Salicylic acid (the main pain-killing ingredient in aspirin) is found naturally in willow bark, poplar and meadowsweet herbs. For general pain-killing use, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper are very good. You can take these by adding to a hot water drink or sprinkling on food as and when required.
For headaches brought on by stress or tension, rosemary is excellent. Also for nervous tension, lavender and
chamomile. Stress headaches are caused by a constriction of blood vessels in the head and both rosemary and lavender can help to ease this pressure. If you have rosemary in your garden just pick a few sprigs and crush in your hands and inhale the scent to instantly ease tension. Alternatively, rosemary essential oil can be rubbed directly onto the temple for pain relief.
Wood betony is a herb which has a specific affinity to the head and helps to support the nervous system. Herbs which have an affinity to the head tend to have a high mineral content including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Migraine sufferers can opt for feverfew or ginkgo for symptomatic relief.
Dietary measures for prevention and relief include drinking plenty of water and cutting out all stimulants including all caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, rebull and coca-cola. Removing other stimulants like sugar from the diet is also key alongside tobacco and chocolate, as these foods and drinks often trigger migraines, as well as prolonging them. Sinus pain can feel like your entire face is aching. Natural help is at hand via goldenseal, goldenrod or eyebright, as they each work by drying mucus build-up, reducing inflammation, whilst soothing and protecting the mucosal lining.
Nutrition is the key to tackling allergy symptoms. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine found in a number of food sources, including apples, green and black tea, red onion and garlic – especially raw. Nettle also has antihistamine properties and helps to clear catarrh and phlegm, while elderflower and goldenrod are great for expelling excess mucus and congestion in the head and lungs and alleviating skin rashes. For quick relief from itchy eyes, place chilled chamomile teabags onto the eyes, to reduce soreness and itching.
An effective alternative to over-the-counter medication for muscle strain is to add several handfuls of fresh thyme to a bath, as the herb eases muscular and rheumatic pain. St John’s Wort oil and rosemary oil are also effective at easing muscular aches and pains. In Ayurveda, mahanaryan oil is used to relieve muscular tensions and soreness. Foods containing magnesium, such as wholegrains, wheat, bananas, leafy vegetables, nuts and chocolate, also assist in minimising painful flare-ups.
Making freshly sliced ginger tea and raspberry leaf tea are both great for balancing the hormones, relaxing muscles and relieving menstrual cramps. For quick relief from cramps and spasms, cramp bark tea is specifically recommended, as it helps to relax contracted muscles. Yarrow tea eases bloating and PMT symptoms. General period pain relievers are: chamomile, valerian, magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin B6, which all help to ease muscle spasms. Avoid cold foods and drinks in the week before your period as they promote constriction and this can cause cramps and spasms. Try switching to warm drinks and herbal teas in the week before, as an effective preventative tip.
Whether its the odd sleepless night or constant disrupted sleep, there are several herbs, foods and drinks which can really help get you back on track. Cherry juice is high in melatonin, and essential to the sleep cycle, while foods rich in tryptophan (an amino acid that helps promote sleep) in eggs, milk, turkey, sunflower seeds and spirulina are also effective. Key herbal teas to aid relaxation include lavender, wild oat, chamomile, rose and valerian especially effective when drank one hour before bed. In Ayurvedic medicine, nutmeg is recommended for sleeplessness. Try adding a teaspoon or pinch of nutmeg into a mug of warm milk one hour before sleeping. Lavender and sandalwood essential oils, whether used on your pillow or massaging a drop onto your temples before bed, can also help you to fall into a natural restful sleep.