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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Foods that Fight Pain a Tasty, Colorful Banquet

Jan 03, 2011 06:11PM

by Michelle Schoffro Cook

While many foods taste great, they can also be powerful healers, naturally packaged in vibrant, multicolored disguises. Plus, these foods won’t cause the nasty, common side effects that often accompany the use of drugs. Here are some fabulous-tasting favorites that can yield extra benefits.

Cherries

Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of natural products and chemistry at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is 10 times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation. Only two tablespoons of the concentrated juice need to be taken daily for effective results. Sweet cherries have also been found to be effective.

Other Berries

Nair later found the same anti-pain compound in other berries, specifically blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.

Celery and Celery Seeds

James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, found more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery and celery seeds, including a powerful flavonoid called apigenin. Add celery seeds to soups, stews or as a salt substitute in many recipes.

Ginger

Ginger reduces levels of pain-causing prostaglandin in the body and has been widely used in India to treat pain and inflammation. A study by Indian researchers found that when people who were suffering from muscular pain were given ginger, they all experienced improvement. New research from the University of Georgia supports these findings. If you’re taking medications, check with your health practitioner for possible herb-drug interactions.

Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the yellow spice commonly used in Indian curries, is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for suppressing pain without harmful side effects. Its main therapeutic ingredient is curcumin. Research from institutions such as the University of California, San Diego, and Cornell University indicate that curcumin appears to be a safe, natural alternative to COX-2 inhibitor drugs.

Fatty Fish

Many fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring contain omega-3 fatty acids that convert in the body into hormone-like substances that decrease inflammation and pain. According to research reports from arthritis specialists associated with the National Institutes of Health, omega-3 is an effective anti-inflammatory agent; ingesting fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines, compounds known to destroy joints. Many other studies similarly demonstrate that eating moderate amounts of fish or taking fish oil supplements reduces pain and inflammation, particularly for arthritis sufferers.

Flax Seeds and Flax Oil

Freshly ground flax seeds and cold-pressed flax oil contain plentiful amounts of the omega-3 essential fatty acids. Do not cook with flax oil, however, as it then can have the opposite effect of irritating the body’s tissues and causing pain.

Raw Walnuts and Walnut Oil

Raw walnuts and walnut oil also contain powerful omega-3 fatty acids that fight pain and inflammation in the body.

When it comes to relieving pain, food really can be the best medicine.

Michelle Schoffro Cook is a registered nutrition consulting practitioner and doctor of natural medicine. Her latest book is The Phytozyme Cure.  Learn more at DrMichelleCook.com/HealthSmartNews.

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