How to Relieve Chronic Pain Naturally

Three Methods:Getting Help From Your DoctorIncorporating Exercise and Physical TherapiesAdjusting Your Diet to Reduce Inflammation

Chronic pain is a serious problem for millions of people. Chronic pain can be sharp or dull and it may come and go or it can be constant. There are many ways to treat pain without prescription drugs and other chemicals. You can seek the help of a naturopath for advice about herbal medicines, look into acupuncture, or try an anti-inflammatory diet. Inflammation plays an important role in chronic pain, so many of the herbal medicines and supplements that a naturopath may recommend will work to reduce inflammation.

Method 1
Getting Help From Your Doctor

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    Seek the advice of a naturopath or holistic physician. If you are considering herbs and supplements to help with chronic pain, make sure that you talk to a physician first. Try to find a physician who is knowledgeable about herbs and supplements. Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription medications that you are taking as well.
    • Herbs and supplements can interact with prescription medications by either decreasing their actions or increasing them. Naturopaths and integrative/holistic physicians are trained to balance medications and natural products.
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    Talk to your doctor about herbal medicines. Herbal medicines that may be used as pain relievers are called anodynes. Other herbal medicines that are anti-inflammatory or can be used to relax muscles may also be used to relieve pain. If you take herbs or supplements, talk to your naturopath or integrative physician first to make certain there are no potential interactions and to determine your dosage. Do not take anodynes except under the care of an experienced professional. Examples of anodynes include:[1]
    • Valerian root
    • Jamaican dogwood
    • California poppy
    • Henbane
    • Jimson weed
    • Gelsemium
    • Marijuana (where medical marijuana is legal)
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    Incorporate anti-inflammatory herbs. You may use anti-inflammatory herbs under the supervision of an experienced professional, but you can safely include anti-inflammatory culinary herbs and spices. Use anti-inflammatory culinary herbs and spices in quantities common in foods. Don’t overdo them-- just add these herbs and spices to flavor your foods. In general, that means ½ -2 teaspoons while cooking. These include:[2]
    • Cloves
    • Cinnamon
    • Turmeric
    • Sage
    • Allspice
    • Basil
    • Nutmeg
    • Garlic and Onions
    • Thyme
    • Cayenne
    • Cilantro
    • Ginger
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    Take herbal supplements and teas. Other herbs are anti-inflammatory but can be taken as supplements or teas. If you choose to take a supplement, do so only if you are following manufacturer’s instructions and you have been advised to do so by your doctor. You may also take many of these herbs as teas by drinking 2-4 cups a day, but do so only under the advice of your doctor. These herbs include:[3]
    • Cat’s claw
    • Chamomile
    • Devil’s claw
    • Feverfew (often used for migraine pain)
    • Ginkgo biloba
    • Gotu kola
    • Ginseng
    • Calendula
    • Peppermint
    • Yarrow
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    Ask your doctor about other anti-inflammatory supplements. There are some other supplements that may help to relieve your chronic pain. These supplements should also be taken under the advice of a healthcare professional. Ask your doctor about the following supplements:
    • Omega-3 essential fatty acids
    • Resveratrol
    • Vitamins C and E
    • Products that combine anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements and are specifically designed to reduce inflammation.

Method 2
Incorporating Exercise and Physical Therapies

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    Discuss a pain reducing exercise regimen with your doctor. Mild to moderate exercise such as Tai chi, Qigong and yoga as well as walking, gardening and low-impact exercise may help to relieve chronic pain. Speak to an exercise specialist about specific types of exercises because some exercise types can make the pain worse instead of making it better.
    • Exercise releases natural pain killers such as endorphins. These chemicals can relieve pain as well as providing many other positive health benefits.[4]
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    Consider acupuncture. Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The basic concept of acupuncture is that if there is a blockage in qi (one’s life energy), then illness or pain is the result. The very thin needles used in acupuncture and the pressure in acupressure can unblock these energy pathways and restore the easy and unimpeded flow of qi.
    • Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for chronic pain, cutting pain levels by as much as 50%. [5][6]
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    Visit a chiropractor. Practitioners of chiropractic medicine are trained in the structure and mechanics of the muscular and skeletal system, using this knowledge to correct and re-align the muscles and bones. Recent studies have indicated that chiropractic manipulation and other approaches can be very effective for low back pain, neck, shoulder, hip, and knee pain.[7][8] While many chiropractors work on spinal alignment, all chiropractors are also trained to:
    • use manual adjustment or manipulation
    • provide guidance on exercises to restore strength and function
    • provide nutritional advice
    • use ultrasound and laser therapies to treat pain

