Pain is one of the most common reasons given for a poor quality of life. It has been known to cause stress, anxiety and even depression on people who experience it in the long term. Despite its common occurrence and serious consequences, the treatment for pain has long been limited to medications. This dependence of drugs is not necessarily a bad thing but it can contribute to the growing rates of addiction.
Having said that, it is high time to venture out and look for other possible treatments for pain so that we can avoid being overly dependent on drugs, one of these new avenues is the use of a ketogenic diet.
A study published on the Journal of Child Neurology outlines the possible reasons why a ketogenic diet might work for pain relief.
Ketogenic diets have long been known to be helpful for those suffering from epilepsy and convulsions. Based on its direct effect on the nervous system, researchers are interested in the possible application of the ketogenic diet on pain problems.
The use of a ketogenic diet to treat pain may not be as unusual as we first thought. Chronic pain and seizure disorders do share some overlaps in their disease mechanisms.
Both chronic pain and seizure disorders have the presence of overly excitable neurons involved as well as a shared pharmacologic arsenal. Anticonvulsant drugs have been effectively used to treat chronic neuropathic pain. The production of ketones through fasting has both anticonvulsant and analgesic effects on the body. Another reason why researchers are optimistic is because of a neuromodulator called adenosine. Adenosine was discovered to have pain relieving properties as well as anti-inflammatory effect and can be increased in effect when the body experiences fasting.
To test out their hypothesis, researchers used the reaction of rats to heat. Those subjects placed on a ketogenic diet was able to withstand the pain from heat more compared to those not on the diet. Researchers are convinced that a ketogenic diet can infer thermal analgesia in rats.
Another possible application of the ketogenic diet on pain is the modulation of inflammation. Inflammation is an important factor that plays out the process of chronic pain. The ketogenic diet was successful in raising the levels of adenosine, a known pain reliever, and anti-inflammatory, in rats.
Unfortunately, the ketogenic diet is not a cure-all treatment for pain. In their study, researchers have determined that the ketogenic diet has no significant effect on reducing neuropathic pain in general.
Yet despite this, researchers are still optimistic that a ketogenic diet has a place in pain treatment. Although more research is needed to refine current data, they are looking forward to conducting more studies to pinpoint the optimal applications of this type of diet in treating human pain.
Ketogenic Diets and Pain