18 Herbal Remedies for Aches and Pains

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
18 Herbal Remedies for Aches and Pains

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As well versed as I am when it comes to using essential oils for aches and pains, I have little practical experience using herbal remedies to resolve those daily creaks in my joints and elsewhere that seem to occur at the worst possible time.

Given the popularity of our recent Prepper Book Festival entry, Be Your Own Herbalist, I decided I better get with the program and continue the discussion of herbal remedies by calling in some experts with first-hand experience.  That, plus getting some first-hand experience myself.

18 herbal remedies for aches and pains | Backdoor Survival

This week I called in Carmen Reeves, the author of Homemade Herbal Medicine, and asked (really I begged) for some help.  What she has graciously done is given me permission to share an excerpt from her book.  In doing so, I want you to understand that Carmen is not simply a researcher who writes.  She uses herbs and other natural remedies herself and adds her personal anecdotal experience to her writings.

For the purpose of this article, herbal remedies for aches and pains are broken down into 4 main categories:

Arthritis pain
General, non-specific pain relief
Sore throats

Herbal Remedies for Arthritis

So many herbs out there tout anti-inflammatory capabilities. If you have pains from arthritis, whether Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis, there is an immense selection from the world of herbs to choose from. In fact—almost all herbs have some sort of anti-inflammatory capability! However, try out and stick to the following: they have the most supported use, both in modern studies and traditional knowledge.

1.  Evening Primrose – The seed pods are high in Omega-3’s, ALA, and GLA. An oil bought commercially, or infused from the plant’s seed pods, has been shown to alleviate inflamed joints—especially for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.

2.  Arnica – Creams, ointments, and salves are widely available for arthritis relief at most natural food stores. You can also opt to make your own salve or topical oil by extracting Arnica’s soothing compounds from the flowers. Make sure to not use Arnica internally, only externally on pained joints.

3.  Comfrey –Comfrey can take the edge off arthritic pain. Creams and ointments are available at some stores—or make an oil or salve from the leaves or root to rub into painful joints. Do not take internally.

4.  Ginger – Taken internally, Ginger can help with inflammatory pain much like a modern NSAID (like Acetaminophen). You might need to take it periodically over a few hours—make a fresh Ginger root tea, a Chai tea, or add fresh Ginger to your meal. Or—sip a Ginger ale.

5.  Turmeric – This bright yellow powder can provide relief for arthritis more effectively than any other. Take it internally in a tea, tincture, supplement, or added to food. Or, make yourself a Turmeric oil or salve—it works, but might make your hands yellow for a while!

Herbal Remedies for Pain Relief

What about general pain? Beyond achy joints from arthritis, there are numerous ways we experience pain. For example, we might suffer from muscle pains due to exercise or injury. Or, we might face nerve pain from issues like sciatica or even type 2 diabetes.

No matter the issue, the herbal world will probably have you covered. If you’re tiring from pain medications or ointments with uncomfortable side effects—or maybe you just want to make your own remedy, or turn to something natural—check out these herbs which have been used for ages to soothe pains of all kinds.

6.  Aloe – The pain of burns, itching, dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema is no fun. Apply Aloe gel or cream to skin infections, afflictions, or even wounds. It can dull the burn of inflamed pain, and speed up the time it takes to heal.

7.  Arnica – Arnica assuages not only joint pain, but muscle or bruise pains too. Creams, ointments, and salves are commercially available. You can make your own salve or oil from the flowers. Do not use internally or on open skin.

8.  Black Haw – Containing a compound called scopoletin (as well as Aspirin-like compounds, including salicin), taking the twigs or root of this plant in a hot tea could achieve similar effect as taking Aspirin for tummy aches, menstrual cramps, or even the pain from harsh, dry coughs.

9.  Cayenne – Try an over-the-counter cream containing capsaicin, the active ingredient in Cayenne that makes it “spicy.” It works excellent on unbroken, smooth skin for nerve and muscle pains especially. Just make sure you wash your hands after using—getting any residue in your eyes or mouth will burn!

