Studies Show 3 of the Best Pain Relievers Are in Your Kitchen


Ginger, turmeric and cayenne are receiving a lot of attention due to their ability to rival over-the-counter pain relief drugs. Incorporating these potent, antioxidant-rich superfoods into your lifestyle is easy, affordable — and free of side effects. From common concerns such as a muscle strain, low back pain and PMS to more serious issues like arthritis or cancer, here are some of their anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving benefits:

  1. Ginger – has been proven in various studies to help reduce the severity of inflammation, muscle soreness, migraines, PMS, nausea (even when chemotherapy induced), motion sickness, vertigo, diabetes, digestive issues and more. In a study featured in the Arthritis Journal, ginger was proven as effective as cortisone and more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Tylenol or Advil) in terms of pain relief. In another study, it was concluded that eating ginger daily results in significant improvements in pain, swelling and morning stiffness for most people. Research has also shown that it can kill ovarian cancer cells, as well as inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
  2. Turmeric – (or curcumin, a component of turmeric) protects DNA and has cancer protective effects, especially therapeutic for prostate cancer, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. Studies have shown it can improve autoimmune conditions, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, MS, colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. It improves depressive disorders (rivaling Prozac in one study) and cognitive function, and studies point to its anti-aging effects in preserving brain health, improving dementia and protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric reduces oxidative stress and inflammation; it is therefore an effective way to address any kind of skin inflammation, psoriasis, postoperative inflammation and tendonitis. It protects the nervous system, the body against radiation and the brain against fluoride. Turmeric is antimicrobial inhibiting the growth of bacteria and viruses including E. coli and staph.
  3. Cayenne – (or capsaicin, a component of cayenne) has many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain relieving properties, which is why capsaicin is often featured as the primary ingredient in pain relief creams. Cayenne is especially helpful for reducing back pain, peripheral neuropathy, shingles/herpes neuralgia, headaches, itching and psoriasis. It boosts metabolism and improves weight loss, digestion, dyspepsia and blood sugar. Cayenne slows the progression of cancerous tumors and may help with bone cancer pain and cystic fibrosis. It is also anti-fungal.

In their natural form, you can simply chop one of these items up and add it to your favorite recipe or steep it to make a tea. You can use the spice form to add to your food or a smoothie. You can also purchase the tincture or essential oil form to create your own topical, all natural salve by adding a few drops to your favorite lotion or an organic oil (such as jojoba or coconut). Look to supplements for higher, more concentrated amounts of ginger/turmeric/cayenne, and some supplements even combine all three ingredients.

Sources: Alliance for Natural Health. “Research Tests Show Ginger Kills Cancer Cells.” Organic Consumers Association, 19 April 2006.

Brogan, Dr. Kelly. “Move Over Prozac: How Turmeric Helps With Depression.” Kelly Brogan MD, 2 September 2013.

Ji, Sayer. “Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression.”, 19 July 2013.

Ji, Sayer. “Turmeric Produces ‘Remarkable’ Recovery in Alzheimer’s Patients.”, 10 June 2013.

Ji, Sayer. “Research: Ginger Selectively Kills Breast Cancer Cells.”, 1 October 2012.

Ji, Sayer. “The Spice That Prevents Fluoride From Destroying Your Brain.”, 20 May 2014.

Niamsa, N and Sittiwet C. “Antimicrobial Activity of Curcuma longa Aqueous Extract.” Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 4: 173-177, 2009. NYU Langone Medical Center. “Cayenne.” EBSCO Publishing, 2014. Schoffro Cook, Michelle.

“Ginger is Better than Drugs for Pain, says Study.” Organic Consumers Association, 3 May 2013. Weil, Dr. Andrew.

“Q&A Library: Curcumin or Turmeric?”, 28 April 2011.

Monet Euan
Monet Euan is a health & wellness writer, researcher and consultant based in Los Angeles, California. Her love of natural health and a holistic lifestyle has evolved into a thriving career rooted in alternative medicine, holistic nutrition and ancient healing/beauty traditions. She founded Transcend by Monet, an integrative health support system, to provide others with the information and resources to explore their options and make informed health decisions. For more information, please visit