The catch in the knee, the aching back. As baby boomers age (the Americans born between 1946 and 1964), the management of everyday aches and pains becomes more of a reality and a debilitating nuisance for many. A 2012 National Health Interview Study found that 11.2 percent of adults report having daily pain. To ease the discomfort of predominantly musculoskeletal pain from common conditions such as arthritis, stiff neck and headache, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that up to 11.5 million of U.S. adults in 2015 were prescribed long-term painkiller therapy.
But a new awareness is arising among older adults: natural pain relief. From herbs that reduce inflammation to acupuncture, American seniors are taking back their health from the confines of pain with aging. The following are popular at-home natural pain cures:
Heat and ice: A common inflammation reliever after a sprain or strain, ice also helps take away headache pain. Moist heat helps muscle stiffness and joint pain by increasing blood flow to the hurting area and relaxing tight tissues.
Glucosamine and chondroitin: Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound in humans that forms and repairs joint-cushioning cartilage. Chondroitin is produced from cow or shark cartilage. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that, together, glucosamine and chondroitin have reduced pain by half in 53 percent of users.
Turmeric: The spice that gives Indian curry and other foods its yellow color, turmeric contains curcumin, a natural antioxidant that helps fight against cell and tissue damage in the body.
Willow bark: Centuries ago, people chewed the bark of the white willow tree to ease inflammation. Today, the natural medicinal is sold as a dried herb and brewed like tea. Willow bark contains the chemical salicin, which is similar to aspirin’s main ingredient.
Natural painkillers often help instead of turning to pharmacological solutions, but if pain is persistent and severe, seek medical attention.
What natural pain reliefs have you found most effective?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.