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Foods That Fight Pain

Review by Linda Petiot, Calgary Neuropathy Association

Book cover of Foods that fight pain by Dr. Neal Barnard M.D
Foods that fight pain by Dr. Neal Barnard M.D

Foods That Fight Pain, Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief is written by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. His goal for the book is to “provide information on the power of foods for health.”  This book covers many different kinds of pain, not just neuropathic pain but it does cover digestive problems which neuropathy patients often have as well as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Diabetes, and Shingles which all result in neuropathic pain.

There are many interesting points and discussions in the book like the fact that chocolate and cheese both contain phenylethlamine, which is a “compound with mild ampetamine-like effects that may partially account for these foods’ near druglike appeal for some people.”   The book is well laid out with a table of contents so you can look at just the topics you are interested in.

My favorite exert from this book:

Foods and Nerve Function

No matter how much irritation or injury there may be to any part of your body, you feel nothing until the pain message reaches your brain.  Pain is carried in fine nerve fibers that lead to the spinal cord, where they connect to other nerve cells leading straight to the brain.

Some strategies for reducing pain focus on the nerves themselves.  One example comes from diabetes.  Sometimes people who have had this illness for several years develop pains in their legs and feet.  This is due either to a toxic effect in the nerves that occurs when blood sugar builds up, or to poor circulation in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the nerves.  For most patients, these nerve problems and poor circulation worsen gradually over time.  However, recent research shows that a combination of foods and exercises lowers blood sugar, improves circulation, and relieves pain decisively and quickly in most patients.

Likewise, the nerve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome have been treated successfully with vitamin B6, which probably works both on the nerves themselves and the brain.

Hot chili peppers contain a remarkable substance called capsaicin, which is what gives peppers their zing.  But more importantly, in the right dose, it blocks the nerves’ ability to transmit pain messages.

Food for thought…

We can’t do it alone

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