A Spicy Pain Reliever

After two nails ripped into the flesh of my fingers one day a few years back, I was stunned by the low level of pain I experienced after the initial trauma. I began to wonder if I had under-active neurotransmitters. That very morning I had forwarded a very interesting description of fibromyalgia to an aunt who suffers from this condition. According to this article, fibromyalgia is a condition in which the cells of the body send too many pain signals to the brain. Interesting timing, to say the least.

I certainly felt intense pain with the initial trauma, but the pain immediately deteriorated and I had only to deal with the annoyance of stopping the bleeding; so that I could get on with my day and the telephone conversation, with my Mom, in which I was presently engaged . Once the bleeding stopped, I completely forgot the injury as I went about my chores, washing my hands with soap and using hand sanitizer numerous times throughout the day. It was not until later that evening, as I prepared dinner, that I remembered the injury. As I tossed asparagus with olive oil, garlic, and salt. I began to experience a mild stinging sensation. I wondered, “That’s odd. What could be causing that?” As I washed my hands, I noticed the cuts again and felt quite silly. Of course my fingers were stinging, I had quite literally just rubbed salt into my wounds! At this point, the low intensity of the pain was the only thing that surprised me.

The next morning, after my shower, I realized that my soap, shampoo, and conditioner had not irritated the cuts. This led to an increased suspicion regarding the low level of pain. I began to wonder what could be causing such a decreased level of activity between my neurotransmitters and my brain. I lived with that puzzle in the back of my mind all day.

Later in the day, my Mom came for a visit. While she helped me fold the laundry I was in the midst of when she arrived, I bumped my toe on a chest with sharp metal accents and it took a chunk of skin out of the base of my little toe. Once again, I felt the initial pain but it subsided immediately and I was only left dealing with lots of blood. Mom was certain that I would be unable to walk without pain, much less wear a shoe; but a couple of hours later she and I went shopping and I experienced absolutely no pain during our shopping spree. Neither did I experience pain upon contact with wash cloths and soap.

Suddenly a memory dawned me! I had been putting cloves in my coffee grounds every morning! After an interesting conversation with a friend, this had been my practice for over six months. I had been indulging in this tasty and spicy twist on my morning coffee mostly for the flavor, but I discovered that it had healthy benefits as well. As I spoke to my friend about my new coffee blend, he commented, “And, I imagine cloves are probably good for you.” While I still had him on the phone, I said, “Well, let’s just see what my books have to say about cloves.” I pulled my copy of Phyllis Balch’s Prescriptions for Herbal Healing from my bookshelf. As I turned to the page for cloves, the word analgesic caught my immediate attention! The friend I was speaking with had been experiencing severe headaches for a couple of weeks, due to  a traumatic head injury. His doctor had him taking over-the-counter pain relievers and they just were not doing the trick. While Balch’s book specified Oil of Cloves for it’s medicinal properties, my friend and I both agreed that the cloves themselves might help since oil of cloves comes from cloves. Since he likes the flavor of cloves anyway, we felt it couldn’t hurt for him to try. He put cloves in his coffee the next morning and claimed that for the first day since his injury he experienced no pain.

I also witnessed positive results when I started using cloves in my arthritic senior dog’s food. Every time I ran out of cloves, he began walking stiffly again, whining, and crying out in pain. When I started putting cloves in his food again, he acted as if the pain had subsided. I quickly learned I should never allow myself to run out of cloves.

While I don’t know that cloves can be credited for numbing our pain, it certainly seems to be a possibility; and, if you like cloves, I can see no harm in testing it. I also noticed that my cuts and nicks healed extraordinarily quickly, compared with past experiences. And, I have to wonder if this quick healing process can be contributed to the additional anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of cloves.

Now, I must disclose that I am not a professional health care provider. You should always consult your health practitioner of choice before taking advice from the internet.  If you’re on medication, it is also a very good idea to consult your pharmacist before adding any new spices or herbs to your diet.

Fibromyalgia Awareness at causes.com

Prescriptions for Herbal Healing, Phyllis A. Balch CNC., Avery a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. New York, copyright 2002 by Phyllis A. Balch, page 49