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Ask the Herbalist--Pain & Inflammation

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: I have a 86 year old mother with a lot of pain in her lower back from compression fractures. She is on medication but was wondering if your 'I hope you can dance' Linament would ease her muscular pain.

ANSWER: Its so nice to see a son concerned about his mother. I am not familiar with this product. The answer you see at the site is from a long ago herbalist who is no longer at that position, not from myself.

Personally I suffer from severe rheumatoid arthritis and the best ointment/linament I have ever found comes in a tiny bottle, its name Yee Tin Medicated Oil. It is very inexpensive at any Chinese herbal shop or just Google it and buy off the net. Apply to the area (make sure you wash your hands well afterwards and not touch your eyes), then apply a heating pad to the area use moderate heat and increase if needed. In some case alternating heat and then cold seems to work better for some people. If this is so with your mom, apply the heat 15 minutes, then an ice bag for 10. Repeat as often as needed.

:  What herbs are used for pain relief?

ANSWER:  Depending on what you want the relief from, here are a few to try:

- turmeric, inflammation and pain
- white willow bark, works in head pain, some of the time
- astragalus and schizandra berry, inflammation, pain, blood cleansing, movement of dead chi
- yucca for arthritis
- eucommia bark for joint pain
- 1500 mg of balanced calcium supplement
- 500 mg of Ester C with magnesium, three to four times daily
- COQ10, with C, 100 mg, four times  or more daily
- acupuncture
- epsom salts baths
- meditation, and prayer, and laughter

- aromatherapy, of clary sage, myrrh, lavender

QUESTION: My husband had back surgery in April. He wishes he never did it. He is always in severe pain, and is tired of taking pain pills and tranquilizers that don't work. Is there anything out there to take some of the pain away so he can live his life again?

ANSWER: I donít know where you live. It is imperative you find a good, reputable, Chinese acupuncturist and herbal doctor, of Chinese medicine. I suggest massage, and also acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and water aerobics. We have formulas for inflammation and pain, that will be helpful.  Use 400-800 mg of pure COQ10, pills daily, with 4000 mg vitamin C daily, spread out.  Let me know what else I can do, or if you want some herbs to help him.

Do you know off a natural cure/treatment for enlarged turbinates?  After reading some explanations for this condition on the internet, --short quote below-- I also read that there are herbs that help contract inflamed tissues. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.    

ANSWER: You can try golden seal. Also, feverfew and some of the circulatory herbs might be helpful. Hawthorn, ginkgo and yarrow are some of these.

QUESTION: Recently had an mri and discovered I have a herniated disc in my neck along with other bulging discs.  I am a very active person and I a very healthy diet.  What kind of herbs would help the discs to repair and heal.  I also have a great deal of pain in my shoulder and down my arm.  My chiropractor says it is from a nerve being pinched in my neck. 
ANSWER: This struck me as funny. Your chiropractor told you this was due to a pinched nerve. So did he do anything about that? Like adjust you to relieve it? That's kinda what chiropractors are supposed to do, so I didn't quite understand it. If he did and you are just suffering from the after pain and the nerves are no longer pinched, you might try chamomile, lemon balm or valerian to relax the nerves and you.  Also, white willow is very effective for pain. It has the same chemicals as aspirin without the stomach problems normally associated with aspirin.  If the nerve is still pinched, no herbs are going to help you. Find another chiropractor who can adjust you properly and relieve the pain.

QUESTION: My son will be undergoing knee surgery this week.  Since his injury we have been treating his pain with arnica and white willow.  Can we continue to use the white willow after surgery?  Will the white willow cause problems with bleeding at the surgical site?  What can we use instead?  What about turmeric?  Any suggestions would be most helpful.

ANSWER: The white willow should be fine to continue use. Make sure you are using the arnica externally only. 

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: Just curious, though, why only external application of the arnica?

ANSWER: Arnica is poisonous and though taken in very small homeopathic doses for some ailments, it would be extremely dangerous for a novice to do so. So I always advise against it. Perhaps you know it by it's folk name Wolfs bane. If you're working with a qualified homeopath, they may suggest it, but for pain, it is almost always made into a liniment or rub by combining with a carrier oil or witch hazel.

