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The Secret to Reducing Pain: Protein

¿Sabías que el secreto para reducir el dolor está en las proteínas?

Managing pain is something we all confront sooner or later, especially as we get older. The best way to tackle pain is by coming at it from multiple angles. Research shows you’ve got a new member on your pain-fighting team: protein.

Protein’s pain fighters

When your body digests protein, the protein is broken down into various amino acids—molecule chains that are essential for many processes in the body. These amino acids are protein’s secret for pain relief.

Here’s an example. One amino acid that comes from digested protein is tryptophan. Tryptophan is a necessary building block for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your perception of pain. (1)

Putting amino acids to the test

Researchers conducted a study to investigate whether amino acids could reduce pain. All the participants experienced chronic lower-back pain, and the researchers divided them into three treatment groups.

The first group received Theramine, a blend of amino acids such as L-glutamine, GABA, L-arginine, and L-histidine. (2) These same amino acids are found in most protein-rich foods.

The second group was treated with a low dose of an over-the-counter NSAID medication, such as naproxen or ibuprofen.

People in the third group were given Theramine and an NSAID together.

The results were revealing. Participants on the NSAID alone experienced no change in their pain over the course of the 28-day trial. Patients who received Theramine reported their low-back pain was reduced by 50%, and those in the Theramine plus NSAID group experienced a pain reduction of 63%. (3)

Another study confirmed that taking the amino acid blend along with a low dose of an NSAID improved participants’ pain by 65%. (4)

Other pain-supporting qualities of protein

Some protein-rich foods, like salmon, are also jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease inflammation, (5) increase bone strength, (6) and reduce pain associated with arthritis. (7)

Sufficient protein intake supports muscle mass, which keeps you strong and protects your joints. High-protein diets help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain. Obesity is a cofactor in chronic pain and inflammation, (8) so eating for a healthy weight is another effective approach to take down pain.

Chronic pain can sap you both physically and emotionally. Don’t get discouraged. Keep supporting your pain-fighting team, and you will start to see results.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio


[1] Paredes, S., Cantillo, S., Candido, K. D., & Knezevic, N. N. (2019). An Association of Serotonin with Pain Disorders and Its Modulation by Estrogens. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(22), 5729.


[3] Shell, W. E., Pavlik, S., Roth, B., Silver, M., Breitstein, M. L., May, L., & Silver, D. (2016). Reduction in Pain and Inflammation Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain With the Use of the Medical Food Theramine. American journal of therapeutics, 23(6), e1353–e1362.

[4] Shell, W. E., Charuvastra, E. H., DeWood, M. A., May, L. A., Bullias, D. H., & Silver, D. S. (2012). A double-blind controlled trial of a single dose naproxen and an amino acid medical food theramine for the treatment of low back pain. American journal of therapeutics, 19(2), 108–114.

[5] Li, K., Huang, T., Zheng, J., Wu, K., & Li, D. (2014). Effect of marine-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor α: a meta-analysis. PloS one, 9(2), e88103.

[6] Kruger, M. C., & Horrobin, D. F. (1997). Calcium metabolism, osteoporosis and essential fatty acids: a review. Progress in lipid research, 36(2-3), 131–151.

[7] Danao-Camara, T. C., & Shintani, T. T. (1999). The dietary treatment of inflammatory arthritis: case reports and review of the literature. Hawaii medical journal, 58(5), 126–131.

BRUSCH, C. A., & JOHNSON, E. T. (1959). A new dietary regimen for arthritis: value of cod liver oil on a fasting stomach. Journal of the National Medical Association, 51(4), 266–295.

[8] Okifuji, A., & Hare, B. D. (2015). The association between chronic pain and obesity. Journal of pain research, 8, 399–408.

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