Did you know that the solution to your toothache, muscle pain or stomach upset might be sitting in your spice rack or window box?
It’s true! Aside from the fact that herbs and spices have been used medicinally for thousands of years, countless scientific studies show that most have unique healing qualities and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Before you head out to the drugstore for some narcotic painkillers (which Dr Mercola claims now kill more people than murders and fatal car accidents in the US!), why not check out this list of 30 herbs and spices which kill pain fast?
Aloe vera juice has been used for centuries as a remedy for arthritis and remains one of the most commonly used herbs in the US today. In fact, the ancient Egyptians called it the ‘plant of immortality’.
It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory thanks to compounds in the plant such as bradykinin, and salicylate. It also contains vitamins A, B, C, and E which have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities.
It soothes the gastrointestinal tract and is helpful in treating ulcerative colitis and mouth ulcers.
And the cooling, soothing gel from the plant can be used topically on burns, cuts, scrapes, cold sores and even sunburn.
Used since the 1500s for medicinal purposes, the herb Arnica can be applied to the skin to soothe muscle aches, relieve sprains, reduce inflammation and bruising and heal wounds.
However, it should not be taken orally unless in a diluted homeopathic solution as it can cause severe side effects if ingested otherwise. The homeopathic version of arnica is taken for diabetic eye damage and post-surgery pain relief.
Some varieties of basil (namely Ocimum americanum and Ocimum tenuiflorum) are actually as strong as anti-inflammatory drugs!
Basil extract has been shown to reduce swelling in arthritic patients by up to 73%, in just 24 hours. Other varieties of basil also kill pain, but just on a lower level.
Basil is also anti-bacterial, which explains why it is often used in dental and oral hygiene products.
Black pepper contains piperine, a chemical which helps to counteract pain in the body.
In fact, piperine extracted from black pepper can be mixed with other ingredients to make an analgesic cream for pain relief.
This inexpensive seasoning is thought to reduce the perception of pain, inflammation and even arthritis.
In Ayurveda, cardamom has been used as a remedy for urinary tract diseases and infections like cystitis.
Studies have shown that it has gastro-protective properties and may be helpful in relieving the pain associated with stomach cramps and other stomach problems.
According to studies on animals, painful muscle spasms can be prevented by taking cardamom too thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities.
Super-hot cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural pain reliever and weight loss aid.
The University of Maryland explains that capsaicin in cayenne reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Less substance P mean less messages telling your brain that you’re in pain!
Capsaicin is often used in topical pain-relieving creams and patches. In one study on topically applied capsaicin, a man with pain due to wounds from a bomb explosion experienced an 80% reduction in pain after using a high concentration patch!
A compound unique to celery, known as 3nB (3-nbutylphthalide) is thought to be responsible for the vegetable’s characteristic flavor, odor and pain relieving properties.
A celery seed extract was given to 15 arthritis, osteoporosis and gout sufferers. After three weeks the patients reported lower pain levels, and some reported complete pain relief. The extract appeared to be particularly helpful for the gout sufferers.
Not just a great sleep aid, chamomile contains terpenoids and flavonoids which contribute to its medicinal properties.
Throughout history, chamomile has been used for hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, diaper rash, skin infections, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.
Modern studies have shown cinnamon does indeed have antibacterial properties and can kill both E-coli and Salmonella bacteria.
It’s also used to relieve the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems and urinary infections.
In a study comparing the numbing effect of a clove gel and benzocaine, both were found to numb the gums of participants equally well.
The humble clove is capable of far more than numbing your gums though! Cloves were ranked as the most potent of 24 common herbs and spices found in your spice rack in terms of anti-inflammatory powers.
According to WebMD cloves are also applied to the skin as a counter-irritant for pain and to reduce mouth and throat inflammation.
Coriander / Cilantro
Coriander and cilantro are the same plant – just with two different names. In many parts of the world coriander refers to both the leaves (herb) and the seeds (spice). In North America, the leaves are referred to as cilantro.
While both parts of the plant are edible, it’s the seeds that hold the medicinal properties. It can be used as a remedy for digestive problems including upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, bowel spasms, and intestinal gas.
Coriander also treats hemorrhoids, toothaches and joint pain.
Eating a pinch of fennel seeds can also relive painful bloating and gas – a natural remedy which has been used, especially in India, for thousands of years.
Known as ‘the stinking rose’, garlic has been used since ancient times as both a food and a natural medicine thanks to its ability to enhance the immune system with its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
In fact, garlic cloves contain chemicals that shut down inflammatory pathways in ways similar to ibuprofen.
Make sure to always use fresh garlic, either chopped or crushed, for best results.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is an amazing and tasty pain reliever.
If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, try out some ginger and see if it quells the pain. In a study of 100 migraine sufferers, it was found that both ginger powder and the drug sumatriptan had comparable pain relieving effects.
And a six week trial of patients with osteoarthritis saw them swap their pain medication for ginger extracts twice daily. Participants felt less pain when standing and walking after taking the ginger.
Of course, ginger doesn’t cause any of the negative side effects that medications do.
