Pain Relief

  • Fighting Migraines: Two Natural Supplements to Try (Video)

    If you suffer from migraines and want to try a more natural approach to finding relief, listen to what Dr. Tieraona Low Dog says about the herb butterbur and the supplement magnesium, both of which have powerful evidence for their effectiveness in migraine relief.

  • Alternatives for Fighting Low Back Pain (Video)

    Many people suffer from back pain—the good news is that there are a variety of natural solutions and strategies that can offer relief. Here Dr. Brad Jacobs talks about stress and posture, topical homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and herbs such as curcumin or boswellia, and their role in back pain relief.

  • A Primer on Pain

    PainPain: We all experience it once in awhile—whether it’s a pulled muscle from a rough day at the gym or it’s more chronic like lower back pain. If you’re looking for a new way to treat your aches and pains, start with these practitioner-recommended supplements and techniques.

    Back Pain

    “There are standbys that are helpful for everything—including chronic pain,” says Matthew Becker, herbalist and lead practitioner at our north Boulder store. “They all increase circulation and bring healing nutrients and blood to the area to break down stagnation and inflammation.”

    First off, Matthew recommends a homeopathic cream called Topricin, which should be rubbed into the affected area three times per day. He says that he gets the best results combining Topricin with a systemic anti-inflammatory such as Thorne Research’s Meriva-500, a powerful source of turmeric. “Turmeric is something I take every day because it has many powerful healing effects on the body,” he says. For back pain specifically, he combines this turmeric with an enzyme called bromelain (also from Thorne Research, if available, or Jarrow Formulas’ Bromelain 1000).

    “I recommend taking three Meriva and two bromelain tablets, twice daily about an hour before a meal, since bromelain won’t work on a full stomach,” says Matthew. “Together, they exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.” He adds that though they are similar to Ibuprofen in their pain relief mechanism, they are much safer and more effective in the long run.

    Joint/Arthritis Pain

    “Weight management, physical activity that does not traumatize the joints and a low-inflammatory diet are fundamental to managing joint pain,” says Dr. Tori Hudson, ND. Eliminating allergenic foods will also very often offer significant benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis (common offenders are wheat, corn, dairy products, beef, food additives and nightshade-family foods).

    “In addition, I usually prescribe a combination of supplements with therapeutic effects for the joints.” She commonly starts with essential fatty acids like borage, evening primrose, black currant and fish oils, then adds other nutritional supplements and herbs like boswellia and curcumin (talk to a Pharmaca practitioner for help identifying the best herbs for your joint pain). The latter—a constituent of the plant turmeric—is receiving a lot of attention and research these days for its use in arthritis pain, Dr. Hudson says. “Even in a condition as potentially daunting as rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin is showing positive benefits.”


    If it’s an everyday tension headache, look for nervine calming herbs, like passionflower or chamomile, in teas or tinctures, says Sam Madeira, ND at our Seattle-Madison Park store. Kava, L-Theanine or other tension relievers from Natural Factors’ Stress-Relax line can also be helpful to relieve tension that causes headaches.

    For more chronic headaches such as migraines, Sam recommends butterbur on an ongoing basis. “I like the Vitanica Butterbur Extra because it also includes B vitamins and magnesium,” says Sam. Magnesium is key to relieving all types of muscle tension.

    Muscle Strains

    When you pull a muscle, Sam’s go-to protocol is applying Arnica topically to the affected muscles 2-3 times per day, taking Traumeel drops to boost muscle healing internally, and soaking in an Epsom salt bath at night. “Add 2-3 cups of Epsom salts to hot water,” he says. And don’t forget about R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. “You can do that for most soft tissue injuries,” says Sam. “And as it’s healing, continue to contrast hot and cold packs to get the blood and lymphatics moving.”

    If the pain is too intense, Sam says menthol or capsaicin creams can be helpful to numb the nerves. “But they can also be detrimental if you think the muscle is healed before it is, increasing the chances of reinjury,” he says. Instead, keep up with applying arnica or Traumeel more than once a day to speed the healing process and offer pain relief.

    And again, make sure you’re getting enough magnesium, which can help relax muscles. Sam says to shoot for at least 300 mg per day (try Pharmaca’s new Magnesium Citrate Berry Drink for a tasty way to boost magnesium intake).

