As we age, our natural systems break down and we experience increasing body pain. Aside from chronic pain disorders, most of this pain can be managed with over-the-counter or light prescription pain relievers. Some people happily take pills, but others may want to try a more natural path to pain relief.
Check out these common foods and how they can help relieve your everyday aches and pains. Some of them even boost over-the-counter medications. And eating one common, tasty fruit has surprising pain relief benefits (page 9).
Who knew your morning habit could benefit you so much? | Christopher Jue/Getty Images
Eat this if: You experience sore, stiff muscles.
Coffee is full of good-for-you antioxidants, but research suggests caffeine may have other benefits, too. Apparently, it can reduce “delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss” following exercise. So the next time you go for a morning jog or hit the gym, be sure to fill up on that cup of joe.
If you were to take a cup of coffee with your pain reliever, the amount of caffeine actually acts as a pain reliever booster. If you don’t have coffee or just don’t like the taste, try using a caffeine supplement instead. It could also help you stay awake a little longer after a hard exercise.
Next: Live in the Northwest? You’re in pain relief heaven.
This fresh fish is good for you in multiple ways. | jaroszpilewski/iStock/Getty Images
Eat this if: You suffer from arthritis.
Wild-caught salmon is an incredible power food. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also packed with omega-3, the best fatty acids for arthritic pain. In one study, scientists determined that enough omega-3 fatty acids were equivalent to one ibuprofen. You can also get omega-3 from fish oil supplements.
Next: Sweeten up your smile.
Honey can do more than sweeten tea. | iStock/Getty Images
Eat this if: You develop a painful canker sore.
These oral lesions don’t seem like a big deal, but one little canker sore can plague and distract you for days. Researchers found that people who applied honey to their mouth sores a couple times a day saw them disappear more rapidly than other methods. Thanks to its antibacterial qualities, this sweetener can promote wound healing in your mouth and elsewhere.
Next: Listen to your gut and enjoy this food.
Put it on your hot dog or make a sauerkraut soup. | iStock.com
Eat this if: You can’t overcome your irritable bowel syndrome.
You’ve probably heard about probiotics; many yogurt companies boast the benefits. But you can regulate your gut bacteria other ways, too. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, eat some sauerkraut. It contains live active cultures that can help with pain, inflammation, and bloating. Now you have an excuse to enjoy a hot dog with tasty toppings.
Next: Time for some flower power.
This flowers do more than look pretty. | ChiccoDodiFC/Getty Images
Eat this if: You experience itchy skin, arthritic pain, or even PMS symptoms.
Oil from the seeds of the evening primrose flower can be an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis. It also helps with the pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis and PMS. We hope you aren’t suffering from all three at the same time but talk about a jack of all trades. You can purchase the oil online and from many drugstores.
Next: Lend an ear to this pain-fighting food.
Hurting ears need garlic to get better. | iStock/Getty Images
Eat this if: You have a painful ear infection.
Earaches aren’t just for little kids. Millions of Americans suffer from ear infections each year, according to Livestrong, and garlic oil can take away that pain. The active ingredients in garlic (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) will banish bacteria due to their natural toxins. So a couple drops in your achy ear twice a day for less than a week may be the ticket to a pain-free life — and work faster than prescription treatments.
Next: A flavorful wonder root you should definitely keep around.
This root has all sorts of amazing benefits. | Tom Merton/Getty Images
Eat this if: You have an upset stomach or an inflammatory issue.
No, not the heartthrob from Gilligan’s Island. We’re talking about the root found in many Asian dishes. Natural ginger root can help alleviate things like nausea, motion sickness, and other inflammatory woes. More importantly, it can help relieve mild pain.
In another study, researchers found that ginger can help with pain from menstrual cramps. Specifically, 250-500 mg of powdered ginger was seen to be just as effective as ibuprofen. If you’re short on pain reliever pills, hit the wok and make yourself a stir-fry.
Next: As if you need an excuse to eat this treat.
The darker the chocolate, the better for you. | Esdelval/Getty Images
Eat this if: You need relief from insomnia, muscle soreness, joint stiffness, and more.
Over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, can create gastric erosion and ulcers. So reach for some chocolate instead. The main ingredient, cacao, can reduces inflammation from exercise or arthritis; it also releases the “body’s natural amphetamine, phenylethylamine, better known as the ‘love drug,’” according to Pain Pathways.
Even more benefits? Consuming some chocolate — the darker the better — may help you sleep better, improve your mood, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Next: This common, delicious fruit has surprising pain relief benefits.
