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August 9, 2013

Powerful Pain Medicines

Herbal formulas to address musculoskeletal pain, headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps, injuries and more. Jamaican dogwood, California poppy, Corydalis.

Most of us can relate to the need for pain medication. We can remember a time when we took a pill to feel better or to reduce a fever. A simple headache or an acute injury can be greatly relieved by the simple over the counter medicines that we have at our fingertips. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are some of the common household remedies for pain and many of us have had experience with some of our stronger narcotic pain meds such as vicodin, if even for the removal of wisdom teeth. These laboratory produced chemicals are very effective, but do not come without potential side effects, including gastrointestinal complaints, reduced efficacy, and addiction, to name a few.

If you are not already familiar, I would like to welcome you to the world of plant medicine, where you’ll find natural remedies with the same mechanism of action as many of the creations of the pharmaceutical industry. In truth, many pharmaceutical medications are synthetic versions of plant medicines. Nature has always been the blueprint for our modern day pharmacy. Plants have the ability to work synergistically within the body, often having more than one beneficial effect.

Fortunately, today we share the best of both worlds because we have so many options. It is possible to use herbs exclusively for pain, and it is possible to use pharmaceutical medicine exclusively, or you can use both. The goal is to achieve pain relief that will not do you any long-term damage. One of the principles of naturopathic medicine is to first do no harm. In the realm of pain treatment and management, this is key. Jamaican dogwood, California poppy, and Corydalis are three of my favorite pain herbs.

Piscidia erythrina (Jamaican dogwood)

Parts used: root and stem bark; leaves

  • nervine (calming)
  • strong anodyne (pain relief)
  • antispasmodic
  • sedative
  • anti-inflammatory

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)

State flower of California

Part used: whole fresh plant

  • nervine
  • mild anodyne
  • antispasmodic
  • calms the Spirit
  • not to be confused with opium poppy

Corydalis yanhusuo (Corydalis, yan hu suo)

One of the most valued herbs for pain in Chinese Medicine

Part used: rhizome

  • analgesic
  • anodyne
  • circulatory stimulant
  • antispasmodic

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