kilner jar
Glass bottle (for oil), or glass jar (for balm)
If you want to make a balm you will also need some beeswax
Dust off your foraging basket and head out to collect some Yarrow. In the UK it is abundant on country lanes, waysides and meadows. Collect both the leaves and the flowers.
For the rosemary and thyme you will have to head to your garden or a garden centre.
Once you have collected the herbs, dust off the insects (don’t wash) and pack a glass jar full to the brim with a mixture of all three herbs. Pack them in tightly.
Cover the herbs completely with olive or grape oil and then screw on the lid. Leave in a light place for about a month.
After the month, strain the oil to remove the bits of herbs and keep the oil in a sealed glass bottle to use when needed.
If you want to make a balm instead of just an oil, take the strained oil and place in a glass bowl or jug along with some bees wax. Stand the bowl or jug in a pan of water and heat slowly on a gentle heat until combined. Put the mixture in a glass jar and cover with lid. Both the oil and balm will store for approx 3 months.
How Nature's Hydrotherapy Can Improve Your Health & Reduce Pain & Inflammation
Reduces Muscle Soreness
May Ease Symptoms of Depression
Submerging yourself in cold water, may not be your first idea of fun and does not sound like a valid health prescription, however the use of water as a healing aid for a variety of conditions is not a new one. Science now shows that cold water hydrotherapy can be highly effective in alleviating a variety of symptoms including those associated with arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and the relief of general pain including muscle and back pain. In fact there is mounting evidence that suggest activities like cold water swimming, or paddling in cold water or, taking cold showers, is an effective pain management tool.
Cold water has a direct effect on blood vessels, in that it causes them to constrict. This then reduces blood flow to the surface level of your body and to a site of injury or pain, which has the effect of reducing swelling and inflammation and thus pain too. In deeper tissues of the body however blood circulates faster as the body tries to maintain body temperature, which helps to improve general circulation.
Cold water hydrotherapy has also shown to stimulate the immune system too by increasing blood circulation, which then improves movement of white blood cells (which fight infection), around the body.
So what exactly is cold hydrotherapy? Also known as cold water therapy, it is the practice of using water that’s around a temperature of 15°C or 59°F , to treat and alleviate various health conditions and/or stimulate multiple health benefits. When this is done in a natural setting such as a river, lake, stream or within a wild garden pool, then in addition to the benefits of the cold water, you also get the health benefits associated with nature immersion too. Even just a short short time of cold water immersion has been shown to have pain relieving benefits, but remember, for safety reasons, never go wild swimming alone and if you are not a strong swimmer or have a heart condition or other health problems it is best to avoid total submersion and check with your Gp first. You could always opt for just targeting specific areas of the body with cold water instead of full submersion.