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WISDOM FROM THE WILD CHILD GARDEN: AUGUST 2023: PAIN-RELIEVING HERBS

HERBAL PAIN RELIEF: There are a wide variety of herbs that can be used to relieve pain!


WHY HERBAL PAIN RELIEF? Before over-the-counter pain relievers were available, people relied on herbs to bring comfort during injury and illness. Many traditional pain-relieving herbs have a long historic record of safe use, however, please consult with a health practitioner or qualified herbalist to determine what is best for the situation.

COMMON CAUSES OF PAIN: pain is an uncomfortable or unpleasant sensation in the body that often signals an illness or injury. Pain can be experienced as an ache, a stinging sensation, throbbing, soreness, or burning, and the severity can range from mild to excruciating.


To manage pain, it is essential to recognize the common types of pain and the best management options as there’s no standard approach:

• Acute Pain: lasts for less than six months and is often caused by a specific injury or event, such as surgery, broken bones, cuts or burns, dental work, and labor and childbirth.

Chronic Pain: is pain that has lasted for over six months and is frequently felt. It can also persist for years and ranges from mild to severe on any given day. Chronic pain is often a result of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia, circulation problems, back pain, and headache. Without proper management, chronic pain can affect one’s quality of life and can lead to depression or anxiety.

Neuropathic Pain: is due to nerve damage or damage to other parts of the nervous system. It’s usually described as stabbing, burning, shooting, sharp, or feeling like an electric shock. It can also affect sensitivity to touch and cause someone to experience difficulty feeling cold or hot sensations. Common causes of neuropathic pain include cancer, alcoholism, stroke, limb amputation, chemotherapy drugs, radiation, and diabetes.

Nociceptive Pain: is pain due to damage of body tissues. People usually describe it as a throbbing, sharp, or ache, and it is often caused by an external injury such as hitting the elbow, falling and scrapping the knee, twisting the ankle, or stubbing the toe. This type of pain is often felt in the bones, skin, joints, tendons, and muscles.

Joint Pain: refers to discomfort, aches, and soreness in any of the body’s joints. The causes of joint pain include Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), bursitis, lupus, gout, infectious diseases such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis, kneecap cartilage breakdown, tendinitis, a bone or joint infection, joint overuse, fibromyalgia, an injury, flat feet, obesity, menopause, hypothermia, wearing high heels, and osteoporosis.

ARTHRITIS: a family of medical conditions characterized by joint inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Most types of arthritis last for a long time. Arthritis may not be completely controlled by prescription or over-the-counter medications, and herbal remedies and supplements may help with symptoms. Acupuncture, medical treatments, regular exercise, and proper nutrition may also help relieve joint pain.


Osteoarthritis: a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the bones of the joints.

Osteoarthritis is most common in adults over age 40. It progresses slowly and tends to affect commonly used joints like the wrists, hands, hips, and knees. Herbs for osteoarthritis include artichoke, Boswellia, cayenne, celery seed, chamomile, comfrey, dandelion, devil’s claw, dong quai, ginger, and turmeric.


Rheumatoid Arthritis: affects about 1.5 million Americans, and it more commonly affects women than men. It can deform and debilitate the joints over time, and causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints as the body’s immune system attacks the membrane of the joint lining. Herbs for rheumatoid arthritis include chickweed, Gotu kola, hawthorn, lavender, licorice, linden, marshmallow, and plantain.

HERBS FOR ARTHRITIS: a wide variety of natural herbal remedies are highly effective to ease the symptoms of arthritis. Some are taken internally and some are applied topically to the skin. Herbs that are taken internally may take more time to work than herbs that are applied topically because their action may have a cumulative effect. This means that herbal remedies are not a quick fix, but a long-term plan for pain relief.


Herbs that provide relief from arthritis pain include aloe, ashwagandha, black cohosh, blue vervain, California poppy, cat’s claw, corydalis, eucalyptus, feverfew, ginger, hawthorn, meadowsweet, St. john’s wort, Solomon’s seal, valerian, and white willow bark.

