Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain


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Holy Cow, Holy Basil!

Sleep! With some of my migraines and pain, sleep escapes me as I have mentioned. I use a few different sleep aids, but today we are going to discuss Holy Basil is one of those herbs that seems so unassuming, like the basil you are probably familiar with it is a mint relative, and is used infrequently in cooking but is gaining use in America recently.

It is a native of India and is known as Tulsi, which you may see when you purchase ready-made teas. In Hinduism it is a sacred herb, most sacred to Vishnu where it symbolizes Lakshmi. But it also has one of those great stories like Mint, where there is a beautiful lady, Tulsi, who catches the eye of the playboy god, Krishna. Then his real girlfriend, Radha, gets wind of this and turns her into a plant (there is another version where Vishnu is the boy and Lakshmi is the girl). Also, in a story where Krishna is weighed and large amounts of gold could not tip the scales, but a single leaf of Holy Basil did.

You may see it at temples or in homes of Hindu practitioners, usually in a small alter-like setting, and all of the plant, including the soil, is supposed to be holy. It is also part of Ayurveda and was used as a fever reducer, ringworm & skin disease treatment, cold & cough remedy, sore throat, and for many other issues.

It even got a stamp!

The main aspect I am interested in is its stress reduction, headache pain reliever, and wonderful effectiveness as a sleep aid.

Stress is something not something many people think of when it comes to chronic pain. But being in pain, dealing with medical bills, and all the associated things that come with chronic pain can be stressful. Not to mention work, and just life in general these days is stressful and we could all use a cup of tea that made everything a lot more mellow. I have a few friends that suffer from sleep issues and I always recommend this to them and I always hear back how great it is working. This is definitely something that not only calms the body but calms the mind. You feel mellow and relaxed and sleep comes quite easily. This is also great for those stress related headaches, a cup of this tea will wash those away.

Tinctures are available and you can take 40-60 drops 3 times a day for stress. Do not add a tincture of Holy Basil to Holy Basil tea though. More than 60 and you will have more of the sedative-like effects.

My favorite way of ingesting it is tea, I reather like the taste of it and it seems to work well for sleep for me.

Tea for Restful Sleep –

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon Holy Basil

Let it steep for at least 5 minutes in a covered teapot, and drink a cup a half hour before you want to sleep, or if you are suffering from a headache drink 2 cups.

ProTip: If you have a covered teacup, just use 1 teaspoon per cup. Steep 5 minutes and drink. If you need more re-brew as needed.

Stress or Migraine tea

  • 2 + teaspoons of Holy Basil (Tulsi)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoons Lavender (1 tsp if you don’t mind the bitterness of lavender)
  • 1/2 tsp Skullcap
  • Honey to taste
All aboard the sleepy train to dreamville!

All aboard the sleepy train to Dreamville!

Steep for 5 or 6 minutes, preferably with a covered teapot/cup, and drink! This is my go-to tea for stressful or painful days, it is fairly potent.

You can increase the dose as needed I really wouldn’t suggest more than 2-3 teaspoons, or if you like you can decrease the amount. Decreasing the dose to 2 teaspoons per pot with any mixer of your choice (you can mix in green tea or black tea for the caffeine, or even lavender or chamomile for their relaxing properties). This will help alleviate stress if you are feeling weighed down by a stressful day. You also have the option to take capsules, you can make your own or purchase them as a supplement and that is another great way to deal with daily stress. You can take this as a supplement or tea daily, but if you are using it as a sleep aid you should not take it for longer than 4 weeks at a time, this is not habit forming but it could make it more difficult to sleep without it.

This will not remove stress completely! There have been some scientific studies into Holy Basil, and there has been documented decreases in stress in individuals who use it, but as always it is in conjunction with exercise and regular, mindful breathing exercises. A life style change is required for full stress reduction, but Holy Basil is definitely something good to have in your arsenal.

Remember educate yourself, make sure you know what you are taking. And always check for drug interactions, WebMD is always a good resource! Remember use common sense!

