By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Associate Editor at EatingWell Magazine
When you have a lot of ailments, popping pills for every ache and pain can leave you feeling like a walking drugstore, so it's no wonder that some of us would rather brave through a headache than take a pill for pain. But can you fight aches and pains naturally with foods-without medication? While over-the-counter and prescription medications definitely serve a purpose, as a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor for EatingWell Magazine I've found science that shows you can get some pain-fighting effects from food. Here's a roundup of research that Rachel Johnson, Joyce Hendley and Karen Ansel have previously covered for EatingWell Magazine:
Good for: Sore muscles and aching joints
Ginger isn't just for relieving unsettled stomachs and the common cold. In fact, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which may reduce the aches of osteoarthritis and soothe sore muscles. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger-extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee.
Good for: Inflamed joints and troubled tummies
Preliminary studies suggest that omega-3s may help quell the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis. And that's no surprise, since omega-3s are touted for their ability to reduce inflammation. In addition to soothing aching joints, omega-3s can also tame your troubled tummy (especially when caused by stress) according to a 2005 Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition study.
Must-Read: Top Sources of Omega-3s
Good for: Headache
Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine-about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee-provides relief from headaches, including migraines. But keep in mind that relying on caffeine long-term can backfire, since habitual coffee drinkers usually suffer withdrawal headaches when they cut back on the caffeine.
Good for: Sore throat
When your throat is scratchy and irritated, try sipping on a tea made from brewed sage leaves. It's a remedy recommended by herbalists that has some support from clinical trials. A 2006 study found that spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief compared to a placebo.
What's your favorite home remedy from your kitchen?
By Kerri-Ann Jennings
Kerri-Ann, a registered dietitian, is the associate editor of nutrition for EatingWell magazine, where she puts her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to work writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.
Recipes to Try: