9 Healing Foods that Fight Pain
By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Unfortunately, millions of people world-wide suffer with chronic pain. Whether it’s caused from a past injury, migraines & chronic headaches, autoimmune disease, liver disease, IBS/IBD, pelvic inflammatory disease, period pain, structural problems, arthritis, chronic inflammation and generalised wear and tear, it can be debilitating in your life. Chronic pain can increase the risk of suffering with debilitating disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Pain can reduce and interfere with:
- Pleasure in life
- Self-esteem and confidence
- Sleep and rest
- Ability to work
- Performance of simple tasks
Pain killers can certainly offer quick and effective pain relief but on a long-term basis they can create more of a strain on your health. They can increase the risk of gastritis, gastric ulcers, constipation, altered gut flora, leaky gut, liver and kidney inflammation and damage and can even kill people if not taken correctly.
Nature has fortunately provided us with many natural anti-inflammatory foods, herbs and spices that provide natural analgesic benefits combined with improved tissue health and structure. If you’re in pain, aim to get more of these foods, herbs and vitamins into your body more often.
Natural Pain-Relieving Foods & Herbs
Due primarily to its curcumin content, this anti-inflammatory spice is often recommended for joint pain and inflammation including fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions. Here is more on this amazing spice. If you need to start adding more turmeric in your life, try some of these delicious recipes: Turmeric Mango Smoothie, Peach Turmeric Smoothie, Turmeric Flax crackers with Veggie Pulp & Sweet Potato, Carrot & Turmeric Soup.
The compounds in cherries called anthocyanins may reduce inflammation and block pain signals. There is also a study that shows tart cherries may also be able to reduce muscle pain post exercise by reducing the possibility of muscle damage.
Ginger offers effective anti-inflammatory relief from migraines, arthritis and muscle aches. One study showed that it was just as effective against period pain as ibuprofen. We have some great juice recipes containing ginger like Carrot, Apple & Ginger, Green Carrot Ginger, Green Ginger Ale & Cranberry Apple & Ginger.
- Fish Oils
Eating fish high in omega-3’s can help relieve pain by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation in the nerves and muscle cells. Fish oils has been shown to be equivalent to ibuprofen in numerous studies for the relief of arthritis and possibly other types of pain. Vegan options for omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts.
There have been approximately 30 studies that support the benefit of using rosehips for pain relief and arthritis. A study resulted in a significant reduction in pain and use of medication after 3 weeks and significant reduction in disability, stiffness, and severity of the disease after 3 months of treatment. This can be taken as a tea or as a powder or a vegetable capsule.
The bromelain content may reduce inflammation and is used as a post injury compound. Eating ½ cup per day has been shown to offer relief and reduce pain. Did you also know that pineapple can help you sleep? Enjoy tons of our favorite pineapple recipes.
Found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and dark chocolate, magnesium is an important electrolyte nutrient that supports muscle and nerve function. This can be very effective for restless legs syndrome, aching muscles, tense muscles, fibromyalgia, migraines, cramps and pins and needles and muscular pain.
- Vitamin D
A new study by the British Society for Rheumatology suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the body are linked to chronic widespread pain. Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency.
- Herbal Remedies
There are a number of pain reducing herbs that can be used under the care of a qualified herbalist. Pain relieving herbs include Jamican dogwood, Californian poppy, Devils claw, Ginger, Boswellia, Kava, Willow bark, Corydalis, Celery seed and St Johns Wort. Using topical essential oils diluted in a base oil such as wintergreen, peppermint and capsaicin (chilli) may reduce pain. (I have used peppermint oil dabs around my temples and base of skull with headaches and it works very well). Soaking in 1 cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath regularly allowing transdermal magnesium absorption.
What to Avoid if You Experience Pain
- Night Shade Veggies
In cases of arthritis the nightshade family in moderate to large servings may increase pain and discomfort. These vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (capsicum) and chilli.
- Gluten & Dairy
Some people who suffer with auto-immune diseases can benefit from eliminating possible food allergens such as gluten and dairy for 6 weeks to observe any reduction in pain and discomfort. Other food allergens may exist, doing a Reboot can help reduce pain and inflammation and by proper reintroduction of foods you can observe any flare-ups. For more information on Reboot as an elimination diet and on gluten sensitivities beyond the gut.
- Processed Foods
Processed foods will increase pain and inflammation, particularly refined flours, sugars and processed hydrogenated fats so these should be avoided, eating a natural wholefood diet as much as possible.
Have you found foods that affect your pain?