Natural pain relievers: using common herbs and spices

Unfortunately living on a farm in the woods can be quite painful! There's a lot of manual labor and I often end up with aches and pains, especially when I have to chop wood or shovel snow in the winter. Ugh! Luckily I have a bunch of herbal remedies to turn to help alleviate pain. 

common herbs and spices in jars for use in natural pain relief

However, there does come a time...often in the dead of winter...when I run out of last summer's dried medicinal herbs from the garden. At that point I often turn to the herbs and spices in my kitchen cabinet instead of OTC or prescription remedies for natural pain relief. I also use these 11 herbs to help with digestion since many of the herbs can be grown indoors in winter.  

I know I'm not the only one who prefers to use natural remedies! A large number of pain sufferers are turning to a more natural approach by using the methods of the past to treat the ailments of the present...and some of these herbs have been used for centuries!

Many common spices like cloves or ginger have been used for years to alleviate pain. Others like capsaicin are available widely as pain relievers right now. Here's the list of 7 common herbs and spices that I use for pain relief that should all be available in your grocery store (if you don't already have them in your spice rack!)

Natural pain relievers: 7 Common herbs and spices

Capsaicin is derived from chili peppers and is often seen in OTC creams used for arthritis and joint pain. The cream can be applied several times a day as needed to reach full effectiveness. You can also get some capsaicin benefits from eating/cooking with the peppers. 

Though there is not doubt that capsaicin can alleviate pain (they even have Rx patches of it!) nobody is really sure how it works.

Cloves contain an agent called eugenol, which has been found to reduce pain during topical application. Studies in 2006 concluded that clove gel was just as effective as a chemical gel at reducing pain in the gums of test subjects. Many dentists still use oil of clove in numbing gels (mine does!) 

Unfortunately since this one only works topically, it seems to only help mouth pain. Some people chew on a clove bud to help with throat pain.

Fennel has been used for thousands of years to help with digestion issues, and stop painful bloating, but one of the other amazing things about fennel, is its ability to help soothe muscle pain naturally. This is caused by its tendency to relax muscles, and has been used for relief of menstrual pain in women in this study

Herbs and spices in bowls to use for natural pain relief.
This rhizome is famous for it's stomach calming tendencies, but it’s also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger has many health benefits along with reducing inflammation and pain, including muscle aches. 

The upside of ginger (and all of these herbs and spices!) is that it does not have the side effects of pharmaceutical pain medication.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the use of nutmeg is well known for being able to fight inflammation of the joints. It can be ingested in the form of teas and placed in food for desired effect. It is also known to reduce abdominal aches and pains.

Parsley Yet another anti inflammatory herb with a many other health benefits. Parsley can be found in almost any grocery store fresh or as a tea and has a light 'grassy' flavor. Chewing parsley also helps alleviate bad breath.

Familiar as a curry spice, this herb has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also improves circulation and prevents blood clotting. Turmeric can be used for arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain and other internal issues. WebMD

Bonus: Basil
Basil works on headaches and mild muscle aches because of it's muscle relaxing qualities. It works best on tension headaches. To soothe a headache add about 5 basil leaves to boiling water and continue to boil for a few minutes then cool. Sip slowly. Some migraine sufferers have gotten relief by chewing a basil leaf at the onset of a migraine.

Related reading: 10 Natural Alternatives for Pain Relief from The Hearty Soul.

Hopefully you have these 7 herbs and spices in your kitchen when you need them to help alleviate pain naturally. If not then maybe it's time to stock up?

Looking for more natural cures? Check out these 50 Home remedies that relieve heartburn without medication.


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I am not a doctor or other health care professional nor do I claim to be. I am not trained in any medical field. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. see a Dr if you are ill. Click for my full disclaimer.


  1. this is a wonderful post. I suffer from chronic back pain, arthritis and have just been diagnosed with fibromylasia. My doctor has me on a pain med that is not a narcotic (which is my choice also) and is the strongest available - the next step would be opioids, which I do not want. I am already putting turmeric in my coffee and tea and morning eggs. I put nutmeg in my hot cocoa and make a ginger/water concoction to put into my water. But I am interested in what other ways and forms these and the other ones can be used. Will you maybe be following this up with the ways you use these spices/herbs? I am really new to using herbs in ways other than in cooking and tea making. Thanks, jackie

    1. Hi Jackie,
      That is a great post idea....I'll have to work on that. Sorry to hear about your back, I went through 2 years of back pain so I understand where you're coming from! That's actually why I started taking the turmeric. Capsaicin comes in creams that you can rub directly into the sore areas. I also use ginger in water! I slice fresh ginger into a small pot of water and bring it to a simmer, then put the lid on and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Let cool and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. I add it to my water bottle with some lemon every day, but it's great as a tea also. I buy parsley tea bags, or add some dried or fresh parsley to my tea when I make loose leaf tea. Many of these can be bought in capsule form, or you could fill empty capsules yourself.

      Hope that helps!