How To Boost Endorphins - Body's Natural Painkillers?
If you suffer from chronic pain, it can make it hard to go about your daily activities and life in general. Many people use pain relief medications, but their long-term use can lead to serious side effects. Some studies found that long-term use of ibuprofen may increase the risk of stomach ulcers, and heart diseases, while the risk of having a stroke is increased.
In addition, taking pain relief mediations can even have more serious side effects, and you can become addicted to them. So, here is where the natural pain relievers come in hand and can benefit from other health benefits besides relieving the pain.
Endorphin - Body's Natural Painkillers
Exercise and release endorphins to improve your mood and relieve your pain!
Our bodies can produce some chemicals that can act as natural pain killers and drug mimics. These body’s natural painkillers are called endorphins. The simplest way to produce them is by exercise, and even a slight activity, such as walking, can improve your strength levels and can increase your endorphin levels significantly. (1) (2)
Endorphins are brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that transmit the electrical signs within the nervous system. They communicate with the brain’s opiate receptors to decrease our perception of pain. This way, they act similarly to some medications, such as dopamine or morphine, but luckily do not lead to addiction or dependence.
This will also improve your mood and make you feel better. But, releasing endorphins varies from person to person and, two people who exercise on the same level do not necessarily produce the same level of endorphins.
How Can You Control Your Pain Without Medication?
There are different techniques that can lower your pain naturally and are proven to be effective.
Meditation / Relaxation exercises / Yoga
Mediation can help you in numerous ways, help you to get better sleep, reduce the tension in the muscles, and improve the feeling of wellness. There are various meditation techniques that you start using immediately, and you can find them for free on Youtube or some websites that offer free videos that can help you to start practicing them.
Yoga is a natural meditation practice that is scientifically proven to help you reduce pain. One study found that yoga can reduce lower back pain and it is more effective than acupuncture, exercise, or cognitive behavioral therapy. (3)
Acupuncture has recently gained a lot of interest in the Western world after being practiced in China for thousands of years and involves inserting small needles into the skin. This stimulates the nervous system and releases many chemicals, including endorphins. (4)
NCCIH (National Centre for complementary and integrative health) confirms that acupuncture can be a reasonable solution for people with chronic pain and may reduce the pain related to:
- Low-back pain
- Neck pain
- Osteoarthritis/Knee pain
Even though many studies have shown promising results related to acupuncture’s ability to reduce pain, more research is needed to show its effects in various pain conditions.
How Can You Relieve Pain Instantly?
Heat And Ice
One of the most common types of home remedies for pain relief is heat or ice, but it is not always clear when to use ice and when to use heat.
Applying an ice pack to reduce swelling or inflammation will immediately increase the pain in case of strains and strained muscle, ligament, and tendon.
In case of a headache, you can apply a heating pad or cold pack, and you can see the results instantly.
In case of low back pain, you can use an ice pack for pain relief.
Applying an ice pack may help treat issues like:
- low back pain
- strained muscles, tendons, or ligaments
On the other hand, applying a heating pad can relieve you from pain in conditions such as:
- joint stiffness
- muscle spasms
Try Massage Therapy
If you try a high–quality massage, it will improve the feeling of wellness, reduce muscle tension and boost the blood flow. However, this is a complementary technique, and it is not truly defined which massage can treat pain and how much it can help you in reducing the pain, so you might need to try a few ones to decide which one works best for you.
Stretch The Soft Tissues
You can try stretching the soft tissues ( ligaments, muscles, and tendons) as they are designed for movement. However, if you limit your motions, this will worsen the pain.
Soak In Warm Water
If you soak your muscles, it will immediately alleviate your muscle spasms and some types of arthritis pain. There are different forms of warm soak, and you can choose between:
- whirlpool tub
- deep bathtub
- or a warm pool for water therapy
Music is a nonpharmacologic method that has been recently studied, and it is proven to bring inner peace and physical comfort to patients. The music chosen is always appropriate for patients according to their needs. (5)
Some studies have shown that it can relieve pain after surgery or during childbirth.
The Most Powerful Herbal Remedies For Pain Relief
If you try to use some natural remedies for treating your pain, you should always consult your doctor. They can sometimes interact with the medications you are taking, and some of them haven't been studied on humans to prove their effectiveness. We present a few herbs and spices that are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and have some natural pain–relief compounds, so they are natural pain killers:
Turmeric has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation, and its compound curcumin is an antioxidant that can protect your body from free radical molecules.
You can buy it as a supplement and include it in your diet, and try adding it to your soups, smoothies, and juices. One study proved that it is effective as ibuprofen in pain management in knee osteoarthritis when taken over a 4 weeks period. (6)
Ginger is another natural supplement that is promising when it comes to pain relief. One study showed it could reduce pain from prolonged running and exercise when being taken for a period of 1 – 2 weeks. Additional research is needed to prove its effectiveness for different athletic endeavors. (7)
You can take it as a capsule or a tablet to reduce arthritis pain and lessen your headaches. It is used in Ayurveda, and it is rich in boswellic acids that have anti-inflammatory effects. (8)
The white clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) plant is a traditional medicine for treating toothache, and it has been used as a folk remedy for centuries. One study has shown that it is as effective as benzocaine gel, a medication used by dentists to reduce pain. (9)
But more research is needed to see how it can be used for other types of pain. Clove oil is additionally available and can be topically applied to reduce pain.
Capsaicin can be found in chili peppers, and this compound has a mild burning or tingling sensation and can be found in many topical creams and patches that are used for pain management.
Some aromatic essential oils are believed to soothe pain and reduce anxiety, such as:
- Lavender essential oil - It is scientifically proven to relieve headaches and pain. (10)
- Rosemary essential oil – Some research has found that it may treat headaches, muscle pain, and seizures. (11)
- Peppermint essential oil – It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving effects. It is often used diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed on the area that feels painful or achy. One review has shown it has been traditionally used for treating painful spasms and arthritis pain. (12)
- Eucalyptus essential oil – It is a herbal remedy that comes from the eucalyptus plant and may help you with swelling, inflammation, and pain in the body. It is very important to use it diluted in a carrier oil if applied topically. This essential oil should not be diffused around children or pets or in public as it is toxic if swallowed. One study showed that it is more effective than almond oil when inhaled for treating pain. (13)
Other Natural Pain Relievers
Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Omega 3 fatty acids and some types of food may lower inflammation and can help you with stiffness, joint pain, and menstrual cramps. You can take a fish oil supplement or enrich your food with Omega 3 fatty acids and other anti-inflammatory food such as:
- Fatty fish
- Canola oil
- Brussel sprouts
- Lots of fruit and vegetables and whole grains and nuts (anti-inflammatory foods)
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is very important for pain management, promoting overall health, and boosting your mood.
Dark Chocolate And Spicy Food
Dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits and contains an endorphin (phenylethylamine) to boost your mood, just like the chili peppers that contain capsaicin which releases endorphins and activates the pain receptors. So if you really enjoy these foods, you already have many unexpected benefits from them.
When To See A Doctor
If you have severe pain, a natural pain reliever may not offer relief but you can add it to your medications to increase their effectiveness. If you experience pain and you do not know what it provokes, you should consult a doctor.
In addition, if you experience severe pain related to some health condition, you should also consult your health provider.
Be Careful When Managing Pain
The natural pain relievers may not be effective for everyone and some types of pain. However, you can always try them alone or paired with prescribed medications to enhance their effect.
If you have pain, it means that something is wrong, and do not hesitate to consult a health provider to make a diagnosis. It may be a serious health problem that requires medical treatment.