Sometimes you just have to take an aspirin. There is just no fighting that awful pain and the need to stop it. Or is there? What if you could find another way? What if nature offered an alternative to aspirin, would you try it?
People take aspirin for several reasons – mostly pain relief and thinning of the blood. Though aspirin can help it can also have negative side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney damage, break down of cartilage in the joints and increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke. What other options are there that can accomplish the same feats as aspirin? Yes, there are always variations of this old time favorite such as acetaminophen and other NSAIDs, but non-chemically speaking, where can we turn?
Luckily nature has a reservoir of possibilities that can replace aspirin such as white willow bark, the actual origin point of aspirin. White willow contains salicin, The same compound found in aspirin with blood-thinning and pain-relieving properties. White willow is milder in action but has the potential to replace aspirin more safely and without the side effects.
Ginger is another possibility, as it has natural anti-inflammatory and blood thinning effects and can relieve pain caused by inflammation (such as some headaches, joint pain and injury swelling) at around 1500mg. Ginger also helps to heal the stomach and could counteract any negative effects of having taken aspirin in higher doses in the past. Ginger protects joints, unlike aspirin which actually tears them down long term, allowing for relief from painful arthritis and injury.
Jamaican Dogwood is another ‘aspirin’ of nature. Though highly under noticed in this country, Jamaican Dogwood has long been used as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and anti-spasmodic. Known also by the name Piscidia, Jamaican Dogwood was used by natives when traditional opium was not tolerable and is even known to relieve what could be termed the ‘suicide migraines’ – due to it’s awful vengeance, and cluster headaches. For women’s health:
The Eclectics recommended it paired with Viburnum(a common species of shrubs) for false labor pains and threatened abortion. It helps control erratic pains and promotes rest but does not interfere with normal uterine contractions. Piscidia synergistically harmonizes and promotes the effectiveness of other herbal uterine remedies.
Feverfew is a lovely little white flower with a yellow center looking similar to chamomile and boasting pain relieving qualities for headaches and migraines, arthritis and menstrual cramps. Feverfew is great as a preventative and can be drank often as a tea by one who has suffered regularly from headache pain.
It functions to inhibit serotonin and prostaglandins from being released, both of which are inflammatory chemicals considered to lead to migraines. By inhibiting these amines as well as the creation of the substance known as histamine, this plant can help to control inflammation and stop blood vessel spasms which might lead to headaches. Since it controls the inflammation, it prevents any constricting of the blood vessels in the head which can also lead to headaches.
Menstrual cramps are also caused by too much prostaglandins produced by the uterus. Feverfew can greatly alleviate irritation and pain caused by excessive amounts of these ‘messenger molecules.’
Beyond plants as aspirin alternatives, nature also points us to sound as a way to relieve pain. Sound can be used to relieve pain because “pain receptors can only handle so much information, so when you fill them up with sound, they can no longer transmit pain impulses.” This could be why there is so much healing to be found in a night out camping in the woods or a walk along the beach. The natural sounds of nature such as water falling, wind blowing, birds chirping and trees rustling can be just the kind of input our bodies need to alleviate pain naturally.
There are various types of sound therapies implementing devices such as tuning forks, crystal bowls and classical music which can help relieve pain and reduce its regularity. Even laughter therapy or ‘laughter yoga’ can cause a flood of positive feelings in the body which do more than over-shadow the pain, they actually help to heal us.
As you can see, there are many alternative to regular aspirin existing in nature and all around. For more information on each remedy see some of the sources listed below.
(This information is not intended to cure, diagnosis or treat any pain. If you have pain please take proper health precautions, tune into your inner wisdom and see a health professional if needed.)
Written by: Stasia Bliss