Natural Alternatives to Opiates for Pain Treatment

If you struggle with pain, you know how important it is to find a pain reliever that is both safe and effective. Finding the right pain treatment can make all the difference between enjoying life and just getting through it. While opiates are often prescribed for chronic and acute pain, this type of drug isn’t a good long-term choice for most people. The risk of getting addicted to opiates is high, and when taken in excess, these drugs are very dangerous. Besides that, if you’ve been addicted to opiates in the past, it’s crucial that you stay away from them now. Fortunately, opiates are not your only option for effective pain relief. Here are some natural alternatives that don’t carry the same risk of addiction or side effects.

1. Exercise

Exercise might not sound appealing when your body hurts. But if you’re able to get up and move around, you might find that it helps ease your pain. Exercise causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and boost your mood. Try a gentle form of exercise like walking, swimming, or yoga. Even stretching will help.

2. Meditation

What does meditation have to do with pain? A lot, actually. Starting a mindfulness practice can help you accept the pain you’re feeling and cope with it emotionally. This, in turn, can actually lessen the pain on a physical level. Studies back up the benefits of meditation for easing pain. In 2014, researchers found that physical inflammation decreases when people meditate regularly.

3. Talk therapy

Living with pain is a heavy burden to carry sometimes. Talk therapy lightens that burden by allowing you to share your feelings with someone. And if you’re having trouble coping, your therapist can help you come up with some strategies for living well and managing your pain. Don’t underestimate the power of a supportive ear — expressing your emotions makes a difference in how you feel physically, too.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric is a type of root that contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that can help to ease pain. You can buy turmeric supplements at a health food store, or you can make turmeric tea by steeping a tablespoon of grated turmeric root in a cup of hot water.

5. Massage

Depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing, you may find that massage therapy is helpful. Besides loosening any tightness you might be carrying around in your muscles, massage also improves your circulation and causes your brain to release natural painkilling chemicals in your body.

6. Physical therapy

Physical therapy can make your body stronger, fitter, and more flexible. This may help to reduce your pain and increase your range of motion. Ask your doctor which physical therapy programs may be beneficial for you.

7. Chiropractic care

A chiropractor is a type of medical practitioner who treats misalignment of the spine. You may find that chiropractic care brings you some relief, especially if you experience back pain.

8. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the spicy compound that’s found in hot peppers. While this chemical might hurt your mouth when you eat it, it can actually relieve pain when you use it topically. That’s because it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Look for a capsaicin cream or ointment and rub it into your skin where you are experiencing pain.

9. Acupuncture

This ancient form of Chinese medicine involves stimulating certain pressure points on the body with fine needles. Many people report that it can help with chronic pain as well as other health problems.

10. Magnesium supplements

Some types of chronic pain can be caused or worsened by a magnesium deficiency. Try taking a magnesium supplement and see if it makes a difference in how you feel. You can also include more magnesium-rich foods — like nuts, avocados, and legumes — in your diet.

The Takeaway

You don’t have to turn to opiates to treat your chronic pain. These natural alternatives are much safer because they carry no risk of addiction or overdose. If one of these natural pain relievers doesn’t work for you, another one might, so keep trying different things. In the future, you’ll thank yourself for avoiding opiates.

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