Gaye’s note:  Check this Backdoor Survival DIY: Make an Awesome Cayenne Salve for Pain Relief

10.  Comfrey – Comfrey eases muscle and joint pain both, but also helps speed healing of muscles, breaks, and internal injuries. Make an oil or salve from the leaves or root and rub into skin. Do not take internally or on open skin.

11.  St. John’s Wort – Got the blues and some uncomfortable nerve pain? St. John’s Wort not only allays depression. When used as a topical oil or salve rubbed into skin, it can soothe nerve pain. Try it with issues like fibromyalgia.

Herbal Remedies for A Toothache

Maybe you don’t have to go to the dentist for simple tooth pain. Instead, turn to the culinary spices and herbs in your kitchen cupboard. If you don’t think it’s a cavity, abscess, or infection—consider these herbs for ridding yourself of the agony.

12.  Echinacea – Beyond fighting colds, Echinacea was traditionally used for toothaches. Make an oil or salve from leaves, flowers, or roots— apply just a bit to the gums around your aching tooth. Apply more every hour until pain recedes.

13.  St. John’s Wort – This plant, typically used for depression, yields a gorgeously deep-red infused oil if you leave it in oil in the sun. It can be safely dabbed around the gums of a throbbing tooth. Apply more every hour until pain recedes.

Herbal Remedies for Sore Throat

Ah—the scratchy, raspy pain that accompanies colds, flu, or sometimes even strep throat or allergies. Luckily, herbal remedies have been in place for sore throats for hundreds of years… if not thousands. All it takes is making a hot, soothing tea with any of the following herbs—and add a little lemon or honey (a mixture of maple syrup and malt syrup works the same way as a vegan alternative) for additional throat- relieving effects.

14,  Eucalyptus – This Australian tree’s active constituent, eucalyptol, helps soothe the pain and soreness of coughs or sore throat. It may also help open up airways, assist breathing, and even kill of viral or bacterial infections causing the sore throat. Make it as a gargle, using a few drops of essential oils or dried leaves.   Spit it out when finished.

15.  Garlic – Garlic, like Eucalyptus, is strong at fighting off viral/bacterial infection causing sore throat. It also boosts immunity to give an added edge. Most of all— a warm Garlic tea can be throat-soothing. Add a few cloves (as many as you can stand) to warm or hot water, then crush them in the water with a fork and stir. Add honey (or maple and malt syrup mixture) and lemon, and you have in your hands a homemade, herbal sore throat dream.

16.  Ginger – Ginger can be a boon to a sore throat, especially when it occurs with colds or flu. Make a hot tea of fresh root and add lemon—if you’re brave, add Garlic. Ginger’s pungent heat soothes the inflamed skin, while killing off any viral presence.

17.  Mint – Menthol in Mint leaves suppresses cough, and soothes any achy throat. Make a hot tea of it, and perhaps add some lemon or lime. Mint is also mildly anti-viral.

18.  Thyme – Like all these other above herbs, Thyme contains compounds that assuage a sore throat—but also can kill infection-causing microbes that lead up to it. Make a tea of Thyme sprigs with honey (or maple and malt syrup mixture) and lemon. Add crushed Garlic or Ginger if you dare!

For even more remedies, consider picking up a copy of Homemade Herbal Medicine or one of Carmen’s other health related books.  Plus, if there continues to be enough interest, I will be sharing more of her knowledge in future articles, which, as you know, are always available to you online for free.

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

Jeff left this comment a few weeks ago and I keep going back to it.

Prepping for survival is simple. Shelter, water and food are all that you have to cover.

Prepping for living is much more complicated. Simply surviving is not enough,you must plan for a life that is fulfilling and lasting, ensuring continued personal growth and a stable future for those who come after you. That is where prepping gets complex.