FIBROMYALGIA: a common syndrome of chronic widespread and soft tissue pain accompanied by weakness, severe fatigue, and sleep disturbances that is non-inflammatory in nature. Fibromyalgia symptoms can range from mild to severe, and for some, going to get the mail from their mailbox can be difficult. Other people live normal lives with only occasional flareup.


Symptoms commonly associated with this syndrome include painful menstruation, migraine, headache, severe fatigue, brain fog, confusion, memory lapse, word mix-ups, concentration difficulties, irritable bladder, and twitchy muscles at night. A practitioner determines a fibromyalgia diagnosis based on several factors. There will be widespread pain lasting longer than 6 months, and tenderness in 11 of the 18 fibromyalgia trigger points.

HERBS FOR FIBROMYALGIA: there is no magic herbal pill that will easily take all the symptoms of a chronic pain syndrome such as fibromyalgia away. The practitioner needs to work with a variety of modalities to affect the whole person and provide the best fibromyalgia treatment. It is possible to recover fully from this syndrome but it is also important to be realistic about the journey. While a person should expect to be continually feeling better, they will also have good days and bad days. The experience may feel like two steps forward, one step back, for a long time. Depending on how long the person has had fibromyalgia, it could take a year or more for symptoms to fully resolve.

There are several kinds of herbs that can be used as part of a fibromyalgia treatment:


Sedative Herbs: fibromyalgia can be seen as a chronic sleep disorder, and relaxing nervines that promote sleep can be used to achieve deep and restful sleep throughout the night. Not all sedative herbs work the same way for everyone, and the constitution of the person and the energetics of the herbs need to be considered.


Relaxing nervines include black cohosh, chamomile, cramp bark, lavender, lemon balm, passionflower, St. John’s Wort, valerian, and vervain.

Adaptogens: support the body’s resiliency to stress and provide deep nourishment and support for the nervous system. Some adaptogens like ashwagandha promote sleep at night and energy throughout the day which is crucial for people with fibromyalgia. Adaptogenic herbs include ashwagandha, astragalus, eleuthero, ginseng, and licorice.


Anodyne Herbs: can help reduce pain and discomfort and include arnica flowers, ginger, St. John’s Wort, and yarrow.

Carminative Herbs: promote digestion and can be an important part of healing a leaky gut which is often a factor. These herbs are often aromatic, have a strong scent, and contain volatile oils. Carminative herbs include angelica, bee balm, cardamom, chamomile, fennel seed, ginger, parsley, peppermint, spearmint, and thyme.


Immunomodulating Herbs: gently yet effectively support the immune system and are frequently used for people with immune system concerns such as autoimmunity, frequent colds and flus, and seasonal allergies. Think of these herbs as deeply nourishing food for the immune system. Immunomodulators include astragalus, cordyceps, Reishi, shitake, and Tulsi.

MIGRAINE: a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head, that is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with daily activities. For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances such as flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking.


Migraine triggers include:

• Fluctuations in estrogen, pregnancy, and menopause.

• Hormonal medications such as oral contraceptives.

• Alcohol, especially wine, and too much caffeine.

• Stress.

• Bright or flashing lights and loud sounds.

• Strong smells such as perfume, paint thinner, and smoke.

• Missing sleep or getting too much sleep.

• Intense physical exertion including sexual activity.

• A change of weather or barometric pressure.

• Vasodilators such as nitroglycerin.

• Aged cheeses and salty and processed foods.

• Skipping meals.

• Food additives such as aspartame and MSG.

HERBS FOR MIGRAINE:

To ease migraine pain: use equal parts of black willow, meadowsweet, passionflower, valerian, and wood betony.

For migraine associated with stress: use equal parts of cramp bark, hawthorn berries, lime blossom, skullcap, and wood betony.

Nervine tonics: such as oats and skullcap are appropriate long-term therapies when accompanied by Siberian ginseng used as an adaptogen.

For migraines accompanied by nausea or vomiting: use equal parts chamomile, meadowsweet, and peppermint.

For migraines associated with hormonal problems: long-term treatment should include herbs that balance the hormonal system such as black cohosh or wild yam.

European herbalists emphasize the importance of liver support in migraine treatment, and use herbs like burdock, dandelion root, and milk thistle.


