Using Natural Anti-Inflammatories to Relieve Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is an extremely common problem that affects people of all ages. While there are many potential causes of shoulder pain, one of the most common is inflammation in the joints and soft tissues in the shoulder region. Using natural anti-inflammatory agents can be an effective way to find relief from shoulder pain without resorting to medications that can cause side effects. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top natural anti-inflammatories for shoulder pain and provide tips on how to use them.


Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available. The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which has been shown in studies to be a powerful anti-inflammatory that works as well as many over-the-counter and prescription medications. Turmeric has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

To use turmeric for shoulder pain, the easiest method is to take it in supplement form. Look for a supplement that contains concentrated curcumin. Follow dosage recommendations on the product, usually around 500-1000mg per day. Turmeric and curcumin have poor bioavailability, meaning they are not well absorbed on their own. Taking turmeric or curcumin with black pepper can enhance absorption. You can also ingest turmeric by adding the spice to dishes like curries, soups, smoothies, and golden milk.


Ginger is another anti-inflammatory spice that contains active compounds like gingerol that inhibit inflammatory pathways in the body. It has traditionally been used to treat joint pain and studies show it has potential for relief of muscle pain and soreness. Fresh ginger can be grated into tea, smoothies, juices, and other drinks. You can also take ginger supplements in capsule or tablet form. The recommended dosage is around 1000-2000mg per day. Look for capsules that contain concentrated, supercritical CO2 extracted ginger oil for maximum anti-inflammatory benefits.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s like those found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3s help resolve inflammation by acting on cellular pathways that produce inflammation-causing molecules. For shoulder pain, take an omega-3 fish oil supplement with at least 1000 mg of EPA/DHA fatty acids per day. Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are also great dietary sources of omega-3s. If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3s from supplements made from algal oils.


CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in hemp and cannabis plants that has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects in the body. Research shows CBD impacts endocannabinoid receptors involved in pain and immune system responses. CBD oil tinctures taken under the tongue appear to have the most rapid effects. Topical CBD creams can also be applied directly to the shoulder for localized relief. Dosage varies, but most studies have looked at doses of CBD oil around 100-600mg per day.


Boswellia is an Ayurvedic herb that contains anti-inflammatory triterpenes called boswellic acids that modify inflammatory pathways, reducing swelling and joint pain. Look for supplements made from the Boswellia serrata species. For shoulder pain, take around 300-500mg once or twice per day. Boswellia takes time to build up in the system so allow 4-6 weeks to feel the full effects. Boswellia is generally very safe, though it can cause mild stomach upset in some people.


Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapple stems that has proteolytic properties which means it breaks down proteins that cause inflammation. Bromelain has been shown to reduce swelling, pain, and loss of mobility in osteoarthritis. It comes in supplement form, usually around 200-400mg taken 2-3 times daily between meals. Bromelain may interact with some medications like antibiotics and blood thinners, so consult your doctor before use.

Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin is the active compound that gives hot peppers their spicy heat. When applied topically, capsaicin cream depletes substance P, a neurotransmitter that signals pain. This can provide localized pain relief for shoulder pain. Look for creams containing at least 0.025% capsaicin. Apply a thin layer to the shoulder 2-3 times per day. You may feel heat, stinging, or redness initially as capsaicin takes effect.

Dietary Changes

Chronic inflammation in conditions like arthritis is linked to eating a pro-inflammatory diet high in refined carbs, unhealthy fats, and processed foods. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet focused on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fiber can help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Foods particularly high in inflammation-fighting nutrients include leafy greens, berries, pineapple, bone broth, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, cherries, pomegranate, and green tea.


While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise a sore shoulder, gentle exercises and stretches that increase mobility and blood flow can reduce stiffness and pain. Avoid overexerting an already inflamed joint. Focus on mobility exercises like shoulder rolls and range of motion movements. Light strength training to build supporting muscles around the joint can also take pressure off inflamed areas. However, stop any exercise that significantly worsens pain.

Lifestyle Habits

Stress, poor sleep, and smoking are all lifestyle factors that increase inflammation. Getting stress under control through relaxation practices like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can minimize inflammatory responses. Prioritize 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. And quit smoking to limit oxidative damage and inflammation. Managing these areas helps anti-inflammatory interventions be more effective.


Shoulder pain caused by inflammation can be debilitating. While medications like NSAIDs are frequently used, natural compounds can provide similar relief without the risks. Options like turmeric, omega-3s, ginger, and boswellia have research supporting their anti-inflammatory properties. Lifestyle measures like a healthy diet, stress relief, sufficient sleep, and exercise reinforce these effects. Consulting your doctor can help determine the safest combination for your individual health needs. Using evidence-based natural anti-inflammatories often brings lasting relief from shoulder pain.