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The Smarter (Safer) Alternative to OTC Pain Meds

WTHN Team/01.12.21

The Smarter (Safer) Alternative to OTC Pain Meds

The Smarter (Safer) Alternative to OTC Pain Meds

…and what you won’t find on those labels.


Pain can be…a real pain. And when we envision our “best selves,” pain is certainly not in the picture. But the truth is, acute and chronic pain are simply part of life sometimes – whether you’re dealing with a health condition, a “long-day” headache or just a tough week of workouts. 


And thanks to modern medicine, there are tons of options for pain relief. But did you know they’re not all as harmless as they seem? One of the many reasons that natural, holistic treatments (like our new Head to Toe Relief blend, hint hint) may be a smarter choice for aches and pains is that even over-the-counter medicines, if taken over time, can seriously harm your insides.


Why meds can be risky


Ibuprofen, for example – one of the most common ingredients in name-brand bottles – can cause unpleasant (but comparatively mild) side effects like nausea and diarrhea, or more alarming ones like stomach ulcers and kidney damage, when taken too frequently. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Medicine estimated that more than 100,000 people are hospitalized every year – and at least 16,000 people die – from gastrointestinal complications after overusing NSAIDS, the class of drugs ibuprofen belongs to. 


Acetaminophen, another pain reliever in medicine cabinets everywhere, is gentler on the stomach and intestines but still rough on the liver, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s because, as your body digests this compound and eliminates waste through urine, it converts some of it into a toxic byproduct that can build up over time. Liver damage from acetaminophen is well recognized, but research in the journal Hepatology suggests that even the recommended doses of this drug can sometimes be dangerous, especially if taken without food (or alongside too much alcohol, which also taxes the liver). 


And those are just a few over-the-counter products. Prescription painkillers like opioids come with their own set of serious concerns, not least of which is the threat of dependence. Like their OTC counterparts, these drugs work, but not without an asterisk.


And why herbs do it better


That’s all our long way of saying: There’s a safer option out there. Herbal pain remedies (Head to Toe Relief, ta-da) are made entirely from plants, and have been trusted for thousands of years to alleviate symptoms without negative side effects. 


Herbs are a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s holistic approach to pain, which focuses on treating the root cause of discomfort, rather than just the unpleasant sensation. For example, in TCM, practitioners often pinpoint stagnant blood as an underlying factor of pain, so many beneficial herbs work by helping the blood to get moving again, says WTHN co-founder Dr. Shari Auth.


Take a look, for example, at frankincense and myrrh, two of Head to Toe Relief’s ingredients. “Studies have shown that these herbs accelerate wound healing and reduce pain and inflammation,” says Shari, in addition to helping with muscular, nerve-related, and arthritic pain. And the duo is deliberate: “The combination of frankincense and myrrh has a synergistic effect – they’re stronger when used together.”


Our blend’s ensemble cast of ingredients all have their own specialties. “Angelica root is a vaso-relaxant that is especially helpful for headache and migraines, whereas kudzu root is great for relieving tight muscles of the upper body and safflower flower is especially helpful for menstrual discomfort,” explains Shari.


And really, the bottom line is this: “Unlike western pharmaceutical remedies for pain, herbs are non-addictive and non-toxic, and have multiple side benefits.”


It turns out knowledge is power…and that makes us feel better already.



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