For thousands of years, mankind has been using plants and other natural foods for medicinal purposes. Only recently have scientific studies begun to prove what we’ve instinctively known all along—that certain foods have powerful analgesic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that make them ideal medicines.
The best part is that most of these natural painkillers are probably sitting around in your kitchen—all you need to do is put them to good use.
The following 15 foods are not only natural painkillers, but they’ll help you heal faster and prevent infection as well. So, instead of popping some pills next time you experience an ache or pain, try these natural remedies.
If you’re having some stomach issues, ginger is your best bet for relief. Studies show that ginger is a safe and effective anti-nausea remedy, so it’s perfect for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. (1)
Ginger can relieve all types of problems, including migraines, indigestion, intestinal gas, menstrual cramps, and symptoms of PMS. In fact, one study found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen in relieving pain in women with menstrual cramps. (2)
Clearly, this is one powerful medicinal food that you’ll want to have around.
There’s a reason that you’ll find a wide variety of garlic capsules to choose from at your local pharmacy or health food store. It’s an incredibly effective natural medicine, and it’s been shown to treat of a wide variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ear infection, throat infection, sinus infection, fungal infections, menstrual disorders, joint pain, and so much more.
The secret is in a compound that garlic contains called allicin. It is a natural painkiller, and it’s also anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, and antitumorigenic. (3)
The benefits just don’t seem to end when it comes to garlic. Take daily garlic shots with fresh crushed garlic for preventative measures, or try out a garlic supplement to boost your immune system.
Another powerful medicinal root, turmeric is effective because of a compound that it contains called curcumin.
Curcumin seems to be one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories out there, and regular consumption can alleviate chronic pain and prevent chronic inflammatory diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, Crohn’s disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. It can also prevent cancer.
If you suffer from an inflammatory disease, adding turmeric to your diet and/or taking high-quality turmeric supplement is your best bet at relief from chronic pain.
Honey is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and it seems to be especially effective when it comes to wound care.
Apply manuka honey to pimples, cuts, scrapes, and skin ulcers, and notice how quickly your skin heals. It also rehydrates dry or cracked skin and lips, and it’s full of anti-aging antioxidants to keep you looking young.
Honey’s antibiotic properties are also used to soothe a sore throat, and evidence shows that it may even be an effective expectorant, meaning that it can help loosen phlegm from the lungs and clear up a cough.
Nutmeg is another natural painkiller that can be used internally and externally for its analgesic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
This spice is used to promote digestion and treat diarrhea, nausea, stomach spasms, and intestinal gas. When applied to the skin, it can relieve pain associated with arthritis, wounds, and muscle strains. It is also used to improve oral health and to treat cold sores and toothaches.
This pungent root vegetable may make your eyes water, but it’s well worth it considering all the health benefits it has to offer. Studies show that it is just as effective as antibiotics in treating sinusitis, urinary tract infection (UTI), and bronchitis. (4)
To treat or prevent a sinus infection, take half a teaspoon of grated horseradish twice a day. You’ll feel a powerful sensation in your head, followed by an almost immediate clearing of the sinuses. Your nose will run and your eyes will tear, and you may even sweat a little as the horseradish fights off infection in the sinuses.
Horseradish can also help to clear a UTI or bladder infection due to its antibiotic properties. It also fights bacteria in the respiratory tract, healing a cough, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems.
If you get an occasional migraine, you may turn to medication to help get you through the day. Did you know that most migraine medications contain caffeine?
Of course, each person may have a different reaction to it, so test it out once or twice when you get a headache or a migraine. Some people may find that caffeine triggers or exacerbates a headache, while others may find relief from a headache with caffeine consumption.
Lemon helps to stimulate the digestive system and get things moving. If you experience constipation, bloating, cramping, or intestinal gas, you can probably benefit from a daily squeeze of lemon.
In the morning, before eating or drinking anything else, take two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Wash it down with two cups of water, and wait half an hour before eating or drinking anything else.
9. Black Pepper
This powerful spice is bursting with antioxidants and many healing properties.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as part of tonics to treat a cough, cold, and flu. It contains expectorant properties, and so it helps to break up phlegm and mucus and provides relief from congestion in the sinuses and respiratory tract.
In addition, its antibacterial properties will help your immune system to fight off infections of all kinds.
Black pepper also aids in digestion and prevents the formation of intestinal gas, preventing bloating, cramping, and flatulence.
This fragrant herb is not only a delicious in culinary dishes such as chicken or potatoes, but it also provides some incredible health benefits as well.
Rosemary contains plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It can benefit your scalp, skin, and digestive tract both in fresh and essential oil forms.
Treat dandruff by either steeping fresh rosemary in boiling water, letting it cool, and then applying it to the scalp, or by applying a few drops of rosemary essential oil mixed with a carrier oil directly.
When applied to the scalp, rosemary oil also acts as a natural hair growth remedy, reversing balding and thinning of the hair.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Use apple cider vinegar on your scalp and hair to balance pH levels, treat dandruff, and clean the hair from product buildup and oils.
On the skin, apple cider vinegar acts as a natural astringent, making your skin smoother and less oily. It can help to clear up acne and protect the skin from wrinkles, fine lines, and sun damage.
Clove is a natural anesthetic, and when chewed, it can dull pain in the mouth from toothaches, gingivitis, canker sores, and more. It can also be used to soothe a sore throat and relieve a cough.
Salt helps to relieve inflammation because it attracts water to it, drawing it out from swollen areas. If you are experiencing discomfort in the mouth or throat due to swelling and inflammation, try a warm Celtic sea salt water rinse to relieve the pain.
Add one teaspoon of salt to an 8-oz cup of room temperature or warm water. Take a sip, swish, gargle, and spit. Repeat until you finish the whole cup.
Saline solution—or salt water—is also an effective way to clear out the sinuses and naturally treat and prevent sinusitis. Use a neti pot with a warm salt water solution to rinse out the sinuses.
14. Cayenne Pepper
If you can stand the heat, this natural painkiller can alleviate discomfort both internally and externally.
Hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. There are even capsaicin-containing creams that can be applied directly to the skin to relieve pain in the joints, muscles, and lower back, and pain associated with surgery, cancer, and nerve conditions.
Cayenne pepper capsules can be taken daily to prevent and treat chronic pain and symptoms of a chronic inflammatory disease.
Cranberries contain a compound called proanthocyanidins that prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.
Many studies have shown cranberries and cranberry juice to be very effective in preventing UTIs that can lead to bladder infections. It is recommended for women with recurring UTIs, pregnant women, and older men who are more susceptible to UTIs. (5)
Turns out you may not have to venture out of your kitchen to treat your painful or uncomfortable symptoms, whether internal or external. There’s probably a natural painkiller sitting around in your house just waiting to be put to good use. Next time you find yourself heading for the medicine cabinet for a painkiller, try the pantry instead!