Natural painkillers from grandma’s kitchen

Tried-and-tested recipes to help with pain: these home remedies can be used for headaches, toothache, back pain as well as joint pain and osteoarthritis, offering a natural way of alleviating these ailments.

05.10.2023 Steffi Hidber 4 minutes

When in doubt, grandmas are a great source of advice. That doesn’t just apply to cooking, but when it comes to physical ailments, too. So it comes as no surprise that grandma’s home remedies have been used for centuries – or even millennia – for all kinds of complaints and ailments.

Did you know that chillies can help with back pain? Or that eating fish can provide relief for joint pain? The term natural painkiller generally refers to a plant, herb or type of food that has analgesic, anti-inflammatory or decongestant properties. For instance, plants like peppermint or cloves can help with toothache, back pain, menstruation cramps, headaches and even joint pain or osteoarthritis.

Find out here what nature has to offer when it comes to improving well-being: the following natural home remedies are a good place to start when you don’t want to resort to medication straight away – all tried and tested since long before your grandma’s time:

Home remedies for headaches

Whether they creep up on you slowly or come on suddenly: headaches can be incapacitating.

Headaches or migraines? Here are the differences

Sometimes headaches can start if you haven’t drunk enough water. So, to be on the safe side, drink a glass of water before using one of the following natural remedies for headaches.


The essential oil from the peppermint plant can quickly relieve tension headaches, since the menthol contained in it has a cooling and relaxing effect.

Willow bark

Willow extract is a popular home remedy for headaches. The salicin contained in willow bark is responsible for the pain-relieving effect. Willow bark is generally administered as a tincture, lozenge or as a tea.


The caffeine contained in coffee has the ability to slightly constrict the blood vessels in the brain, briefly accelerating blood flow. This can impede headaches. But be careful, consuming large volumes of coffee or doing so regularly when you are not used to it can trigger migraines.

Foods with tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid contained in foods like chia, sesame, oats, parmesan and chicken. This amino acid is regarded as the precursor to our body’s own happiness hormone serotonin and can ease mild headaches.

Home remedies for toothache

Toothache is often a particularly unpleasant sensation because it frequently comes on suddenly and feels like a stabbing or throbbing pain.

Thankfully, toothache can often be alleviated with natural active ingredients. These home remedies can help with toothache:

Tea tree oil

Natural tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can be very effective for toothache or minor inflammations in the mouth area. Tea tree oil is diluted with water and can be used as a mouth wash or gargled.


Clove oil is an old remedy for toothache. You can either place a whole clove on the affected tooth, chew it slowly and spit it out, or put the clove between your cheek and the tooth and leave it to swell. Alternatively, you can wash out the oral cavity with a fresh clove infusion or a little essential oil with cloves.


The ears, throat, nose and jaw are close to one another. As such, pain in one part of the head can sometimes quickly radiate to others. Onion compresses can help with earache, but also with toothache. Chop up a small onion, put it in a clean cloth and hold it on the affected area.

Salt water

Simple salt can help relieve both toothache and gum inflammation. Add some salt to a glass of warm water and gargle it – but be careful not to swallow it! Salt has a bacteria-inhibiting effect and can also relieve tension in tissues.

Home remedies for back pain

Back pain is widespread and can occur in the upper back and neck, in the middle back or in the lower back. Heat can alleviate acute back pain and relieve tension. But there is a whole range of other natural remedies that can be used as suitable home remedies for back pain.

Find out more about back pain here


Chillies contain the active ingredient capsaicin – a strong natural painkiller. This spicy substance can also reduce inflammation and help with sports injuries, back pain and nerve pain, for instance. That’s why capsaicin is often contained in sports ointments and anti-inflammatory plasters.

Hay flowers

Hay flowers are a mixture of dried flowers, seeds, leaves and grass stems. Their ingredients can help with sciatica and can be used in loose form in a bath or held onto the painful area in a little hay flower bag.

Willow bark

Referred to as “nature’s aspirin”, willow bark can provide quick relief for mild to moderate back pain, see “Home remedies for headaches”.


Thanks to its warming and circulation-boosting effects, ginger is an ideal remedy used as a compress. For this purpose, simply add some freshly grated ginger root to a cotton cloth, leave to infuse briefly in boiling water and – once cooled – lay on the painful area of the back.

Home remedies for joint pain

Many people who suffer from inflammatory joint diseases like arthritis or osteoarthritis also rely on natural remedies to alleviate their pain. Old home remedies can supplement the treatment measures already initiated to great effect: for instance, soothing compresses with healing clay, arnica flowers, mustard powder, quark and coal are useful staples of any home remedy apothecary, ideally combined with gentle exercise.

The following natural home remedies are also suitable for joint pain:


The ancient medicinal plant arnica soothes muscle aches, suppresses inflammation and can also help with joint pain and stiffness.


The common nettle helps with osteoarthritis and rheumatic complaints, among other things. Its contents promote tissue circulation, thereby reducing inflammation in the musculoskeletal system. The leaves are mostly used for osteoarthritis pain, but nettle supplements are also available in the form of plant syrups, teas or capsules.


Oily fish like tuna, salmon, herring or mackerel is particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. These can have a significant anti-inflammatory effect, something that can help with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Don’t like fish? Omega-3 dietary supplements are available without a prescription at pharmacies.


Turmeric and curcumin, the ingredient contained within it, have long been used in naturopathy and ayurveda. Even Rheumaliga Schweiz points out that turmeric can help with rheumatism thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Find out more about the healing effect of turmeric here

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw is a good alternative to classic anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen. It is recommended in the form of extracts, capsules, salves and gel for chronic joint pain and rheumatic complaints.


Horsetail is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains organic silicon, which improves the condition of cartilage and restores tendon elasticity. Use it as a mother tincture, extract or infusion.

Grandma’s bag of tricks has a variety of remedies to help with pain. However, it is important to be aware when taking natural remedies and home remedies that interactions with medications may occur. Certain substances, even if they are 100% natural, may have a negative impact on the effect of various medications. Seek advice from your GP or your pharmacist if you are using natural remedies (as a supplement) to treat your pain.

Read more

Herbs to help with sleeplessness
Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? These natural sleep remedies are an effective way to combat sleep problems.
January 19, 2021 3 minutes

Flu and colds: these household remedies can help
Have you caught a cold or flu? Find out here which household remedies can help against fever, coughs and a sore throat.
November 1, 2018 4 minutes



Find out more about current health issues every month and get all the information you need about our attractive offers from all Helsana Group companies * delivered by e-mail to read whenever it suits you. Our newsletter is free of charge and you can sign up here:


Thank you for registering.
You have just received an email with a confirmation link. Please click on this to complete your registration.

Unfortunately an error has occurred.

We did not receive your information. Please try again later.

* The Helsana Group comprises Helsana Insurance Company Ltd, Helsana Supplementary Insurances Ltd and Helsana Accidents Ltd.