Ancient Methods of Pain Relief – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

It’s always amazing to see how far science and medicine have come. I thought it would be interesting for us arthritis patients to learn more about ancient methods of pain relief and old-fashioned arthritis treatments!

Here are some interesting “old-school” methods of managing pain:


  • Cupping Therapy: Cupping is an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and a still-used way of relieving pain. 
  • Honey: In Ancient Egypt, honey was used as a pain-relieving salve and as an antibiotic ointment for dental pain.
  • Gold: Until recently, gold had been used for years when it comes to treating various forms of arthritis and chronic pain.
  • Acupuncture and reflexology: Both still used today, reflexology and acupuncture have been around for centuries as ways to manage pain and illness.
  • Wild Black Cherry: Wild black cherry was used in teas and cooking to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • White Willow: White willow was used for headaches and common pains by Native American Indians.
  • Steeped Pennyroyal Leaves: Steeped pennyroyal leaves used in teas as a tribal healing drink that helped to alleviate joint and head pain.
  • Tobacco: Tobacco used to be rubbed on bee stings as a way to ease the pain of the sting.
  • Bee Stings: … and bee stings/bee venom were an ancient remedy to combat pain in the body, a treatment still used today.
  • Scullcap Herb: Scullcap has anti-spasmodic properties and can be used to treat muscle spasms, muscle pain, and Bells Palsy.
  • Leeches: Medical leeches have been used for centuries, and even in recent years have been studied for their positive effects on pain and circulation.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Still heavily touted today for its medicinal properties, in 400 B.C. Hippocrates suggested apple cider vinegar for arthritis. it is still used in modern times, for many ailments.
  • A Bar of Soap: In old-fashioned medicine, it was thought that a bar of pure soap in one’s bed could prevent back pains and leg cramps!
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera applied directly to the skin helps ease the pain of burns; and many modern naturopaths will suggest ingesting aloe as a way to heal inflammation in the body.
  • Olive Oil, Clove Oil, Garlic Oil: Olive oil and garlic oil are said to help earache, while clove oil is supposed to help toothaches and mouth pains. These remedies are ancient but some still use nowadays!
  • Catfish: 
  • Massage: The art of massage therapy is one of the oldest on the books!


What other old-fashioned, vintage, or ancient forms of pain relief can you think of? 

Do share!


Be Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck


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