Dietary influence on pain via the immune system

Academic Article


  • Obesity rates are approaching epidemic proportions and are a significant factor in annual health care costs. In addition to cardiovascular comorbidities, the presence of diabetes and/or chronic pain is extremely high in this population of individuals. It is now well accepted that the cells of the innate (and adaptive) immune system mediate both acute and chronic pain through release of cytokines into the system. In this chapter, we outline the ways in which poor food choices and elevated adipose tissue (body fat) are likely to activate the immune system and increase inflammation and pain. In addition, we explore the ways in which a variety of foods (e.g., broccoli, ginger, grapes, and fish oils) may have anti-inflammatory effects via their direct action on cells in the immune system and on the subsequent release of inflammatory cytokines. Some foods (green tea, ginger, and broccoli) have been found to antagonize specific cell surface receptors, whereas others (grapes, soy proteins, tomatoes and ginseng) appear to reduce nuclear translocation of the major transcription factor NFκB, thereby reducing production of inflammatory cytokines. Together, we provide data in support of the use of diet interventions to reduce pain and inflammation in patients suffering from chronic pain or other inflammation-mediated disorders.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Totsch SK; Waite ME; Sorge RE
  • Start Page

  • 435
  • End Page

  • 469
  • Volume

  • 131