Prepping for living is hard work and it is so easy to get so caught up in the process that we forget to have fun.  I can only speak for myself but there are some days when I believe I have forgotten to have fun.  Do you ever feel that way?

The Final Word

Survival Buzz?  What Buzz?  Yes, last week I did forget.  That is a first for me and I have tossed and turned at night thinking about it.  Although I would rather not delve into all of the reasons for forgetting things lately, I will simply share that the process of packing, purging, and moving is exhausting and I am tired.

I now have a keen appreciation for what many of you are feeling as you plan your own move that may include the daunting task of relocating preps.  Let me ask this:  do you have a move-related story to share?

Spotlight:  Homemade Herbal Medicine: Your Essential Guide to Herbs & DIY Remedies for Health & Healing

In this book you will learn:

How to prepare very basic teas, infusions, salves, oils, tinctures, and herbal vinegars

The benefits of the author’s 30 favorite herbs, all of which are the most studied and esteemed by traditional folklore, ancient practice, science, and research combined

A wonderful guide of the Most Common Maladies, and the different ways herbs can be used to restore health for each issue

Learn how to handle colds, flus, headaches, anxiety, arthritis pain, skin problems, minor infections, cuts, stomach ailments, fibromyalgia pain, and so much more

The importance of what specific herbs and herbal preparations to use for certain issues—when infusions are better than essential oils, and when tinctures are better than supplements

Knowing how to choose the very best store bought teas, essential oils, supplements, and creams for your home practice

Learn, most of all, how plants can change your life! Equip yourself with basics, knowledge, and all the how-to’s on beginning herbalism.

Below you will find some of my other favorite preps.

Gorilla Tape:  Gorilla Tape is really tough stuff for the really tough job.  For portability, Gorilla Tape To Go is extremely popular with Backdoor Survival readers.

3M Utility Duct Tape: Duct tape is an absolute necessity when sealing off a space to shelter in place.  For this purpose, you want something better than the cheap stuff you get at the dollar store.

RediTape Pocket Duct Tape 2-Pack:   I love this stuff and am stashing packs in all of my kits.  In many cases it will replace a big bulky roll of the 3M stuff, giving me room for additional preps.

Sunferno Flintstone Portable Solar Panel with Rechargeable Battery Pack:  This sturdy solar power pack is lightweight and small enough to be used in an EDC kit.  I especially like that it has 2 USB ports.

Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger: This nicely built charger will charge AA, AAA, C, D, N, 9V, Ni-MH, Ni-CD, and Alkaline batteries. It has an LED display so that when you first put a battery in the charging bay, you know whether it is viable for charging or simply bad and ready to go back to the recycle box. See How to Recharge Alkaline Batteries.

How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew:  You are going to love this book.  It is charming and timely and filled with good-natured humor and the loving spirits of grandmothers everywhere. Also, check out How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes:  One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”.  These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster.  Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such.  Here is my review.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards:  This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out.  Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness pantry.


As many of your know ~ the very best way to understand and become familiar with Essential Oils is to jump in with both feet. The only way to do that is to have the right EOs at your fingertips.

The Spark Naturals Health and Wellness Kit is perfect for this.  It includes:

Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
Amend +(Soothing Blend)
Respire (Respiratory Blend)
Shield (Protective Blend)

This kit is not just for beginners ~ these EOs are the ones that most seasoned users use daily. This kit is also a great way to replenish your supply. Not only is it great savings to begin with ~ but it also qualifies for free shipping.

That means that while you are at it, you can add accessory items such as droppers, roller balls, and jars for no additional shipping cost.  Plus, remember, you get an additional 10% off using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

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9 Responses to “18 Herbal Remedies for Aches and Pains”

  1. Something to add for the tooth pain – cloves. When I have bad gum or tooth pain and can’t get to the dentist, I put about an ounce of ground clove (you could use whole but would need to soak it for longer) in a bottle with about 1-2 cups of vodka. I then shake well and steep it for as long as I can stand, at least half a day. I put a small amount in my mouth and hold it in there as long as I can, usually just a couple minutes, then spit and rinse. Trust me, you won’t want to swallow this! I shake the stuff a few times a day and it gets stronger over time.

