Natural Anti-Inflammatories – Could They Help Your Pain Control?

Create: 11/22/2013 - 18:30
In any form of exercise, although you can minimize your risk of injury, you can’t remove the risk altogether. Powerlifters can typically expect to experience one or two injuries each year and there can be nothing more frustrating than when you have to take a number of weeks out of your training schedule to allow recovery. During this time you no doubt do anything you can to speed your recovery to get back lifting weights and this may involve use of medications to help you get over your injury. Torn muscles and other soft tissue damage can certainly be painful, but over-reliance on painkillers is usually not the answer. Heavy use of pain medication can bring its own problems, so taking a more natural approach to ease your discomfort alongside more traditional therapies might be a better approach. Issues with painkillers Although painkillers which act as anti-inflammatories help to reduce inflammation, which itself contributes to pain, those based on opiates such as co-codamol, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone do not get to the root of the pain and simply mask the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory painkillers include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen and while they can be used to effectively manage sprains, strains and back pain, some people who take them experience problems such as digestive upset and stomach ulcers; this is a particular issue if taken for more than a matter of days. While this can be an issue for susceptible individuals, perhaps of more concern is the rising trend for opiate usage. When taken to manage pain in the longer term you need increasingly higher doses to exert the same pain relieving effects and the more you take, the more dependent your body becomes on them. In certain cases this can lead to addiction, which according to the Coalition against Drug Abuse can cause you to neglect your work, family commitment, lead to financial issues and in the end have complete control over you. As well as addiction, the other concern with continued opiate use is the risk of overdose and damage to your liver. Looking to your diet A number of common foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can be used on top of any other treatment you have been recommended. This may reduce your need to rely on medication for as long or in such high doses to aid pain relief. Some of the items most well-known for their pain relieving actions include: Oily fish. If sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon or trout don’t make it on to your plate each week, if you have sustained an injury it’s more important than ever to serve them up regularly. This is because not only do their omega-3s promote a healthy circulation for the delivery of nutrients needed for tissue repair, but they have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Men and postmenopausal women can have up to four servings of oily fish weekly, while women of childbearing age should stick to two portions each week. Foods rich in antioxidants. Fruit, vegetables and whole grains such as oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholewheat pasta have many health benefits, but their antioxidant content can be used to combat inflammation. The antioxidants beta-carotene (sourced from orange and yellow fruit and vegetables), vitamin C (think citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, green vegetables and potatoes) and vitamin E (look to leafy greens, avocados, sweet potato and kiwis) counteract free radicals. Other antioxidants sourced from whole grains, known as polyphenols, also play a role in this process; tea is also another good source of these. Free radicals are naturally generated by the body, but are associated with tissue injury and using antioxidants to neutralize them may speed your recovery. Although high dose antioxidant supplements are available, taking these may adversely affect your long-term health, particularly if you are a smoker. Chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric. These popular seasonings, which you probably already have in your store cupboard, also appear to help your body to fight off inflammation. Chilli contains capsaicin, which blocks a molecule known as Neuropeptide Substance P, which otherwise triggers nerve fiber swelling; topical creams containing this are also available to reduce inflammation. Garlic meanwhile contains enzymes that enhance the production of anti-inflammatory substances within the body. Ginger and turmeric are also beneficial as they contain substances that interfere with the ability of the body’s COX-2 enzymes to produce inflammatory mediators. Knowing this is a good excuse to eat more spicy food and to use garlic more liberally in your cooking. While focusing on eating those foods known to reduce inflammation more often, it’s also important to avoid those items that are likely to create a pro-inflammatory environment. This means avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice, trans fats which are typically found in processed foods such as cakes, cookies and pastries, as well as omega-6 fatty acids present in sunflower, corn and soya oil; canola, olive or flaxseed oil are better options. You might want to go easy on your alcohol intake too, as this also promotes inflammation within the body. Article by: Claire Bara


Submitted by jon landau on
Great article PLW and Claire, very valid points that are overlooked by many. The thing that stops many people from eating better is that they "just don't like fishy fish" but need to realize that their taste buds get trained just like their muscles. They hate the taste at first and choke it down, next week its not so bad, the third week they can tolerate it, then they start liking it and your body starts to CRAVE IT. If people only realized that their taste BUDS are not really their BUDDIES but only a mental connection to habitual patterns or Dopamine release in the pleasure zone of the brain. Many great lifters I know consider Sardines to be VITAMIN S. and benefit from having long lifting careers and overall health. Great article once again and thanks for not pushing some new magic pill that just came on the market.