A couple of weeks ago my aunt had the misfortune of fracturing her wrist during a fall. My mother has also suffered from severe back pain for the past 25 years. I myself suffered a tailbone injury a few months ago and have had recurring pain ever since. In fact most ailments, ranging from migraines and upset stomachs to arthritis, cause some degree of pain.
Medical problems aside, everyone has days when their bones and muscles ache from overexertion. And when that happens, we don’t think twice before popping painkillers into our mouths, thinking they are safe and convenient.
Studies have shown that painkillers cause side effects, ranging from constipation, drowsiness and liver and kidney damage, to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. In addition, their soothing and numbing effects make them highly addictive.
So next time you have an ache, and you find yourself heading for the medicine cabinet, give Daadi’s safe and natural pain remedies a chance first.
Ginger (Adrak): It is anti-inflammatory and helps relieve muscle and joint pain. It’s great for sore throats and stomach troubles too. Take up to 1 teaspoon a day, or sprinkle it on salads, add to cooked meats or mix with honey. It’s fairly easy to grow and is a low maintenance house plant.
Cayenne pepper (Laal Mirch): The spice can be added to tea (just a pinch) and to all kinds of foods. Take up to 2 teaspoons a day for maximum effect. It’s great for clearing up the respiratory passages, in addition to its pain relieving benefits. Remember to use the original spice, ground from red cayenne chili peppers and not the commercial kind.
Turmeric (Haldi): Add to tea or sprinkle on salads; use in cooking meats, veggies, lentils and even rice. It gives food a beautiful color, distinct flavour, and is good not only for pain relief but also for treating infections of all kinds. Be careful in your handling of turmeric — it stains.
Family-favourite concoctions for pain relief:
Turmeric and milk: A time -tested totka for pain relief, indeed. Mix 1 teaspoon turmeric in 1 cup of milk and heat over a low flame (don’t boil). Sip slowly. Drink this twice a day. I gave this to my aunt after she fractured her wrist for immediate pain relief and speedy internal healing, and she found it to be very effective.
All in one: This tea is a tasty blend of all pain-relieving spices from your kitchen cabinet that is very effective. Mix together 1 tablespoon ginger, ½ teaspoon turmeric, a tiny pinch each of cayenne pepper and black pepper (kaali mirch) and 1½ cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add honey to taste. There’s nothing like a hot brew for relieving aching joints and muscles, as well as clearing a stuffy nose.
Ginger flavoured tea: Add a couple of thin slices of fresh ginger to your choice of tea for a quick and easy pain relief remedy.
By far the yummiest pain remedy I know: Combine 1 glass pomegranate juice (anaar juice), 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and drink your pains away. Take this regularly for best results. This tastes so good that it doesn’t even warrant a painful muscle or joint for drinking!
Honey: Practically a cure-all, combine 1 tablespoon honey with ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder, and have it every morning before breakfast for effective relief from chronic pain (this has actually been tested on arthritis patients and gave great results!).
Soothing home-made balms for pain relief: Test the following mixtures on a small area of skin first to check for allergic reactions. Note that cayenne pepper applied to skin might produce a mild burning sensation (similar to those produced by hot or cool pain relief ointments), which is completely normal and harmless.
Cayenne pepper cures: Mix 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and apply to the affected area. Cover with a bandage and leave overnight. Don’t apply external heat.
Alternatively, take ½ cup coconut oil and add about 5 teaspoons of cayenne pepper to it. Warm up the oil slightly before adding the pepper if it is in solid form so that it mixes easily. After 24 hours, strain the oil through a fine muslin cloth and store in an airtight bottle. Apply to the affected area. This works well for neck and back aches, joint and muscle pains, and headaches as well.
Turmeric- ginger salve: Several years ago I sprained my ankle so bad it swelled to three times its normal size (not exaggerating!). My mum would apply this mixture every night, and within days I was on my feet. Warm up 1 teaspoon turmeric and 2 teaspoons of crushed ginger in 1-2 tablespoon mustard oil. Apply warm, and cover with a bandage. Leave overnight for best results.
Cloves and olive oil:
Both contain pain-relieving elements. Mix ¼ teaspoon ground cloves with some extra virgin olive oil and apply. Extra virgin olive oil is excellent for earaches too (worked like a charm last night on my five-year-old). Just put 2 drops of slightly warm olive oil in the affected ear and behold the magic!
Honey-cinnamon ointment: Mix together 1 teaspoon honey, 2 teaspoon water and 1 levelled teaspoon cinnamon, and gently massage the painful area with this mixture for relief and great smelling moisturising.
As with any other mode of treatment, the remedies need to be used regularly, at least three times a day, to gain full advantage.
These remedies are equally effective for adults and children. Please use your own discretion when using these remedies for treating infants, and patients with allergies or pre-existing health conditions. This article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of your physician. Consult a doctor if symptoms persist.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 21st, 2012.