    It tastes awful but does a good job of numbing the mouth. Use caution and do your research before using it, different people have different sensitivities.

  2. I would love to know a good brand of medicinal quality essential oil. I have heard about Eden’s Garden, NOW Foods and the obvious, Doterra. Any suggestions?

    • I am not sure I understand what you mean by “medicinal”. Alas, essential oils are not graded by any official authority but some are more pure than others. I once opened a bottle of Lavender I purchased from Amazon (cheap cheap stuff) and it smelled like paint thinner,.

      Go with the advice of someone you trust. I happen to use essential oils from Spark Naturals when it comes to health and wellness purposes. They are of high quality and their pricing is reasonable (but not the aforementioned cheap cheap cheap). There are other good brands too.

      If you want to give Spark Naturals a try, you enjoy a 10% discount using my code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout. Here is a link: //www.sparknaturals.com/?id=377.

  3. I take an all natural, gluten free and non-GMO supplement with Tumeric, Ashwagonda, Milk Weed, Green Tea Extract and Becopa Extract. It supports your immune health and speeds healing by reducing oxidative stress at a cellular level. I have taken Tumeric w/ a grind of black pepper for many years to help with arthritis and other soft tissue and joint pain from years of riding horses (and getting thrown). I found this supplement (called Protandim) after 7 years of oral steroids for a serious autoimmune condition. After 8 months, I was off of steroids completely. I will never be without it in an emergency situation or in my daily life; just one, per person, per day. Doesn’t take up much space in my BOB or my EDC. I also use energy drink sticks (AXIO) by the same company in all my bags. It is also an Nrf2 supplement as well. Also all natural, no sugar and no artificial colors. It boosts your focus and mental acuity in most people. We need our heads on swivel in a crisis, and this allows us to have that clarity and precision with no jitters or “green apple quick step” like seems to occur when coffee and nerves collide. Check out http://www.abcliveit.com to see for yourself, or http://www.pubmed.gov/Protandim

  4. To clarify, acetaminophen is not an NSAID (non steroidal anti inflammatory drug) It is a pain reliever (processed in the liver) and a fever reducer.

  5. When it comes to moving, nothing beats those rental containers. You just load up your stuff, and they take it to your new location. Not quite ready to unpack it yet? They’ll put the whole container in storage until you are.

  6. i’ve told this story before, but this seems like a good place to repeat it. i have ibs/d; also osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis in numerous joints. several years ago i started taking turmeric (500mg curcumin), first two caps a day, then 4. right away i noticed that it helped my ibs, but i wasn’t sure that it was helping my joints. then a few months ago i ran out of capsules and couldn’t get more for 6 days. within 2 o 3 days, every arthritic joint in my body was screaming; i could barely move. once i resumed taking turmeric, my joints were back to “normal” after 4 days. i also went from having ibs symptoms 7 days out of the month to having them 15 days a month. it took 3 months for that to go back to “normal”, but it finally did. i’ve added a week’s worth of turmeric to my edc, for now i know what could happen if i can’t take it for a few days! it’s cheap at walmart.

    • //www.puritan.com/puritans-pride-brand-0102/turmeric-800-mg-051441

      300 tablets, 800 mg…$12.00
      free shipping with $25 order
      I have used this site for about 6 years. I get all herbs/vitamins here.

  7. You’re right on target about prepping for living, which goes beyond having food, water, etc. This encompasses a whole world view or mindset.
    As for moving, we’ve gone through upheaval in recent days because we had the carpet in our trailer’s living room and hall replaced with vinyl floor covering. As much as we had to move out of the way and now reorganize, it was similar to moving. It’s disruptive and disorienting, but necessary. I pity those who’ve gone through floods and wildfires recently because their upheaval is much worse.

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