GO NATURAL: Some alternatives to ibuprofen and other painkillers

Some of these ideas are ones I’ve talked about before on this blog, but I’ll try to give more information about them and other methods to help you make an informed decision regarding which you might want to try. After all, none of us wants to take lots of drugs, right?

Information for this post was partially taken from this source. Whenever possible, I’ve given you links to products that aren’t pills. Most of us already take more pills than we’d like, and I hate to add more when other types of products exist.

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 1 – White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark is an herbal remedy that stretches back in time, over 2000 years. It is gathered from the bark of various species of willow trees and has been used in many herbal medicine cultures, including that of the ancient Chinese, and Romans. As well as being used to treat lower back pain, osteoarthritis and other conditions including bursitis and tendinitis, it can also be used as a natural headache relief medicine.

White Willow Bark contains a natural chemical known as Salicin. Aspirin, which contains Acetylsalicylic Acid, was modeled on Salicin when it was first engineered back in the 1800s. Although it is not as fast acting as aspirin, the effects of White Willow Bark may have a longer lasting effect.

The product I linked to is a powder that you can use in water, juice, or a smoothie. Only use about 1/4 teaspoon – a little bit of this stuff goes a long way. There’s some safety information I think is important to note (taken from the Amazon page for the powder):

Because willow bark contains salicin, people who are allergic or sensitive to salicylates (such as aspirin) should not use willow bark. Some researchers suggest that people with asthma, diabetes, gout, gastritis, hemophilia, stomach ulcers, or with kidney or liver issues should also avoid willow bark. If you have any of these conditions, or if you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or blood-thinning medication, ask your health care provider before taking willow bark. Children under the age of 16 should not take willow bark.

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 2 – Cats Claw

Cat’s Claw is so named because of its resemblance to… yes – you’ve got it… a cat’s claw! It’s a thorny vine that is known to climb as high as 100 feet, and it’s the bark and the root of the plant that are used to make the herbal medication. The plant is found in South and Central America, but mostly in the rainforests of the Amazon. The majority of Cat’s Claw that is sold here in the USA is imported from Peru.

Research indicates that Cat’s Claw may be able to stimulate the immune system. Because of this it is advisable not to take it if you are on medication to suppress your immune system function. Cat’s Claw contains an anti-inflammatory agent that prohibits the manufacture of a hormone known as prostaglandin, a hormone which is in part responsible for pain and inflammation. It also contains antioxidants.

The research carried out to date also suggests that Cat’s Claw can be taken to relax smooth muscles, to dilate blood vessels (thus helping to lower hypertension), and as a natural Diuretic, to help the body to lose excess water. It is often taken by people who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee.

NOTE: I’ve tried Cat’s Claw, and it didn’t seem to work for me, but like all things, your mileage may vary.

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 3 – Boswellia

Boswellia is also known as Indian frankincense. It comes from the Boswell Serrata tree which grows in India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Traditionally, it has been used in resin format to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, as well as a number of other disorders.

Can’t get you away from a pill here. That appears to be the only type of product available for it. If you know of another way to use boswellia, let me know!

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 4 – Capsaicin

Capsaicin is an ingredient of the Chili Pepper. It is made into a cream that can then be applied topically to any painful area (not the eyes). When we experience pain, a substance known as substance “P” carries pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin is able to interfere with this process. It can be purchased in different grades of strength, and upon initial application can cause some localized stinging or burning, which then quickly subsides. After several applications, (it should be applied 3 to 4 times per day), these sensations are no longer felt.

Because Capsaicin comes from Chili Peppers, certain precautions should be made, such as washing your hands thoroughly after applying it, and keeping it away from your eyes, and from children too. As well as being available in cream or ointment format, it is also available in patches.

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 5 – Curcumin

Curcumin is an ingredient that comes from the herb known as Turmeric. It comes from India, where it has a long history of being used in Ayurvedic medicine. It works in a similar way to Capsaicin in as much as it blocks the transmission of substance “P”, but it’s also credited with the ability to block certain proteins that cause inflammation.

It is used to treat arthritic pain but has many other capabilities too according to this article published in Natural News. It is the most medically researched natural herb and it still undergoing tests.

Natural Alternative to Ibuprofen # 6 – Essential Oils

Whilst not strictly speaking a direct alternative to ibuprofen as an out and out pain killer, essential oils have the ability to combat one of the most common forms of pain – that of the headache.

They work on three levels. First, a natural chemical level. In the second instance, they work on the sensory level, through your sense of smell. In the third instance, when applied through light finger massage (rather than being poured into a bath in which you then soak for 20 or 30 minutes or diffused into the air), the massage itself helps to relieve tension. There are three main essential oils to consider. They are:

  • Roman Chamomile – great as a muscle relaxant
  • Lavender – a wonderful natural pain reliever
  • Clary Sage – lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reducing stress and tension


None of these products will totally mitigate our symptoms, but if using one or more of them can help out with the pain? Sign me up! Do you know of other natural alternatives to ibuprofen and other painkillers?