Migraine Tea: taken from Ana Nez Heatherly of Gatesville, Texas, in the July 1995 issue of Mother Earth News: Prepare a cold infusion of: 6 parts rosemary leaves, 4 parts peppermint leaves, 4 parts lemon balm leaves, 4 parts sweet violet, and 3 parts feverfew.

NEUROPATHY: a range of health issues that involve damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system which transmits messages between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. Neuropathy can involve the voluntary and involuntary peripheral nerves as well as sensory and motor nerves. Causes of neuropathy include poorly controlled diabetes, which accounts for 60% percent of cases, chemotherapy, HIV, shingles, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, alcoholism, nutrient deficiencies, hereditary disorders, and physical trauma, and in 23% of cases, the cause is unknown.


Neuropathic pain frequently involves burning or tingling sensations, shooting, stabbing, electric-shock-like, or numbing. It can be spontaneous, brought on by a stimulus that wouldn’t normally trigger pain signals, a more intense reaction to a stimulus, or an unusual reaction to a stimulus.


Types of neuropathies include autonomic, cranial, diabetic or focal, and peripheral neuropathy which is the most common type. Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, and those in the extremities. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles sensations, burning sensations, the inability to feel temperature, loss of coordination, and pain. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by diseases such as diabetes, cancer, thyroid and kidney disease, shingles, Lyme disease, AIDS, and other autoimmune diseases. It can also result from alcoholism, chemotherapy drugs, and malnutrition.

Diabetic Neuropathy: one of the most common types of peripheral neuropathy that is caused by uncontrolled blood sugar. Neuropathy associated with diabetes damages the nerves, particularly those in the toes and feet. As these nerves get damaged, diabetic foot ulcers can occur. Diabetic neuropathy develops slowly, and if not treated in a specified period of time, it may lead to more serious complications like slower wound healing and amputations. Several other risk factors like excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, and stress can also cause diabetic neuropathy.


Signs And Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy: increased or decreased sensitivity to touch, difficulty with coordination and walking, burning and tingling sensations in the feet, muscular weakness and spasm, chronic nausea and indigestion, loss of appetite, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, double vision, and cardiac arrhythmia.

Autonomic Neuropathy: damage, disease, or irritation that affects the nerves that control bodily functions such as urination, bowel movements, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can stem from diabetes, alcohol abuse, infections, a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or Guillain Barré syndrome.


Signs of autonomic neuropathy include loss of urinary control including incontinence, urgency, hesitancy, and frequency, excessive sweating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, lightheadedness, sexual dysfunction, tingling and numbness in the extremities, and the ability to perform involuntary tasks.

HERBS FOR NEUROPATHY: neuropathy is linked to chronic inflammation in the body, and anti-inflammatory herbs such as feverfew, moringa, milky oats, passionflower, skullcap, and turmeric can be used to address this issue. Nervine herbs such as chamomile, lemon balm, milky oats, prickly ash, St. John's wort, and skullcap can be very nourishing and soothing to the nerve tissue.


These herbs can be dosed as an herbal tea blend, compress, tincture, or capsule.

NOCICEPTIVE PAIN: a type of pain caused by damage to body tissue that feels sharp, aching, or throbbing. It is commonly experienced in the musculoskeletal system which includes the joints, muscles, skin, tendons, and bone. Chronic or acute nociceptive pain can interfere with daily life, make it difficult to move, and cause mobility issues. Nociceptive pain happens when nociceptors detect something that can cause harm to the body such as a chemical, hot or cold temperature, or physical force. Nociceptors sense physical damage to the skin, muscles, bones or connective tissue in the body. Examples of injuries that can cause nociceptive pain include bruises, burns, cuts, fractures or broken bones, pain caused by repetitive muscle overuse, pain caused by joint damage such as arthritis or sprains, or an internal problem such as cancer or a tumor.


There are three types of nociceptive pain:


NOCICEPTIVE PAIN: RADICULAR: happens when the nerve roots are irritated, and the pain goes down the arm or leg through a nerve that comes from the spinal cord. Radiculopathy is an example of a condition that causes radicular pain, and it occurs when a nerve is pinched in the spine. It causes numbness, weakness, tingling, and feelings of pins and needles.


