13 Foods That Fight Pain (With Scientific References)

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13 Foods That Fight Pain (With Scientific References)
Infographic – herbs-info.com Photo sources – see foot of article

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in every four Americans have suffered from pain lasting more than 24 hours and there are millions more that suffer from pain lasting up to six months. Because of the easy accessibility to medication, many people choose to pop a few pills in order to relieve pain. However, there are plenty of natural options in order to manage pain that do not have the side effects that pharmaceuticals have. [1]

1. Cherries

Cherries are not only an excellent addition to your shake or sundae, they have also been shown to help with inflammation and pain. Kuehl in 2012 published a study on cherry juice, showing that it was just as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, without the dangerous side effects of gastric ulcers, heart attack, or stroke. [2]

Similar results were found in Tall, et. al.’s study published earlier in 2004 wherein anthocyanins in tart cherries were able to suppress inflammation-induced pain in rat test subjects. The extracts were found to reduce inflammation-induced pain and edema. The researchers concluded that cherries could treat people with chronic pain conditions. [3]

2 – 5. Blackberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries

Various berries are very popular because of their high antioxidant content which helps flush dangerous toxins in the body. An article published in 2005 by Beattie, Crozier, and Duthie reported that berries are rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant, which have anti-inflammatory and potential analgesic effects. Similar results were seen in a study by Nile and Park, published later in 2014. This time, the study focused on in vivo and in vitro activities of the berries and how they could benefit human health. [4][5]

6. Celery And Celery Seeds

Celery has been found by scientific research to be as effective as anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications out in the market today. According to Powanda, Whitehouse, and Rainsford in 2015, celery seed extract could be used to manage arthritic pain and inflammation – without the toxicity and side effects from aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen! Not only that, the study also found that celery was less likely to affect other medications a person may be taking, making it an ideal therapeutic agent to manage pain and inflammation. [6]

A recent publication in 2017 by Hedaya found that a supplement made of five herbs — celery or Apium graveolens included – was able to manage pain and improve mobility in people affected by chronic musculoskeletal pain. The results showed that the mixture was able to help with chronic back, joint, and muscle pain. [7]

7. Ginger

Historically, ginger has been used for thousands of years to manage a variety of conditions. Recently, more and more studies have focused on its ability to manage pain.

In 2015, Shirvani, et. al. concluded that ginger was just as effective as mefenamic acid in managing the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, without the side effects of mefenamic acid. [8]

A 2017 study by Rondanelli, et. al. found that ginger extract was a safe and effective way to treat inflammation and chronic pain from patients with knee osteoarthritis, specifically patients who did not respond well to NSAIDs. [9]

Black, et. al. in 2010 published a study wherein the results showed ginger’s ability to reduce muscle pain caused by exercise. The study explored both raw and heat-treated ginger and found no difference between the two; ginger was effective in pain management either way. [10]

8. Turmeric

Turmeric is an flavorful spice used in many dishes all over the world, but it also has an important role in the management of pain. Kuptniratsaikul, et. al. in 2014 conducted a study on people affected by knee osteoarthritis and found that turmeric, specifically Curcuma domestica, was just as effective as ibuprofen in managing pain. The study was also able to collect data on turmeric’s lack of side effects, with people taking the supplement having no complaints of abdominal or stomach pain (which was seen in the group of people taking ibuprofen). [11]

A study by Lakhan, Ford, and Tepper in 2015 on the Zingiberaceae family, of which turmeric is included, concluded that their extracts were very effective at managing pain, while being safer than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (which are linked with numerous side effects like gastric ulceration). However, the study also warns of a higher bleeding risk with both Zingiberaceae and NSAIDs, which must be studied further. [12]

Cheppudira, et. al. in 2013 focused on several clinical studies on turmeric and its analgesic effects, concluding that the spice is a promising investigational drug that could be used to manage pain and improve wound healing, particularly in people suffering from burns. [13]

9 – 12. Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, And Walnuts

Salmon, Mackerel, and Herring are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked with a reduced risk for heart disease. Among different tree nuts, walnuts have the best omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio. However, omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to be help with pain management. A study by Constantino, et. al. in 2015 found that supplementing with ALA and omega-3 fatty acids helped with reducing postpartum pain, reducing the need for analgesic drugs which can be dangerous for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. [14]

