Last Updated on June 30, 2009 by Hanna Trafford
When it comes to natural medicine, you don’t need a PhD in botany to figure out what works – you just need Self. I have done a bit of research, focusing on studies that have been backed by researchers and experts – and put together some tips that I hope will assist you greatly in getting rid of or lessening your aches and pains.
1. PMS Soothers:
Try Chaste Tree: This herb is cure for just about every gynecological complaint as reported by director of Education at the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado. One large study found that chaste tree improved or eliminated everything from bleeding to depression in nearly 90 percent of patients. For the best results, it is recommended to take 650 mg capsule two to three time a day ( you should start feeling better after two months) One crucial warning: Chaste tree may interfere with the Pill – so use back up!
Also worth a try:
Chiropractic: The evidence isn’t concrete, but a few smaller studies from Australia indicate that spinal adjustments may put PMS pain to rest. One study found that women who had two to three treatments the week before their period had significantly less pain and cramping after two cycles.
Meditation: When you are stressed, your body is flooded with hormones that can exacerbate PMS symptoms. Concentrating and repeating short phrase or prayer while breathing deeply will help reduce stress – and keep PMS in check.
Acupuncture: Many women say acupuncture eases cramping. Researches think that the practice, which uses needles to stimulate certain body points may prompt the brain to release feel-good neurochemicals that elevate mood and wash away pain.
2. Back Pain Easers:
Lower back pain is tricky to treat, but there are a lots of things you can try besides drugs or surgery.
Your best bets:
Chiropractic: There have been numerous controlled studies on spinal manipulation for back pain. and about two-thirds have shown that it works.
Acupuncture: The National Institutes of Health have found that acupuncture is useful in treating lower back pin and several studies have confirmed that. In one study in Sweden, pregnant women who were treated with acupuncture were more than twice as likely to experience a decrease in pain as those receiving physical therapy.
Biofeedback: Putting electronic sensors on your body can teach you to be more aware of certain physical conditions (such as muscle tension) so you can learn to control them. The sensors pick up electronic signals and translate them into a sound or a line on a computer screen. Your job is to learn to focus on manipulating those signals. There are excellent controlled studies that show that many lower back pain sufferers can control their muscle tension and thus their pain, with biofeedback.
Massage Therapy: There isn’t a lot of evidence to recommend massage therapy for back pain, but there’s some – and, hey – who doesn’t like a massage? One study from University of Toronto found that about 60 percent of people who received six back massages over the course of four weeks reported no pain month after the treatments.
Alexander Technique: This mind/body practice, which teaches students to improve their posture and breathing habits may help some lower back-pain sufferers. To find a certified instructor, visit www.alexandertech.org
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) : This 25 years old technique delivers tiny bursts of electrical current to parts of the back via electrodes, blocking pain impulses along a nerve. A recent study involving about 300 participants found that TENS was twice as likely as no treatment to relieve back pain.
3. Insomnia Relief:
Can’t sleep? Join the other estimated 56 percent of North Americans who have the same trouble. Though the standard treatments usually combine behaviour therapy with medication, there are several non-drug alternatives that may also help:
Clean Sleeping: This is the sleep equivalent of a good diet. It means making all the simple changes you can before doing anything more drastic. The guidelines: Eliminate caffeine (as much as possible), limit bedroom activities to sleep and sex, avoid naps, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, don;t exercise or eat heavy meals less than three hours before bedtime. Adjust the bedroom temperature and noise level in your room and control your light exposure – expose yourself to bright light for 30 minutes after waking, but keep the lights low in the evening.
Valerian: A few German studies suggest that this herb can help insomniacs sleep. However, scientists say that more studies are needed. If you like to try Valerian, take 300 to 500 mg an hour before bed. Warning: avoid Valerian if you have been drinking alcohol.
Melatonin: This hormone, usually secreted by brain’s pineal gland, helps regulate your sleep cycles. Though the research has been mixed, one of the most recent studies found that taking 0.3 mg a few hours before bed does the trick.
Relaxation: No surprise there. Another tip: writing a worry list a few hours before bed can help you deal with troublesome issues while you are awake – not when you are trying to sleep.
4. Headache Stoppers:
Whether you have chronic headaches (often cause by muscle tension) of debilitating migraines (a neurological disease), be assured that while drugs have helped millions, there are lots of non-traditional treatments that will help too:
Biofeedback: The evidence that biofeedback helps to prevent both migraine and tension headaches is strong – in fact – if the results are averaged, most patients experience 80 to 100 percent reduction in pain. The technique that is practiced during sessions is different with each condition. If you have tension headache, you will learn how to relax muscles in your shoulders, neck or jaw. People with migraines learn how to keep their hands warm. Migraine sufferers tend to have too much blood flow in certain arteries in their brains. If each artery is normalized by increasing flow to the arms and legs, migraines rarely come in.
Diet changes: Certain food additives can trigger migraines. Try eliminating the most common culprits: monosodium glutamate (MSG), red wine, beer, chocolate, citrus fruits, aged cheeses and cured, aged or marinated meats, such as hot dogs, bologna and salami.
Mind/Body Technique: Meditation, relaxation exercises and guided imagery help keep stress-triggered headaches under control.
Also worth a try:
Chiropractic: few studies have been done and some show that having the spine manipulated can prevent tension headaches. You will probably need a few adjustments a week for two to four weeks before you get results.
Acupuncture: There is a strong evidence that tension and migraine headache patients no longer have problems after six months of treatments.
5. Depression Lifters:
Natural remedies get particularly strong marks for minor depression. But – it is extremely important to discuss anything you may plan to do with your doctor. Also – if your symptoms begin to interfere with your everyday life, or if you begin to have recurrent thoughts about death, you have to call your doctor immediately.
Your best bets:
St. John’s Wort: This herb may truly be nature’s antidepressant. Numerous studies with thousands of patients have found it to be effective. One report in the British Medical Journal found that St. John’s Wort worked as well as imipramine (a common anti-depressant) and caused less than half the number of adverse effects. However – that doesn’t mean that it is risk free. It may interfere with birth-control pills, HIV medications and immuno-suppressants. The usual dose: 300 mg three times a day – and it will take two to three weeks to start working.
Fish Oil Supplements: Researches are stepping up investigations into the role of Omega-3 Fatty acids (the good for you fats found in oily fish like salmon) play in depression. Harvard researchers discovered that taking Omega-3s kept maniac depression under control onger than olive-oil pills. The aim is for 1 g a day.
Acupuncture: There is some evidence that acupuncture can alter brain chemistry and lift mild depression.
I have found putting this article together very interesting and I hope you will as well. Even though these points are quite persuasive, remember that it is always a good idea to tell you doctor what you are planning to do to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your medical condition.