Unpack Pain with Diet and Herbal Remedies
Pain, like luggage, comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and when those bags are packed full, their weight can wreak havoc on your body and mind like TSA when you’re already late for a flight – if you even remember airports at this point!
Due to the individual nature of pain, both in terms of how it originates and how we experience it, finding the right approach to pain management can be a process. Luckily, in addition to conventional medicine, there are also a host of dietary practices that can help you shed the physical and emotional weight of pain.
What we put in our body can play a HUGE role, but it’s easy to ignore the very tangible impact diet has beyond how tight those skinny jeans are. Pizza and a cold beer are just too good. However, your body’s inflammatory response can be triggered or reduced by certain types of foods. Think swelling from straining your ankle during that Color Run, but also inflammation under the surface from stress, poor nutrition and other factors.
Research suggests that while highly processed foods can actually cause and/or worsen inflammation, that foods rich in antioxidants can have an anti-inflammatory effect and therefore help soothe and even prevent painful inflammatory flare-ups.
So what can you eat to combat pain caused by inflammation? If you’re immediately thinking red wine and dark chocolate you’re not wrong, but likely not in the quantities you’d like. Instead consider foods like berries, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are often classified as staples of the Mediterranean diet. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t justify abandoning ship and heading to the Amalfi Coast, but that sure does sound nice, doesn’t it?
In an ideal world, where we’re living in Amalfi, we also get all of our antioxidants and other key nutrients from food, but alas we live in a world where that isn’t always possible. That’s where herbal remedies and dietary supplements come in. From fish oil drops which also have anti-inflammatory properties along with other health benefits, to glucosamine and chondroitin capsules to help with joint pain by slowing or preventing the degeneration of joint cartilage, to CBD which has been shown in some studies to inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain (two of the more difficult types of chronic pain to treat) to melatonin which promotes sleep (when the body does most of its restorative work), there are a whole host of pain management options to explore.
Maybe too many options when you just need the pain to go away, but with an open mind, guidance from a medical professional and a willingness to experiment with what works for you; the good news with food and herbal remedies is: even if they don’t eradicate all of your pain they’re still delivering nutrients to your body to support your overall health and well-being and typically do not have negative side effects. And who knows, maybe that you could get your doctor to write a script for some Vitamin D to be absorbed while tanning on the Italian coast after all? It never hurts to ask…