Dr. Oz’s Pain Relievers Under Ten Dollars.

Helichrysum (Photo credit: rudivs)

I love cheap medicine.  I want my patients to pay as little as possible.  So I was very excited to read about Dr. Oz‘s options for under ten dollars.

So I tuned in, turned on, and got confused.

The first thing Dr. Oz lists is:

1. Helichrysum Oil

I’m sorry.  That’s a new one.  Not Cayenne, not menthol.  Not hot compresses.  Helichrysum oil.  The stuff doesn’t even have its own Wiki page yet (listen to the sound of many keyboards tapping as I speak).

I looked for data on pain relief, and we’ve got nothing.  No studies on pain relief and what we do have is pretty troubling.  The oil is pretty antibacterial, and is being considered as a pesticide.  People selling the oil claim it can clot blood.  Is this really the first choice for pain relief under $10?

Nope.  I’m going to go with cayenne, which burns out the substance P in your skin, but doesn’t coagulate your veins.  But that’s not the first thing on my list.  First is:

2. Hot/Cold Packs  I love hot and cold for pain relief.  If one doesn’t work for you, the other should.  If neither works, it gives us great insight into the cause of your pain.

So Dr. Oz and I are on the same page on this one.  But then he loses me in the instructions.  I’ll give his instructions and then add what needs to be added.

“When to Use Ice:

Use ice when you first experience an injury to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by torn capillaries or blood vessels.”

What?  No warnings?  Use ice for less than ten minutes, because you can give yourself frostbite and that will hurt more warming up.  I like to use cold initially, but give breaks every five minutes or so to let the tissue stay alive.

“When to Use Heat:

Use a heat pack after the acute stage of an injury has diminished and the swelling is gone. Heat is also a good way to prepare you for a physical activity. For instance, if you have chronic back pain and want to go to the gym for physical therapy, place heat on the affected area for 20 minutes, but no more since it can cause inflammation.”

When in doubt with heat, use something like a hot water bottle that will gradually decrease with heat.  You also want to be aware that the heat will loosen your muscles, making you prone to more injury if you push it too hard.

Most importantly, ALTERNATING hot and cold will heal tissue faster, pumping blood through the tissues and relieving mild swelling.  In distal areas like fingers and toes this tip can help relieve excruciating pain swiftly.

3. Telephone Headset  If you hurt your neck talking, get one.  Or maybe visit people and talk in person.  If they still give you a pain in the neck, cultivate new friends.

4. Herbal Plaster menthol and methyl salicylate.

Menthol is a good friend.  It and camphor will dilate the blood vessels for a few hours.  Methyl salicylate acts more like aspirin, which is also helpful.  But I don’t think of either as a plaster.  There are many herbal plasters, and almost any volatile oil could be used to aid in dilating blood vessels.  Choose something that you like the smell of, because even bathing won’t get rid of the smell.

So, overall, Dr. Oz and I agree on these options.  I just wish he hadn’t started off with a relatively unknown antibiotic oil that lacks any pain studies.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec;95(2-3):253-8.

In vitro biological activity and essential oil composition of four indigenous South African Helichrysum species.

Lourens AC, Reddy D, Başer KH, Viljoen AM, Van Vuuren SF.


Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa. lourensac@therapy.wits.ac.za


Helichrysum species are used widely to treat various medical conditions. In this study, the anti-microbial, anti-oxidant (DPPH assay) and anti-inflammatory activity (5-lipoxygenase assay) of Helichrysum dasyanthum, Helichrysum felinum, Helichrysum excisum and Helichrysum petiolare were investigated. The essential oil compositions of these species were determined. The acetone and methanol extracts as well as the essential oils exhibited activity against Gram-positive bacteria, while both the methanol and acetone extracts of all four species were active in the anti-oxidant assay. The essential oils, on the other hand, displayed activity in the 5-lipoxygenase assay, which was used as an indication of anti-inflammatory activity. Two extracts exhibited promising activity in the anti-microbial assay, the acetone extract of Helichrysum dasyanthum with a MIC value of 15.63 microg/ml and the methanol extract of Helichrysum excisum with a MIC value of 62.5 microg/ml. The acetone extract of Helichrysum dasyanthum was the most active free radical scavenger in the DPPH assay (IC(50) of 9.53 microg/ml) while values for the anti-inflammatory activity of the essential oils ranged between 25 and 32 microg/ml. The essential oil compositions of three species (Helichrysum dasyanthum, Helichrysum excisum and Helichrysum petiolare) were dominated by the presence of monoterpenes such as alpha-pinene, 1,8-cineole and p-cymene. In the oil of Helichrysum felinum, monoterpenes were largely absent. Its profile consisted of a variety of sesquiterpenes in low concentrations with beta-caryophyllene dominating.

PMID: 15507345



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