Top 6 Natural Alternatives To Aspirin

Aspirin is a common over the counter pain reliever used to treat mild to moderate pain caused by toothaches, colds, and headaches. It also has a noticeable anti-inflammatory effect which makes it useful for reducing the swelling seen in arthritis. [1] Despite its ubiquitous availability, it does have some serious drawbacks. Aspirin has been associated with peptic ulcer formation when taken for prolonged periods or high doses. [2] This can lead to perforation and can cause internal bleeding when not managed correctly. In some people, it can even be a strong trigger for asthma episodes. [3] This syndrome is referred to as aspirin-induced asthma. Although rare, there are reports that since Aspirin is also a blood thinner, it can increase the likelihood of a person developing a hemorrhagic stroke. [4]

 

If you feel like using aspirin may be too much of a risk to your health, there are natural alternatives available. However, the herbs mentioned in this list are intended to replace aspirin as a pain reliever and not as a blood thinner or antipyretic. As with any medication, it is important to consult your doctor before using herbal medicines. With that being said, here are 6 natural alternatives to aspirin that have been found valuable for pain.

1. Ginger

Ginger is a popular root crop that has been used for centuries as an ingredient in both Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. Fast forward to today, ginger is still used as an herbal analgesic. Researchers from the University of Georgia were able to test how effective ginger was in easing muscle pain. In their study, as little as two grams of raw ginger a day were able to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain by as much as 25 percent. [5] Add to this the fact that ginger also has anti-ulcer properties not seen in your typical aspirin tablet. [6]

2. Turmeric

A staple of Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used for centuries to treat various ailments ranging from skin disorders to pain. Turmeric has found a place in modern herbalism as a treatment for osteoarthritis. Its principal active component is Curcumin. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that works in similar fashion to the drug Celebrex but with a better safety profile. [7]

3. Clove Oil

Traditionally used for toothaches, clove oil is rich in a compound called eugenol. Eugenol, when used topically, can help numb the area due to its mild anesthetic properties. This is the reason why clove oil is a common ingredient used in tooth drops. However, studies have shown that its anesthetic effect can even rival those seen with the topical anesthetic benzocaine. [8]

4. Peppermint

When we think about peppermint, we automatically associate it with candied treats and/or tea, but in the field of herbal medicine, peppermint is more than just a menthol flavoring. It has been used successfully in treating the pain associated with tension headaches and has been approved for the topical treatment of muscle and nerve pain. [9][10]

5. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a flowering herb with light green leaves used traditionally by those living in the Mediterranean region. When the seeds are powdered and consumed, it is said to have a potent analgesic effect specific to menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea. This property of Fenugreek was even reported in the Journal of Reproduction and Infertility to improve the other symptoms of dysmenorrhea like fatigue, headache, and nausea without a report of side effects. [11]

6. Feverfew

Feverfew has long been used as a potent anti-inflammatory both as an herbal medicine and as a skin care ingredient. Due to its calming effects, it has been found to be effective in blocking the inflammation caused by the protein called IkappaB Kinase, which in turn alleviates inflammation and pain. [12] It is also a popular herbal treatment for migraines since it is considered capable of preventing an episode. [13]

References:

[1] Aspirin Tablet. http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1082-3/aspirin-oral/aspirin-oral/details

[2] Gender differences of low-dose aspirin-associated gastroduodenal ulcer in Japanese patients. (2010). https://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/full/v16/i15/1896.htm

[3] Aspirin and Asthma. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/405963

[4] Can you take aspirin if you regularly take ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for another condition? http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/daily-aspirin-therapy/art-20046797?pg=2

[5] Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise. (2010). http://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(09)00915-8/fulltext

[6] Gastroprotective Effect of Ginger Rhizome (Zingiber officinale) Extract: Role of Gallic Acid and Cinnamic Acid in H+, K+-ATPase/H. pylori Inhibition and Anti-Oxidative Mechanism. (2011). https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/249487/

[7] Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management. (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3591524/

[8] The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. (2006). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16530911

[9] Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type. (1996). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8805113

[10] A Review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L). (2006). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7015287_A_Review_of_the_bioactivity_and_potential_health_benefits_of_pep…/

[11] Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea. (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24695380

[12] The anti-inflammatory natural product parthenolide from the medicinal herb Feverfew directly binds to and inhibits IkappaB kinase. (2001). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11514225

[13] Usefulness of nutraceuticals in migraine prophylaxis. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527067

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