“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
Balanced nutrition with the cornerstones of water, fruits and vegetables have shown to promote health and well being.
On that same tip, many foods also have curative properties for common aches, pains and discomfort. These holistic pain remedies are simple to use and effective enough to be mentioned in an era when technology is accelerating at an exponential pace.
Holistic Pain Remedies
Water Flushes Out Pain Inducing Histamine From The Body
Whether it’s your feet, your knees or your shoulders that are throbbing, experts at New York’s Manhattan College, say you could kick-start your recovery in one week just by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
Experts say water dilutes and flushes out histamine, a pain-triggering compound produced by injured tissues.
“Plus water is a key building block of the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones, your joints’ lubricating fluid, and the soft discs in your spine,” adds Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of the book, The Good Mood Diet. “
And when these tissues are well-hydrated, they can move and glide over each other without causing pain.”
Ginger for Muscle Pain
When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within two months.
Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.
Peppermint Oil Baths for Muscle Pain
Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice:
Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil.
The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler.
Tame Chronic Pain With Turmeric
Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers.
That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book, Reversing Diabetes.
The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of this spice daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.
Grapes For Your Back Ache
Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl).
That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue, says Stengler.
Cloves for Toothaches
Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anesthetic.
Bonus: Sprinkling a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.
Erase Earaches With Garlic
Place two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria.
To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy.
For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.
Ease Joint and Headache Pain With Cherries
A daily bowl of cherries could ease your joint and headaches, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing’s Michigan State University.
Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, have anti-inflammatory effects 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin.
“Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain,” explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University.
His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.
Heal heartburn with Cider Vinegar
Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours.
“Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain,” explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville, AL.
Impede the Progress of IBS and Indigestion With Fish
Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases…if your belly always seems to be in an uproar, try munching 18 ounces of fish weekly to ease your bowels.
Repeated studies show that the fatty acids in fish, called EPA and DHA, can significantly reduce intestinal inflammation, cramping and belly pain and, in some cases, provide as much relief as corticosteroids and other prescription meds.
“EPA and DHA are powerful, natural, side effect-free anti-inflammatory, that can dramatically improve the function of the entire gastrointestinal tract,” explains biological chemist Barry Sears, Ph.D., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead, MA.
For best results, look for oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.
Pineapple Prevents Digestive Woes
One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California’s Stanford University.
That’s because pineapple is naturally packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine, say USDA researchers.
Salt for Ingrown Toe Nails and Foot Pain
Regularly soaking ingrown nails in warm salt water baths can cure these painful infections within four days, say scientists at California’s Stanford University.
The salt in the mix naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain.
Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected foot area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.
Horseradish for Sinus Problems
According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do.
The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.
Beat Bladder Infections With Blueberries
Eating 1 cup of blueberries daily, whether you opt for them fresh, frozen or in juice form, can cut your risk of a urinary tract infection (UTIs) by 60 percent, according to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University.
That’s because blueberries are loaded with tannin, plant compounds that wrap around problem-causing bacteria in the bladder, so they can’t get a toehold and create an infection, explains Amy Howell, Ph.D. a scientist at Rutgers University.
Honey Heals and Soothes Mouth Sores
Dab painful canker and cold sores with unpasteurized honey four times daily until these skin woes disappear, and they’ll heal 43 percent faster than if you use a prescription cream, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates.
Raw honey’s natural enzymes zap inflammation, destroy invading viruses and speed the healing of damaged tissues, say the study authors.
Tomato Juice For Leg Cramps
Potassium deficiencies, which occur when this mineral is flushed out by diuretics, caffeinated beverages or heavy perspiration during exercise can lead to leg cramps.
Sip 10 ounces of potassium-rich tomato juice daily and you’ll not only speed your recovery, you’ll reduce your risk of painful cramp flare-ups in as little as 10 days, say UCLA researchers.
End Endometrial Pain with Oats
The ticket to soothing endometriosis pain could be a daily bowl of oatmeal.
Endometriosis occurs when little bits of the uterine lining detach and grow outside of the uterus. Experts say these migrating cells can turn menstruation into a misery, causing so much inflammation that they trigger severe cramping during your period, plus a heavy ache that drags on all month long.
Fortunately, scientists say opting for a diet rich in oats can help reduce endometrial pain for up to 60 percent of women within six months.
That’s because oats don’t contain gluten, a trouble-making protein that triggers inflammation in many women, making endometriosis difficult to bear, explains Peter Green, M.D., professor of medicine at Colombia University.
Flax For Breast Pain
In one recent study, adding 3 tablespoons of ground flax to their daily diet eased breast soreness for one in three women within 12 weeks.
Scientists credit flax’s phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that prevent the estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain.
More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.
If you have a couple of home remedies or holistic approaches to add to this list, feel free to do so in the comments. The feedback is greatly appreciated.
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