Guest Post By Melissa Davidson
For people suffering from chronic pain, there’s potential for relief in the form of favorite foods, including grapes, wine, dark chocolate, and peanuts.
There’s a natural compound in these foods called resveratrol, a chemical that acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Researchers at the University of Arizona School of Medicine found that resveratrol may be beneficial in treating acute and chronic pain conditions.
Post-surgical pain – even after the wound has completely healed – can last for 6 months or more following procedures such as cardiac bypass surgery and hernia repair. Specifically, researchers found that resveratrol blocks the body’s pain receptors and works on a cellular level.
Over 45 million surgeries are performed in the U.S. annually, and up to half of the patients experience discomfort and pain for months afterward. Anyone who has dealt with chronic pain knows how debilitating and frustrating this can be.
Pain pills can reduce suffering, but they don’t eliminate the true cause of pain and can result in addiction. Of course, no fruit or vegetable alone can alleviate pain if someone doesn’t change their overall dietary habits.
Our American diets tend to increase inflammation because many people consume processed foods and refined carbs instead of whole foods. A busy lifestyle, fatty foods, and quick meals lead to obesity, plus annoying occurrences of heartburn or even conditions such as GERD.
Healing foods that fight pain naturally and promote health include cherries, ginger, turmeric, mint, and edamame.
The most commonly-known sources of resveratrol (and the ones that get the most hype) are red wine, grapes, and berries. Add dark chocolate and peanuts to the mix, and you get a smorgasbord of healing snacks!
While peanuts are a good source of resveratrol, they contain about half the amount per ounce as red wine. If you subscribe to the “everything in moderation” philosophy and are a red wine drinker, you’ll be especially happy to know you may already be reaping the health benefits of resveratrol.
Long thought to be “heart healthy,” red wine confined to one or two small glasses is OK, but doctors are not encouraging patients to take up a drinking habit because too much drinking leads to harmful effects on the body, especially if there’s a family history of alcohol abuse. Also, bear in mind there’s no proof the red wine antioxidant helps you live longer, according to WebMD.
There’s not only a link between resveratrol and chronic pain relief, but a correlation between resveratrol and treatment of certain types of cancers, including pancreatic and mesothelioma.
Promising studies continue to examine the positive effects of resveratrol on cancer patients. Researchers in South Korea recently found that the red wine chemical could actually improve malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment.
The study showed that resveratrol made malignant cells more vulnerable to cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug, by inducing “cell death.” Testing changes of cells through radiologic technologies such as a PET scan is one of the most common ways to help evaluate tissue and organ functions.
In a different study of cell cultures, resveratrol helped suppress breast cancer progression in its early stages. Published in Cancer Prevention Research, the study found that resveratrol helped prevent estrogen from reacting with DNA molecules and forming compounds that mark the start of cancer cell formation.
Aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but long-term use leads to gastric ulcers. Resveratrol has been proposed as a companion to aspirin to reduce this unwanted side effect.
Evidence continues to emerge that resveratrol may be a most effective pain reliever. Give it a try for yourself. Even if it doesn’t have the intended effect, you still get to enjoy some wine and chocolate!