Here is how to treat aches and pains in the cooler months

Looking after aches and pains
Looking after aches and pains

As the cooler weather starts to set in, aches and pains that were hidden in summer start to rear their ugly heads again.

As the cooler weather starts to set in, aches and pains that were hidden in summer start to rear their ugly heads again.
My personal preference for treating pain herbally is to use medicines that can be taken by mouth.
Herbal pain killers don’t have the same side effects as many available on prescription, so they’re a good option for people wanting to avoid orthodox pain meds.
For some people though, taking a pill or a liquid doesn’t appeal at all, especially if you already have an elaborate medication program from your doctor.
Luckily, there are many topical treatments that can support joint and muscle comfort.
Arnica, comfrey and chilli are three herbs I use most frequently for different types of pain.
Arnica is well known for it’s effects on bruises and is usually used after injury.
This is because it is purported to have healing properties that can help tissues heal faster and speed recovery.
Despite being famous for bruising, this is probably the least common use I find for arnica.
Instead, I use it for muscle pain and damage or for arthritic joints.
In my shop, I keep an arnica gel in stock called Atrogel, which has been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen gel in clinical trials.
Since it’s a gel, it soaks into the skin quicker and deeper than a cream and is much more appropriate for deep joint pain that causes regular discomfort.
Arnica gel is my go to remedy for that type of pain relief and it’s mostly used by gardeners and walkers who experience some difficulty doing what they used to, due to worsening aches and pains.
The other way I recommend using arnica is to help heal damaged muscles.
This could be damage done by overdoing it a bit when exercising or an actual injury.
When using arnica for muscles, it’s better to use it in an oil, rather than a gel.
The act of massaging helps to smooth out muscle fibres and relieve and tension or tears. Massage also improves circulation to the area, increasing blood flow to hasten recovery.
Another famous topical ointment is comfrey, also known as knitbone.
Knitbone is used for exactly what you’d think - knitting bones.
Any time I am presented with a break, sprain or fracture, comfrey is the herb that I use to support healing of bone.
One year, I was visited by a young girl who had fractured her wrist while dancing.
As a professional dancer, this put her out of action and she’d been told that she’d have to spend as many as six months resting the wrist, which she used a lot during her performances.
Working with comfrey, we were able to help her reduce her healing time by half.
You might think that this could have been a placebo effect or simply that she was eager to get back to her dancing.
It was actually her consultant that expressed surprise at how quickly her injury had healed and gave her the all clear to return to her training much earlier than anticipated.
The other type of pain that can be an awful thing to experience is nerve pain.
Nerve pain is especially difficult to treat, even with medication from your GP. In some cases, these medicines are difficult to tolerate, leaving people feeling like they have no option for relief.
Nerve pain can be caused by damage, shingles and diabetic neuropathy.
It can be burning, pin prick or pins and needles sensations.
For nerve pain, I blend my own mixture that I simply call Nerve Oil.
The two main ingredients are St John’s Wort oil and chilli oil.
I first made it for a lady with diabetic neuropathy who had tried every pain killer offered to her, including morphine.
Despite her husbands scepticism who “didn’t believe in herbal stuff” my nerve oil turned out to be the only thing that had been able to provide her with some relief to her painful feet and lower limbs.
So if you’re uncertain about taking herbs for pain relief, don’t think that the door to herbal support is closed to you.
Topical ointments can be as (if not more) effective as herbs taken by mouth.
For more information, contact Nicola at Health and Herbs, Pedder Street, Morecambe, by ringing 01524 413733.