Pain Relief

Amsterdam in Holland was referred to for the first time on paper in 1275 as the settlement of “Aemstelredamme” meaning ‘dam in the river of Amstel’.

Amsterdam has a long and eventful history when fishermen living along the banks of the River Amstel built a bridge across a large saltwater inlet to protect the village from rising waters.

Amsterdam’s other colourful history was as a tourist hotspot for the legal sale of cannabis. Coffee shops handed out menus for the ‘drug of the day’ or offered cannabis-laced biscuit to eat or take away.

Still illegal here in New Zealand, the issue of medical marijuana was put firmly in the spotlight after former President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly’s passing from lung cancer where she spoke openly about the benefits of medicinal cannabis use in pain relief, nausea and to improve sleep patterns.

While the world grapples with the use of medicinal marijuana there are some other natural treatments to help with the management of pain.

The oddly named herb, Jamaican dogwood, also know as Florida fish poison tree or Fishfuddle, was been traditionally used as a sedative to stun fish, allowing them to be caught by hand.

Today, Jamaican dogwood, is used as a herbal tincture to treat the neuralgic pain caused by shingles due to its powerful action as a nerve sedative.

It contains active ingredients called isoflavonoids which help block the pain associated with shingles and which are also anti-inflammatory.

Precaution must be taken in regards to Jamaica dogwood and it should only be used with the supervision of a qualified herbal practitioner.

Corydalis (Corydalis ambigua) is a traditional Chinese herb, sometimes known as Chinese Poppy Plant which alludes to its similar traits to codeine or morphine, has the ability to reduce chronic pain in patients.

Corydalis contains a variety of alkaloids which have been studied as a potential way to increase pain tolerance and for treating drug addiction.

It can help in the treatment of acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain when prescribed correctly.

The white willow tree has been used to combat pain and fever for thousands of years.  The bark of the tree contains salicin, which the body converts to salicylic acid.  The active compound in aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is derived from salicylic acid.

Herbalists use white willow in much the same way as aspirin, to reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, period or nerve pain and fever.  White willow works a little slower than aspirin in relieving pain, but lasts long and is gentler on the stomach.

Whilst emerging research shows the cannabinoids found in cannabis may help ease the chronic pain associated with cancer and other diseases, there can be other plants which may help under the guidance of a qualified medical herbalist and in conjunction with your GP.