FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
Pain is naturally triggered by tissue damage and inflammation, but it can also reflect hypersensitisation of nerves that transmit pain signals - which helps to explain why chronic pain can be so persistent, even when the initial acute injury or inflammation may appear to have been resolved.
Medications for pain relief and management usually include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and/or other drugs that reduce pain signalling, such as paracetamol or opioids (including codeine and morphine). However, these are often only partially effective, and can also have many adverse side-effects, as well as risks from tolerance and on some cases, addiction.
This article reviews the evidence for the role of diet in pain management - examining the evidence behind many nutritional compounds that can increase the availability of anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing substances and/or reduce pain signalling in other ways, including
- the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) - found in fish and seafood
- curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), ginger, and other compounds found in herbs, spices or other plant foods
- taurine - an amino acid found in meat
- polyamines - found in legumes
- some essential minerals, including selenium, magnesium and zinc
- Vitamin D
While acknowledging the complexity of the mechanisms involved, and the relative lack of evidence from controlled clinical trials, this review concludes that diet and nutrition can play an important role in the prevention and management of inflammation and chronic pain.