Heal Your Pain: Tips from the Cupboard

ginger tea

Herbs and spices have been valued for centuries by ancient cultures for their culinary and medicinal properties. For instance, Chinese doctors have used ginger since ancient times to cure aches and pains. Here are some herbs and spices that may very well be already living in your spice cabinet or tea box. Start with these 4 to tame the pain!

As always, you will want to discuss with your physician if these herbs and spices are appropriate for you; some of these can interact with medications in unexpected ways.

1. Curry helps with joint pain.
Are your aching joints not jumping for joy these days? Try sprinkling some curry on your veggie omelet. Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. The active component in turmeric that is thought to help with pain management is called curcumin. In one randomized control study 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis received either 800 mg per day ibuprofen or 2 grams per day Curcuma domestica extract. Both groups showed improvement in pain on level walking and climbing stairs.

2. Clove curbs stomach cramps.
A delicious addition to cooked fruit, roasts, sweet vegetable dishes and teas, clove has been used since ancient times in India to improve digestive function. You may include some in your cooking to alleviate toothaches, sore throats and stomach cramps.

3. Ginger alleviates aches and pains.
Ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory, has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese to cure pain. Ginger helps relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps and muscle soreness; and in these colder days, ginger can help spice up your circulation, too! A perfect compliment to vegetables, marinades and sweets, ginger is also delicious in tea. To make fresh ginger tea, you can cut up the root, boil it for 10 minutes, then strain the water and sip as tea. In a pinch, you can use ginger tea bags. You can also find relief from pain by applying a ginger compress to a painful area. Simply grate the root, wrap the ginger in cheesecloth, place it in hot water for 30 seconds, then let it cool and place on the affected area for 20 minutes.

4. Valerian root relaxes pain.
Valerian may not be a regular herb in your spice rack, but maybe it should be! Often called nature’s tranquilizer, valerian has been used for centuries to regulate the nervous system and relieve insomnia, tension, irritability, stress and anxiety. Valerian is also a natural pain reliever that reduces sensitivity of the nerves. The most practical way to benefit from this herb is to drink a cup of valerian tea the next time you’re in need of pain relief.