Natural alternatives to anti-inflammatory medication

Inflammation, swelling and pain commonly occurs in joints such as knees, ankles and the spine and in and around torn or strained muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Inflammation, swelling and pain can occur when the body’s natural defences become activated by some sort of stimuli such as an infection, a soft tissue injury or joint or muscle imbalance. This defence mechanism acts to support the healing of the body, however if it becomes excessive or prolonged, it can cause pain and discomfort and impair or slow the recovery process.

When we reduce the fluid in these areas, often we find that the pain is also reduced, and healing is increased. Osteopathy, massage and acupuncture can resolve a tissue, joint or muscle imbalance and assist in increasing circulation of fresh, healthy blood towards an area increasing drainage of unhealthy, toxic fluid away from the area.  This increased nutrition and removal of toxins from the damaged tissue enhances the body’s natural healing response and speeds up recovery.

There are other ways, as listed below and in a previous blog – Ice vs Heat, that you can support your body to heal faster, experience significantly reduced discomfort and therefore get you back on your feet and back to your best earlier.

Bexters Soda Crystals & Epsom Salts

Bexters Soda Crystals (calcium carbonate and sodium chloride) are used to draw out excess fluid from tissues and joints to aid in the reduction of swelling, when caused by inflammation.  This can be found in the supermarket, in the first aid area or in the washing powder area.


Place Bexters Soda crystals in a wrap of soft cotton, a handkerchief or stocking and apply to the inflamed area, approximately 1cm thick.  Remove after 30 minutes, or preferably, leave overnight.  Can be done every second day for persistent swelling.

Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) is an effective way to increase magnesium levels in the body for those depleted or lacking adequate magnesium in the diet.  In addition to reducing swelling, soaking in these salts can reduce muscle cramping, can calm the nervous system and draw toxins from the body.  This can be found in some supermarkets.


Place 1 cup of Epsom Salts into a hot bath and soak for up to 30 minutes. You can add a few drops of a qualith essential oils such as Lavender for greater relaxation.

Potato Poultice

A poultice is a soft, moist mass of material, typically of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation. A poultice made of potato is a remedy that has been used for centuries to draw out impurities and reduce swelling and pain. Whilst there are several schools of thought on whether to use cooked or raw potato, our experience is that raw potato is the most effective.  The fluid drawing power of the potato works in a similar way to the Bexters Soda Crystals.


Place grated or peeled potato on the skin of the affected area, cover the potato with chux or a tea towel and then wrap with plastic cling wrap. Remove after 30 minutes.  This can be done daily in some cases.

We currently have Bexters Soda Crystals in stock. If you are suffering pain or have acquired an injury and would like ethical, natural and individualized advice, treatment and management, please call us on 07) 3208 8308.


Written by Dr. Jess Harvey B.Sc. (Anat, Phys), B.Ap.Sci (Comp. Med.), Ma Osteo., Registered Osteopath and Director of Head 2 Toe Health, with multidisciplinary clinics in Brisbane and Gold Coast. We provide Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Massage, Life Coaching and Counselling. We aim to get you as well as possible, as fast as possible, permanently. We believe in a thorough approach to restoring and maintaining health and address many aspects of our lifestyles that can contribute to pain, stiffness, dis-ease and disease. For any further information, please contact us on or 07) 3208 8308.

This information is intended as a general guide only and is not specific for any particular condition or situation.  Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting a nutritional program.