Method 3
Adjusting Your Diet to Reduce Inflammation

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    Learn about the “Anti-Inflammatory Diet.” The Anti-Inflammatory diet is designed to reduce inflammation “from the inside out.”[9] The guidelines are simple, but they may represent a significant change in your current diet. Start by changing those things that seem easier to you and adopt more changes as you move forward.
    • In general, these guidelines will increase the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins like niacin and vitamins and minerals in your diet.
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    Increase the amounts of vegetables and fruit in your diet.[10] Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Select bright colored fruits and vegetables for the highest level of antioxidants. These include:
    • Berries (blueberries, raspberries)
    • apples
    • plums
    • oranges and other citrus fruits (Vitamin C is an excellent anti-oxidant)
    • leafy green vegetables
    • winter and summer squash
    • bell peppers
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    Limit red meats. Corn-fed beef contains much higher levels of omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) fats, so it is best to avoid red meat if you want to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. If you do have red meat, make sure it is grass fed and has no added antibiotics and/or hormones and limit it to 2-4 times a month. Grass-fed meat has the more natural ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats so it does not cause as much inflammation.[11]
    • Eat skinless poultry that is free-range and antibiotic-free to reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and additives.
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    Increase your intake of foods that contain omega-3 fats. Fish is good quality protein and has good amounts of the healthier omega-3 fats. You can also get omega-3 fats from plant sources. Excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in the following fish, shellfish and plants:[12]
    • Salmon
    • Tuna
    • Sardines
    • Herring
    • Mussels
    • Rainbow trout
    • Flaxseed
    • Chia seeds
    • Walnuts
    • Tofu and soybean products
    • Brussel sprouts and cauliflower
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    Select complex carbohydrates. Make sure you include only complex carbohydrates in your diet. The industrial processing breaks down the carbohydrates into the simple carbohydrates, which cause inflammation and may contribute to chronic pain.[13]
    • Limit your intake of processed and prepackaged foods to limit the additives and preservatives even further.
    • Go for less processed carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, brown rice and whole grain pasta.
    • Avoid foods with added sugar and sugar substitutes. Sugar is an inflammatory substance, so it may contribute to chronic pain.
    • Try using the herb stevia as a sugar substitute if you have a hard time giving up sweets.
    • You can still have a treat now and then, just try to limit your intake of sugar to a few times per week.
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    Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated! To reduce inflammation, it is crucial to increase your intake of water. Stay away from soft drinks and alcohol because these drinks may increase inflammation. Substitute water, green tea, fruit juices, and herbal teas instead.[14]
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    Limit high fat foods. To reduce inflammation, you should reduce your overall fat intake. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables should make it easier to consume less fat. If possible, avoid all fatty foods, such as fried foods, baked goods, fast foods, and junk foods.[15]
    • Limit your total fat intake to about 25-30% of your total daily calories
    • Use anti-inflammatory oils for cooking, such as olive oil and canola oil.
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    Enhance your fiber intake. The current recommendation for fiber is 25-30 grams per day, but many people only get 10-12 grams. Naturopaths and other holistic practitioners often recommend that people eat 40-50 grams of fiber a day. This has many health benefits in addition to reducing inflammation, such as regular bowel movements, reduced risk of colon cancer, weight management, and blood sugar control.[16] Foods that are high in fiber include:
    • Brans including oats, wheat, corn and rice brans
    • Beans and legumes
    • Berries
    • Whole grains including barley, oats, rye, wheat, quinoa, brown and wild rice and millet.
    • Leafy green vegetables
    • Nuts and seeds


  • If your health care practitioner is not familiar with dietary or herbal health management, consider consulting another practitioner either in conjunction with or instead of your present one.


  • Check with your health care practitioner before changing your diet, exercise regimen, or adding any supplements.

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Categories: Pain Management and Recovery