Pain relief on a plate

October 23, 2007

Usually, if you are in pain you reach for a pill. However, depending on the severity of your discomfort there are some foods that you might like to try. If you prefer a natural solution, you may want to visit your health store for white willow bark. In 1827, a French chemist named Leroux extracted a substance from the bark of a white willow tree that he named “Salicin.” This substance is the main active ingredient of white willow, and it works as a pain reliever. Many years later two other – Felix Hofman and Fredrick Bayer – found a related compound to salicin, and later developed a synthetic version of that compound. This led to the development of the commercial product known as aspirin. White willow doesn’t have the side effects of aspirin because it is naturally converted in the body to salicylic acid, which is mild and does not upset the stomach. You can use it wherever you would normally use aspirin: pain relief, to reduce fevers, and as an anti-inflammatory where it is particularly useful for arthritis and rheumatism. It is available as tablets or capsules, though the capsule form has a faster action.

However, if aspirin is your drug of choice for pain relief, then its effects will be accelerated if you drink a cup of strong coffee at the same time, according to research conducted by Dr Bernard Schachel of Yale University. If you are a cook, then there are a range of options available to you: eating chilli peppers can help reduce pain because they are an excellent source of caspsaicin, a substance found by researchers at the University of Alabama to diminish many kinds of pain, especially chronic pains, including those associated with pinched nerves, as in sciatica. Many everyday foods also have a high content of salicylates, like white willow bark, and they too have both analgesic effects and can also combat inflammation. Good sources of foods that are proven to have pain-reducing properties include: garlic, ginger, onions, cherries, prunes, blueberries, curry powder, dried currants and dates, paprika, liquorice, and peppermint.


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