News & Research, Treatment

Treating Pain With Antioxidants

Antioxidants have made the news a gazillion times in the last few years. After listening to the same information over and over again, I tuned it out. Today I’m paying attention.

Synthetic antioxidants nearly eliminated pain-like behavior in almost three-quarters of mice with inflamed paws. Mice aren’t humans, of course, but it’s an interesting start. Antioxidants are an emerging research interest; with findings such as these, the interest can only grow.

Right now pain treatments options are at extreme ends. OTC painkillers are on one side and opioids are at the other end, with little in between. Finding an effective middle-ground has been tough, but the antioxidant research appears promising (to my untrained eye).

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, substances that damage cells. While our bodies constantly produce free radicals, healthy tissues inactivate these damaging substances and keep their levels in check. It’s when free-radical production somehow exceeds the body’s natural defenses that problems occur. Researchers have linked this excessive production to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

A handful of studies published in the last 10 years suggest that free radicals may also contribute to chronic pain. Left unchecked, free radicals build up in the body and can further damage already-injured tissue.

An equally small number of studies, including those by Stephens, suggest that antioxidants may fight chronic pain by helping the body to break down free radicals.

4 thoughts on “Treating Pain With Antioxidants”

  1. Since high school, I have had mild reactions every time I Chinese food. It started with just an upset stomach-like feeling and in the past couple of years, turned into migraines. I associated it with MSG and a food sensitivity. 2 weeks ago, I began taking an antioxidant juice, Monavie, and 2 days ago a business associate catered lunch for us…chinese food. To my surprise, I had no reaction that day or the next when we ate leftovers. I completely attribute this to the healing properties of anyioxidants.

  2. You may not need supplements. Perhaps an anti-inflammatory diet would do as well.

    Thanks for the suggestion!


  3. This is definitely something to keep an eye on. However, I would not rush out and swallow handsful of random anti-oxidants.

    CoQ10 is an anti-oxidant, and there have been positive studies of CoQ10 in the prevention of migraine. I was taking CoQ10 myself–until the Vitamin E study results came out. The Vitamin E study showed that people who had taken more than 400 IU of Vitamin E a day had a higher mortality than those who had taken 400 IU or less. Hmmm…

    You see, if you take too much anti-oxidant, it can reverse and become pro-oxidant. So–how much is too much? Well, here we go again with that pesky problem of unknowable and unmeasurable things happening inside the brain. Nitric oxide and free radicals (for those of you who took chemistry) do play a role in migraine, and anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers. So, there is a rationale here.

    But, we are a long way from knowing if anti-oxidants are equivalent in effect, how much is optimal, and how best to get them into what part of the brain.

    Now–we need to get more people convinced that migraine research is important enough to dump money into!

    Thanks for the terrific information. (As always.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *