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Is Herbal Medicine Effective for Pain?

Herbal medicines are known to be stronger in comparison to other forms of natural treatments in curing certain conditions. In comparison to drugs (or medication), when used by a professional and experienced provider, herbs are very safe. One of those herbs is Tumeric. According to the National Institutes of Health, the chemical found in Turmeric—called Curcumin—showed anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties which can be used for inflammation and pain. Our patients have access to over 200 herbs (prescription based) with the highest levels of purity, quality and strength.

Is herbal medicine effective?

Herbal medicine is consider to be very effective in clinical practice. A study published in Molecular Medicine Report compared the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Celecoxib) with the use of Boswellia Serrata for the treatment of osteoarthritis. After 12 weeks, the group that received boswellia reported less pain and inflammation than the group that received medication. [1] Although the dosages of both medication and herbs was small, the researches concluded that the use of boswellia was safe and effective.

Another great herb for pain is Curcuma Radix (Yu Jin) or Tumeric. It is the main ingredient in curry. The root of the plant has been used in traditional medicine for more than 4,000 years. Taking Tumeric extract alone or as combination with other herbs can reduce pain. A study published at 2004 showed that Tumeric was effective as Ibuprofen for the treatment of Osteoarthritis pain. [2]

Why is herbal medicine better than drugs?

Pain medication is easy to get, however, we never really think about the potential damage to our body.According to a study published at the Journal of American Medical Association, every year, 106,000 people die from correctly prescribed medications (non-error or adverse effects). That means that every day, 290 people die from medication that was personally prescribed to them by their physician. [3] In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about the damaging effect of Tylenol (Acetaminophen) on the liver. The use of Tylenol might cause liver failure and it is estimated that it leads 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths the U.S. every year.

Research showed that many herbs function as medication without the side effects or damage to our liver or kidneys. Boswellia, for example was found to be safe to use even in high amounts. [1] Also, in comparison to some pain medications, herbs do not have any addicting properties. You can use herbal medicine without the fear of addiction and most medicinal herbs will actually benefit your body's function.

How to get the most out of your herbs?

To achieve noticeable and even significant change, you have to make sure that you follow three principles:

  1. You are taking the right herbs recommended by a professional. If you were looking for herbs to treat high cholesterol, pain, chronic inflammation, or to improve your health you probably came across many articles online. Some of these writers do not have proper education or training to recommend supplements and some will try to sell you a supplement or they receive payment to write an article on a certain supplement or a herb. How to decide that the information is current? Well. you have to decide for yourself. But, a few things to help is first check that the author's credentials. Are they licensed healthcare providers or have any medical training or education? What experience or knowledge do they have in herbal medicine or nutrition. Are they trying to sell something? Is it based on scientific review? Read and decide. If a recommendation of supplement made in an article looks professional and the author is credentialed, it would be safer and worth to try and take that supplement or herb.

  2. Herbs should be taking in the right amount for long enough to change your body. Most people take dosages that are too small for the herbs to make a difference. Take for example Boswellia serrata as a herb that was found to be very effective for inflammation and autoimmune conditions. A study with osteoarthritis patients compared boswellia with Celecoxib found that an effective dosage was 500 mg twice daily for 12 weeks. [1] This means that lower dosages or if you take a herb for a shorter term than 12 weeks, your might not feel the effect and it might not be effective. Remember, if you have more inflammation and pain, you might need to take herbs longer and even larger dosages to get a benefit. In our clinic, we sometimes prescribe herbs up to 20,000g per day for chronic inflammation or autoimmune diseases.

Note: Make sure that you consult a healthcare provider before using herbal medicine. Especially if you are taking any prescription medication. I recommend to find a professional that studied and has experience with herbal medicine and can prescribe you with the right herbs for you.


1. Kizhakkedath R. Clinical evaluation of a formulation containing Curcuma longa and Boswellia serrata extracts in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Molecular Medicine Reports. 2013. doi:10.3892/mmr.2013.1661.

2. Nita Chainani-Wu. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. July 2004, 9(1): 161-168. doi:10.1089/107555303321223035.

3. Starfield B. Is US Health Really the Best in the World?. JAMA. 2000;284(4):483-485. doi:10.1001/jama.284.4.483.