Allspice has antioxidant, antiseptic and anesthetic properties, and can help fight yeast and fungus.
Traditionally, it has been used both internally and externally to relieve pains, stomach aches and menstrual cramps.
Just like cloves, allspice ranked in the top three most anti-inflammatory spices.
Used in both Eastern and Western medicine for thousands of years, licorice root is used for a variety of illnesses.
One particular type, known as DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), is used to treat peptic ulcers, canker sores and acid reflux.
When licorice root fluid extract was used on 100 patients with stomach ulcers (86 of whom had not improved with conventional drugs), after 6 weeks 90% of the patients improved, with ulcers completely disappearing in 22 people.
Licorice gel applied to the skin is known to relieve the itching associated with eczema, while gargling with DGL in warm water can stop the pain of canker sores and other mouth problems.
This delicately flavored herb is known for both its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, with tests showing it’s one of the top 10 most inflammation fighting herbs.
Just like cloves, marjoram contains eugenol, which has analgesic qualities, making it a great home remedy for those with arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
You can also brew up a little marjoram tea for those times when you feel nauseous or bloated.
Mustard is a great all round plant to grow in your garden. Not only does it attract beautiful butterflies, but both the seeds and greens can be harvested to use in the kitchen.
In addition, the seeds hold many medicinal and pain killing properties – including relief from muscular pains, ringworm and respiratory disorders.
Apply a mustard seed poultice to muscle aches and other pains – thanks to its natural analgesic effects, you should feel relief within minutes. It works for chest congestion too!
Neem is a potent analgesic and provides near instantaneous relief from itching and pain when applied topically.
Research has shown that neem extract can kill the herpes virus and quickly heal cold sores.
Traditionally, neem has been used for eye disorders, intestinal worms, stomach upset, gum disease and more.
Nutmeg is a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is used to treat inflammation and abdominal pain.
Why not try it for aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis and sores? It can be ingested or applied topically to relieve the pain.
Oregano is an amazing herb that has 42 times the antioxidant power that apples have, 30 times the antioxidant levels of potatoes, 12 times the power of oranges and 4 times that of blueberries!
A little of this potent herb is all you need to get the benefits – in a research study, half a teaspoon of oregano daily was enough to quash inflammatory activity.
Oil of oregano also boasts some incredible healing properties.
Parsley root helps relax stiff joints and alleviate the pain they cause. It’s also useful for renal congestion, inflammation of the kidneys and bladder and urine retention.
Brew some fresh parsley tea to reap the anti-inflammatory and diuretic benefits of this under-rated herb.
Rosemary is used to relieve the pain of heartburn, intestinal gas, gout and headaches. Topically it can lessen the severity of toothaches, eczema and joint or muscle pain.
It also works as an effective insect repellent.
As an herbal remedy, sage is used in teas and gargles to kill the pain of sore throats, mouth ulcers, gum disease, laryngitis and coughs thanks to its astringent, antiseptic, and antibacterial qualities.
For a toothache, try a tablespoon of sea salt with two tablespoons of dried sage in a little whiskey or water. Rinse your mouth out with it for a few minutes and spit out.
The mucilaginous inner bark of this North American elm has long been used medicinally. Native Americans used slippery elm topically on wounds, boils, ulcers, burns and skin inflammation.
In addition to applying it directly to the skin, it can also be taken orally to relieve toothaches, coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems.
Researchers from the Babol University of Medical Sciences in Iran have found that thyme is not only an excellent pain-relieving herb, but it also works better than ibruprofen, especially when it comes to relieving menstrual pain.
Brew it as a tea to act as an expectorant, clearing the lungs of congestion. It will also settle the stomach, soothe a sore throat and relieve aches and pains.
One of the most anti-inflammatory spices around, turmeric contains the powerful compound curcumin, which is responsible for its inflammation fighting super powers.
Rats who were suffering from neuropathic pain were given curcumin. Shortly afterward, they were described as exhibiting a decline in behaviors associated with pain.
Researchers, looking at the effects of curcumin in obesity, suggest including curcumin (turmeric) as part of a healthy diet, given its low cost, safety and proven efficacy.
What’s more, taking turmeric along with black pepper is advised as the piperine in pepper is known for increasing curcumin bioavailability by 2000%!
Other Healing Herbs and Spices
Don’t disregard common spice mixes you might have hiding in the back of your cupboard either! In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, the mixes Apple Pie Spice Mixture, Pumpkin Pie Spice Mixture and Gourmet Italian Spice all featured in the top 10 most potent anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.
You may also want to check out this list of the 20 Most Under-Rated Healing Herbs for more ways to use plants as medicine.
Where To Buy These Herbs & Spices
Mountain Rose Herbs is the best supplier of organic herbs and spices in the USA. They stock almost any herb you can think of.
Visit this page and browse through the wonderful collection to pick up the herbs and spices you need.
A Word of Caution
Even though herbs and spices are natural products you can find in the store or garden, don’t underestimate their potency and never consume them in excess.
If you suffer any medical conditions, are pregnant or are taking any medications, it’s important to consult a professional before using herbs and spices to treat ailments.
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