Herbs for Pain

Pain relief is an interesting subject in herbalism. The herbs you use will depend on where the pain is and what type of pain. From muscle pulls to stomach cramps, there is no single pain reliever for all. I will cover a few of the major analgesic herbs here.

Muscle Pain


canstockphoto0552079 Arnica good
My goto herb for muscle pain is Arnica. It targets the source of the pain rather than just the surface. Best of all it doesn’t have that overpowering liniment smell. In fact it is almost unscented.

Arnica is extremely effective for pain from overworked muscles, osteoarthritis, bursitis, pulled muscles, joint pain and chronic joint pain. It is also effective on reducing swelling from broken bones and sprains. The one use of arnica that seems to be agreed upon in all the literature is that it is effective for osteoarthritis.

At one time arnica was only available through health food stores and herbal drugstores. Now many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and arnica gels and creams are available from most major drugstores.

The warning for Arnica is to never take it internally and never use it on broken skin. For my Arnica blog go here.



Cayenne is another herb that is also a spice. Many people will already have it at home. If you have muscle strain and need something to ease it quickly just add a few grains of cayenne to some coconut or olive oil and apply to the affected area.

Cayenne will reduce pain from inflammation because it is a burning herb. You will want to start off using very little cayenne. Test it on the underside of the wrist. If you feel it burn wash it off and add more oil. You want a warmth rather than a burn. If you go for a burn you may also cause your skin to blister. With cayenne, truly, less is more.

canstockphoto21183883 wintergreen

This is not an herb I use often mainly because there are herbs that are easier to find. Wintergreen is a very strongly scented herb. You will recognize the scent from many pain relief creams.

Wintergreen is used in its essential oil form. It is excellent for rheumatism, arthritis, gout and joint pain. Organic Facts has an informative article on the uses of wintergreen oil here.

Gas, Bloating and Cramping


Although this oil is both carminative and diuretic, NEVER TAKE IT INTERNALLY. No matter how much you dilute wintergreen oil it can cause some serious health issues if you take it internally. Instead mix it with water or a carrier oil and rub it on your stomach externally. It will help relieve gas and bloating.



For centuries peppermint has been used to ease gas and bloating.
Peppermint reduces flatulence and nausea.  It calms the muscles of the stomach and increases bile flow.  Bile is the substance the body uses to help digest fats.
Peppermint is a carminative which is an herb that prevents painful gas and flatulence.  It reduces muscle spasms which are the cause of gas pain.
You can use peppermint oil which is quite strong and is not recommended for GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
You can drink peppermint tea after the meal to take care of the results of too much of a good thing or you can drink a cup about half an hour before the meal to help you digest better.
You can also chew peppermint candy in a pinch.  Lifesavers are great and used to be given with the meal on some airlines many years ago.  At Christmas time though, the easiest way to get peppermint candy is through candy canes.  Not the funky ones, but the plain old peppermint candy canes.

Due to the volume of information on this I will refer you to my blog Herbs for Migraines.


canstockphoto18362320 clove

The number one analgesic for toothache for centuries has been clove oil. This was always the main treatment for toothache in my house growing up.

Clove oil is both analgesic and anti-bacterial which makes it excellent for tooth pain. The NY Times blog quotes a study where both benzocaine and clove oil worked equally. Check it out here.

The warning is that if you use too much it can cause liver and lung issues.


Oil of Oregano

Of all the toothache treatments other than clove oil this one makes the most sense to me. It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Anyone that has taken this oil to prevent an oncoming cold will know how strong it is.

There are 2 ways to use this herbal oil. You can mix 2 or 3 drops with water and swish it around your mouth. This will help with inflammation. You can also apply a drop or 2 of the oil undiluted directly to the area in pain.

At the end of the day it is better to see your dentist and deal with the cause of the pain.

There are a vast number of herbs that can be used to help in pain relief. These are just a few of the more well known ones.