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Olive oil: The Mediterranean health secret for a long, pain-free life

by , 28 June 2013

Researchers have come up with even more evidence supporting the potential long-term benefits of extra virgin olive oil, a staple of the now-famous, very healthy Mediterranean diet. Here's what they found about olive oil's ability to relieve pain…

If you suffer from debilitating chronic pain, there’s some good news for you

Scientists at the Monell Chemical Center in Philadelphia found that a compound called oleocanthanol that’s found in freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil works just like ibuprofen in its ability to reduce pain.

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat mild to moderate pain. It also helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis such as inflammation, swelling, stiffness and joint pain, explains the Mayo Clinic.

Here’s how oil can relieve your pain

According to Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing, scientists found that even though oleocanthanol and ibuprofen are structurally different, they both work by blocking COX (cyclooxygenase) enzymes in the prostaglandin-biosynthesis pathway. This means they both relieve pain equally well.

Here’s the catch:

You’d have to swallow TEN times the amount of olive oil to achieve the same pain relieving effects of just one dose of ibuprofen.

That could add up to as many as 45 tablespoons of olive oil daily.

“I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to swallow that much extra virgin olive oil daily, especially considering it causes a strong stinging sensation in the throat and would likely cause gastro-intestinal upset, too,” says Dr Wright.

So what do you do since this isn’t feasible?

Well, for starters, this research suggests that, as a COX inhibitor, extra virgin olive oil could have long-term health benefits (with none of the side effects that go along with ibuprofen). So, basically, this just adds one more reason in an already long list to consider following a Mediterranean-style diet.

Get the benefits of olive oil by adopting the Mediterranean-style diet

This diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and fish. Olive oil is an especially important part of this diet because it’s a great source of monounsaturated fats. Dairy is included as well, but on a much smaller scale.

“People who follow this diet are generally healthier. They have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and they tend to live longer, as well,” says Dr Wright.

So if you have unsolved pain and you’d rather not take patent or formerly patent medications to alleviate it, it can’t hurt to try some extra virgin olive oil in your cooking and on your salads and vegetables to observe whether it helps your pain.

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