Soybeans and Cherries for Pain
Pop a few soybeans and cherries, and call me in the morning? It's hardly the sort of advice you'd expect to hear from your doctor. But a pair of promising new reports underscore the link between pain relief and the foods we eat.
Date: 5/26/2006 8:48:51 PM ( 17 y ) ... viewed 7218 times
Tart cherries have long been believed to ease the discomfort of arthritis and gout. And a recent study of the fruit's medicinal power (Journal of Natural Products, February 1999) now confers clinical credibility. Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) found that tart cherries contain a substance called anthocyanin, which not only gives the fruit its color but may offer more potent pain relief than aspirin--and prove as effective an antioxidant as vitamins C and E. Twenty cherries appear to provide enough anthocyanin (12 to 25 milligrams [mgs]) to inhibit the formation of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, the enzymes that cause painful inflammation and the same ones targeted by aspirin and ibuprofen.
Human studies are still in the planning stages, but lead researcher Muraleedharan G. Nair, Ph.D., professor of horticulture and national food safety and toxicology at MSU, says his findings offer a significant glimmer of hope for pain sufferers. "These preliminary results suggest that daily consumption of tart cherries--or maybe someday a pill containing their active ingredient--has the potential to reduce the pain," he says.
However, when it comes to pain relief, cherries may have to share the spotlight with the humble soybean. Pain researchers at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital stumbled upon a surprising soy/pain connection when they were conducting a routine replication of an Israeli trial. The original study had shown that rats with sciatic nerve damage exhibited hypersensitivity to mild touch and temperature stimuli.(*) But to the researchers' surprise, the rats in the follow-up study demonstrated no such overreaction. Further analysis revealed that the only factor not precisely replicated was the type of food the rats were fed. The American researchers chalked up the mysterious pain-protective "x" factor to the rodents' soybean-based food.
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