Insights on nutrients as analgesics in chronic pain

Geir Bjørklund, Salvatore Chirumbolo, Maryam Dadar, Joeri J Pen, Monica Daniela Doşa, Lyudmila Pivina, Yulia Semenova, Jan Aaseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many serious inflammatory disorders and nutrient deficiencies induce chronic pain, and anti-inflammatory diets have been applied successfully to modify the inflammatory symptoms causing chronic pain. Numerous scientific data and clinical investigations have demonstrated that long-term inflammation could lead to an inappropriate or exaggerated sensibility to pain. Also, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which directly act on the many enzymes involved in pain and inflammation, including cyclooxygenases, are used to dampen the algesic signal to the central nervous system, reducing the responses of soft C-fibers to pain stimuli. On the other hand, there are a few reports from both health authorities and physicians, reporting that decreased transmission of pain signals can be achieved and improved, depending on the patient's dietary habit. Many nutrients, as well as a suitable level of exercise (resistance training), is the best method for improving the total mitochondrial capacity in muscle cells, which can lead to a reduction in sensitivity to pain, particularly by lowering the inflammatory signaling to C-fibers. According to the current literature, it could be proposed that chronic pain results from the changed ratio of neuropeptides, hormones, and poor nutritional status, often related to an underlying inflammatory disorder. The current review also evaluates the effective role of nutrition-related interventions on the severity of chronic pain. This review pointed out that nutritional interventions can have a positive effect on pain experience through the indirect inhibitory effect on prostaglandin E2 and attenuation of mitochondrial dysfunction caused by ischemia/reperfusion in skeletal muscle, improving the intracellular antioxidant defense system. These data highlight the need for more nutrition studies where chronic pain is the primary outcome, using accurate interventions. To date, no nutritional recommendation for chronic pain has been officially proposed. Therefore, the goal of this article is to explore pain management and pain modulation, searching for a mode of nutrition efficient in reducing pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6407-6423
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number37
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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