Pedicularis for Pain Relief

Did You Know…this native North American plant can be used as an herbal alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers?

Despite what many believe, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs—the most common class of painkiller—can do serious harm.  Peter Wilson, a professor of medicine and public health at Emory University, has consulted with the FDA on how best to warn consumers about the risks of these products.

According to Wilson…

  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs increase your risk of heart attack by approximately 10 percent
  • Low-dose prescription NSAIDs increase your risk by about 20 percent
  • High-dose NSAIDs increase your risk by around 50 percent

“One of the underlying messages for this warning has to be there are no completely safe pain relievers, period,” said Bruce Lambert, a specialist in drug safety communication.

Powerful Pain Relief from Mother Nature 

When Lambert said there were no safe painkillers, he was discounting the very real pain-reliving properties of certain plants.  Pedicularis (Pedicularis canadensis), a flowering plant native to North America, has been used by the original inhabitants of the continent as an herbal remedy for centuries.  Perhaps the most valuable medicinal use for pedicularis is as a muscle relaxant.

Pedicularis is excellent at relieving tension held in the muscles, so much so that users with a great deal of muscular tension report what some call a “limp noodle” effect after taking it.  Because it is also a nervine relaxant, it’s especially beneficial for those whose pain is tied into stress or anxiety.  Nervines—substances used to calm the nerves—can cause feelings of sleepiness or lethargy for some individuals.

Herbal healers say that pedicularis is most helpful for treating back pain—upper and lower.  Although its effects will not be as overpowering as a narcotic painkiller, it can lessen tension so that those kinds of drugs are not necessary.  And it can certainly equal the performance of NSAIDS, with none of the adverse consequences!

Warning: Experimentation Ahead! 

Experts agree that the key to effectively using pedicularis to relieve your pain is to find the quantity and frequency that works best for you.  Some find, for instance, that a dropperful of a tincture (1.25 ml) taken every three hours works best, while others achieve the best results by taking half a dropper (.60 ml) every hour, and some insist the best strategy is to take a larger quantity like two to three droppersful (2.5-3.75) when they feel pain setting in.

As you experiment for yourself, use common sense.  Start with a low dose, and if you choose to increase it, do so gradually.  Few negative side effects have ever been linked to pedicularis.  It is worth reiterating that for those sensitive to nervine substances, it can cause mild disorientation which some find reason enough to choose a different remedy.  Others, however, find that same effect, a sort of “spaciness,” can further reduce their sensation of pain.

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