5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

September 27th, 2013 at 7:07 am
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5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

About two months ago, I woke up with a “kink in my back” that has never gone away. I’ve tried several different chiropractors, massage therapy, and I even got an MRI to rule out any major issues with my spine. Fortunately, nothing unusual showed up on the scan, but that hasn’t made the pain any easier to deal with.

Granted, things have improved since my more acute stage at the beginning, but I’m still dealing with whatever this crazy problem is on a daily basis. Earlier this week, I met with a physical therapist. While she isn’t quite sure what’s going on either, she gave me a set of very simple exercises to do over the course of the next week. I’ve been doing them for about two days now, and I do think I’m slightly better than I was earlier this week, so I’m hoping and praying for big strides in progress here in the next few weeks!

I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing for pain management during these last 8 weeks. Notice that I say “pain management” and not “pain relief,” because I’ve yet to find anything that completely relieves my pain other than lying flat on my back.

I’ve taken Aleve a few times during this whole thing to help get me through difficult days, but in general these 5 methods are what I’ve been using to help manage my pain.

5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

Arnica Montana

A homeopathic remedy, arnica montana comes from a European plant that has been used in herbal medicine for ages. It is considered an anti-inflammatory and is particularly helpful for swelling and bruising. During the more acute stages of my back problem, I took arnica for a few weeks. To be honest, I didn’t notice a huge improvement from it, but I do think it is helpful for more minor aches and pains.

A few years ago when I had my wisdom teeth out, I took high doses of arnica for a week prior to the surgery. I did swell a bit, but it went down quickly and I had no bruising or discoloration. I also made it through the entire recovery process without the need for prescription pain meds. (And this was with two dry sockets.) So I think arnica can be useful in certain circumstances and it’s definitely worth a try.

5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

Magnesium Glycinate

I’ve taken magnesium for years simply because it is one of the most used minerals in the body and also one that we are most often deficient in. Magnesium supports heart health, optimal cell function, and also serves as a muscle relaxer. I take 200-400 mg of magnesium glycinate daily. Bear in mind that sometimes magnesium can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. If this happens to you, just back off your dosage a bit. (It’s never happened to me, even when I accidentally took a double dose one day.)

Magnesium glycinate is not an immediate pain reliever, but over time it will help keep muscles relaxed and healthy—which will prevent injury in the long run.

5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

Turmeric Extract

I began taking turmeric extract right a week or two after my back started bothering me. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Dr. Mark Hyman calls it “nature’s ibuoprofen.” The blend I take includes ginger as well, which is also a natural anti-inflammatory and wonderful superfood for joint support. I think my back issues were a bit too advanced for the turmeric to work its magic right away, but I’m continuing to include it on a regular basis in hopes of preventing future problems.

One important note: Taking turmeric extract in capsule form is convenient, but it is not well absorbed this way. It helps to open up  the capsules and mix it right into your food. A little bit of heat helps to activate the compounds in the turmeric, so often I’ll open the capsules and dump the contents into eggs before I scramble them, or mix the contents into a bowl of soup just before I eat it. Make sure you’re including fat in the meal you’re eating as well (such as coconut oil used to scramble the eggs or saute the soup veggies). Fat is very beneficial in helping us absorb antioxidants.

5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally

Essential Oils

This is where pain management can get really fun. My sister got me into essential oils a while ago when she became a distributor for doTERRA. Having back pain every day has really urged me to make more of a habit of applying them, though. While they don’t take away the pain completely, they can be very helpful in “taking the edge off.”

For my back, I’ve been using basil, lavender, peppermint, wintergreen, and white fir. Let’s just say I walk around smelling like a Christmas tree! I love the way the oils feel cooling on my skin. The fragrance helps to relax me both physically and mentally.

My go-to treatment for headaches is to rub peppermint on the back of my neck and temples and then drink a big glass of water. Usually that gets rid of it within an hour or so. (I wish it was as simple for my back…) It’s important to purchase therapeutic grade oils for the best results.

5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally


Of course, like everything else related to our health, hydration is super important! Our bodies are comprised of 70% water. Pain can often feel worse than it is when we are in a state of dehydration. So drink up! It doesn’t have to be just plain old water, either. I hydrate all day with tea, green juice, water with lemon, and the occasional coconut water, too.


I wish there was a magic remedy that would restore me to my active, pain-free self once again, but for now these remedies are a great option to help manage things overall. What are your favorite ways for managing pain the natural way?



  1. Acupuncture works for me every time! :) This school has great graduates: http://www.muih.edu/health-resources/find-practitioner

    Hope you find RELIEF instead of just management. :)

  2. Hallie,

    have you heard of emotional pain?? Pain caused by traumas/events stuck in your subconscious mind? Network/ gentle touch chiropractic may be a good way to go for your.
    You may want to pick up Dr. Sarno books as well…

