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Top 10 Pain Killing Foods to Reduce Pain

Updated on May 19, 2014

What causes pain? Until recently, scientists were unable to explain pain. It was only in 2010 (yes, it was that recent!) that Montreal-based psychology professor, Ronald Melzack, was presented the Grawemeyer Award for explaining how people experience pain.

He proposed that people feel pain not at the point of injury but instead in their brain through a pathway that travels through the spine, and in his 'Gate Control Pain Theory' he suggests that we can control pain related suffering by using mental and personal processes to increase, decrease or eliminate pain.

While research is still under way to further support this theory, it is comforting to know that since ancient times, people have been using healing foods to reduce pain for thousands of years. If you are experiencing any form of pain, be assured that these top 10 pain killing foods can naturally help you control or manage your pain:


1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a root, often available in powdered form, which is characterized by its bright yellow colour due to the presence of the compound, curcumin. To date, the biosynthetic route of curcumin has not been discovered by scientists - but this miracle compound has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, like pain and inflammation. It actively heals inflammation and stops pain.

Turmeric soothes irritated and inflamed tissues and is a good solution for chronic pain.

Experiments at the University of Arizona, led by endocrinologist Janet Funk, were able to prove the exact way turmeric literally shuts down inflammation through blocking the protein in the body that enables blood vessels and capillaries to grow. This is some serious potent and natural actions by turmeric, a seemingly humble and 'common' spice.

2. Ginger

Another root spice similar to turmeric, ginger has been used medicinally as early as thousands of years ago. Just like turmeric, ginger has proven to be a key player in blocking cancerous tumors from developing. Ginger is also well-known for its ability to fight infectious pathogens and strengthen the immune system, as well as to curb nausea and vomiting.

Ginger contains compounds called gingerols, which have been studied in the University of Sydney to be effective against pain and inflammation.

The nice thing about ginger is that its taste and aroma are therapeutic and healing. To heal chronic pain, it's simply a matter of taking several cups of ginger tea with honey throughout the day.

3. Walnut

This brain-shaped and slightly more expensive nut is reputed for being a brain boosting food, but did you know many natural health care practitioners prescribe walnuts are prescribed for knee pain? Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and a high source of alpha-linolenic-acid or ALA, which is an important fatty acid that our body does not produce.

Regular intake of a handful of walnuts reduces blood pressure thereby reducing stress and hypertension, which helps decrease pain levels. In fact studies show that eating as little as only 4 walnuts a day immediately results in an increase in the presence of omega 3's in the blood.

In a nutshell, all nuts being tiny powerhouses of nutritive elements, provide the body with healthy skin, hair and internal organs. Nuts as pine nuts and almonds are also shown to reduce pain.

4. Fish rich in omega 3 - salmon, mackerel, herring

The supplement market is flooded with capsules that exploit the much touted words, "rich in omega 3!" We have been taught that omega 3 is a fundamental nutrient with many important benefits to human health. The problem is, its hard to tell what quality of omega 3's are contained in these supplements. They could even be sythetic grade, which cannot be absorbed by the body.

The best way to get omega 3 is straight from the source. Seafood are rich in omega 3, particularly fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and more. Omega 3 is known to maintain a healthy heart, improve bowel health, promote beautiful skin, hair and nails, improve mental health as well as bone health. As far as pain is concerned, omega 3's help in managing and eliminating chronic pain. They improve joint health and reduce joint tenderness, stiffness, inflammation and pain. Increase the intake of fish rich in omega 3 to 3 - 4 times per week to obtain pain relief.

5. Flax seed

Seeds in general can help in pain reduction and inflammation especially pumpkin seeds and cocoa seeds, which are not only low in calories but also a great healthy snack. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which is known to reduce stomach pains, headaches and more. Flax seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which also help reduce pain. Cocoa seeds, or more practically coffee, are known to be headache busters.

6. Pineapple

Pineapple is one of the potent pain fighting foods out there that is not a spice, and is sweet and tropical to eat and enjoy. Dubbed as the 'sweet pain reliever', pineapple is rich in vitamin C, which protects our joints; rich in minerals, which improve joint tissue health and has enzymes which are anti-inflammatory.

