Oh, for the days when we could innocently “borrow” from a friend’s prescription to get over a migraine or pulled muscle. Thanks to the opioid addiction sweeping the nation, those days are long gone. Even if you’re not freaked out by the side effects of today’s ultra-potent prescription drugs, your doctor probably is—statistics show that healthcare providers are now swinging the other way, prescribing a lot less pain relief medication than they used to.
Over-the-counter solutions aren’t much better. In the past decade, health officials have warned about the liver-damaging side effects of acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol), the potential for ibuprofen to trigger heart problems and internal bleeding, and naproxen’s link to heartburn, nausea and other gastrointestinal issues.
Of course, none of these pain relief options are so bad as one-off solutions. The problem arises when they’re used to combat frequent or chronic pain. If you’re prone to stress headaches, work a physically demanding job, or suffer from an old injury that acts up, you’re going to want a pain relief solution that doesn’t compromise your long-term health because what’s the point in getting rid of the pain if you’re damaging your vital organs in the process?
Fortunately, we live in an era rich in alternatives. Natural pain relief options abound on the market these days, and no, we’re not talking about murky tinctures brewed in your hippie aunt’s kitchen. These are science-backed formulas created by doctors and pharmacists and endorsed by professional athletes.
We tested out some of the best natural pain relief solutions out there, from old-timey classics to cutting-edge products to (of course) so-hot-right-now CBD-based formulas. Not only are our picks quick and effective, they also feel extra-nice on the skin and, in many cases, deliver a light, pleasing fragrance that beats the hell out of popping pills.
Note: No matter which natural pain relief option you choose, read the ingredients carefully to ensure they don’t include something you’re allergic to, choose the right dosage strength for your needs, and make sure to apply to clean, dry skin.
Best Topical Pain Relief Products
A time-tested classic that is now available in all kinds of formulations (gel, spray, even a patch), this analgesic works the same way it has since 1908. A combination of menthol, camphor, and pepper oils create a tingly hot-and-cold sensation that soothes and restores sore muscles and joints.
If you’re craving for a cooling sensation from overworked, overheated limbs, reach for this perennial favorite. The main ingredient of menthol stimulates nerve receptors to block the signals of pain to your brain. Way better than an ice pack, this topical solution lets you recover without tightening your muscles (and making them more prone to injury).
Formulated from 30+ natural ingredients like arnica, magnesium, and so many more, this lotion acts like an aisle’s worth of supplements in one. We can attest to the magical powers of this lotion—even the aches and pains left by an afternoon of splitting wood disappeared seconds after slathering it on. The company promises that it works even better after seven or more days of continuous use. We’re more than ready to try.
This beeswax-based balm is a treat to apply—why hasn’t anybody ever given us lotion in a stick before? It brings a combo of warm and cool sensations thanks to ginger, peppermint, and cinnamon oils, but the true healing action comes courtesy of CBD derived full-spectrum hemp oil. (Don’t worry—hemp-derived CBD is legal to purchase no matter where you live – and it also won’t get you high.)
Nothing feels better on sore muscles than a long soak in a hot bathtub…unless that bathtub is also filled with CBD! Made with water-soluble, full spectrum, nano CBD for a higher absorption rate, as well as pine and fir balsam essential oils, this is a bathroom accessory right up there with toilet paper and razor blades.
Formulated with the best anti-inflammatory CBD strains, this muscle cream melts the pain away in just minutes. Users say it’s not only good for achy limbs but also shingles, arthritis, and even hemorrhoids.
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