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Skullcap, a touch of the mad dog

Skullcap, named for the shape of its flowers, is also known sometimes as “mad dog” because of its use for calming the muscle spasms that come with rabies, which made early users believe it was a cure. As a cure for rabies, it has been disproved, but it is still an excellent antispasmodic and great for those who suffer from anxiety. Including the anxiety that comes from withdrawal symptoms. If you have ever quit smoking, or also had the misfortune to ween off an opiate you know what I am talking about. It also is great for tension headaches, migraines, and a sedative.

Pretty to look at too 🙂

I was inspired to write this post after a discussion I had today. I suffered a lot from migraines, still do from time to time. The pain of a migraine can be all encompassing, and can make even the strongest soul pray for death’s sweet release just to escape the pain. That is why, if there is something that can alleviate this, not make you feel like a zombie, and improve the mood to boot, I want all tension headache and migraine sufferers to know about it.

For ages Skullcap has been known as a great treatment for nerves and spasms. If you suffer from tension headaches this is definitely something to look into for treating them occasionally with natural means. Muscle spasms and nerve issues are a large part of my pain issues, and something that I am always seeking to relieve and possibly control. Also, it you are a similar migraine sufferer like I am (especially when a storm rolls in), the headaches are triggered by muscle spasms but are no less painful than other migraines. I had tried many things to treat mine and even resorted to being Botoxed, twice. Recently my migraines were more rare and I went out of town leaving my migraine medication at home (pretty smart, right?) and of course I suffered some intense migraines with nothing to take. Upon my return I was still experiencing pain and a friend of mine mentioned that they had used Skullcap and the one thing mentioned that made me go, “I need to look into this” is it relieved the “behind the eye” pressure. A place most of my migraines live, and I have to say I have been pleased with the results. Not only did the migraine pain reduce to a level that allowed me to function, but I felt pretty awesome. Not giddy but just that everything was right in the world, quite a different mood to the grumpy and irritable migraine person I was prior. I have used it a few times now to treat my migraines and this is a great nervine and sedative.

ProTip: Make sure you are getting PURE Skullcap! Skullcap has and can be adulterated with germander, and this can cause liver and other issues. Please make sure you are getting your Skullcap from a reputable dealer that can assure you no germander touched your Skullcap. Also, this is an herb you should use sparingly in small amounts and never for repeat daily use for very long. The side effects for over dosing are giddiness and confusion, but can lead to nausea stupor, irregular heart rate, twitching and others. But as long as you are not ingesting large amounts you should not run into any of these issues. Remember you need to educate yourself as much as possible before using Skullcap or any supplement. Always consult a professional if you are ever in doubt.

Skullcap tea

This, like peppermint, is actually fairly easy to find as a ready made tea you can buy in sachets off the shelf. There are a few companies like this one or this one, that sell them as blends or “straight” but I personally again prefer to make capsules (like with Turmeric).

To make your own tea from fresh or dried Skullcap for sleepy time tea use these ratios:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon dried or fresh skullcap
  • add a cup of water if you want to add an additional tablespoon of Chamomile, Passion Flower, Holy Basil, or even (but use less) Kava just make sure you don’t over do it, especially if you use the extract form of Kava)

You can also do a “medicinal” brew of the skullcap for more pain related treatments. That would be a recipe along the lines of:

  • 1 oz of dried Skullcap
  • 1 pint of water

Boil the water and steep for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot, you can treat with half a teacup (about 5-6 fluid ounces) every few hours for pain.

I also have a Stress and Migraine tea I have concocted myself that has had good results, look for it here.

WARNING: Skullcap is definitely an herb you can take too much of easily and it can cause some severe discomfort with side effects that feel like a heart attack. DO NOT EVER mix tinctures or extracts into teas, or use them in addition to teas or pills. Start with the SMALLEST possible doses and see how you react. Use common sense!

Like I said previously I prefer a capsule, but you can always use the teas or tinctures, they are always available in most herb stores, tea stores, and online. Again, always remember with this one always start with the lowest dose, and do not exceed a gram if you are taking this in a capsule or powdered form. Also make sure that you don’t take Skullcap over consecutive days if possible, try to put a time spacer in before taking a second dose. Jaw pain has been reported to me by a friend after taking it over consecutive days.