    Menstrual Cramps

    If cramps have you on the floor popping Ibuprofen every month, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about taking a hormone test, says Sam, since it’s possible something is out of balance.

    When menstrual cramps are less severe but still bothersome, try the herbal route. Sam recommends Cramp Relief from WishGarden, which incorporates cramp bark to relieve pain, skullcap to soothe nerves, and wild yam and black cohosh to help balance hormones.

    And don’t forget that stress can intensify cramps, so look to calming herbs or other stress-relief formulas to keep stress levels low. Hops, for example, “is a nervine herb but also a phytoestrogen, so it can help with both stress and the hormonal aspects of cramps,” says Sam. Find it in a tincture from Herb Pharm—or even in a few hoppy beers each week.

  • Homeopathy: A Prescription for Pain Relief

    Homeopathy can be a difficult treatment modality to understand. If you’ve never tried it, you might wonder how exactly those little pellets can be so effective. But many people find them to be just that.

    In fact, approximately 100 million Europeans use homeopathic medicines—and even more in India. In France, homeopathy is the leading alternative medicine, and a good portion of Italians who use homeopathic remedies do so for pain relief. (Find more information about homeopathy’s popularity here.)

    “When it works, it’s the closest thing to magic that I’ve seen,” says Dr. Melissa Gastellum, naturopathic doctor at our Los Angeles store. “The trick is finding the right preparation for the person.” We spoke more with Dr. Gastellum about how homeopathy can be a helpful addition to your summer first aid.

    Homeopathy 101
    Homeopathy is a centuries-old practice that’s based on the concept that “like cures like.” Founder Samuel Hahnemann believed that by introducing a catalyst similar to the symptom, your body’s healing response would kick into high gear and speed up the natural process of getting rid of the sickness.

    “Take an onion—if you’re chopping one, your symptoms are going to be itchy, burning eyes and runny nose,” says Dr. Gastellum. Sound kind of like allergy symptoms? “The theory is that if you take onion in a minute dose, it will match your symptoms and help you resolve the issues. So for people with allergies, they may do well taking homeopathic onion, Allium cepa.” (Find Boiron's Allium cepa at Pharmaca.)

    According to founder Samuel Hahnemann’s original theories, the more diluted a substance (such as an herbal extract), the more “potent” it becomes, as the essence or energy of the substance intensifies. The potentization process involves diluting the substance, usually with distilled water or ethyl alcohol, in varying amounts.

    Why homeopathy works for pain
    From yardwork to hiking to swimming, spring activities can make us all a little more prone to hurting ourselves. For Dr. Gastellum, homeopathics are generally the first treatment she turns to for bumps and bruises that come from summer fun.

    “If it’s an acute sprain or strain, I recommend Traumeel or Boiron’s Arnicare,” says Dr. Gastellum. She recommends applying Traumeel, a topical cream or gel, to the affected area 4-6 times per day. But, she adds, “I’ve seen the best results when someone uses homeopathy both topically and orally. As a combo, there’s more of a chance of one of those matching your symptoms.”

    She usually starts people on oral preparations of Boiron's Arnicare at 30C, under the tongue three times per day, and then changes the dosages as needed. If they’ve taken those two and still have issues, Dr. Gastellum also recommends Boiron’s Ruta Gravolens or Rhus Toxicodendron, which are good when you feel stiff in the morning but loosen up with movement. If any movement is painful, try Boiron’s Bryonia Alba. And you can always speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about your specific symptoms to find the best remedy.

    One of the best parts about homeopathy? “It’s incredibly safe,” says Dr. Gastellum. “Most preparations are incredibly dilute and don’t cause any side effects.”

    If you’ve never tried homeopathy, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about remedies that might work for your summertime aches and pains.

  • A Whole Body Approach to Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 5 million adults in America. But what is fibromyalgia? The condition is characterized primarily by chronic, widespread unexplained pain and tender points throughout the body, as well as profound fatigue and sleep disturbances. Fibromyalgia is most common among women and people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

    Those with fibromyalgia (FM) may also experience secondary symptoms such as waking unrefreshed, morning stiffness, weakness, brain fog, headaches/migraines, mood complaints (e.g. depression, anxiety), numbness/tingling, joint swelling, balance problems, itchy or burning skin and digestive disorders.

