When you have a lot of ailments, popping pills for every ache and pain can leave you feeling like a walking drugstore, so it's no wonder that some of us would rather brave through a headache than take a pill. But can you fight aches and pains naturally with foods—without medication? While over-the-counter and prescription medications definitely serve a purpose, we've found science that shows you can get some pain-fighting effects from food. Here's a roundup of foods that can help you feel better naturally.
Pictured recipe: Homemade Sage Tea
Good for: Sore muscles and aching joints
Ginger isn't just for relieving unsettled stomachs and the common cold. In fact, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which may reduce the aches of osteoarthritis and soothe sore muscles. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger-extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee.
Learn More: Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger Roasted Salmon & Broccoli
Good for: Inflamed joints and troubled tummies
Preliminary studies suggest that omega-3s may help quell the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis. And that's no surprise, since omega-3s are touted for their ability to reduce inflammation. In addition to soothing aching joints, omega-3s can also tame your troubled tummy (especially when caused by stress) according to a Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition study.
Eat Up: Healthy Salmon Recipes
Pictured recipe: Cold-Brew Coffee
Good for: Headaches and migraines
Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine—about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee—provides relief from headaches, including migraines. If you don't want to be an everyday coffee drinker, that strategy may backfire. Regular coffee drinkers usually suffer withdrawal headaches when they cut back on the caffeine, but there's nothing unhealthy about having a daily cup or two.
Good for: Sore throat
When your throat is scratchy and irritated, try sipping on a tea made from brewed sage leaves. It's a remedy recommended by herbalists that has some support from clinical trials. A study found that spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief compared to a placebo.
Try It: Homemade Sage Tea
Good for: Tired muscles
Sore muscles after a workout don't have to be a given. British researchers recently found that people who drank 1 ounce of concentrated cherry juice twice daily for 10 days bounced back faster from their workout (an intensive leg-resistance training session on day 8) than those who skipped the juice. Researchers think it's because the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in tart cherries—and other dark red and purple fruit juices like grape, pomegranate, acai, blueberry and cranberry—act as natural NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin), reducing exercise-induced muscle damage.