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8 Strange But Effective Pain Relievers

min read

By Emily Lockhart

When you experience joint pain or a nasty headache do you reach for ibuprofen or acetaminophen?

What if both bottles are empty?

No worries, when over-the-counter methods run dry, these eight unexpected pain relievers will soothe and lessen aches and discomforts in a pinch…

1. Just Breathe

Simply stopping to take a series of deep breaths made breathe wonders for pain relief, says Nicholas Kardaras, the clinical director and a psychiatrist at New-York based addiction treatment center, The Dunes East Hampton.  Drawing fresh oxygen into your body flushes your system with endorphins while eliminating stress hormones (i.e., adrenaline).  Sit in an easy, cross-legged yoga pose with your back straight and your hands folded in your lap and concentrate on each inhale and exhale for 10 to 15 breaths.

2. Listen to Happy Tunes

Do you have a “Happy Mix”? While you should make one, according to a study from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Findings show that when a group of 143 participants listened to their favorite tunes while experiencing a painful shock, they suffered lowered pain as they became more engaged in the music.

3. Get Some Shut Eye

It turns out your mom was bang on—a good night’s sleep can heal your pain and your health woes. So says Lisa Shives, medical doctor and founder of Chicago’s Northshore Sleep Medicine clinic, “Sleep allows for cell repair…for your immune system to fight off illnesses.” While sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Get Things Off Your Chest

Catharsis, or the process of releasing repressed emotions has both a mental and a physical benefit when it comes to health. That is why experts at the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists believe that talking it out or “getting it off your chest” provides not only stress-relief, but also pain relief by releasing feel-good endorphins in the brain, which can physically lower the discomfort of inflammation-related pain.

5. Distraction Tactics

There is something pretty powerful about distraction tactics when it comes to pain relief…squirrel! According to a research study from Japan’s Yokohama City University Medical Center, using positive distraction techniques (or mental images like watching television, listening to music, or a book on tape) to relax and focus patient attention away from discomfort was able to reduce their overall pain perception.

6. Soothe Pain With Massage

We know that one of the many benefits of massage therapy is its ability to encourage endorphin (or feel good hormone) release. Registered massage therapists at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center recommend twice weekly massage treatments to soothe an array of chronic pain conditions—from osteoarthritis to migraine headaches.

7. Spice Up Your Life

Adding a dash of spice to your food—in the form of crucumin, which is found in spices like turmeric and curry, will provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits when it comes to relieving pain. Research published in the Alternative Medicine Review linked curcumin to lowered joint inflammation and improved mobility in a group of osteoarthritis patients.

8. Inhale Apple Scent

When you don’t have any Advil handy, another object that starts with A can do the trick—slice a green apple and inhale the scent deeply…but only if you happen to like the scent. It turns out that the fruity aroma can ease headache and migraine pain, according to a research study conducted by Blau and Solomon. The study monitored 50 migraine sufferers before and after they were exposed to green-apple fragrance. Study participants who were keen on the fragrance reported positive pain reduction while those who disliked green apple scent reported no pain relief.

Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.

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