Using Functional foods to support a Healthy Pain response

The topic of pain has always been fascinating to me. Is the expression “no pain, no gain” really true? I am going to explore with you what pain is and why i believe we have misjudged it. When you complete this article you will fully understand why the presence of pain is not altogether a bad thing.  I will also give tips on the proper way to support the body when dealing with pain (using nutrient dense wholesome foods) so an acute situation does not become a long term chronic one.

The human body is perhaps one of the most perfectly built machines. One of its greatest attributes is letting us know when something is wrong and then fixing it.  Our bodies have the ability to do so much when given the chance. Not interfering with its natural process is perhaps the most important thing we can do. At the risk of sounding repetitive, this is a fact that we seem to forget when going through a healing crisis because we want a resolution now. Believe me, i know all too well the desire to get rid of pain as i have had my fair share of injuries as a competitive powerlifter of 26 years.  Because the body’s process of dealing with pain is so misunderstood, most people take the attitude that we need to block it so we never feel pain again.  

Pain is one of the ways the body lets us know when something is wrong. Without this very important signal we would be in a lot of trouble. I strongly believe that the overuse of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are a big factor of why our bodies are not producing a healthy response to pain. This overuse has in my opinion caused an “epidemic” of chronic pain issue which are associated with many chronic diseases. This could have possibly been avoided if the acute issue was dealt with properly.  Because there are many pain pathways within the body, the source and type of pain we experience from trauma can vary greatly. These same factors can also affect the onset and tolerance levels for pain as well. For the sake of keeping it simple i will put pain into 2 categories: acute and chronic. All pain begins as an acute issue. This is a sign that trauma has occurred. With acute pain you will often see and feel redness and swelling which is simply a reaction to the affected area. This redness and swelling is a combination of the reaction to the trauma and the body bringing blood to the area to begin the repairing process.

The most common way people deal with trauma is using ice directly on the area and taking internal pain relievers in order to help reduce the pain and swelling. I believe this is a mistake. While ice has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain, it also restricts blood flow to the area. A restriction of blood will in fact slow the repairing process down. The correct resolution is to support healthy blood flow so your body can work more efficiently to repair the trauma. Supporting healthy blood flow brings the many compounds that your body naturally produces on its own to the affected area so, your body can deal with this issue.

Chronic pain occurs as a result of not dealing with an acute issue correctly. The end result is the body is unable to have a healthy inflammation and pain response. This type of pain is often known for leading to autoimmune issues.  The simple fact is, we get to this point for 2 main reasons. First, we make bad choices with how we have dealt with an acute issue which as i just stated i strongly believe over time leads to chronic issues. The other reason is we only look at symptom management for the chronic issue and refuse to look at the cause.

The solution is to support the body so it can begin to work on its own again and have a healthy pain and inflammation response.  This is by far the best way to possibly prevent it from becoming chronic. Those that do deal with chronic issues, eating foods that may support a healthy pain and inflammation response is by far the best plan of attack. This “plan of attack” is all about being consistent with what you feed yourself on a daily basis. This method over time has shown to improve one’s quality of life better than any other therapy.  The purpose is to give the body what it needs in order to restore balance.

So, here is the plan……………

As i have stated on many occasions, feeding  and nourishing your body with the foods rich in essential fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds is by far the most important thing you can do to support a sustainable quality of life. These foods based on the mechanism is actions have been shown time and time again to support and repair a body in crisis and then, maintain a level of balance. Now it is time to add one more key element in what i like to call “supporting through nourishing”.  

Mushrooms

As stated by world famous mycologist Paul Stamets “All edible mushrooms are medicinal”. Mushrooms provide a really unique set of compounds that have been proven to support our natural “Host defense systems”. They do this by supporting a healthy immune system response via modulating. According to Paul Stamets research, mushrooms provide 7 categories of compounds which may support a healthy immune system response.

1)Polysaccharides like alpha and beta glucans

2)Glycoproteins

3)Triterpenes

4)Lipids

5)Protein

6)Cyathane Derivatives like erinacines and hericenones, nerve growth stimulating factors

7)Secondary Metabolites

I believe Paul Stamets summed up the understanding and true functionality of these powerful “functional foods” with 2 very powerful statements

“The immune system is activated multi-factorially by many components in mushrooms. Beta-glucans are just one. Other constituents include but are not limited to alpha-glucans, ergothioneines, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory sterols, lipids, glycosides and myco-flavonoids–many of which work synergistically to optimize health. The efficacy of a multi-constituent approach has been positively confirmed in the scientific literature”.  

And……….

”With mushroom, the adage that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” seems particularly descriptive. For the majority of us, mushrooms are a whole system tonic, benefiting overall human health, fortifying and readying your host defense of immunity.”

Remember, these issues don’t happen overnight and in order to regain our health we need to look at what we have done to ourselves.  People love to continue to do things out of habit no matter how bad it is for them. People are afraid to leave their comfort zone no matter how bad the pain gets. We want the simple one pill answer so we don’t have to make an effort. It is this attitude that has gotten you into this situation in the first place. The healing process only begins when you take responsibility for what you did to yourself.  If you think i am wrong that is fine with me. Take a good look around you at all the people you know with chronic issues and think long and hard about conversations you have had with them. Do any of them take responsibility for what they did to themselves or do they blame everyone around them? The real question is do any of them ever get well? Still think i am wrong? Whether you want to be a follower or leader your health is your responsibility.  

by

Mike Stuchiner, MH

Master Herbalist