  3. Hallie,
    I haven’t checked your blog in awhile, as time at the computer has been limited! But what a blessing to see what you posted today…..August 16th I stood up from a knee bend while putting in laundry and pulled my back out for the first time ever, which ended up in an ambulance ride because the pain was absolutely out of this world. I have never had back pain before! We all see a chiropractor regularly for health, but now I am seeing her often to try to help heal. I am in the same place you are in right now. This post is SO helpful! I am taking Inflam-95 by Biospec, which contains ginger root, curcumin root, boswella serrate, and nettle leaf. I also have used ibuprofen during the really rough times, but haven’t used it for many weeks now. I wanted to do high doses of Vitamin C and Magnesium, but they both give me tummy issues pretty quickly. I also am using a ball – at first just sitting on it (OW!!), and then doing light bouncing, and now I have been promoted to pelvic roll exercises on it. I also am borrowing an inversion board, which I do not have yet, but intend to use soon.
    I have a new found compassion for people who live in pain. With five children all at home full-time, this is a very limiting thing to deal with, and I have to work really hard to not let it get me down.
    My oldest daughter is studying herbalism, and has us use essential oils for things. I am definitely going to try the ones you recommend.
    I will be thinking of you -

    • Stephanie: Here’s hoping that you feel better SOON! I can’t imagine living with pain AND trying to raise five kids. Holy smokes. I agree with you that it can be very difficult to keep one’s spirits up during chronic pain. Can you go for walks? I find that helps clear my mind a bit, but even still I can’t go for too long otherwise my back will worsen.
      I hope we both find relief soon! :)

  4. Foundation training might help if you haven’t heard of it. Interview on Mercola’s website



  5. Janet in nc said on September 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I feel your pain! I just started having blinding jolts of sciatic pain over the last two weeks. I am allergic to alleve (hives) so using ibuprophen, gentle stretches and yoga. Physical therapy was the best relief for a previous pinched nerve and hoping it will do the trick for this bout too. Hope you have relief soon. Thanks for sharing and all the recommendations.

  6. I found relief in some cases within an hour with the exercises in the book “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue. Help with headaches, backache , knee pain, shoulder pain in me, and my family.

  7. I am celiac and diagnosted in 1997 after suffering with it for 13 years prior. Since 1999 I have been dealing with chronic pain that has limited my life…i have tried many many things…still have that pain and yes, stress is a factor, when stess worse! Anyway…I urge you to read or listen to the new book “Grain Brain”. I am listening to it now and am going to do what he says…you have some of them there on your list, but there is more you can do…and this comes from a neurologist…i have already completely cut out the rest of the grains and limiting carb intake…in two days the inflamation is declining…it is all about inflamation and finally someone getting to the source!

  8. Sorry about your back! Very typical presentation for ‘mechanical low back pain’. Hope you connect with a quality Physical Therapist!

  9. I have been trying to determine the best form of magnesium to take as a supplement so I am wondering how you came to decide on the magnesium glycinate as opposed to magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide or magnesium threonate or others.

    • Joy: I’m not a professional when it comes to supplements, so for different conditions it’s best to check with a health professional on what form to take. That said, I do know that magnesium glycinate is generally the easiest on the stomach and the best for muscles. Magnesium citrate or citramate can be more likely to cause digestive upset and diarrhea.

  10. This is such a valuable post Hallie. I’m sorry to hear you’re still suffering from the pain, I hope it clears up soon so you can get back to normal. I am so with you on these natural ways to manage the pain. I’ve used arnica a lot – when I was running a lot last winter I would take some before I left and when I got home. It really helped with sore muscles from hard training (hills etc). My ND suggested it to me. He is a trained homeopath – I wonder if you have one in your life. Find a specific remedy can do wonders sometimes. I loved reading everyone’s comments as much as I loved reading your post!

  11. Hallie, I hope you can get beyond this back pain soon. I’ve been living with it in the form of sciatica for 35 years now. Fortunately it’s usually not too bad. I almost stopped reading after the magnesium glycinate. The reason is that even though I take magnesium as part of my daily dose of calcium, I go through periods where leg/foot cramps wake me up several times a night. The magnesium in my calcium capsules is in several forms, none of them glycinate. So I think I’ll go get me some of the glycinate and see if that helps. Thank you for writing this post.

    • Susan: Magnesium glycinate is a great form because it is less likely to cause digestive upset and is easily absorbed. Most of us are deficient in it, so I think it’s a great one to add to the daily protocol. And it complements calcium very well.

    • I also have dealt with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia for 16 years. I have found great success using doTERRA’s lemongrass for foot and leg cramps. For me anyway, it practically melts them away after rubbin on a couple drops. I keep a bottle at my bedside as there were times the cramp was so bad I could hardly walk. Now I just rub it on, roll over and go right back to sleep!

  12. Have you tried Bowen Therapy? Google it!

  13. Have you tried Osteopathy? I see a chiropractor and an osteopath monthly to help keep my body going. My osteopath is also an RMT – which is a bonus.

  14. Hallie: have you used essential oils internally? We saw it on a “pin” & my husband has been using it to help manage the pain from a repaired fractured shoulder. You use equal parts oregano and frankincense (or marjoram, we are going to try that this week) in a gel cap. We’ve found it takes about 8 drops of each. He has felt it has taken the edge off above & beyond the narcotics he’s currently taking. Last night when I went to bed it struck me that we should try those oils topically to see if that helps. Another hint for you and others if you’re having stomach upset with any of the things you’re using (including the pain capsules) you can use doTERRA’s peppermint beadletts or just rub some peppermint on sternum if it’s heartburn – indigestion or right on your stomach if it’s a stomach ache. Our lives have been so enhanced by the EOs! I wish you luck on your continued journey to a pain tolerable life. I recently arrived their so I know it’s obtainable!!

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