If you usually deal with niggling aches and pains by popping a pill or reaching for the medicine cabinet, you’re not alone.
According to research by the British Medical Association, Brits take an average of 373 painkillers a year.
With common over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen being easily accessible, it’s estimated that one in 20 adults take at least six painkillers during an illness.
This means we’re a nation of pill poppers when it comes to dealing with aches and pains.
Although certain painkillers, like aspirin, can have other health benefits other than alleviating pain, as they have been proven to help heart attack victims prevent their chances of further heart problems – increasing numbers of people are becoming addicted to painkillers each year.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), over 30,000 people are addicted to codeine-based drugs. Codeine is one of the strongest painkillers available and is commonly found in over-the-counter drugs such as Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine.
Medication containing codeine can cause addiction after just three days of use.
So, to avoid reaching for a painkiller next time you experience mild to moderate pain, why not eat a pain-fighting food instead?
When pain strikes, certain foods are equipped with pain-soothing properties, like anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants and natural pain relievers, which help you battle the pain the natural way.
Take a look at our round-up of the best foods for pain relief lurking in your fridge...
According to previous research, turmeric is more effective in tackling pain relief and inflammation than steroid medications. According to researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the pain relief properties from turmeric are more prevalent to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as it inhibits the destruction of joints from arthritis. Turmeric contains a protein called NF-kB, which, when turned on, activates the body's inflammatory response, which helps battles aches and pains.
Red grapes are packed full of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant compound that blocks enzymes that degenerate tissue damage, which can lead to joint and muscle pain. According to the Rush University Medical Center, resveratrol helps protect against cartilage damage that causes back pain in particular. Another study by the Michigan State University found that cherry extract is ten times more effective than aspirin when it comes to relieving inflammation in the body. Other berries rich in back-pain fighting resveratrol include blueberries, cranberries and blackberries.
Ginger is well known for its ability to block the pain-causing prostaglandin levels in the body. Ginger has long been used as a natural method of pain relief, particularly in India, where researchers regularly test its inflammation and pain relief properties. According to research by the University of Miami, researchers discovered that two third of patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness after taking a daily dose of ginger extract for six weeks. Health experts recommend a daily dosage of 500 to 1,000mg of ginger a day to help ward off aches and pains.
Research by the Oklahoma State University found that osteoarthritis sufferers who consumed 40g of soy protein a day for three months, reported a 30% improvement on their arthritis-related knee pain. Soy contains bundles of isoflavones, a plant hormone with strong anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce the discomfort of osteoarthritis and other related joint pains.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for keeping the immune system healthy - and warding off inflammation and chronic neck pain. During research at the University of Pittsburgh, 60% of participants experienced enhanced pain relief from eating more fish or taking fish oil supplements for three months. The effect was so great, almost as many stopped taking their daily pain relief as a result. Besides salmon, other fish that contain high levels of the essential EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids include halibut, tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines.
Cherries, like the other members of the berry family, contain high amounts of antioxidants called anthocyanins - the key compound to the cherry's pain fighting power. According to research by the Department of Agriculture, participants who ate 45 big cherries daily for 28 days reduced their inflammation levels significantly. Researchers found that cherry anthocyanins are especially effective in treating arthritis symptoms, as participants of the study said their joint pain had improved as a result of consuming cherries or cherry juice. Anthocyanins contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.
If you ever wondered why over-the-counter painkillers contain caffeine, it's because coffee enhances the effects of common pain relief. It also acts as a natural pain reliever itself, particularly good for post-workout aches and pains. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered that patients who drank two cups of coffee after working out, reduced common post-workout aches and pains by almost 50%. Experts also claim that caffeine is good for a pre-workout boost too, as it has been proven to raise the body's pain threshold.
The humble sage is commonly used to treat throat ailments, like tonsillitis, mouth ulcers, gum disease, laryngitis, as well as other problems like headaches, bruises, bad memory and common menopause symptoms. Sage contains rosmarinic acid, which is absorbed into the body and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which soothes inflamed muscles. Add it to boiling water and make your own sage tea, or sprinkle it as a seasoning on your food.