Unpublished clinical studies conducted by Mark Young, M.D., professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at John Hopkins Medical School, show that miso is effective for reducing pain. Dr. Young reports, "I have had tremendous anecdotal success recommending miso and dulse flakes to my chronic pain patients. Since miso is an excellent source of B vitamins, beta carotene, calcium, iron and magnesium, I postulate that miso is likely a valuable 'pain modulater' by optimizing several critical metabolic and biochemical reactions."
In his new book, Women and Pain: Why It Hurts and What You Can Do (Hyperion, 2002), Dr. Young talks about miso's prominence in the macrobiotic diet because of its concentrated protein content and its documented anti-carcinogenic properties . "As a by-product, pain relief may result," says Young. Additionally, he provides the reader with a recipe, "Healing Miso Vegetable Soup", from his wife's kitchen.
There is also anecdotal evidence collaborating Dr. Young's findings from macrobiotic counselors who report that miso reduces overall suffering in patients and helps promote calmness and tranquillity. A possible explanation for miso's apparent mood elevating effect may be related to its ability to increase calcium absorption and the relatively high essential fatty acid content of some misos. Both calcium and fatty acids have been linked to reducing depression and enhancing sleep.