by Dr. Nancy Ann Cotter
An anti- inflammatory diet is a valuable tool when dealing with chronic pain.
There are many types of chronic pain. Three common types of pain are:
- arthritic pain (the most common type of pain in the US),
- neurogenic pain (caused primarily by damage to the nervous system),
- myofascial pain, which is due to imbalance in the muscles and connective tissue.
All of them are associated with inflammation.
Because many pain mediators (or biochemicals that are known to induce or exacerbate pain) are also inflammatory mediators, it stands to reason that when we reduce the amount of inflammation in the body, we will reduce our pain.
In fact, some botanical compounds act as anti- inflammatory agents in the very same biochemical pathways as anti- inflammatory medications.
The anti–inflammatory diet contributes to pain relief in three important ways:
1. By reducing the amount of pro- inflammatory compounds that we ingest: by reducing animal fat, which contains compounds that either act as pain mediators or give rise to them, we reduce our inflammatory load
2. By eating balanced amounts of essential fatty acids (EFA) which eventually give rise to pro- or anti- inflammatory mediators, our immune cells have an easier time mounting a balanced inflammatory response
3. By supplying plentiful vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to carry out the vast array of metabolic and pain- moderating pathways in the body, we promote a healthy response to painful stimuli
I recommend that patients begin an anti- inflammatory diet after our first visit. Since food contributes building blocks, the process is slower than using a pain medication. However, the results are very powerful.
I find that by four to six weeks, patients are responding better to physical therapy, acupuncture, or the natural agents I use to treat them.
The exception to this rule is when a patient cannot process or absorb fruits and vegetables and supplements. At that point we need to start with correcting any GI imbalances that may be present.
In a future article, I will cover anti- inflammatory herbs and spices and how they can contribute to pain relief.
Pill Advised founder Dr. Leo Galland provides an anti-inflammatory diet in his book The Fat Resistance Diet