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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. In fact, the overall chronic pain prevalence in the United States is higher than that of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. Many sufferers turn to medications to control their pain, but these medications have lots of side effects and can bring a lot of harm to health.
Many experts believe that in some chronic pain cases proper diet and getting enough nutrients are one of the best options to reduce pain intensity and manage pain attacks. It's true that you can change your body chemistry every time you eat. You can take your health into your own hands by adding foods or supplements that can support your health and modify your behavior accordingly to reduce your pain.
Diet and Chronic Pain
Inflammation is a natural process that occurs when your body fights infection but when inflammation is chronic it can provoke heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, an anti-inflammatory diet is often considered an optimal option for pain management. It’s also wise to combine it with physical activity, stress management, and some alternative treatments like acupuncture.
An anti-inflammatory diet may include elimination of foods that contain simple carbs like refined sugars and most grains (including rice, corn, and wheat), dairy products, and red meat. You need to eat plenty of whole fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins like oily fish and poultry.
Supplements and Chronic Pain
In addition to the proper diet, you may try supplements to improve your pain. Here is a list of good supplements that most chronic pain management doctors recommend to their patients who suffer from this issue:
1. Vitamin D
According to recent studies, vitamin D in high doses has been shown to reduce pain. Why does this vitamin help? Another study focused on women breast cancer, has shown that vitamin D can manage chronic pain because this nutrient prevents the immune system from responding aggressively, provoking chronic inflammation. People with chronic pain require at least 5,000 IUs of vitamin D per day. However, it's important to consult a doctor first and perform regular blood tests if taking vitamin D in high doses for a long time.
Turmeric is a spice that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Taking a minimum of 500 mg daily can help manage joint and back pain. You can use turmeric as a powder, tea, or as a supplement.
3. Chondroitin and glucosamine
Glucosamine and chondroitin are building materials for the cartilage in your body. Supplements containing these substances can be effective in managing joint pain.
4. CBD Oil
CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the many chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, contained in the Cannabis sativa plant. Most CBD oils don’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the main psychoactive compound contained in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD doesn't have psychoactive effects but it does have some powerful healing benefits.
5. Fish oil
According to recent research, essential fatty acids particularly DHA and EPA contain a class of compounds called resolvins, which play a big role in restoring nerve and immune cell function, thus significantly reducing chronic pain.
According to a 2012 study on 380 patients with arthritis, taking high doses of fish oil for more than three months reduced patients' need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.