woman taking a pill
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 29, 2024 ·  5 min read

7 Natural Approaches to Pain Relief and Management

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Pain is an inevitable part of life, and many of us turn to over-the-counter pain medications like Ibuprofen and Advil for quick relief. However, it’s important to recognize the potential consequences associated with these medications and explore alternative approaches to pain relief. While we are not advocating against the use of conventional medication, it is essential to strike a balance and consider natural methods for managing pain. These are the problems with over-the-counter painkillers and some ways you can manage pain naturally.

The Problem with Pain Killers

Have a headache? Pop an ibuprofen. Tummy problems or menstrual cramps? Maybe a Tylenol. It is very normal that when we feel even a little bit of pain, we turn to painkillers. This is very much within reason – after all, they usually work pretty well and pretty quickly. The problem is that there is a downside to this constant use of pain medications.

Standard over-the-counter pain medications, such as Ibuprofen and Advil, may provide pain relief, but unfortunately their prolonged and excessive use can lead to several health issues. One of the primary concerns is the risk of gastrointestinal problems, including stomach ulcers and bleeding. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen can also have negative effects on the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, over time, these medications can become less effective, leading to a cycle of dependency and escalating doses. (1)

8 Natural Approaches to Pain Relief and Management

Of course, there are certain situations where medications can become necessary. Intense migraines, debilitating period cramps, aches, and pains from a high fever that won’t let you sleep – these often warrant the medications. Often, however, we turn to painkillers when we could, in the long run, manage it in other ways. For example, how often do you have a headache that’s likely because you are dehydrated? Rehydrate properly, and poof – away goes your headache. This is to say that there are natural ways that can reduce and manage pain effectively without relying on medications. These are eight potential solutions you can turn to the next time you are in pain.

1. Physical Therapy and Exercise

Engaging in physical therapy and exercise can strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Techniques such as stretching, strengthening exercises, and low-impact activities like swimming or yoga can be effective for managing chronic pain. For example, many of us spend most of our day sitting. This can lead to pain in many places, including the back, hips, and knees. Intentional movement, with a focus on mobility and range of motion, can often reduce or completely eliminate this pain. (2)

2. Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help alleviate pain. Heat therapy relaxes muscles and improves blood circulation, while cold therapy reduces inflammation and numbs the pain. Alternating between the two can provide significant relief for conditions like arthritis or muscle strains. Heat is specifically beneficial for period cramps. (3)

3. Acupuncture

An ancient Chinese practice, acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote pain relief. This holistic approach has been found effective in managing chronic pain, migraines, and osteoarthritis. It is important that you take your time to find a legitimate acupuncture practitioner, as there are plenty of places who don’t actually do it properly and therefore offer no benefit.

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

This is not to say that your pain is all in your head, however, meditation and mindfulness practices have proven to help people relax and feel in greater control of their bodies and therefore their pain. Mind-body techniques like meditation and mindfulness can help alleviate pain by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. By focusing on the present moment, individuals can distract themselves from the pain and develop a greater sense of overall well-being.

5. Herbal and Supplemental Approaches

Certain herbs and supplements have been traditionally used for pain relief. Examples include turmeric, ginger, white willow bark, Boswellia and omega-3 fatty acids. These natural alternatives can provide anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, though it is important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your routine.

Read More: 7 Herbs That Can Help Fight Joint Pain

6. Massage Therapy

Regular massages can help reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Different techniques like Swedish massage or deep tissue massage can target specific areas of pain and aid in pain management. While massage can be an effective pain management technique, if you don’t also do the auxiliary things to prevent the pain from coming back, this will only offer temporary relief. This is referring to strength, mobility, and flexibility exercises and intentional movement to build a better posture and more mobile body.

7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with pain, improving coping skills and overall well-being. This therapeutic approach can be particularly helpful for individuals with chronic pain conditions.

When to Talk to Your Doctor about Pain

While natural approaches can be useful, it is important to know when to seek medical advice. If the pain persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional. In some cases, pain may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical intervention.

Using Pain Medications Responsibly

It is crucial to strike a balance between using pain medications when necessary and exploring natural alternatives. Pain medications have their place and can be beneficial for acute, short-term pain relief. However, overreliance and overuse can contribute to a range of problems, including medication dependence and unwanted side effects. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the appropriate use and dosage of pain medications.

The Bottom Line

While over-the-counter pain medications offer quick relief, they come with their fair share of potential risks and drawbacks. By exploring natural approaches to pain relief and management, individuals can find alternative methods that promote holistic well-being and minimize the need for frequent medication use. Through techniques such as physical therapy, acupuncture, meditation, and herbal supplements, individuals can take control of their pain management and improve their overall quality of life. Remember to consult with healthcare professionals to tailor a pain management plan that suits your specific needs and preferences.

Read More: Gelatin For Joints And Pain: How To Use Gelatin For Pain Relief


  1. The dangers of NSAIDs: look both ways.” NCBI. Abigail Davis and John Robson. April 2016.
  2. 8 Great Pain Relievers You Aren’t Using.” Everyday Health. Monroe Hammond. April 21, 2022.
  3. 8 non-invasive pain relief techniques that really work.” Harvard. July 28, 2017

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.