Pain is a hidden epidemic in the United States. More than 100,000 of us suffer from chronic pain each year and we spend a staggering 500 to 600 billion dollars battling our aches. Chronic pain comes in many forms, with back pain topping the list followed closely by headaches or migraines. This doesn’t even factor in acute pain that can come on suddenly or is tied to injury. Pain has unfortunately simply become a part of living for most of us. We accept it and ignore it as long as we have plenty of pills to counteract it.
Don’t get me wrong, pain does have its place. Pain is tied directly to our inflammatory responses. Pain and inflammation are the body’s way of notifying you of a problem while sealing off the damage, sending in nutrients, destroying damaged tissue, and directing specialized cells to take out intruders. This is very important for sudden injuries. The acute pain makes you stop whatever you were doing that caused the damage, keeps you from making the injury worse, and forces you to rest while inflammation kicks in and begins the healing processes.
Chronic pain is also notifying us that something is wrong, but it is harder to pinpoint the cause. Chronic pain can come from deeper injuries, poor diet, lack of activity, disease, aging, and a whole host of other problems. With chronic pain, the inflammatory responses remain active for long periods of time. This can lead to bigger problems as toxins build up and damage cells or as the immune system gets confused and attacks healthy cells.
There are foods that naturally decrease inflammation, normalize the body’s responses, and lessen pain. Many of these foods speed healing, protect the cells from damage, and deliver essential vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients while they are at it.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar has been a home remedy for a multitude of ills for thousands of years. It has also been used to manage pain and reduce inflammation. This can be done topically or internally, usually diluted in water either way.
Ginger – This spice is often used to reduce nausea, but it has been shown to be just as effective as aspirin or ibuprofen in reducing pain. Gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger, works well against rheumatoid arthritis in studies and is also being looked at for its anticancer properties.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has some natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a good choice to get your immune system on track while reducing pain. Many people use it internally and externally for back and joint pain.
Berries and Grapes – Red, purple, and blue fruits contain anthocyanins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that reduce pain and swelling. They also fight cholesterol. Try blackberries, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and red grapes.
Turmeric – Turmeric is the pungent yellow spice used in curry. It is related to ginger and shares many of the same properties, fighting cholesterol, pain, inflammation, and cancer too.
Olive Oil – Oleocanthal, a compound in olive oil, works against pain without any of the downsides that come with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
Cinnamon – This warming spice reduces inflammation, kills bacteria, aids in the control of blood sugar, and improves brain function. It makes a delicious tea.
Onions and Garlic – Leeks, shallots, onions, and garlic all contain pungent sulfur compounds that reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and combat cancer.
Walnuts – Walnuts contain omega 3 essential fatty acids. These good fats are used by the body to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and even ease digestion. Nuts and seeds in general are a good source of omega 3s. Purslane is another great source.
Pineapple – Bromelain, an enzyme in this tropical fruit, aids in the digestion of protein, but it also seems to have some powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is great for strains, sprains, bruises, and even sinusitis.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are another excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. They contain more than walnuts, along with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Carrots – Carrots contain carotenoids, antioxidants that also help regulate inflammation. Other orange or red vegetables and fruits contain them too. Try pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, mango, and papaya.
Dark Leafy Greens – Greens, like spinach, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, kale, broccoli, and asparagus, all contain powerful flavonoids. These compounds fight cancer, heart disease, and inflammation, maybe even the inflammation in the brain that contributes to many degenerative diseases.
Chile Peppers – Chile peppers contain capsaicin. This spicy compound depletes pain compounds to block pain signals, works as an antioxidant, and lowers cholesterol. Chiles can be added to many foods easily for a little more painkilling kick. Capsaicin can be used topically too, but it definitely takes some getting used to.
There are many more foods, spices, and herbs that can help you manage pain. Look into white willow, boswellia, devil’s claw, chamomile, fenugreek, rosemary, sage, and clove for their pain and inflammation fighting powers.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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