    These symptoms often look similar to health conditions such as lyme disease, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer or infection. Fibromyalgia also shares many similarities with chronic fatigue syndrome—it’s estimated that 70 percent of people diagnosed with FM also meet the criteria for chronic fatigue—as well as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (hypersensitivity to chemicals and smells). Because there are no lab tests that can confirm a FM diagnosis, fibromyalgia is often only diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out.

    The cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, but it is thought that a variety of factors may be involved—such as genetics, previous infections/illness, emotional or physical stress, and imbalances with important chemicals such as serotonin, tryptophan and norepinephrine. Ultimately, symptoms of pain may be due to faulty communication between pain signals and the nervous system, which results in an amplified pain sensation.

    A variety of treatment options exist to help reduce pain, lessen daytime fatigue and improve sleep. Conventional therapy uses analgesics, sleep aids, muscle relaxers or anti-depressants. Natural and alternative therapies, on the other hand, utilize a whole body approach to treatment that includes diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes, botanicals and bodywork.


    Tips for a whole body approach

    Many people suffering from fibromyalgia find relief through daily stretching, light exercise, massage, yoga, meditation or acupuncture. People with FM generally experience good days and bad days; it’s important not to overexert yourself on good days as it could exacerbate symptoms.

    A good dietary approach includes whole food-based nutrition, identifying and eliminating food sensitivities, and ensuring adequate hydration. Avoiding or significantly decreasing caffeine and alcohol can improve sleep and decrease the body’s toxic burden.

    Many supplements can also help to reduce pain and improve fatigue and sleep quality.

    D-ribose helps replenish core energy, provides muscles with energy, reduces muscle stiffness, soreness and fatigue, and improves heart function. Try Ribose Muscle Edge from Jarrow Formulas.

    Magnesium, which is commonly deficient in those with FM, relaxes muscles, is necessary for proper muscle function and crucial for energy production. Try Pharmaca Magnesium Citrate, Pure Essence’s Ionic-Fizz or Natural Vitality Calm.

    Corvalen M is a helpful formula that combines ribose and magnesium and malate (or malic acid), which plays an important role in energy production.

    Herbs such as boswellia and turmeric can help alleviate pain.

    Licorice (try Herb Pharm’s) can help combat fatigue and boost energy levels.

    5-HTP helps improve sleep and mood by raising serotonin levels. Try Pharmaca, Natural Factors or Jarrow Formulas.

    Melatonin helps improve sleep (learn more about different sleep supplements that can help). Try melatonin from Pharmaca, Natural Factors or Source Naturals.

    Fish oil helps reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Try Metagenics or Nordic Naturals.

    Liver support helps address toxic burden. Try  New Chapter’s Liver Force or Milk Thistle by Pharmaca, Eclectic Institute or Herb Pharm.

    Greens are an important source of minerals, help provide energy, and alkalize the body. Try Health Force Nutritionals, Amazing Grass or Vibrant Health.

    If you’re experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia—such as deep muscle pain and fatigue that last longer than a week or two—talk to a qualified health practitioner about treatment options.

  • Your Homeopathic First Aid Kit

    Heading into the great outdoors for some summer fun? Pack along a different kind of first aid kit, filled with homeopathic remedies that can help soothe the whole family. We got advice from Peter Borregard, homeopath and lead practitioner at our Berkeley store, and Karin DiGiacomo, German Heilpraktiker at our south Boulder store, about what to pack.

    Herb Pharm’s Calendula Succus: Dilute this herbal tincture and carry in a spray bottle to mist on wounds or sunburns to heal and soothe. Note: tinctures can lose their potency if overheated, so try and keep in a cool place.

    Boericke & Tafel’s Califlora Calendula Gel: Often recommended by our practitioners for after-sun care, calendula gel can also be applied to cuts and wounds to offer fast relief.

    Boiron’s Arnica: In pellets or in a cream, Arnica should be your first step after an injury to reduce bruising and swelling. Take it internally for severe pain, or just apply to sore muscles or bruises to speed healing.

    Boericke & Tafel’s Ssssting Stop & Boiron’s Apis Mellifica: This combo is ideal for relieving the pain, itching and swelling of insect bites and stings. Apply Ssssting Stop for immediate relief, and take Apis 6C or 3OC, and Histiminum 6 or 30, internally, to help ease pain.

