03/06/2014 11:48 am ET Updated May 06, 2014

Foods That Fight Pain

Last year, I threw my back out, and the experience was, in a word, hell. Couldn't walk, couldn't stand and couldn't sit without lightning rods of pain shooting up and down my body. For someone who lives to be seven places at once, this was hardly convenient.

My condition was eventually treated successfully (memo to my physical therapist: I will love you forever), but as anyone who experiences this kind of agony will tell you, living through the ordeal can be harrowing. Even worse, I hated the painkillers I was prescribed -- they made me spacey and nauseous and tired. So one day a friend said, "I've got the perfect medication for you, and you might even like it."

Then she gave me a bowl of cherries.

Yep -- turns out that, according to the latest research, eating a bunch of cherries can stave off pain as effectively as ibuprofen. That's because cherries contain anthocyanin, which helps diminish the body protein associated with inflammation. Did the cheeries make me cheery? Not exactly. But they took the excruciating edge off the pain and helped me make it through another day.

More and more these days, medical researchers are discovering that many of the foods we eat (and actually enjoy!) can help wean us off prescription drugs -- and that's always a good thing. While medically miraculous (and legitimately advisable) in many cases, painkillers can also be very dangerous, leading to dependency, addiction and death. (A recent report from the CDC reveals that fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers have "skyrocketed" in the past ten years, and that nearly 15,000 people die every year from overdoses of these drugs.)

So I say, if you're struggling with a bum back, a headache, arthritis, or even plain old PMS, why not give a healthier (and tastier) alternative a try? Life may not always be a bowl of cherries, but sometimes they do the trick.

Here are some more foods that can help take the pain away.

Foods That Fight Pain