NOCICEPTIVE PAIN: SOMATIC: happens when any of the pain receptors in the subcutaneous tissues, muscles, joints, bone, or skin are activated. This type of pain is often stimulated by movement, is usually localized, and can be triggered by an acute injury or by a chronic process. Headaches and cuts are examples of somatic pain.


NOCICEPTIVE PAIN: VISCERAL: happens when internal organs such as involuntary muscles in the heart, are injured or inflamed. Visceral pain can be caused by a stomach infection, internal bleeding, or cancer. This type of pain is usually described as aching, and it can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or jitteriness. Visceral pain may not be felt exactly in the affected area and can be felt as referred pain that is felt further away from its actual origin.

HERBS FOR NOCICEPTIVE PAIN: chronic nociceptive pain can be linked to inflammation in the body, and anti-inflammatory herbs such as skullcap and white willow bark reduce the root cause of nerve pain, and the pain associated with inflammation. Pain-relieving herbs such as lobelia, St. John's wort, skullcap, white willow bark, and wood betony can be used to soothe nerve irritability, strengthen the nerves, and provide prolonged relief.


These herbs can be dosed as an herbal tea blend, compress, tincture, or capsule.

SCIATICA CASE STUDY: Sciatica is a painful condition caused by entrapment of the sciatic nerve which starts at the pelvis and runs down the buttocks and thighs. When trapped, this nerve produces pain in the buttocks and down the legs, and because of the way a person in pain responds by guarding and altered movement and positioning, it can lead to imbalance and pain in the muscles and other areas. Technically a nerve issue, people associate sciatica with the muscles, and topical applications can provide relief.


Sciatica Herbal Formulations: the study participant needed an herbal tea to use as a compress for sciatica pain, an herbal oil to massage into painful areas, and a tea blend to drink for pain. The meloxicam prescribed by the primary care provider is not helping the pain at all, and the participant is concerned about overuse of OTC pain relievers. St. John’s wort is the most widely used herb for this issue, however, it can interact with estrogen (participant takes estradiol), proton pump inhibitors (participant takes lansoprazole), and statins (participant takes Lipitor).


Arnica, comfrey, and ginger infused in sesame oil and used as a massage oil are good external substitutes and safe for the participant to use. These can also be used as an herbal tea for external use as a warm compress. The preparations chosen are an herbal tea to make warm compresses for pain, an herbal oil to massage into the affected areas, and an herbal tea blend to drink for pain and sleeplessness.

The ingredients chosen are:

Arnica Montana flowers: to address pain and swelling.

Comfrey root: a superb healer of muscles, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, and bone.

Ginger root: to address inflammation and pain.

Sesame oil: has a high magnesium and calcium content that gives it an affinity for the muscular system, and a warming and circulatory stimulating action.

Vitamin E oil: for antioxidant and skin soothing properties.

CBD tincture: 1,000 mg concentration to address pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Essential oils: to enhance the effectiveness of the massage oil: chamomile and frankincense an anti-inflammatory, lavender as a pain reliver, and rosemary as a pain reliver and anti-inflammatory.

CASE STUDY RESULTS: the study materials and instructions for each item were delivered, and the participant advised that she bowled in a tournament this last week and is very sore from that. In addition, her sciatica pain is still very strong.


After 1 week of use, the participant advised that she has not had to take a Tylenol for sciatica pain since starting the massage oil which she is using before bedtime. She is also drinking a cup of Wild Child Lavender & Chamomile Tea after applying the oil.


After 10 days of use, the participant advised that the tea and oil are also helping her GI inflammation, and her bowels are cleaning out gently. She is also using the oil on her neck, shoulder, and arm and it seems to be easing the pain. She stated that she was skeptical at first, but is very surprised and pleased with the results so far. She also switched the Estroven to before bedtime and reports that it is helping a lot and her sleep is better. She advised that she is better able to stretch than she has in months, has better hip and lower back rotation, and hasn’t taken a sleep aid once since starting the regimen.


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