    Boiron’s Belladonna: This one’s great to have around for heat stroke as well as headaches that can come from a severe sunburn. Note: Make sure you see a doctor for serious heat stroke symptoms.

    Boiron’s Rhus Toxicodendron: This common remedy, made from poison ivy, can help modify the allergic reaction to both poison ivy and poison oak and “take the edge off” itching and inflammation.

    Other first aid kit must-haves

    Blairex Saline Wound Wash: When clean water and soap are hard to come by,  “It’s great for clearing the wound out quickly,” says Peter.

    All Terrain Bandages: Made with recycled PVC plastic and a water-based adhesive, these bandages are good for the environment and won’t irritate skin.

    Herb Pharm Ed’s Salve: A combination of comfrey, St. John’s wort, calendula and other soothing herbs, this tiny tin offers pocket-sized relief for sunburns, blisters and wounds.

    CharcoCaps: Take a few of these with you for fast relief for intestinal issues (from too many s’mores to unfiltered water).

    Talk to a Pharmaca practitioner about other first-aid kit must-haves for your summer outings.

  • Expert Advice on Arthritis

    By Dr. Tori Hudson, ND

    Dr. Hudson is a member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board and Medical Director of A Woman's Time Clinic in Portland, Ore.

    In my women’s health practice, we frequently see cases of miscellaneous joint aches, injury-related pains, swelling of the bursa (called bursitis), and bona fide osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are other causes of joint pains of course…but they are less common.

    Joint inflammation and/or degeneration are not generally considered “women’s conditions.” But it’s important to note that arthritis and other joint conditions are far more common in women than in men, and are therefore on the top 10 list of health concerns for many women. In fact, nearly twice as many women (26 million) suffer from arthritis than men (14.2 million).

    These conditions can have dramatic effects on a person’s quality of the life, causing pain, limiting activities, and sometimes causing depression and insomnia because of the pain. Joint pain and stiffness can turn otherwise pleasant and enjoyable activities into unpleasant ordeals. Day-to-day activities—like kneeling in the garden, opening jars and cans in the kitchen, swinging a golf club, writing letters, playing the piano, knitting, needlework and other hobbies—can become more and more difficult.

    Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of joint disease and is characterized by erosion of the articular cartilage—and after the age of 45, it’s more common in women than in men. Osteoarthritis often comes with aging and wear and tear of the joint, or from factors like an inherited abnormality of the joint, fractures along the joint surface or previous inflammatory disease of the joints.

    Osteoarthritis was previously considered a degenerative disorder, in which the joint “just wears out.” But recent research has shown that the joint cartilage is very active—at least in the early part of the disease—and continues to repair itself. It is now thought that the disease can be halted and may even be reversible, at least in some individuals.

    Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints and sometimes other parts of the body as well. Women suffer from rheumatoid arthritis about three times as frequently as men. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune reaction in which the body’s immune system attacks the joint tissues. Just what triggers this autoimmune reaction remains largely unknown, although it is most likely contributable to more than one factor.

    Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age, but is usually first diagnosed in women between the ages of 20-40. The typical onset of rheumatoid arthritis is gradual, but occasionally it can come on suddenly. Although swollen, stiff, painful joints are the hallmarks of the disease, fatigue, weakness and fever may also precede the joint problems. As the disease progresses, the joints of the hands and feet can even become deformed.

    Weight management, physical activity that does not traumatize the joints and a low-inflammatory diet are fundamental to managing joint pain. A low-inflammatory diet is low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids while emphasizing good fats from fish, as well as whole grains, fruits and vegetables (except the nightshade family—potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes), and deemphasizing foods high in arachidonic acid (e.g. egg yolks, dark poultry meat).

    It’s also important to identify any food allergies and sensitivities, especially in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Eliminating allergenic foods will very often offer significant benefit to many individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Almost any food can aggravate this condition, but common offenders are wheat, corn, dairy products, beef, food additives and nightshade-family foods (as noted above). Avoiding the nightshades also seems to help many women with osteoarthritis. In fact, reducing my own twice-weekly intake of the “lover’s eggplant” dish at my favorite Chinese restaurant cured me of my own joint pains.

    Supplementation with key nutrients and herbs is the next step to reducing pain from these types of arthritis.