Always make sure to educate yourself before taking anything, and check reactions with your current medications or herbs. WebMD is always a good resource, but make sure you know what you are putting in you before you do!


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A Plant Called Mitragyna speciosa

Kratom, is an evergreen tree, related to coffee, that grows in Southeast Asia. It has been used for a long time for its pain relieving and mild psychoactive ability to uplift the mood. It is gaining popularity in recent times as a pain reliever, recreational drug, and for weening off prescribed opiates.

So pretty as a plant! So amazingly useful as a medicine!

You may have started to see some stuff about this in the news. This is a herb that is fantastic for its therapeutic qualities, but lately it has become more well known for its recreational use that has led to addiction. It has become “controversial”  due to the recreational use of the plant. Most people point to it being illegal in Thailand as a good reason why it should be illegal here.

To all of that I have this to say – I was prescribed, legitimately, hydrocodone for two years and became physically addicted. Hydrocodone was much more addictive, and much more damaging to my body than Kratom, so really I feel this is very much the lesser of two evils. I was able to ween myself off of hydrocodone twice, I suffered greatly during those times, and tend to avoid opiates whenever possible. But with the amount of chronic pain I am in, pain medications are an unfortunate necessity in my life. If they have to be a necessity, why take ones with more of a chance of addiction, destruction of my organs, and side effects when there is a perfectly viable, cheaper, lacking in side effects, solution?

“Wow,” you say, “that sounds fantastic! Tell me more…wait you said that is illegal in Thailand? The place it is from?! Whatchootalkinbout Willis?!”

If you do your homework, I suggest you do, you will find that Kratom was only outlawed in Thailand because it interfered with the Opium trade, who’s tax revenue is vital to Thailand’s economy. So it was so much better than Opium it nearly killed the trade of it, to the point they outlawed its sale. Sound familiar?

I am not saying to take this thinking that you will never get physically addicted, that it is some wonder drug pain reliever you can take willy nilly. You can, and you could. So treat this drug with the same respect, and caution, that you would any opiate provided to you for pain management. I am currently prescribed Nucyenta (aka Tapentadol) which is the same type of opiate-like substance as Kratom, and binds to the receptors the same. These are known as μ-opioid receptors and like all opiates have their addictive qualities. If you are smart about your prescribed opiate use, you can avoid the physical addiction, same here. And with Kratom, unlike my Nucyenta, you can reduce and step down your dose to ween off.

So, you have done your homework, and are ready to venture into all that is Kratom. Great!

First step! Find a good, and preferably, inexpensive dealer in Kratom. There are many online resources but if you can locate a local herb store that carries it, go local! You may also want to check the “head shops” in your area, they tend to carry it for recreational use and sell it at a premium price, but Kratom is Kratom. As long as you know it isn’t adulterated, have pesticides, etc. the location you purchase it from matters not.

There are multiple strains, some go by multiple names and each has different levels of effectiveness.  Also have found that most of the names besides the Maeng Da, can be arbitrary and you should test them yourself to find out what works best for you. Maeng Da is the most frequently touted as the best around, but it is more for recreational use. Yes that name is Maeng Da, which means “Pimp Grade” (funnily the word for pimp directly translates to cockroach)…

Yes I, said cockroach, and no, you don’t have to say the whole thing.

This is why you must, must, must do your research! I have tried a few strains myself, and have found for myself as a general rule white vein is more mellow than red (but I must add here that everyone is different, and the general consensus is that red is more mellow than white, so definitely try these yourself and see what works best for you). I have found Maeng Da doesn’t have as much of an effect on my pain levels as say, my personally preferred strain of Borneo “Super” Red Vein, but many people swear by Maeng Da. A site with a good briefing about the strains by region is this one, but definitely use multiple sources and read up as much as you can before taking anything (just like you should before you take any medication or supplement!) A good rule of thumb for dosing of the powdered herb is:

Low dose

Around 2-4 grams of plain dried leaf, I find that when I take lower doses there is more of the “perking up” feeling and no sleepy feelings.

