Natural pain management: Alternatives to traditional pain medications are expected to grow

Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 25 No. 7
Volume 25
Issue 7

Continuing studies show promising results for individuals desiring natural pain-management solutions.

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“Oh, my aching back!” In a comedy movie, this statement accompanies actors exaggeratingly clutching their spine. In real life, however, chronic pain is far from a laughing matter.

According to a 2019 National Health Interview Survey, approximately 50.2 million adults in the United States reported feeling pain on most or every day, a study reported.1 Though many do seek conventional treatments and pharmaceuticals, these don’t always work for those experiencing pain. Most individuals don’t want the side effects that often accompany conventional medicine either.

Thankfully, new natural health ingredients and products are on the rise. Continuing studies show promising results for individuals desiring natural pain-management solutions.

Natural Alternatives to Prescription and OTC Drugs

Throughout history, certain herbs and spices have been used to relieve inflammation and pain, says Benny Antony, PhD, joint managing director for Arjuna Natural, whose U.S. headquarters is in Irving, TX. “Natural ingredients have also been generally associated with providing support for chronic pain management,” Antony says.

Arjuna Natural launched its product Rhuleave-K, for instance, to provide a natural alternative to chronic pain sufferers. “It is a proprietary botanical formula composed of turmeric and boswellia combined in black sesame oil and clinically supported to bestow safe pain relief at an efficacy and speed comparable to popular OTC drugs,” says Antony. “Consumers are looking for effectiveness, and there is a high interest for clinically proven natural products that have potency in lower doses.”

Nicole Brown, chief innovation officer at Open Book Extracts (Roxboro, NC), says that as the cannabidiol (CBD) market continues to mature, it’s offered consumers fresh ways to deal with chronic pain.

Brown points to a recent New Frontier Data “Consumption Drivers” report2 which states that there are four main types of CBD consumers: 1) those who choose it for medical purposes, 2) for pain management, 3) for general wellness, and 4) for unwinding. Pain-management users are the largest and oldest group, says Brown. These individuals tend to be highly satisfied with CBD products in treating their pain issues.

“As a group, pain-management consumers have successfully addressed a specific need, are happy with results, and are uninterested in further adjusting their habits,” says Brown.

Types of Ingredients Pain-Sufferers Are Drawn to

Brown notes that, according to the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., wellness-minded shoppers are looking for products that are natural, clean, designed to improve health and mental wellbeing, and that are tested and approved by social media influencers.

Then, of course, there are tried-and-true natural ingredients like turmeric, boswellia, clove, and caffeine, says Antony. “Turmeric has been the go-to herb for addressing many degenerative conditions and having proven anti-inflammatory effect activities,” he says. Meanwhile the potency of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is well known for its positive effects on managing pain.

Buyer Beware! What Claims Can Natural Pain-Management Products Make?

But how do manufacturers make healthy claims about their products without straying into pharmaceutical territory? “It’s a gray area since pain is a very controversial and sensitive claim,” says Antony—“but clinically documented products should be allowed to make claims that relate to the benefits shown on the clinical trials.”

Brown says that for CBD-related products, the balance is even trickier. “Before marketing a CBD product, it’s important to know what constitutes a health or disease claim,” says Brown.

Anything ending in “-itis” refers to inflammation, says Brown. Similarly, anything ending in “anti-” relates to anti-inflammatory. And using the name of any specific illness, such as depression, is risky. “Using the words pain and inflammation is considered mid-level risk and should be avoided,” adds Brown. “A more compliant way to state such information is to address a product’s use for discomfort.”

Pain Management: A New Frontier

With so many Americans dealing with acute and chronic pain issues, the field for natural pain-management products continues to grow. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global pain-management market was valued at $79 million in 2021 and is projected to grow to $121 million by 2027.3 Clearly, there is room for both traditional and natural products that may help manage pain symptoms for individuals throughout the country and the world.


  1. Yong RJ et al. “Prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the United States.” Pain, vol. 163, no. 2 (February 1, 2022): e328-e332
  2. New Frontier Data report. “Who Is Driving CBD Consumption? Four Groups Define Sales.” Published June 7, 2021.
  3. Mordor Intelligence report. “Pain Management Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecast (2022-2027).”
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