    Lubricate the joints with good fats
    In addition to changes in diet and exercise, I usually prescribe a combination of supplements with therapeutic effects for the joints. I commonly start with essential fatty acids, including borage, evening primrose, black currant and fish oils. I typically receive good feedback from my patients on these oils, and some even say they just feel like their joints are “better lubricated.”

    Quality oils and fats are as important as vitamins and minerals in maintaining our health and in the prevention of many chronic diseases, not just arthritic conditions.  They are therefore a valuable addition to any diet, but are especially important for people with arthritis.

    Additional supplements
    In addition to essential fatty acids, I regularly use many other nutritional supplements and herbs for therapeutic benefit, including niacinamide, glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, SAMe and herbs such as devil’s claw, yucca, ginger, boswellia and curcumin.

    Curcumin is a constituent of the plant turmeric, and is receiving a lot of attention and research these days for its use in arthritis pain. Even in a condition as potentially daunting as rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin is showing positive benefits. Look for high-absorption/high bio-availability curcumin products on the market.

    A multi-faceted approach
    Treating joint pain requires patience and a multi-faceted approach. The first step is determining the cause of your joint pain. A qualified practitioner and perhaps even a rheumatology specialist should be able to offer a reliable diagnosis.

    Pain management may involve using some of the conventional pharmaceutical medications, even if only intermittently. Nutritional and herbal supplements are very useful in all kinds of joint pains, but remember they are not “magic bullets.” And the fundamentals of diet, exercise and weight management can be a very important addition to your regimen.

    Although additional research is needed in the area of alternative treatments for joint disease, the evidence that we do have is very encouraging. My own observations and experience in clinical practice are also very rewarding in terms of patient feedback. Their improved quality of life, increased activity and improvement in many day-to-day symptoms are a frequent reminder of the wisdom of nature and the ability of the body to heal.

  • Back Pain Relief Now

    Back pain can be debilitating, whether it’s the result of trauma or simply a pulled muscle. But there are natural solutions that can help your body heal, reduce inflammation and offer relief. We spoke with Matthew Becker, herbalist and lead practitioner at our north Boulder store, about what he recommends for customers’ back pain issues.

    “There are four standbys that are helpful for everything—including chronic pain,” says Matthew. “They all increase circulation and bring healing nutrients and blood to the area to break down stagnation and inflammation.” He emphasizes that these aren’t just for symptom relief, but can even help heal pain that stems from an old injury.

    First off, Matthew recommends a homeopathic cream called Topricin. “I get the best results when I combine both a topical medicine and a systemic anti-inflammatory,” he says. “And there’s a general consensus among our store team that Topricin is the most helpful topical for pain relief.” The cream contains homeopathic preparations of Arnica, Rhus Toxicodendron and Ruta Graveolens, which combine to relieve inflammation, sharp pains and bone injuries. He recommends rubbing liberally into the affected area three times daily.

    Internally, Matthew recommends a specific type of turmeric: Thorne Research’s Meriva-500. “Turmeric is something I take every day because it has many powerful healing effects on the body,” he says. For back pain specifically, he combines this turmeric with an enzyme called bromelain (also from Thorne Research, if available, or Jarrow Formulas’ Bromelain 1000).

    “I recommend taking three Meriva and two bromelain tablets, twice daily about an hour before a meal, since bromelain won’t work on a full stomach,” says Matthew. “Together, they exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.” He adds that though they are similar to Ibuprofen in their pain relief mechanism, they are much safer and more effective in the long run.     

    “For people who are really in pain, I also recommend a product from Natura Health called Corydalis Plus,” says Matthew. “It’s the most powerful natural pain reliever we have in the store.” The formula includes 10 different Chinese herbs, including anti-inflammatories like white willow bark and boswellia. Many of these herbs work together to help get blood to the site of the injury to increase local circulation. “This should also be taken on an empty stomach,” says Matthew, who recommends starting with two capsules twice a day, and adjusting as needed for the pain.

    Matthew has seen this combination work for many customers with back pain, as long as they consistently take the correct dosages for a few days. While everyone is different, he adds, these supplements can really start the healing process—instead of just offering temporary relief.

  • Aching for Arnica

    Ah, summer weekends. They can be filled with exciting activities, but also with the potential for sprained ankles and bruised knees. Get ahead of the game with Arnica, one of the most common ingredients in pain-relieving homeopathic remedies.