Moderate dose

About 3-6 grams, this I find does the most for pain but you start to have more of the sleepy feeling and less of the uplifting effects.

Strong dose

5 grams or more, when you start going above 5 grams you need to be careful. Extreme sedation can occur, as well as digestive issues, nausea and vomiting. Some even experience extreme itching all over the body, very unpleasant and should be avoided. Personally I do not recommend going more than 6 grams ever, but there are numerous blogs and sites that recommend taking more than 6 grams and saying they don’t have an issue (which I think is shenanigans).

Powdered form of Kratom, you know it is good medicine – mainly because it tastes SO bad.

No really, it tastes horrible. There are tinctures and extracts and all that, but the taste! Oh the taste! Good medicine is supposed to taste bad, so it must mean this is great medicine. To avoid the taste, get Kratom powder and you can make pills just like you do with Turmeric. Making pills is a little bit more accurate on the dosage since you can make sure you are taking more exactly measured doses. But for the caviler, you can do the “toss & wash” method of taking an equivalent spoonful of the weight of powder you need (if you do, you have steelier balls/ovaries than I). Then “toss” the powder in, and “wash” that nasty stuff down with a chaser. Preferably one with a strong taste to counteract the Kratom taste. Yuck.

The liquid forms are faster acting, but when you are used to waiting an hour for your pills to kick in, waiting an hour for this to kick in isn’t that different. I recommend starting small with a half gram, wait an hour and see how you feel. Queasy? Look for any other reactions. Then slowly increase, and monitor your response. Some people have reactions to very small doses so it is good to work up slowly. I find for pain, about 3 grams will do enough to make me feel alert and reduce my pain enough for me to work most days. An average day ranges from 3-6 currently on a pain scale of 1-10, which everyone’s sense of pain is different and I have been told I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so you may want to take that into account.

I really prefer taking Kratom first, before my Doctor provided drugs as I can take just a bit, and up the dose if my pain is still there without feeling drunk or unable to focus on work. When pain is bad I will take Kratom first, then take my prescribed pills after about 4-5 hours if my pain wasn’t dealt with satisfactorily. The one personal downside I have experienced is, Kratom burps. Not too tasty but it at least won’t effect the rest of the room if it happens.

Like any opiate-like drug do not drive, or do anything dangerous (leave pots boiling on the stove, perform brain surgery, put babies on cliff edges, or the like) or do anything you couldn’t fall asleep doing and… well, you know… not die. Make sure you discuss your use with your doctor, and as always educate yourself before taking anything. Always check for reactions too! WebMD is almost always great for that, but here they don’t list anything about Kratom except support for addiction on the forums. So I recommend this site and just using caution and common sense. Don’t drink alcohol, or take other drugs, yes caffeine IS a drug while taking Kratom. Be smart folks.


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Lavender, not just for Grandma’s closet.

Lavender, if you are like most people, it’s one of those scents that you don’t think of as medicinal or really think much of. It is in perfume’s, room sprays, soaps and lotions. You see it in those sachet’s in your Grandma’s closet or in some Herbs de Provence. It is the ubiquitous “spa” lotion, massage oil, eye pillow flower, but do you ever really stop to think how kick-ass this small purple flower is?

So much bad assery, packed into something so small.

While there are many types of lavender the type we are concerned about is Lavandula angustifolia. This is the one used in most herbal preparations. A brief history about the famous purple plant, it has been used by humanity for over 2,500 years, and is well documented in use in Egypt, Phoenicians, in the Hebrew Bible, and New Testaments. The present name most likely comes from Rome, and the Roman use of lavender in bathing preparations. The Latin root for the name is either lavare– to wash, or livendula– livid or bluish. It was used by Judith in the Bible to seduce Holofermes, and by Cleopatra to seduce Julius Caesar. There is even a song referencing it, I am sure you know the “Lavender Blue, dilly dilly” song. It always seemed vaguely naughty to me, boy was I right. Lavender’s seductive qualities was not lost in 17th century England. According to the Traditional Ballad Index (oh internets, you never fail to amaze me) the song is about:

“”Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly…” Singer tells his lady that she must love him because he loves her. He tells of a vale where young man and maid have lain together, and suggests that they might do the same, and that she might love him (and also his dog)”

History having more sexy time than Showtime, since always. “Come on baby, let’s lavender diddle diddle!”

