5 Ways to Reduce Pain (without popping pills)

damn right

damn right

Painkillers are risky. We all know this – it even says so in the handy insert – yet we seem to think those dire warnings don’t apply to us.

Until they do.

I know from firsthand experience that aspirin can burn out your stomach, leave you in blinding pain and possibly cause permanent damage.

So these days I ask myself three questions at the first nudge of pain:

  1. “Is this really as bad as I think or can I bear it?”
  2. “Is it likely to get worse?”
  3. “Is there anything natural I can do to help?”

This checklist has made me more conscious about when and how I take medication and it’s encouraged me to find better ways to cope with pain.


A 2011 study found that a type of mindfulness meditation known as ‘focused attention’ worked better than morphine at relieving pain and significantly affected activity in the area of the brain that processes pain.

If you’re tempted to give it a go, here’s a 20 minute pain management meditation and, if you’re better with visual than audio, here’s a guided meditation transcript to get you started.

sadly it does not make you fly

it might cure your pain but sadly it can’t give you the power of flight

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has long been used to relieve the pain of arthritis, back injuries, migraines and even labour. I frequently use peppermint oil for sinus headaches and it does seem to clear the passages and ease that horrible thumping sensation.

The best oils to have in your pain-beating toolkit are apparently lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus and juniper. Wintergreen is also a good choice as it contains natural methyl salicylate, the main ingredient in aspirin.


I wrote a post a few weeks ago on the power of yoga to help relieve all sorts of conditions like back pain, menstrual pain and headaches.

If you’re in pain, chances are you don’t feel like getting a sweat on but exercise can help – especially when it involves a few gentle stretches and easy poses. Women’s Health has some great poses to get you started.

yoga puppy helps you forget your pain

yoga puppy helps you forget your pain


“Let food be thy medicine.” Hippocrate’s wise words have become the motto of the alternative health crowd and it’s easy to see why.

A healthy diet is not only the best way to prevent disease, in some cases it’s also the best cure. Renegade Health suggests cayenne for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger for cramps or backache and feverfew for migraines.

This slideshow from Prevention.com also has great ideas such as coffee to beat headaches, salmon (or any good quality fish oils) for joint pain and cherries for muscle pain.


Ok, it’s a little weird I admit. When you’re in pain, the last thing you feel like doing is laughing.

But if you can get to that happy place, chances are your pain will disappear thanks to amazing things called endorphins. Endorphins are activated by laughing and can act as pretty powerful painkillers. A UK study found that people who belly-laughed while being poked and prodded by scientists were able to withstand 10 per cent more pain than the humourless control group.

ignore grumpy cat - it works!

ignore grumpy cat – it works!

Weigh in: Do you use any of the above? Have you any tips to add to the list? Are you a pill popper? What’s your favourite pain-beating yoga pose?

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4 thoughts on “5 Ways to Reduce Pain (without popping pills)

  1. Very apropos and good timing as I burned my hand getting my breakfast ready this morning. I used cold water, then a bag of frozen vegetables against it immediately and then slathered on coconut oil as I searched the house for a painkiller, which I did not find. More coconut oil applied at work and no more pain. Thank goodness I didn’t find any pharmaceutical substances!

    Also, I recall that tea tree oil can be used as an antiseptic.

    Thanks for your post today!

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