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Herbs and spices can work well as natural painkillers, says Cheryl Myers, an integrative health nurse who sits on the editorial board of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ Natural Medicine Journal. Here are some of her recommendations.

Curcumin (found in turmeric)

“For general pain, curcumin is the go-to for best all-round anti-inflammatory. It’s been clinically proven to be effective for all types of pain, but it has to be at an absorbable dose. There’s also evidence that it helps with Alzheimer’s and depression.”

Boswellia serrata (a relative of frankincense)


“For asthma, COPD and other inflammatory lung diseases, and also inflammatory gut conditions like IBS and Crohn’s disease, boswellia really settles the inflammation down.”

Comfrey (a relative of borage)

“This is the trauma plant, used for things like sprained ankles or chronic back pain. There are 14 published studies of its topical use for adults and children. Taking comfrey aurally has controversy — it contains a toxic substance called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and it may damage the liver. But as a topical, it’s a great one to have to hand.”

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