It should be your most loved and used too. Lavender is something I try to keep on me all the time. It is great for:

  • Skin preparations for daily use
  • Skin preparations for acne
  • For daily hair use – shampoo, etc.
  • Can encourage hair regrowth especially in people with alopecia areata
  • Treating bug bites – best thing ever for itchy fire ant, flea and mosquito bites, but useful for all bites
  • Keeping bugs out – a good insect repellent, or for daily use (does increase sun sensitivity make sure to add sun-blocking agents) and can be used on bed linens for bed bugs, fleas, or other uses where bug spray is needed
  • Burns! Yes, never get nasty scars from burns, and you will love it on a sunburn. Soothing!
  • Well known as a sleeping aid
  • A mild muscle relaxer, that may also help reduce pain in general
  • In massage can reduce anxiety and increase relaxation
  • Delicious baked goods, and savory dishes, really it can go in anything
  • Teas, or even infused water/spa waters

I could go on and on about its uses! As you can see it, like peppermint, is just more than useful to have around.

Personally I use lavender to help soothe muscle pain, relax, and as a sleep aid. I do use it in cooking a lot, and when I make my own shampoo (which if you haven’t you should, I use this recipe) but mostly the before mentioned uses.

Baths & Bath Salts

I love a hot bath, and with my muscle spasms it helps a lot of things to release and with lavender you can really help those muscle spasms relax further. Sometimes I find that just taking a hot bath with lavender can reduce a lot of aches and pains. If you don’t have the time to make your own, buy some good quality ones. There are lots of brands out there, I prefer Dr. Teal’s Lavender, it is on the more expensive side and there are cheaper or more expensive versions out there. Just make sure you review the ingredients.

If you would like to make your own, it is super easy to do and doesn’t take long.

Lavender Epsom Salt Recipe

  • 5 cups (40 oz) of Epsom Salts
  • 5-10 drops Lavender essential oil
  • A few teaspoons of dried lavender flowers (I just add them until I like the amount, based on previous baths, but I would say a teaspoon a cup ratio to start)

That’s it! You want to make sure you mix it well, breaking up any lumps, and store it in a dry spot in a sealed container. You could add different oils for different effects. You have the option of reducing the Epsom salts to 4 cups and adding:

  • 1 cup Baking Soda OR 1 cup Powdered Milk
  • 1 cup Sea Salt
  • Soap colorants/dyes, don’t use food coloring as it could stain your tub

If you use powdered milk you need to make sure you rinse your tub well. You could even make cheap Christmas or Birthday gifts with this too, great for large group gifts and people will think you spent a ton of time on it!

Sleep Aids

Where to start with these? There are just SO many things you can do with Lavender to help you sleep. So to keep it simple, I am only going over my favorites that happen to be so because they are the easiest.

  • Lavender Essential oil (therapeutic grade as always) – couple deployment methods here, my preferred is to take a drop and rub some on your temples and smooth the rest over your pillow. You can also put a drop in 6-8 oz. of warm milk (or milk substitute) or water.
  • Dried or fresh Lavender tea – you can get food grade lavender lots of places, or grow your own. I would start by mixing this into a chamomile tea at first since lavender can be bitter, and a little goes a long way. Start with a 1/4 teaspoon and work your way up. You can do just pure lavender if you are brave enough. (Also works the same in infused waters, just use cold water and let sit for a few hours in the fridge.)
  • Lavender (or lavender and hops) pillows – I will go into more detail about the hops version in later posts, but just a small sachet of dried lavender placed in your pillow while you sleep will greatly improve quantity and quality of sleep.

As always test things out on yourself, it is always trial and error finding out what works best for you. Make sure to check reactions on WebMD. Always educate yourself before taking anything and when in doubt, consult a professional!