QUESTION: What do you suggest for use as an anti-inflammatory?  I have been taking prescriptions that aren't doing the trick.  I always remembered that herbs and old remedies seem to work better long term.

ANSWER: There are lots of herbs that are helpful for inflammation. White willow Bark, Vervain, and Rosemary to name a few. These are in the tea I sent you. In addition, Cayenne is very good for inflammation because of the ingredient capsaicin. If you can get fresh pineapple, it is full of bromelain and is one of the
best anti-inflammatory you can get. But canned won't do it. You have to eat fresh. So take a trip to the grocery store!  Also, of course, you must eliminate white flour, white sugar and artificial sweeteners and preservatives from your diet. Those things will only exacerbate the problem and everything healthy you are trying to do will be of no help. Try the tea and see how it works for you. If you have access to cayenne, (which, since you're in Texas, you should have NO trouble finding!) make a rub from cayenne and olive oil. Apply to the painful area. (Yes, it will be hot, but that's what you need) Wrap in a flannel or cotton cloth and
leave on.

QUESTION: My bones are sore. My hand and finger and legs. My knee are sore too. I have a hard time with my legs and my left shoulder. I know I have Arthritis. I have try all kinds of medication. I just get sick to my stomach. Please see if you can tell me if anything will help. Thank you.

ANSWER: The best things for bone pain are white willow bark, angelica and nettles. Mix these herbs together and drink in a tea 3 times a day to help with the pain. Also, you MUST eliminate white flour and white sugar from your diet. They are involved in every case of arthritis I have seen. Eliminate them, and half the problem solves itself. As a poultice or liniment, Black mustard, Cayenne, chickweed, lavender and lobelia are the herbs of choice. I have an excellent liniment that I just developed. E-mail me with the word ORDER in the subject line and let me know you are interested in the I Hope you Dance Liniment. I can also make a custom tea using the herbs described above.

QUESTION: I am currently taking an anti-inflammatory and a pain pill for shoulder
pain.  Is there herbs that would be a good source rather than prescription

ANSWER: The best herbs for pain are white willow bark, valerian and skullcap in my
opinion. You can take these as a tea or as tinctures. I have a special blend on the website called Painless Tea. You can find it on the website at www.allgoodegifts.com  under Teas in the Herb Shoppe.

My 7/12 year old daughter had a staff abscess on her ear lobe due to an infection with a large amount of swelling.  She had to go to the ER yesterday morning for them to remove the ear ring and lance the abscess.  A large amount of swelling is in the ear lobe and the ER doc said a lot of the time the ear lobe once swelled will stay that way forever.  I was wondering if you could give me any advice on natural ways that may help the ear lobe go back to its normal size.  I would certainly appreciate any suggestions.

I would use some tea tree essential oil at the site of the wound. Apply by pouring by drops onto a Q-tip or cotton ball. DO NOT introduce the Q-tip into the bottle.  Then take the lobe between your thumb and forefinger and massage in a circular motion. Do this 3 times a day and see if it offers any relief.

I am looking for an herb that can help w/inflammation, pain around neck/throat area-possibly infection of some kind. Could be tooth or tonsils, not sure.  I am sure there must be something that can help, I am just not sure what it would be and need some advice to get started in the search.

ANSWER:  So sorry you're in pain. Without knowing the cause, it's impossible for me to recommend anything. I would see a doctor or homeopath quickly in case it is some sort of infection so you can properly diagnose the problem. You didn't say if you had any other symptoms.

In the meantime, White Willow bark has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain. The bark contains salicin, a derivative of aspirin. Salicin helps pain but, unlike aspirin, does not thin the blood or irritate the stomach. White Willow bark can reduce fever and inflammation, and is very helpful for arthritis. It is a diuretic (urine-promoter) which aids the body's natural cleansing mechanism. The best way to take it is in a tea, if you can find some at the health food store.