Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with over 26 percent of the population over the age of 20 reporting frequent, persistent pain that lasts more than a day. But prescription and over-the-counter drugs are not the only answer to relieving pain. There are other, healthier alternatives these sufferers can turn to that pose less side effects and can actually help to improve overall health. Research scientists are finally beginning to recognize that the foods we eat can influence our body’s reaction to pain and other chronic conditions.
A Bowl Full of Cherries
Cherries contain natural antioxidants that curb pain enzymes and block inflammation that is often associated with acute and chronic pain. Eating as few as 45 cherries per day is enough to kick start your body’s natural defenses to block pain and inflammation. Alternatively, drinking two 12-ounce glasses of 100% cherry juice per day can provide the same benefits.
Cranberry juice is loaded with natural antibiotic properties that can assist in easing pain related to ulcers and frequent yeast infections. These properties help to block the H. pylori pathogen that attacks the lining of the stomach which causes ulcers. A single 8-ounce glass of 100% natural cranberry juice every day will help to block the pain, as well as improve your overall health.
If the bitter taste of cranberry juice is too much for you to swallow, you can try sweetening up this healthy beverage by adding a natural sweetener. However, it is not advisable to add sugar to cranberry juice, as the sugar will act as an inflammatory agent, reversing the desired effects of your juice. Consider adding a natural sweetener such as Stevia instead.
Peppermint does more than just fight off bad breath; it can do wonders to alleviate headaches and pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). How does it work? Well, the menthol compound found in the oils of peppermint leaves acts as a natural muscle relaxer to prohibit muscle spasms. Drinking one to two cups of hot peppermint tea is all you will need to help relieve a persistent headache or IBS symptoms.
Ginger root is typically used to add flavor to our meals and reducing nausea and seasickness symptoms, but researchers have discovered it can be a highly useful herbal remedy. One-quarter teaspoon of ginger per day has been linked to alleviating migraine headaches, arthritis, and post-workout aches and pains. There are many ways that you can use this herb, too! In addition to sprinkling it on your favorite dish, you can choose to use the root to make a hot herbal tea or a cool glass of ginger lemonade.
Fish such as salmon and tuna have been linked to reducing pain that is associated with joint inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids and calcitonin that is found in deep-sea fish have been clinically proven to help fight pain. Alternatively, you can choose to take a fish oil supplement every day, however a supplement may not work as well against your pain as fresh foods normally would. This is because our bodies metabolize vitamin and mineral supplements at a different rate than we normally do for the foods we eat.
With the rate of chronic pain on the rise and the high risks involved with many prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, researchers have begun to look at new, alternative ways to help patients with acute and chronic pain. The choices we make when choosing our meals, coupled with daily exercise, has been proven to help many patients achieve the relief they need.