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Peppermint

Not just for those Mint Juleps, or dessert garnishes!

Well, it is really good for a Mint Julep, or in some Moroccan style couscous.

Oh Peppermint, how I love thee, let me count the ways! This is one of those fun multiple duty fixes that I have found works really well in most of its applications. Peppermint is another herb that has been used for medicinal purposes since pretty much time began. Egyptians, Greeks, Native Americans, Hebrews, you name ’em, if mint grew near by it was being used by the locals in culinary and medicinal ways.

Of course the manner of use and/or ingestion changes depending on the region. Desserts are common, and in North African cooking is part of savory dishes, as it can be in some new and ancient European dishes. It also shows up in many histories and myths. One of my favorite stories is that the Greeks thought it encouraged sexual behavior and it was forbidden for soldiers to consume it. Most likely due to the myth of its origin where Minthe a naiad of the river Cocytus (one of the five rivers encircling the underworld of Greek myth) so dazzled by the chariot of Hades was going to seduce him. Luckily, or unluckily depending on who’s side you’re on, Persephone, quite possibly the first documented case of Stockholm Syndrome, spotted this and turned Minthe into a plant that would be crushed under people’s feet. Hades supposedly took pity and softened the curse, so that when stepped on people would smell her sweetness.

I was going to put a picture of Hades and Persephone here but thanks to weird, weird, fan art I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t hyper sexual or super creepy. Thank you internets.

So it is no surprise with this long history of humanity with mint that there are quite a few uses that can apply to not only assisting with pain, but also assisting with some of those not so fun side-effects when you do have to take your Doctor prescribed drugs.

One of the major issues I run into with my medications is nausea. And I have been successful using it as a tea, peppermint water, or just inhaling that delicious cold refreshing scent as a great way to settle the queasy feelings. Peppermint tea is fairly easy to obtain, you can purchase it at most chain grocery stores, and specialty stores almost always carry it. I think the best of the bunch is fresh mint tea.

Fresh Mint Tea

  • 4-5 good sized stems of Peppermint
  • 1 tea kettle of boiling water
  • tea pot (a smaller 3-4 cup teapot is best)

Put Peppermint in tea pot (clean Peppermint of course) and add hot water. Cover. This is the most important step.

If you do not cover while you steep any tea with oils you will lose them if they are uncovered. So cover your tea! This is the main reason I suggest a tea pot, they usually have lids. If you have an Asian tea cup with a lid, this will get you the best results. You want to steep for five minutes, no more, no less. You want a sort of light green tea color. I love it just as it is, or if you really need that sweetener don’t go any further than some honey local to your area.

Pro Tip for Dried Tea: If you are using dried Peppermint tea it is preferable to use a covered tea pot (with a few bags) or covered tea cup to ensure that no volatile oils are lost. Just brew like you would the fresh, or according to package directions.

Mint has long been known as an aid to digestion, I mean why do you think every restaurant has a mint available as you leave? Why mints?! This is to help digest after over eating. It has recently been tested (SCIENCE!) and found to help with people that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can benefit from Peppermint oil and teas. But if you have severe acid issues, it could cause issues, as Peppermint can severely increase acid issues.

DISCLAIMER: Peppermint will not settle everyone’s upset tummy! My husband is a prime example, it further upsets things. So remember test yourself and know yourself. If you have acid re-flux or other acid issues you may want to look into Chamomile or Ginger.

Peppermint Water

How to make it:

  • 1 drop of therapeutic grade Peppermint oil
  • 6-8 oz water (preferably filtered or otherwise)

That’s it, just put the oil in the water and drink it down!

Sometimes I just drink a glass because I like it, not many medicines you can say that about. Peppermint water is older than, well, dirt. Pretty much since water and peppermint were discovered they were married together. Peppermint water is helpful if you have a sore throat, if you are suffering from an upset stomach, and I find it opens the sinuses too. You can even add it to tea, but I suggest not adding it to a steaming cup, but as soon as it is cool enough to drink adding a drop.

