The blog post on the recently discovered fraud linked to Pfizer’s blockbuster pain drug Celebrex has generated countless emails asking me for natural pain solutions.
Today, I’m happy to share with you three 100% natural and effective pain relievers so you won’t need to rely on toxic prescription or over-the-counter drugs. So let’s get started.
1. Strawberries (anti-inflammatory)
These alkalizing and delicious berries have been shown to decrease levels of C-reactive protein – an inflammatory marker – in the body.1 An inflammatory marker results from excess proteins which are released at the site of inflammation; the proteins are detected, or “marked,” in the bloodstream. So strawberries are particularly helpful if you suffer from arthritis.
They are a top source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as anthocyanins, flavonols, phenolic acids, ellagitannins, and terpenoids. Unfortunately, they are also a top source of pesticides – they’re #3 on the Dirty Dozen list – so make sure you go organic with these, whether fresh or frozen.
For the best anti-inflammatory response, try to consume approximately one cup of organic strawberries at least three times a week. If the strawberries are very large, you can cut them in half to get an approximate measure. Of course, it’s okay to eat more than a cup, so err on the side of more if you’re unsure. You can also mix fresh strawberries into a fruit salad or swirl frozen strawberries into a smoothie.
2. Grapes (analgesic, anti-inflammatory)
Believe it or not, sweet and juicy grapes contain all kinds of anti-inflammatory compounds and pain relievers. The anti-inflammatories include quercetin, ascorbic acid, and courmarin.2 Among the pain relievers found in grapes are salicylic acid, kaempferol-glucosides, and ferulic acid.2
Grapes have been studied for their pain-relieving properties. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine induced arthritis in rats’ knees, and gave one group sugar water and the other group grape powder. In comparing the swelling and pain responses between the two groups, the ones that received the grape powder experienced less pain and inflammation.3 The study did not specify if red or green grapes were used; it referred simply to “table grapes.” However, red or purple fruits are generally considered higher in antioxidants.
A word of caution. Grapes, particularly those imported from overseas, are listed #7 on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list. So try to get the organic kind as much as possible.
You can eat grapes as a tasty snack or swirl them into smoothies. Raisins, being dried grapes, contain higher concentrations of the pain-relieving components, but eat them in moderation because of their high sugar content. Organic, unsweetened grape juice is another more concentrated source of grapes’ healing benefits, but it is also very high in sugar. Your best bet is to eat a cup of fresh grapes at least every other day.
3. Yoga (analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress)
By integrating body and mind, yoga is an effective and powerful pain reliever. A recent study conducted by New York University researchers has shown that yoga reduces both the psychological and physiological symptoms of chronic pain.4 In an interview conducted by Science Daily, lead researcher Curtis explains that,
“Yoga promotes this concept – that we are not our bodies, our experiences, or our pain. This is extremely useful in the management of pain,” she says. “Moreover, our findings strongly suggest that psychological changes in turn affect our experience of physical pain.”5
The same study has shown that the physical relaxation induced by yoga lowers heart rate and increases total body oxygenation.
And there's more good news about yoga and its pain-reducing properties.
An Ohio State University study has shown that women who practiced yoga just once or twice a week had lower levels of cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which plays an important role in the body's inflammatory response. IL-6 has been linked to arthritis and to many other conditions.6 They also showed less stress, which would have great peripheral benefits for your bones.
Till next time,
1 Sesso, Howard D., ScD. et al “Strawberry Intake, Lipids, C-Reactive Protein, and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. vol. 26 no. 4 303-310. August 2007. Web. November 14, 2011.
2 Duke, James A. The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1997.
3 “It’s the Rat’s Knees: Grape Powder Alleviates Joint Inflammation.” News and Publications, Johns Hopkins Medicine. November 14, 2008. Web. November 14, 2011.
4 Curtis K et al. “An eight-week yoga intervention is associated with improvements in pain, psychological functioning and mindfulness, and changes in cortisol levels in women with fibromyalgia.” Journal of Pain Research, July 26, 2011.
6 Kiecolt-Glaser JK et al. “Stress, Inflammation, and Yoga Practice.” Psychosomatic Medicine February/March 2010 vol. 72 no. 2, 113-121.