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Gardening Got You Sore? Here Are 5 Natural, Pantry-Staple Painkillers

Feel better — fast and naturally.

During the spring, lawns and gardens wake up from their winter slumber and begin to grow again. While this is great news for the beauty of our yards, it also means more yardwork. Whether or not you love working on your lawn and garden, you probably know it requires a lot of physical labor — raking, mowing, digging, weeding, and more. And with physical labor comes physical pain. But you don’t always need to reach for your medicine cabinet; natural springtime pain relief might be no further than your kitchen pantry. Check out these easy, cheap, natural ways to cure your springtime pains, without needing to leave your kitchen.

Quiet Creaky Knees

Use olive oil. It’s not just you — at least a third of American adults have an achy knee (or two!) holding us back from the warm-weather activities we love. The kitchen remedy that may offer some relief? Olive oil. Research published in Dermatology Research and Practice suggests that topical application of olive oil may be a a safe and effective treatment for certain pain and injuries. The experts explain that the plant compounds in olive oil have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that can assist in healing. Gently massage ¼ teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) into sore joints as needed.

Relax Muscles

Sniff this pantry staple. If a busy spring day leaves you with tight, stiff muscles, breathing in the blissful aroma of vanilla (by sniffing the extract, stirring a few drops into milk, or biting into a vanilla-scented treat) may offer relief. Results from an animal study published in Nutrition Today says the flavoring’s aromatic compounds (vanillin and vanillic acid) may raise the body’s pain threshold, soothe sensitive pain nerves, and tamp down tissue inflammation. Plus, vanilla’s scent may prompt the brain to release dopamine, a hormone that alleviates muscle tension, suggests an animal study published in Psychiatry Research.

End Achy Shoulders

Next time shoulder pain strikes after yardwork, skip the painkillers and try a warm rice compress. A randomized controlled trial published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that heat, when applied just after soreness-causing activity, increases blood flow and tissue flexibility, reducing pain. To get the perks: Fill ⅔ of a sock with uncooked rice, tie or sew shut, then microwave on high for 2 minutes; apply to sore spots for 15-20 minutes.

Ease Wrist Soreness

If raking, gardening, or other spring chores make your ankles ache, reach for ice. Findings published in the Journal of Athletic Training say that “contrast soaking” (submerging joints into alternating hot and cold water) improves blood and oxygen flow to joint tissue, which may assist in healing and pain reduction. Want to try it? Just slip your feet into a bowl of ice water for 2-3 minutes, then into lukewarm water for 2-3 minutes. Repeat for about 15 minutes, ending on the cold soak to further reduce swelling.

Heal a Headache

Thudding headache threatening to ruin your day? Reach for rosemary. Results of an animal study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences find the herb’s camphor and alpha-pinene boost the body’s ability to fight pain, and therefore, may be effective as a pain management tool. For relief, pour a few cups of boiled water over one tablespoon dried rosemary, lean over the bowl with a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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