Pain management

Herbs are not much good at pain relief. That’s to say, really powerful analgesic herbs, like the Opium Poppy, are not legally available in the UK. But that’s fine. We have very efficient pain-relieving drugs; and from a herbalist’s point of view, there’s a lot more mileage in treating the causes of pain.

So if someone has chronic headaches, or rheumatic problems, or fibromyalgia, for example, we can certainly choose from a vast range of herbs that will relieve spasm, soothe inflammation, boost circulation and reduce anxiety. That will reduce the pain level considerably, so that less painkillers are needed; a blessing to a patient who has a long-term chronic condition to manage. We can also use herbs like Milk Thistle or Dandelion root, which help protect the liver when heavy medication is required.

But that’s just first aid, really. Where it gets interesting is when you take the long view, when you start to dig down to the roots of the pain. It usually involves changes in what you eat, what you do, how you live; incorporating new behaviours, and leaving others behind. On this journey, herbs are wonderful companions. They can help you become conscious of what works for you in your life, and what does not. They can strengthen you to make hard choices, feed your vitality, remind you to keep travelling hopefully. Over months, and sometimes years, you can become a person who is no longer dominated by chronic suffering. And rather than popping the painkillers and keeping on trudging onward, you can travel a more adventurous path. It’s a journey well worth making.

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