Natural Pain Relief – Pineapple and Cherries
Natural pain relief will be a series of posts. Each post will cover one natural pain reliever. Not everyone will be able to use every natural pain reliever due to allergic or other adverse reactions.
Although everyone experiences pain at some time, as we age, we tend to feel it more often. Joint, muscle, neck, and back pain tend to become constant companions. While there are both prescription and over the counter pain relievers available, most of them may cause serious problems over time, when used continuously. As well, in the event of a long term disaster, you may not have access to prescription or over the counter pain relievers.
Natural pain relievers are generally safe, with no long term side effects. Allergic reactions are the number one side effect, so do not use any herb or other natural substance to which you know you are allergic.
The Sweeter Side of Pain Relief
Two of the most popular fruits, pineapple and cherries, actually can provide pain relief. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain, which has been found to aid in arthritis and other inflammatory ailments, heart disease, and cancer. Cherries contain flavonoids called anthocyanins and COX-2 inhibitors, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and also aid in the same ailments as pineapple. There is some disagreement over whether sweet cherries or tart (pie) cherries have a greater anti-inflammatory effect. There is agreement in that red cherries contain larger amounts of anthocyanins, while the yellow Rainer cherries contain almost none, so stick to red cherries.
Pineapple may be eaten fresh or fresh frozen, juiced fresh, or made from 100% non-pasteurized frozen concentrate. There are bromelain supplements available, but I would opt for fresh or juice. Although they do contain some of the beneficial properties of fresh, canned pineapple and pineapple juice are heated to the point where some of the bromelain and other nutrients are lost.
When eating fresh pineapple, remove the outer skin, but leave the core intact. The core contains the largest amount of bromelain.
When freshly juicing, leave the skin on. It, also, contains bromelain.
2 slices of pineapple, 2 times per day
1 cup of pineapple juice, 1 to 2 times per day
For gout attack, take 1 cup of pineapple juice every 3 hours, until pain subsides
May cause stomach problems, nausea, or diarrhea.
Avoid when pregnant. It may cause contractions, leading to miscarriage.
As I said above, there is some debate as to whether sweet or tart cherries provide better anti-inflammatory relief. The main difference is tart cherries are the better source of anthocyanins, while sweet cherries provide a higher concentration of COX-2 inhibitor. COX-2 is a cyclo-oxygenase enzyme (COX) found at the sites of inflammation. To put the latter into perspective, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit COX-2.
Cherries may be eaten fresh, or fresh frozen, or taken as juice. Eating enough fresh cherries daily, about three cups, may be more than most people want to consume. There are a number of tart cherry concentrates available which may be a better option.
Fresh cherries: 1 1/2 cups cherries, 2 times a day
Tart cherry concentrate: 2 tablespoons mixed in 7-ounces of liquid, 2 times a day
Tart cherry concentrate is, as the name suggests, very tart. Drinking it in plain water may not be very palatable for some people. You can mix it with fruit juice for a sweeter drink.
The Bottom Line
While both pineapple and cherries may provide relief to inflammatory ailments, I wouldn’t make them my only choice. Unless you have a pineapple plantation or a cherry grove, consuming enough of either fruit to realize therapeutic benefits, is going to get pretty expensive. I would add either or both fruits to my diet, but would use another natural anti-inflammatory as my main supplement.