Pineapples contain a unique compound known as bromelain, a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Fresh pineapple is the best choice for pain relief, as this will ensure the bromelain compound is intact. Eat pineapple on an empty stomach, or alone without mixing with meals in order for its enzymes to find their way straight to the inflamed problem areas of your body. Fun fact: Bromelain is more concentrated in the hard, inner steam of the pineapple fruit, so when juicing, make sure you juice that part too.

7. Cayenne

Cayenne is rich in the compound capsaicin, the active ingredient of chilli peppers and capsicum, known to have pain relieving properties that are used in many medications. The chemical structure of capsaicin is similar to gingerol, the compound found in ginger, which is another pain fighting food.

Capsaicin is used in topical creams to soothe pain on skin such as in conditions of herpes. Internally too, capsaicin drastically reduces inflammation and reduces pain. The problem of course, is to deal with the 'hot' sensation that seemingly increases the initial pain on the tongue as a price for internally reducing chronic pain.

Many people take cayenne flakes mixed in warm water sweetened by honey, early in the morning to lose weight, as it is a known metabolism booster. This same method can be used as a relief for chronic pain too. If you are a fan of spicy food though, it's only a matter of adding this spice to your soups, broths and other meals.

8. Cinnamon

Yet another spice that originates from certain countries of Asia, cinnamon is the inner bark of the wide leafed Cinnamomum trees. Traced back to ancient Egypt and the times of Moses, cinnamon has been revered for its healing properties since time immemorial. Moses is said to have been commanded to use sweet cinnamon oil as the holy anointing oil.

When an herb has been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties, we are encouraged to use it for our own healing purposes, whether 'modern' scientific studies have been carried out to 'prove' this or not. Among the many benefits of cinnamon, pain relief is a known property.

Take 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon powder with water dissolved in honey every morning to reduce pain, inflammation and fatigue. In fact, this drink has been shown to regulate blood sugar, fight bacterial infections, help with weight loss and even reduce bad breath.

9. Olive oil

Used famously in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil has found its way to many kitchens around the world thanks to its wonderful healing properties and other advantages compared to generic cooking oils.

Olive oil reduces inflammation and may contain pain fighting and pain relieving properties. The ticklish peppery sensation that you get at the back of your throat after swallowing a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil may hold the clue as to how olive oil is a potent painkiller. It's easy to integrate olive oil into your diet and lifestyle as its taste does not interfere with other foods and it's benefits are simply too many to ignore.

10. Cherries - blackberries, strawberries, blueberries

Delicious cherries and other berry varieties such as blackberries, strawberries and blueberries have anti-oxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and associated pain, on top of being a potent anti-aging food as well as excess fat blasting food.

Many fruits are known to contain anti-oxidants but the anti-oxidants in cherries are unique to the fruit. Tarter cherries and similar fruit such as red currant are rich in flavanoids such as lutein, zea-xanthin and beta carotene. The stable antioxidant, melatonin found in cherries provides a calming effect on the brain, soothes nerve irritability and reduces body pain and headaches.

One cup of cherries can induce better sleep and reduce insomnia which eating just 4 - 5 cherries a day can reduce arthritis related pain.

Which is your Favorite Pain Killing Food?

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    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 17 months ago from United States

      Excellent Hub with such valuable information. Ginger has always helped me with pain. I was not aware of other things that helped with pain This is a very helpful Hub. Voted up.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub with useful and interesting information. This stuff is good to know. Voted up!

    • Prabhjot Saini profile image

      Prabhjot 3 years ago from Delhi, India

      I knee about turmeric but rest was quite knowledgeable.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 3 years ago from The Great Midwest

      I have discovered in research for my own hubs the benefits of cinnamon and ginger. Furthermore, I remember reading about double blind studies that showed cayenne peppers kill prostate cancer cells. Talk about your power packed foods.

    • profile image

      shan 3 years ago

      I am drinking ginger/honey tea to get rid of my head ache and its working.

    • thefedorows profile image

      thefedorows 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Another great hub! I pinned your "top 10" graphic, voted up, useful, and interesting. Enjoyed reading a little more into the science as to why each is effective. Plan on finding new ways to include these in my diet!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i had walnut when i hag gallstones