    What is Arnica?

    Arnica (full name: Arnica montana) grows naturally in Europe, the northern U.S., Canada and eastern Asia, and has been used both topically and orally for centuries as a remedy for sprains and bruises. Arnica is also used at full strength in herbal formulations, but is diluted according to homeopathic principles in most over-the-counter preparations on the market today.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, the homeopathic approach uses “minute doses of a substance [such as Arnica] that cause symptoms to stimulate the body’s self-healing response.” The minute doses are created through a precise process in which a substance is diluted, usually with distilled water or ethyl alcohol, in varying amounts. Homeopathy founder Samuel Hahnemann believed that the more repetitions of the dilution, the stronger the potency, since the vital essence or energy of the substance would intensify.

    In arnica’s case, its herbal properties stimulate blood flow to the trauma—be it a sprained ankle, overworked joints or a bruised knee—and help the body work harder to heal itself. “Doctors are beginning to write prescriptions for arnica, especially before surgery,” says Bonnie Edmunds, homeopath at our La Jolla store. Arnica, she says, helps speed recovery and reduce bruising and swelling.

    Common uses

    For everyday bumps and bruises, Edmunds recommends the Arnica bonus pack from Boiron, Arnica 30C pellets, which are taken sublingually (under the tongue). “The pellets are helpful if the pain and bruising covers a wide area of the body,” says Bonnie. “They can be taken orally three times a day within the first few days, and the gel, because it’s not as potent, can be applied as often as needed.” Bonnie also loves Topricin, a cream that combines Arnica with homeopathic Rhus Toxicodendron and Ruta Graveolens and is very helpful for pain and inflammation.

    When summer activities lead to soreness and pain in the muscles specifically, Bonnie likes Recovery Rub by All Terrain, which combines the healing properties of Arnica with cooling menthol that soothes tired muscles. She also recommends a homeopathic formulation of Magnesia phosphorica, which is good for muscle recovery, or Hypericum perforatum if there’s associated nerve pain.

    For those bound for exercise this weekend, Boiron Sportenine can be taken sublingually before and after a workout. Sportenine includes Arnica, Zinc and Sarcolacticum to ease fatigue, soreness and cramps.

    “The beauty of homeopathy is that it can be taken safely by anyone from babies to the elderly,” says Bonnie. Because Arnica can be found in multiple strengths and preparations, Bonnie advises speaking with a licensed homeopath to figure out the best delivery method and potency level for your needs.

    To find out if Arnica or another homeopathic remedy might be right for your pain relief, speak with a homeopath at your nearest Pharmaca.

  • Muscle Aches? Try Essential Oils for Pain

    Aches and pains got you down? If you’ve already run the gamut of prescription and over-the-counter medications, you may want try essential oils for pain and muscle aches. Essential oils, extracted from plants, flowers and trees, have powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic (i.e. pain-relieving) properties. Essential oils also act as a detoxifying agent. Menstrual cramps, sports injuries and joint pain can all be treated safely and naturally with essential oils.

    Because essential oils are too concentrated to put directly on the skin, they have to be blended with carrier oils such as grapeseed or almond (bonus: these oils also help moisturize the skin). You can also add diluted essential oils to bath water or soak a washcloth in warm water and essential oils and place on the body at the site of the pain.

    Some popular essential oils to try for pain relief include chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, marjoram, peppermint, birch. So how do you use them? Here are some essential oils recipes for pain relief:

    • General muscle aches: Combine 5 drops lavender, 4 drops marjoram and 3 drops rosemary with 30 ml of a carrier oil in a hot bath
    • PMS pain: Blend 5 drops clary sage, 5 drops geranium and 5 drops chamomile oil. Rub in a clockwise direction as you massage into the affected area
    • Menstrual cramps: Blend 4 drops jasmine, 4 drops clary sage and 2 drops lavender with 5 tsp sweet almond oil. Massage in the abdominal region and around the lower back
    • Stomach cramps: Add 2 drops cardamom, 2 drops basil and 3 drops marjoram to 2 tsp of carrier oil and massage over stomach and abdomen

    Want to get started with your essential oil arsenal? Check out Pharmaca’s extensive line of essential oils for pain relief.

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