This fresh fruit is a delicious, healthy way to alleviate inflammation. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Eat this if: You need relief from rheumatoid arthritis.
Everyone knows oranges are packed full of vitamin C. What people don’t realize is that this juicy fruit also has a bunch of beta-cryptoxanthin. This antioxidant shows some promise in helping alleviate inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis.
Next: Another delicious fruit for pain-free living
10. Tart cherries
Cherries are an easy summertime treat to add to your diet. | Timmary/Getty Images
Eat this if: You suffer from gout or muscle soreness.
Everyone loves a sweet cherry pie. But don’t knock tart cherries either. They help treat joint pain associated with gout by neutralizing the inflammation caused by uric acid buildup in the blood. Drink tart cherry juice after a workout or sporting event, too. Research shows your body has an easier time recovering from sports if you drink the juice for a week prior. Athletes reported less pain than the athletes who didn’t drink the cherry juice.
Next: This spicy pepper has a ton of health benefits.
This veggie is packed with vitamins! | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Eat this if: You have a variety of ailments.
These little green monsters are actually gifts from heaven. Jalapenos are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants.
What helps most when it comes to pain is capsaicin — the stuff bringing the heat — loaded inside jalapenos. Capsaicin elicits an endorphin response and helps block pain receptors. So if it hurts, eat a jalapeno. They also help you lose weight, prevent heart attacks, and act as a decongestant.
Next: We take this when we get a cold. You should, too.
This herb can alleviate inflammation. | Jasmina81/Getty Images
Eat this if: You caught a bad cold.
The worst part about a cold is a sore throat and coughing. The pain alone is enough to make anyone miserable. As it turns out, echinacea can actually help alleviate some inflammation. So the next time you buy a throat spray, make sure it has echinacea in it.
Next: These little seeds are packed with power.
13. Sunflower seeds
Try sprinkling these yummy seeds on your salad. | Source: iStock
Eat this if: You encounter migraines or fibromyalgia.
Sunflower seeds (and pumpkin seeds) are rich in magnesium, which can help relieve muscle spasms, migraines, and fibromyalgia. It’s rather easy to be deficient in this supplement, especially if you’re a heavy drinker, so munching on a handful of sunflower seeds could help. Add them to your salad or eat them as a snack.
Next: Cook with this popular leaf for added benefits.
Adding this to your favorite recipe is an easy way to reap the benefits. | karandaev/Getty Images
Eat this if: You have a sore throat.
Does cold and flu season terrify you? Sage can actually help soothe your sore throat. It showed similar effectiveness to lidocaine spray in providing relief. Lidocaine is a common anesthetic that numbs pain receptors on the surface tissue.
Next: This everyday spice is oh so nice.
This powerful spice is great in Indian food. | iStock.com/eskaylim
Eat this if: You have digestive, respiratory, or joint issues.
Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine commonly involve turmeric. But just because it’s been relegated to those cooking styles doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate it into your everyday life.
One tablespoon a day could help with arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, fever, menstrual problems … the list goes on. We recommend incorporating it into your cooking. Don’t eat a tablespoon right when you get up.
Next: This helps relieve pain, but don’t go crazy.
A hot toddy may be good from time to time. | iStock.com/bhofack2
Eat this if: You have a sore throat.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, alcohol isn’t natural. Well, it actually is. Alcohol is the byproduct of yeast eating sugar. With that being said, we aren’t saying you should down a handle when you break your leg. Just mix about an ounce and a half with some hot water, honey, and lemon juice to help relieve a sore throat when you have a cold. The tasty hot toddy will warm you up.
Next: When it doubt, soak it out.
17. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is a versatile, all-natural helper. | iStock.com/ChesiireCat
Eat this if: You experience especially sore muscles.
This dynamic cooking ingredient comes in a form perfect for pain relief: epsom salt. If you went a little too hard at the gym, you can soak in an epsom salt bath to relieve muscle soreness and joint pain. (Add an essential oil, like lavender, for extra relaxation.)
Other uses for epsom salt: If you get a splinter, soak the area in espsom salt and warm water to naturally draw it out. If you’re experiencing post-childbirth inflammation, try the bath soak remedy. It can ease this kind of soreness, too.
Next: This cure-all only recently became legal.
Yes, marijuana really can help ease your pain. | Yarygin/iStock/Getty Images
Eat this if: You have any kind of pain at all.
We are not here to preach like hippies, but the list of things marijuana treats is long. Most notably it’s good for pain management. Some people find it manages chronic pain better than some prescription drugs. Best of all, it makes you want to eat all the previous stuff on this list. So here’s to your fortified, naturally pain-relieved body!
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