Natural Pain Remedies: No pills required.

Natural Pain Remedies: No pills required.

I don’t watch television all that often. It is not that I necessarily have anything against it, I just find myself getting too wrapped up in whatever is on that I prefer to use that time some other way. However, every now and then, when boredom is peaked, I’ll find myself switching on that good ol’ boob tube.

Unfortunately, I’m not “cool” enough for fancy DVRs that allow me to pre-record shows or fast forward through commercials (perhaps another reason I don’t enjoy TV all that much), so I am forced to watch the commercials. And you know what? It doesn’t matter what the season is or what holiday is coming up—there always seem to be countless commercials dedicated to one thing: Pain.

Get rid of the pain!

Some are subtle, some are loud and annoying, but all these commercials are telling me basically the same thing: Take this pill to relieve this ache. Or this liquid to diminish this sensation. Or this magic dust to get rid of this unpleasant…whatever.

Now, I have nothing against modern medicine (well, I don’t know if I’d say nothing…). I am grateful for skilled and caring physicians. When I sliced my head open at the age of 8 I was grateful for a skilled doctor who could stitch me up. When my home birth plans didn’t go as planned, I was thankful I had access to a hospital nearby. However, I do have a problem with how our society views pain and our persistent strides in numbing it completely.

I probably sound a little masochistic. Let me explain.

I don’t really like pain. Who does? (Please don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.) But I am grateful for pain.

Let me tell you (a completely made up and maybe not super appropriate) story:

Natural pain remedies. Try these before reaching for some pills!

Little Sally Sue wakes up one day to a screaming headache. Wow, it hurts a lot. She walks into her mother’s room, her eyes welling with tears.

“Mom,” she says in her innocent little voice, “my head hurts.”

“I’m sorry dear. Where exactly does it hurt?”

Sally Sue points to her forehead exactly where a little woodpecker is perched. The bird is repeatedly dinging his pointy little beak right in the side of Sally Sue’s head. Not wanting to see her little girl in pain, Sally Sue’s mother runs to the medicine cabinet to grab some medicine.

“This will do the trick,” she says. And twenty minutes later little Sally Sue says she feels better despite the fact that the bird is still chipping away at her skull.

The end.

Okay, that is a horrible story for many (many) reasons. But the point is: Sometimes we are so quick to get rid of the pain that we don’t realize the real problem.

Pain is an essential aspect of our health

Pain is the body’s way of letting us know something is not right—that something is out of whack. Someone didn’t drink enough water. Someone stayed up too late. Someone spent too much time looking at a computer screen. Someone didn’t exercise for a year. Someone exercised too much. Someone shouldn’t have lifted that heavy box alone and now something needs to be done to fix the problem.

Or worse yet, someone has something deeper going on and that pain is our body’s way of saying:  Get help, please.

Natural pain remedies. Try these before reaching for some pills!

But popping pills doesn’t fix the problem—just like drugging up a child doesn’t remove the annoying bird that is causing the pain.

I feel the need to reiterate the fact that I am not against modern medicine OR pain medication (necessarily). But I am totally angered by the countless commercials that tell us that pain is just a part of life and we should take whatever drug is available so we don’t feel it anymore. Feeling is a part of our human intelligence.

If we don’t address whatever issue our body is dealing with the issue may take on a very ugly face down the road. Or, perhaps worse, our body’s alarm system (pain) will shut down completely leaving us numb to the problem. Numb to it, but not void of it. Years later we can find ourselves dealing with some pretty big problems and then we usually get angry at our body as if it let us down.

In reality, it’s just saying, “I told you so.”

Natural Pain Remedies

Of course, sometimes the pain is real and the problem is “too late” to solve. Maybe you drank too little water and you’ll do better next time but need some relief now. Maybe you are in the process of healing through nutrition, physical therapy, or other means but still need some relief from the pain you feel right now. Are there safer methods than popping a pill? YES!