El Khouli, A. and El-Gendy, E.’s study in 2014 focused on the effects of omega-3 in stomatitis or inflammation of the stomach. Their results concluded that an omega-3 regimen was a promising modality for managing pain levels of people affected by aphthous stomatitis. [15]

On the other hand, Escudero, G., et. al. in 2015 studied how omega-3 fatty acids could be beneficial in combination with other pain modalities. The researchers focused on the effects of omega-3s on the analgesic effects of morphine. They found that omega-3 fatty acids were able to function adjunct to opioids, reducing the need for additional doses of morphine and reducing morphine’s side effects. [16]

13. Flaxseeds

Chronic neuropathic pain is incredibly hard to treat. When tissue damage is accompanied by damage to the nerves, this can send incorrect signals to the brain, creating a state of chronic pain. Targeting this kind of pain can be difficult but a study by Kaithwas, et. al. in 2011 concluded that flaxseed could be able to manage it. The results of the study found that flaxseed displayed anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties. [17]

Hu, et. al. in 2015 published a study on a component of flaxseed called lignan, which exhibited analgesic effects in mice test subjects affected by diabetes. Similar to the 2011 study by Kaithwas, Hu, et. al. focused on neuropathic pain and found that the antioxidant activity of the flaxseed lignan helped with pain management in diabetic mice. [18]

Further Reading:

Herbs For Pain Relief

10 Potent Foods That Kill Pain Fast

List Of 40+ Herbs And Home Remedies For Pain


[1] National Institutes of Health. Pain Management. https://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=57

[2] Kuehl, K. (2012). Cherry juice targets antioxidant potential and pain relief. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23075558

[3] Tall, J., et. al. (2004). Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rat. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15219719

[4] Beattie, J., Crozier, A. & Duthie, G. (2005). Potential Health Benefits of Berries. https://ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cnf/2005/00000001/00000001/art00008

[5] Nile, S. & Park, S. (2014). Edible berries: Bioactive components and their effect on human health. https://nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(13)00220-7/abstract

[6] Powanda, M., Whitehouse, M. & Rainsford, K. (2015). Celery Seed and Related Extracts with Antiarthritic, Antiulcer, and Antimicrobial Activities. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26462366

[7] Hedaya, R. (2017). Five Herbs Plus Thiamine Reduce Pain and Improve Functional Mobility in Patients With Pain: A Pilot Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28160759

[8] Shirvani, M., Motahari-Tabari, N. & Alipour, A. (2015). The effect of mefenamic acid and ginger on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25399316

[9] Rondanelli, M., et. al. (2017). The effect and safety of highly standardized Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) extract supplementation on inflammation and chronic pain in NSAIDs poor responders. A pilot study in subjects with knee arthrosis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27737573

[10] Black, C., et. al. (2010). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20418184

[11] Kuptniratsaikul, V., et. al. (2014). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24672232

[12] Lakhan, S., Ford, C. & Tepper, D. (2015). Zingiberaceae extracts for pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25972154

[13] Cheppudira, B., et. al. (2013). Curcumin: a novel therapeutic for burn pain and wound healing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23902423

[14] Constantino, D., et. al. (2015). Use of alpha-lipoic acid and omega-3 in postpartum pain treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26491825

[15] El Khouli, A. & El-Gendy, E. (2014). Efficacy of omega-3 in treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis and improvement of quality of life: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24268387

[16] Escudero, G., et. al. (2015). Analgesia enhancement and prevention of tolerance to morphine: beneficial effects of combined therapy with omega-3 fatty acids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26011306

[17] Kaithwas, G., et. al. (2011). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activities of Linum usitatissimum L. (flaxseed/linseed) fixed oil. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22403867

[18] Hu, et. al. (2015). Secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, a flaxseed lignan, exerts analgesic effects in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes: Engagement of antioxidant mechanism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26494631

Infographic photo sources:

Cherries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cherry_Stella444.jpg
Blackberries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blackberries-6383.jpg
Raspberries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Raspberries05.jpg
Blueberries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PattsBlueberries.jpg
Strawberries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PerfectStrawberry.jpg
Celery and Celery Seeds – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:C%C3%A9leri.jpg
Ginger – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fresh_Ginger.JPG
Turmeric – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg
Salmon – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Salmo_salar_(crop).jpg
Mackerel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maquereaux_etal.jpg
Herring – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clupea_harengus_Gervais.flipped.jpg
Flax Seeds and Flax Oil – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flax_seeds.jpg
Raw Walnuts and Walnut Oil – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3_walnuts.jpg

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