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The first thing most of us do when we feel the onset of an ache or pain is reach for medication.

Regular use of pain killers can sometimes cause problems such as gastrointestinal or cardiovascular complications. Some can also be addictive which can lead to unhealthy dependency.

Luckily there are many drug-free pain solutions.

Therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology can be beneficial, not just for pain but for well-being and health in general. Changing environmental factors can also help, such as the style of chairs you use, the shoes you wear, or the type of mattress you sleep on – adding a dimpled foam cover to your bed or changing to an organic mattress can do wonders for some.

There are also many foods which contain natural pain relieving properties.

Cherries

Cherries contain anthocyanins, a pigment which is found in many fruits, especially in berries such as blueberries, cranberries and raspberries. However, tart cherries contain exceptionally high amounts of anthocyanins, which have been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

A study conducted by the Oregon Health and Science Centre showed that fibromyalgia sufferers experienced significant pain reduction after drinking cherry juice.

Tart cherries also contain melatonin, which can benefit people whose sleeping patterns are disrupted by pain.

Turmeric

Turmeric has been used for pain relief for many centuries by various cultures. It is now being acknowledged in the West as a legitimate alternative to drug-based pain killers. Turmeric capsules are now available in many health food shops.

In a study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, turmeric’s active ingredient, Curcumin was compared to ibuprofen in its effectiveness in treating pain in knee osteoarthritis sufferers.

However, it’s important to consult your doctor before using turmeric. Curcumin can sometimes slow blood clotting, so it is unwise to take it in the lead up to any surgical procedures, and can be dangerous if mixed with blood thinning medication. It can also aggravate gallbladder problems.

Arnica

Arnica Montana is a plant found in mountainous areas of Europe and North America. Like turmeric, Arnica has been used for a long time to relieve pain and modern science is slowly catching up with the amazing healing properties of its flowers.

It can be used topically in a variety of forms: creams, gels, oils and ointments. It can ease bruising, swelling, muscle pain, joint pain, and arthritis.

Arnica can also be taken internally in very small homeopathic quantities. If taken in too large a dose Arnica can be toxic, so make sure to seek expert advice before deciding to use it in this form.

Many natural substances can aid pain, yet sometimes pain is caused by a lack of a particular component in the body.

Water

Our bodies are made up of mostly water, so it makes sense that some doctors and researchers are finding that some cases of pain are caused by nothing more complex than dehydration.

According to Dr Batmanghelidj, author of ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, regular fluid intake can prevent a variety of different pains: stomach pain, back ache, heartburn, even arthritis.

Batmanghelidj says: ‘heartburn is a signal of water shortage in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract.’ He also says that ‘arthritis is a signal of water shortage in the painful joint’ and this can be remedied by increased water intake and small amounts of salt.

The purer the water, the better.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency has become something of an epidemic over recent years, and a common symptom can be pain, ranging from bone pain to muscle pain.

The best source of Vitamin D is sunshine, and the best way to absorb it is by going outside, as Vitamin D cannot be absorbed via sunlight through a window.

Simple Solutions

The truth is that many physical ailments can be traced to some kind of nutrient deficiency, or can be treated with a simple natural remedy. Whilst there is a place for modern medicine, it is often too heavily relied on when there is no need. The world around us offers a wealth of healing ingredients, all we need to do is learn where to find them and how to use them.

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