Whether it’s residual aches from an exceptionally tough workout, the beginnings of a pesky cold, or waking up on the wrong side of the bed, some research suggests supplementing those pain pills with certain foods could be just as helpful. Believe it or not, those healthy fruits, veggies, and whole grains we try to pack in our diets may do more than just feed our bodies well—many of them are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes inflammation is a good thing, we’ll give you that—it protects our body when we’ve been injured—but it can also be painful. (Think asthma and arthritis, inflamed sore throats, and cuts or scrapes.) While some have linked certain foods (including chocolate, eggs, wheat, meat, and corn) to causing inflammation, there’s also evidence that a few select delectables could help prevent it, tooDietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. O’Keefe, J.H., Gheewala, N.M., O’Keefe, J.O. Mid America Heart Institute and University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2008 Jan 22;51(3):249-55. . Here are eight foods that research suggests may actually help reduce pain.
Just one more excuse to grab that second cup of Joe! Research suggests caffeine can reduce pain in those suffering from exercise-induced muscular injury and painCaffeine attenuates delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss following eccentric exercise. Maridakis V., O’Connor P.J., Dudley G.A., et. al. Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6554, USA. Journal of Pain: Official Journal of the American Pain Society, 2007 Mar;8(3):237-43.. Not only that, when taken with a standard dose of pain reliever (ibuprofen, for example), one study found that a 100mg to 130mg caffeine supplement — equal to about the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee —increased pain reliefCaffeine as an analgesic adjuvant for acute pain in adults., Derry C.J., Derry S., Moore R.A., Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics), University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 2012 Mar 14;3:CD009281..
Got an aching throat? Some research shows that throat sprays containing sage or echinacea can help provide relief from that nasty sore throatEchinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial., Schapowal A., Berger D., Klein P., Suter A., Allergy Clinic, CH-7302 Landquart, Switzerland. European Journal of Medical Research, 2009 Sep 1;14(9):406-12., though there have been few other studies on this benefit, so the evidence isn’t hulk strong. Another survey looking at 14 different studies found that echinacea can decrease the number of cold infections caught, and reduce their durationsEvaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Shah S.A., Sander S., White C.M., University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, CT. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2007 Jul;7(7):473-80.. Sage is easy to find at most grocery stores and is also especially tasty in any of these recipes, while echinacea is more commonly found in pill and ointment form. When choosing to take a supplement like echinacea, be aware: Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers can often get away with making unproven claims about both the contents of the pills and the benefits of those contents.
Usually found as an oil, this flower’s powers have been linked to treating atopic dermatitis (a chronic itchy skin condition), rheumatoid arthritis, and PMS symptomsEvening primrose oil is effective in atopic dermatitis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Senapati S., Banerjee S., Gangopadhyay D.N., Department of Dermatology, Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, India. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2008 Sep-Oct;74(5):447-52.Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis., Cameron M., Gagnier J.J., Chrubasik S., School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, McAuley at Banyo, 1100 Nudgee Road, Banyo, QLD, Australia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD002948.. The gamma-inolenic acid in the oil has anti-coagulant effects that may help reduce the effects of cardiovascular illnessesAssessment of anticoagulant effect of evening primrose oil., Riaz A., Khan R.A., Ahmed S.P., Department of Pharmacology, University of Karachi, Karachi-75270, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2009 Oct;22(4):355-9..
No, we do not recommend whiskey for a broken heart or curing any sort of emotional pain. But, it turns out adding a spoonful to warm water may just do the trick to kick that pesky sore throat. This article has been read and approved by Greatist experts James Hardeman and Jessica Redmond.