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study show that sad (standard american diet) causes chronic pain

“These results highlight the negative effects of poor diet quality with respect to recovery from hypersensitivity and susceptibility to chronic pain. A complete understanding of the impact of diet can aid in treatment and recovery dynamics in human clinical patients.” The conclusions of the study being discussed today. A study published in the current issue of the Journal of Pain — the official journal of the American Pain Society (Total Western Diet Alters Mechanical and Thermal Sensitivity and Prolongs Hypersensitivity Following Complete Freund’s Adjuvant in Mice) — has some interesting things to say about the relationship between a crappy diet and Chronic Pain.

After watching the amazing movie, Woodlawn, last evening with my family (a football movie that took place early 1970’s Birmingham), I immediately picked up on the fact that this study came out of the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB).  Dr. Robert Sorge, a pain researcher in the IMPACT Lab (Immune Modulation of Pain and Addiction for Comprehensive Therapeutics), has a special emphasis in both CHRONIC PAIN and ADDICTION.   In this study, Sorge’s team divided mice into two groups — one consuming a “healthy” diet (the control), and the other consuming something called a Total Western Diet (the experimental group) — think JUNK FOOD here.  

Chronic Pain Diet

After 13 weeks, “Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging revealed a significant increase in fat mass with a concomitant decrease in lean mass in the TWD-fed mice. In addition, there were significant increases in levels of serum leptin [a marker for INSULIN RESISITANCE & DIABETES] and inflammatory cytokines [learn more about inflammatory cytokines HERE].”  None of this was surprising.  But this wasn’t the end of the study — it is here that the real research began.

Both groups of mice were then injected with something called Freund’s Adjuvant — a solution of inactivated Mycobacterium Tuberculosis emulsified in mineral oil (Adjuvants make vaccines work “better” by causing increased immune system responses — the nearly-universal vaccine adjuvant is ALUMINUM).  The purpose of this solution is to create a heightened immune system response (remember that INFLAMMATION is a huge part of said response), thus leading to pain.    A popular online encyclopedia described Freund’s Adjuvant thusly.

“Its use in humans is forbidden by regulatory authorities, due to its toxicity. Even for animal research there are currently guidelines associated with its use, due to its painful reaction and potential for tissue damage. Intradermal injections may cause skin ulceration and necrosis.  Intramuscular injections may lead to temporary or permanent muscle lesion, and intravenous injections may produce pulmonary lipid embolism.”

What there the study’s results?  “After chronic pain induction using complete Freund’s Adjuvant, hypersensitivity was more pronounced and significantly prolonged in the TWD-fed mice. Therefore, prolonged exposure to poor diet quality resulted in altered acute nociceptive sensitivity, systemic inflammation, and persistent pain after inflammatory pain induction.

If you want to understand some of these terms a bit better (particularly HYPERSENSITIVITY), I suggest you read my very short post on THE THREE TYPES OF PAIN.  It’s not really news that the SAD (Standard American Diet) or as these authors called it, the Total Western Diet, is bad news.  We know that an inflammatory diet leads to health problems (even though mainstream medicine ACTUALLY RIDICULES PEOPLE FOR EATING TO AVOID INFLAMMATION).  However, this study showed how a cruddy diet led to both Obesity and Chronic Pain,  “Obesity and chronic pain are often comorbid and their rates are increasing.”  Why?  Both issues, obesity and chronic pain are considered to be “inflammatory” issues.

The pain journal Practical Pain Management weighed in by asking DR. DAVID SEAMAN, a chiropractor and functional neurologist as well as a Professor of Clinical Sciences at National University’s Florida branch, about this relationship.   An article by Rosemary Black called Unhealthy Western Diet May be Linked to Pain quoted Dr. Seaman as saying (I am cherry-picking here)….

“A poor diet is one that is restricted in vegetation and heavily burdened by refined sugars, flours, and omega-6 oils that enhance inflammatory chemistry.  Pain is the result of inflammation, and inflammation occurs when a person consumes refined sugars, refined flour, and omega-6 oils. (Omega-6 oils come primarily from corn oil, soybean oil, safflower and sunfllower oil. Corn oil is found in everything from farm-raised fish to chickens to salad oil.)  This in turn can lead to pain for some and heart attacks in someone else.”

Although Practical Pain Management has been progressively coming around the these conclusions for several years, why doesn’t the average treating physician grasp the conclusions of this study —- that “A complete understanding of the impact of diet can aid in treatment and recovery dynamics in human clinical patients.“?  In other words, why is there such a CHASM between the medical research community and treating physicians?  Mostly it’s due to MONEY.  And a LACK OF CONCERN for their patients (how could you come to any other conclusion?).  And sometimes a LACK OF TIME.   What does this mean to you — the suffering patient?  It means that if you are not willing to step outside of the box, you will continue to be saturated with “THE BIG FIVE“. The thing that probably ticks me off the most is that the American Heart Association recently took a huge step backwards with this point when they issued their new guidelines on dietary fat (HERE).

If you are really interested in breaking free from Chronic Pain caused by things like FIBROMYALGIA, AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES, and CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASES, it’s not too late to make this the year you turn things around and begin taking your life back.   To start, take a few minutes to begin learning how to create your own personalized EXIT STRATEGY.


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