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What is an analgesic?

So what exactly is an analgesic? Simply put, analgesics are pain relievers. Not to be confused with anesthetics which reduce or remove sensation, analgesics work with the peripheral and central nervous system to relieve pain. In western medicine, you may be familiar with analgesics such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin.

Analgesics can be broken into a few groups:

  • Simple analgesics
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Opioids

As with much of modern western medicine, many of the painkillers we recognize today were originally derived from herbal medicines. Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used willow bark and other salicylate-rich plants as medicine, and that 19th century chemists isolated salicylic acid and acetylsalicylic acid to treat pain, which eventually became aspirin?

Unfortunately, modern pharmaceutical analgesics can be addictive and have unpleasant side effects. For example, NSAIDs are now correlated to leaky gut syndrome.

Luckily, there are many herbs and plants that have analgesic properties and are much safer for the human body. In fact, you may even have analgesic herbs growing in your backyard right now! Some analgesic medicinals include:

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