Last Updated: August 16 2022

Pain is an uncomfortable sensation and emotion associated with injury or damage to muscles, nerves, bones, etc. Pain can also occur without known injury or damage to body tissues.

What is pain?

Pain is a signal from the nervous system that something may be wrong and it can be a symptom of many conditions. It is an unpleasant feeling, such as a prick, sting, burn, or ache. Pain can be sharp or dull, and it may be temporary, intermittent, or constant.[1]

A revised definition of pain from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is as follows: “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.”[2]

How could diet affect pain?

There is no strong evidence linking diet to pain severity, but some hypotheses exist. For example, it has been suggested that moving from a Western diet (high in processed foods) to a diet high in purportedly anti-inflammatory foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) may help alleviate chronic pain. Also, consuming foods with prebiotics and probiotics that can alter the gut flora and alleviate dysbiosis (an abnormal gut microbiome) may reduce gastrointestinal pain.[3]

Which supplements are of most interest for pain?

Supplements usually vary depending on the type of condition causing the pain. For example, for osteoarthritis pain, supplements of interest include glucosamine, chondroitin, curcumin, ginger, omega-3 fatty acids, and others.[4] For cancer and other types of pain, some supplements of interest include cannabidiol, cannabis, willow bark, and others.

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