5 Foods to Help Fight Pain

When headaches, muscles aches or joint pain strikes, popping a pill is a simple fix.  However, many of us prefer a more natural approach to pain relief and are always on the lookout for an alternative to the medicine cabinet.  While a pill might provide immediate relief from pain it doesn’t do anything to treat the cause.  Furthermore, if pain is chronic you can wind up taking pain killer tablets on a daily basis which can lead to tolerance, dependence and other adverse side effects.  Often overlooked are the pain relieving powers of some foods.  Here are a few of the best foods to help fight pain.

Ginger

Ginger, long applauded for its anti-nausea properties, is also great for relieving muscle and joint pain.  It contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, including gingerols, which can help to soothe muscle and joint soreness.  A recent study found that amongst a cohort of patients with knee osteoarthritis, those participants given ginger extract reported significant reduction in stiffness and joint pain than those given placebo.  Furthermore, in laboratory studies ginger extract has been shown to be equally as effective an anti-inflammatory as a steroid medication.  Ginger can be eaten raw or heated with both providing anti-inflammatory benefits.  Try adding ginger to juices or salads or enjoy a cup of warm of iced ginger tea.

Cherries

Cherries have been shown to be a great remedy for exercise induced muscle aches and pain.  A recent study found that those people who drank cherry juice twice daily for 7 days had less muscle pain following a strenuous running event than those who did not.  It is believed that the anti-oxidant rich fruit has anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce inflammation following exercise thus easing the pain.

Salmon

In case you needed another reason to eat more of this delicious health food, salmon is also great for pain relief.  Packed full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can help to ease joint pain caused by inflammation.  Omega-3 supplementation has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness following exercise by up to 15% although the dose required is approximately twice that you would get from a standard portion of salmon.

Peppermint

Peppermint is one of nature’s most diverse pain relievers.  Peppermint tea is able to ease digestive pain, while peppermint oil used topically can ease the pain of sports injuries, sunburn and tension headaches.  The menthol in peppermint is responsible for many of its pain relieving properties, as menthol can create a cooling sensation on contact with the skin.  Peppermint also appears to reduce spasm within the digestive tract which underlies its ability to ease digestive pain.

Coffee

One of the most common reasons people take pain relief medication is to ease a throbbing headache.  Often, these headaches are the result of blood being pumped through large, dilated vessels within your brain.  Caffeine in coffee can help to constrict these vessels and therefore ease a headache.  Furthermore, caffeine can increase the effectiveness of other painkiller medication thus reducing the dose you need to take.  Not to mention, often a weekend headache is caused by withdrawal from caffeine as people tend not to drink coffee first thing on the weekend as they would at work during the week – a little caffeine will send that headache packing!

There are a myriad of options when it comes to natural pain relief with anti-inflammatory properties being a common feature.  So next time you’re feeling worse for wear due to illness, injury, a hard workout or tummy troubles, try treating yourself with a natural remedy before you reach for a pill.  You might be surprised at the results!  Keep in mind, however, if pain persists or is severe, consider seeing your doctor to rule out anything serious.