Topical

Peppermint can also be a great muscle relaxing topical application, I have used it to alleviate the pain of some migraines caused by extreme muscle spasm. And have rubbed it into many a sore muscle after working hard at a T’ai Chi class. As with the Peppermint water, use therapeutic grade. You also want to use it sparingly, and avoid sensitive areas. Things like eyes, inside of the nose, areas with rash or broken skin, generally any sensitive area. If you are unsure you can try a test patch and rinse with luke-warm water and mild soap if you have a reaction, but it is always best to consult  a professional if you have any sort of doubt.

As always, each person is different so go through your own trials with Peppermint and see what works best for you. Always educate yourself, check reactions on WebMD and consult a professional if you are ever in doubt!


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Frankincense, no not that guy that’s afraid of fire and walks with his arms out.

This is maybe one of my favorite pain remedies, it smells so amazing that you almost want to just wear it all the time. That distinctive smell is what sent people, and this wonderful resin all over the globe after it was discovered.

Who knew such a crusty rock could be so cool?

It probably helps my love of this fragrant resin, that one of my personal heroes has a story about her attempting to get Frankincense directly from the source. Hatshepsut, first female Pharaoh of the land of Km.t and all around bad-ass lady, proudly documented on her tomb walls the excursion to the land of Punt to obtain valuable frankincense for their temples. This was so very important since the remaining charred frankincense was then ground and was called Kohl, that lovely black eyeliner the ancient Egyptians are so famous for. Frankincense being a hard resin was used frequently in their cosmetic preparations and in religious ceremonies. This usage is pretty much how it was used in other cultures as well, most well known in the Judeo-Christian world as a consecrated incense, or as one of the gifts to the wee baby Jesus. It’s current Western name comes from the Frankish crusaders that brought the precious resin back and re-introduced it to Europe. Herodotus mentions it, and along with cinnamon, its story is one of my favorite lies that developed to protect the trade secret.

“When they gather frankincense, they burn storax (the gum which is brought into Greece by the Phoenicians) in order to raise a smoke to drive off the flying snakes; these snakes, the same which attempt to invade Egypt, are small in size and of various colors, and great numbers of them keep guard over all the trees which bear the frankincense, and the only way to get rid of them is by smoking them out with storax.” – Heroditus 3.106-116.

This is the sort of history they should teach in schools!

The original controversial historian, best recognize.

Modern medicine has just caught on to this and there have been studies starting in 1996 and continuing on that show that Frankincense has had proven lab results with pain. I can definitely verify that through my personal use, I have found that it is almost instantaneous relief when applied to muscles in spasm, or just general soreness. (I have been using therapeutic grade essential oils, I plan on covering why you want therapeutic vs other grades in later posts so if you can’t wait google it, and you will see why I have this preference.) I have been using the Young Living brand oils myself, I trust their purity, and though this is a pricier remedy this is one that you truly get what you pay for. (Distilling essential oils and why that is difficult is another upcoming post!)

Pro Tip: Always remember to check the labels of any essential oils you buy and avoid any with adulterates, these reduce the effectiveness of the oil. Think of it like watering down your cough syrup, if that helps. You get more product, but you lose potency. (I will go into what the difference is between essential oils and other oils you may come across as well in future posts too.)

Young Living Frankincense Essential Oil

Now, frankincense is well known for its skin healing properties and I have to say it fixed my KP as a happy side effect of my pain treatments, but other than it making my skin more lovely, I haven’t had any bad reactions and have only experienced a significant reduction in pain with its application. Which is generally one drop rubbed into the sore area. This totally beats the prescribed topical pain gels I had been provided in speed of pain relief, no drunk feeling side effects, and frankincense smells loads better than pain gels! You can again make capsules (see the Turmeric post for info on that) for it, and they work well I have heard, but I have not used that personally. I have spoken with a woman that also uses YL oils that suffers from Crohn’s disease and swears by frankincense pills for pain.

As always, each person is different so go through your own trials and see what works best for you. Always educate yourself, check reactions on WebMD and consult a professional if you are ever in doubt!