Natural pain relief, old wives’ tales or modern medicine?

Natural pain relief, old wives’ tales or modern medicine?

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Should you buy co-codamol, or try a natural pain relief method? Recently there has been a resurgence in people turning to plant-based remedies. This may be due to a lack of medical knowledge, the placebo effect or mistrust in the pharmaceutical industry after recent price hike scandals. Although prescription drugs have been well researched and their results peer-reviewed, there are some apothecary remedies that for years people have sworn by. But just how effective are they? suggests several natural pain relief remedies which have a long history of being effective pain relievers. These include Capsaicin, Ginger, Feverfew and Devil’s Claw. Their perceived effectiveness could be dismissed as just the placebo effect. However, further scientific analysis reveals that some of these do work as chemical pain inhibitors.


Capsaicin is derived from red pepper and “works by depleting substance P”. This compound is responsible for conveying pain sensation to the central nervous system. Capsaicin normally takes a couple of days to take effect.

For many years it was thought of as just an old wives’ tale, but when a case study tested its use on a patient with severe chest pain after surgery, the results showed an impressive effectiveness against pain. According to the study: “The patient reported immediate relief.” He was asked to score his pain out of ten. Before the procedure, it was 8. 30 minutes after the procedure he described his pain as being between 2 and 3. One week after taking the Capsaicin, the patient stated that he felt no pain at all.

Ginger & Feverfew

Ginger has not been definitively researched as an effective painkiller but may help with joint and muscle pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Feverfew has for centuries been cited as a headache cure. This could also be dismissed as an old wives’ tale. However, its effectiveness as a treatment for migraines has been peer-reviewed. According to NCBI: “A study in 8 feverfew-treated patients and 9 placebo-control patients found that fewer headaches were reported by patients taking feverfew for up to 6 months of treatment.”

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw is a South African herb cited as an effective treatment for arthritis; however, according to “more research is needed.”

The reliable choice for pain relief?

These natural remedies may have some efficacy, but there has been no extensive evidence yet to suggest they are effective to the same extent as over the counter painkillers. Co-codamol, for example, is a blend of two painkillers – paracetamol and codeine – and is usually used as a remedy for headaches, muscular pains, migraines and toothaches. It’s taken when everyday painkillers haven’t worked. However, it is not intended to be taken beyond three days as it can be addictive. It is available in pharmacies at a lesser strength than prescription.

When it comes to finding relief from pain, it is up to the individual if they wish to buy co-codamol or another analgesic. However, for those willing to try natural remedies there may be other options though the results are not guaranteed.