Pain is a fact of life, and for most of us, painkillers accompany that fact. Without a good dose of side effect-riddled drugs like ibuprofen, paracetamol, or aspirin, we’d be at the whims of our arthritis pains, blinding headaches and worse, right? Not necessarily. There are cures for practically any common pain hidden in our supermarket aisles and pantry shelves, in our gardens and pots — we just have to use them.
All My Faves
Coffee is a tough brew to praise. On one hand, it reduces your risk of cancer, and its caffeine levels help fight migraines and headaches by acting as an anti-inflammatory drug to some degree. On another hand, studies have found that too much coffee can actually increase your risk of headaches in the first place, and do damage to the lining of your GI tract, raising your chances of catching an ulcer. The takeaway? We all need to find our golden threshold.
Healthy Food House
A dose of turmeric can work as well as a dose of ibuprofen in the case of osteoarthritis, one study shows. Turmeric has also been long praised as a magical golden little root for its potential in eye, kidney and bowel inflammation, as well as its benefits against cancer and tuberculosis. Got gingivitis? Use a home-made turmeric mouthwash.
Herbs With Rosalee
Turmeric’s larger, sharper cousin — ginger — is an extensively researched anti-inflammation tool. While drugs like ibuprofen block the compounds that form inflammation, ginger helps address the cause, as well. In fact, some authorities in medicine believe that it works better than drugs do. Ginger has been researched, and deemed possibly effective for dizziness, nausea, menstrual pain and arthritis among other things.
Remember that prickly feeling you get in your mouth after eating a lot of pineapple? That’s bromelain — an enzyme that breaks your mouth down a tiny little bit, but is ultimately neutralized by your stomach and rendered harmless. Bromelain has other effects, too — for one, there’s a large amount of anecdotal evidence that it improves the taste of semen. More importantly for people in pain, however, bromelain has an anti-inflammatory effect against IBD and arthritis. Pineapple is also rich in fiber, another great tool against bowel inflammation.
Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making them a great way to combat rheumatism and arthritis, as well as being a researched way to combat breast pain, improve ovarian function and relieve the risks of heart disease and hardening arteries. They’re also a great substitute to eggs in baking — simply mix a tablespoon of flax meal with 3 tablespoons of water to make yourself a “flax egg”.
Although cabbage in general works, red cabbage in particular is special due to its anthocyanin content — anthocyanins are pigments in nature that make plants appear red, blue, and everything in between. But aside from being a pigment, anthocyanins also inhibit inflammation. Cabbage has also been used as a home remedy for joint pain, although not as a food, but as a cold compress.
Just like red cabbage, the anthocyanins in tart cherries have been researched to boast health benefits — in this case, pretty great diabetes-inhibiting properties in mice. Other plant compounds in this sour little fruit have also shown success in fighting inflammation on levels comparable to ibuprofen.
Your gut can influence you — your mood, your emotions, or the amount of pain you feel. Having bad gut bacteria constitutes having bad health in more than a few ways — and remedying it requires good gut bacteria, the kind you can get from probiotics, and feed with prebiotics. Probiotic bacteria are available in sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh and sourdough bread.
Mint, peppermint specifically, yields a host of painkilling benefits. Most researched is peppermint’s benefits in reducing bloating and gas during irritable bowel syndrome, but some evidence exists to suggest mint’s abilities are relevant in reducing the symptoms of heartburn, chronic headaches and even breastfeeding pain when applied on the skin as oil.
Plan It Healthier
According to research, soy is pretty darn beneficial to your health — and green soy beans (called edamame) make an excellent anti-inflammatory snack, whereas fermented soy carries a host of benefits, not the least of which being the previously-discussed benefits of probiotics. They also reduce kidney inflammation.
Soul Vegan Summit
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold-pressed rather than separated from its fruit through heat, carries an inflammation-inhibiting compound similar to what’s found in ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are also studies that show that olive oil has beneficial effects on gene expression — this means the oil inhibits changes in your body’s genetics caused by chronic pain, inflammation or severe trauma.
The primary benefactors behind grapes — red grapes in particular — are anthocyanids and antioxidants, both of which fight inflammation. The resveratrol found in grape skin protects artery walls from bad cholesterol and clogging, reducing heart disease. The same antioxidant is found in mulberries and raspberries as well.
Thyme is simply amazing. It’s an herb, and herbs tend to be very powerful in both flavor and health benefits — thyme being no exception. It’s antibacterial, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and prophylactic. Thymol, thyme’s active ingredient, is also anti-fungal and helpful against candida, a strain of fungi that, when overgrown, can cause a host of problems in your gut and even lead to a depression.
Buckwheat is a pretty useful grain. The Chinese have had it for centuries, and Japan has made its famous soba noodles part of Hokkaido tradition. It’s hulls are used for hypoallergenic pillows, it’s a complete protein, a gluten-free wheat substitute for sufferers of celiac disease, and it lowers the risk of diabetes. It’s also very, very filling, thanks to its fiber and complex starches. Pain-wise, however, research shows that buckwheat and other whole grains contain essential anti-inflammatory compounds — magnesium and vitamin E, for example.
Cucumbers are cool. And mostly water. 95%, in fact. The other 5% are antioxidants, copper, potassium, manganese and a bunch of vitamins — and more importantly, they inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes, making them another way to combat pain.
Garlic’s power lies behind its “organosulfur compounds”, which, according to studies, boost anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory conditions within the body — preparing it for fighting cancer. These compounds, which include the pungent allicin, are also anti-bacterial and antibiotic — a quadruple threat.
The Magic Pads
Green tea and ginger are a powerful and common anti-cancer combo — and as you might’ve noticed, anything that fights cancer is also anti-inflammatory, either through anti-oxidants or inflammation-inhibiting phytochemicals. Aside from that, green tea also boasts L-theanine — a great little amino acid that helps you stay calm and focused.
Moringa sounds so miraculous that listing its benefits will make anyone feel like a sleazy salesman. Anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-biotic — seriously, it’s a bit ridiculous. And true. Researching dating back to the 70s vouch for one fact — it’s practically a panacea, with the downside of not being able to regrow limbs or bring the dead back to life. If you’ve got a headache or joint pains, though, it’ll come a long way to helping your body block it all out.