Of course every body is different, but I have found that the following are some great ways to naturally relieve pain:

  • Stretch, Move, Yoga: This is my go-to method for when my back or neck start acting up (usually from too much time at the computer). Our bodies were designed to move! If we stay locked up in any position for too long we will start to feel it. Check out this super short video that you can do right now at the computer.
  • Heat: A hot bath, a heating pad, or just laying out in the sun for a few minutes can do wonders for tired muscles and joints. Don’t just target the point of pain. Listen to your body and get the whole muscle pathway warmed up. We often feel pain as a result of issues in different parts of the body.
  • Cold: This one doesn’t usually feel as good as heat, but it’s a must for immediate injuries. Cold presses help reduce inflammation which is important for healing AND for feeling less pain. Plus it doesn’t have the nasty side effects of anti-inflammation pills.
  • Essential Oils: The more I learn the more I am intrigued by their ability to calm and soothe us. Be sure to do your research or talk to a trained professional before diving in. Essential oils are potent things that need care and respect.  (Learn how to get my favorite essential oils at wholesale prices here.)
  • Herbs: Pretty much a big “ditto” to the above. Beyond some real healing benefits, I find that certain herbal teas can be very comforting. Stress is another signal from the body that is often a favorite companion to pain.
  • Massage: Who doesn’t like a good massage? But you don’t have to pay big bucks to benefit from healing touch. Ask a friend or family member for a back massage or do a little self massage. Reminding the muscle tissues to “let go” can be a major pain relief.
  • Chiropractic, Physical, or Movement Therapy: Sometimes chronic pain is a result of habitual patterns or traumatic injuries that take time to surface. If you find yourself constantly struggling with pain it would probably be wise to seek out a professional who can address the root of the problem. The best practitioners are those who look at the whole body rather than simply trying to address your symptoms. In my work as a Movement Therapist, I have helped a number of people get to the root of their pain problem without drugs, surgery, or other drastic measures. Learn more in my ebook Pain Free.
  • Nutrition: Often our chronic pain and disease are a result of malnutrition or imbalances. You may find tremendous help by improving your diet and adding more nutrient dense foods to your daily intake.

What would you add to this list? What helps you deal with pain?


This post is part of Monday Mania.

NOTE: Due to an never-ending cesspool of spam, I have made the tough decision to close comments 14 days after the original posting of all posts. If you have a burning question or are looking for support in your journey to healthy living, please join the Thank Your Body Friends facebook page here.

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Tamara

    I am feeling the same way, in that there must be an alternative to always popping a pill. I am amazed at the number of pills people take to “feel” better. I appreciate the list of alternative ways to dealing with pain you listed. I realize there are times when it is necessarily to take medication (like my moms insulin) and I am grateful for it but we really have lost touch with our bodies and what they need. I am trying to do better in this regard myself. Thanks!

    1. Post author

      I agree! There are times when I really appreciate our modern medicine. For me, I always try to go as natural a route as possible first, but like you said there are instances where those medications are so essential! (My sister has diabetes and also relies on insulin).

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. redge bendheim

    Great post! On a completely separate note, are microwaves a bad way to heat up foods that have been refrigerated or frozen? I am not talking about microwavable dinners and processed stuff, but just healthy leftovers that you want to heat up. Thanks.

    1. robin

      Hey Redge, a great question. There is some debate on the subject. Some say that microwaves cause free-radical carcinogens to form in your food and that microwaved plastic also releases toxins into your food. Others say they are busting that myth by stating that microwaves simply heat the water molecules in the food, releasing steam, and that there is no way that they can cause carcinogens to form.

      We tend to error on the side of safety and avoid the microwave as much as possible, but we do use it occasionally. You’ll want to avoid microwaving in plastic containers. Use glass. Plastic can leech out toxins into your food.

      1. Lyn Nelson

        If you take 2 glasses of water. Microwve 1 and heat the other in a conventional stove. Let both cool overnight, then put three bean seeds in each, In about 3-4 days the conventionally heat glass will have beans the have sprouts. The microwaved glass will have beans that will spoil before they ever sprout. If it does”just heat the water” maybe that still isn’t such a good thing. Think I will stick with steaming over a conventional,” be it slow” stove.

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  4. Amy

    Well that explains why I hate taking pain killers. It’s impossible to monitor how something feels (better? Worse?) when it’s masked with tylenol. I was thinking I’m a little masochistic. Thank you for defining what I couldn’t quite explain. :)

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  6. Michelle C

    People think I’m crazy when I reject pain medication, because I live in constant pain from back and hip issues. I tell them that pain is my guardian – it will tell me whether I can move in a certain way or if I will be injured further by trying something new. Unless I am absolutely crying and immobile from pain, I will not mask that voice with drugs.

  7. Kelly B

    A glass of water, a hot shower, and a nap is my “reset” button for headaches and allergies.

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