Natural Alternatives to Pain Medication

As a naturopath, I have had a lot of success working with medicinal plants (herbs) to help clients with pain and inflammation in the body. Please note, that all the information written here is not medical advice and it is important that you consult with a medical professional first when dealing with pain.

When experiencing pain, the first thing we all want to do is feel better. It is important to understand that treating symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs comes with a price. There are always side effects that one may feel as these products, manufactured in a lab, are not recognized by human cells. They will stimulate and perhaps create some relief but they do not have healing properties as herbs do. Some common side effects include nausea, headaches, indigestion, and skin irritations. What can be even more detrimental is that when taken too often, these pharmaceutical drugs can become habit forming and lead to addiction.

Herbs, on the other hand, are non-toxic and have no side effects. They also play a significant role in preventing illnesses. Rich in nutrients, herbs are often thought of as preventive medicine. They bolster our body’s ability to fight off pathogens that cause illness. Most of the time, people do not take enough herbs to be truly effective.

Let’s take a look at some of my favorite herbs that have proven to be very effective with my clients.


I will begin with turmeric because it has recently become very popular and trending, for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is an effective treatment for arthritis, osteoporosis, and most other inflammatory conditions. According to recent studies, it is stronger acting than hydrocortisone, without any of the harmful side effects. Curcumin, one of turmeric’s major constituents, is an effective topical antibacterial agent and has stronger antioxidant properties than vitamin E. In 2009, the British Journal of Cancer published a study showing that curcumin was effective in killing esophageal cancer cells within 24 hours of treatment. On a personal note, I always add turmeric root when juicing my vegetables. It is an easy way to get it directly into the blood stream.

Aloe Vera

Everyone should have an aloe plant in their home. Aloe is a remarkable healing agent for burns. Applied topically, the thick gel which oozes from the leaves is soothing, and contains rich concentrations of anthraquinone, which promote rapid healing and tissue repair. Aloe Vera will heal a really bad sunburn and reverse the blisters. It also helps with insect bites, rashes, eczema, acne and poison ivy. If taken internally, it aids with digestion and acts as a very safe and effective laxative.


Burdock is one of the best herbs for skin problems, and can be used internally and externally to treat eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems. You can also soak a cloth in the tea and apply it directly to the skin when irritated and itchy. Burdock is great for nourishing and toning the liver. It is also recommended for lymph congestion, indicated by swollen lymph nodes. Try drinking 3 to 4 cups of burdock tea a day and you will notice a difference in the swelling in a couple of days.


Suffering with bronchial inflammation? Try Licorice. It is the herb of choice for soothing irritated and inflamed tissue such as in cases of sore throat, bronchial inflammation, and stomach and bowel irritation. Licorice tea and tinctures are excellent for toning and strengthening the endocrine system and are a specific remedy for adrenal exhaustion. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, your adrenal glands will love to be nourished with licorice.


Today more and more people are stressed, and suffer with insomnia. Valerian works well as it depresses activity in the central nervous system. It relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus, colon, and bronchial passages. I recommend keeping a valerian tincture beside your bed if you tend to wake up during the night. This way you can take a few dropperfuls and go back to sleep without tossing and turning!

The list of wonderful herbs is endless. I could go on and on. If you are new to this world, try teas first as they are the easiest to get and nice to drink. It is important to note, however, that one cup will not be enough to heal. I recommend about 2 cups per day until you see your inflammatory symptoms lessen. Enjoy nature and all it has to offer us!

Frances Michaelson

A pioneer in the fitness industry, Frances opened the first personal training center in the West Island of Montreal in 2001. In 2008 , Frances had the “gut feeling“ that there was more to learn about health and how our bodies function, which led to further her education in the field of Naturopathy and holistic nutrition. She has since authored two books. Her latest book, "Do you Have the Guts to be Healthy" was published in March 2021. As a trainer and naturopath, she truly loves seeing people transform themselves by trusting their bodies instead of getting caught up in the medical system. Practicing health is the only way to live the gift of life well!

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