We’ve all heard about the growing problem of opiate addiction in the United States. While there are several causes of this epidemic, one of them is addiction of patients being treated for chronic pain. It turns out that a plant-based, or vegan, diet can help prevent and even treat several diseases that result in chronic pain. Let’s look at a few examples.
Diabetics can develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy which causes pain in the leg that is often severe. It turns out that a plant-based diet can cut the risk of developing diabetes in the first place by more than 75%. For those already with neuropathy, a vegan diet can eliminate pain in over 70% of patients and the results are maintained long term.
The chest pain from angina can require strong pain medication to control. One medical study showed that a plant-based diet was able to result in a pain free status after 12 weeks. And of course, a plant-based diet cuts the risk of heart disease by half in the first place.
Over 1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The first way to avoid arthritic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is not to get the disease in the first place. Those following vegetarian diet were shown to have only half the risk of rheumatoid arthritis of non vegetarians. For those who already have rheumatoid arthritis, a plant-based diet was shown to significantly reduce pain and stiffness.
Another example is the pain from gall stones. Almost 1 million Americans suffer from gall stones. While a plant-based diet can’t reduce the pain from gall stones, it can reduce the chance of getting them by 50%.
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that affects 10 million Americans. Here, as in several other diseases, a plant-based diet can be a very effective treatment. Medical studies show that a plant-based diet reduces pain in fibromyalgia patients by 70%. These are a substantial results in an otherwise hard-to-treat disease.
While it will take more than a plant-based diet to solve the opiate addiction crisis, it does have a very important part to play by preventing several painful diseases and by reducing pain for those patients who already have it, thus reducing the need for pain medications.