NSAIDs ibuprofen and naproxen, sold over the counter as Motrin and Advil are in the news again for their role in causing heart attacks and strokes.
Lots of us pop pain-relievers like ibuprofen as needed, thinking they’re harmless — but that’s really not the case according to the FDA.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is ramping up its warnings about the risks of both these over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Some of the other drugs include Celebrex, Aleve, Naprosyn and Toredol. (Aspirin was not included in this recent warning.)
Considering that the FDA hasn’t warned about many troubling and dangerous things in our food supply, it is refreshing that the FDA has issued a warning that “from the first weeks you begin using an NSAID, there’s an increased chance of heart attack and stroke.
“These risks apply to everyone, whether you’re already prone to other cardiovascular events or not.”
Why Say ‘No’ To NSAIDs
Many have known for some time that these drugs – called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs – have serious side effects and are a major cause of drug-induced injury. They are estimated to cause at least 16,000 deaths per year and send 100,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. The most common damage they cause are digestive ulcers and bleeding. I believe some doctors give a drug to reduce stomach acid to minimize the stomach-damaging effects of NSAIDs. And, yes, that drug has side effects of its own.
Studies also have shown increased risk of other conditions, including atrial fibrillation, where the heartbeat becomes rapid and weak; kidney damage; and delayed or blocked healing, both of fractures and soft tissue injuries.
The FDA just reversed itself on using “baby aspirin” to prevent heart attacks and strokes, finding that it really doesn’t reduce deaths, but does expose the patient to significant risks.
Now there is newer evidence, which led to these stronger warnings, showing that even short courses of these drugs at recommended doses can have serious side effects.
The deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products, said, “There is no period of use shown to be without risk.” She also addressed the fact that while people who already have heart disease may be at more risk, even those without any history of this problem may develop it from taking these drugs.
Consider Natural Pain Relief
In my own life and in working with others, I have seen how dietary and supplement changes can greatly alleviate many of the symptoms NSAIDs are usually taken for. The effectiveness of each of these individual methods will vary by individual, but a comprehensive plan can often greatly alleviate symptoms across the board.
Remember: chronic inflammation = chronic pain. Lower your inflammation and you’ll reduce or eliminate pain and your body can heal itself.
Turmeric for pain, chronic or acute: Turmeric beats Prozac and Ibuprofen for pain in numerous studies. Instead of nasty side-effects like most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric research has shown it to benefit over 160 different pathways in the body. Turmeric quashes inflammation. 4,000 mg in divided doses per day can work wonders for most people. Ex: capsules, powder
Magnesium for cramps or PMS: Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, CRAMPy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has even has been linked to inflammation in the body and higher CRP levels. Most people benefit from 800 to 1,000 mg a day. (source) Ex: capsules or a powder product like Natural Calm so that you can vary your dose and work up slowly.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Both Omega-3 fatty acid supplements seriously reduces inflammation. These “good fats” lower inflammation. That can help with joint pain and stiffness, back pain, and pain from menstrual cramps. Take up to 3 grams of fish or flax oil per day as supplement. Ex. fish oil capsules, flax seed oil (successfully used after neurosurgery for pain relief-source)
Coconut Oil is amazing for hormone health, cramps and PMS. It provides the necessary building blocks for hormone production, can assist weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
If you really need hormone help, aim to consume 1/4 cup of added coconut oil a day. My favorite way is to blend into a smoothie, coffee or tea. This is the highest quality one I’ve found.
Probiotics: If you have an inflammatory type of arthritis, probiotics may be especially important. The beneficial bacteria in the gut appear to have an impact on inflammation all through the body, reducing common biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein. It may also help with irritable bowel syndrome, especially pain and bloating. An average adult dosage is 10 billion CFUs per day. Ex: capsules
MSM and sulfur-rich foods: MSM is a powerful anti-inflammatory due to its ability to allow metabolic wastes to be removed from the cells. MSM is a beneficial nutrient for helping conditions like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and helps in breaking up the unhealthy calcium deposits in the body that are the root cause of degenerative diseases. 500 mg three times daily up to 3 grams twice daily. Ex: capsules (source)
In addition, taking adequate supplements of MSM helps in:
• Improving joint flexibility
• Reducing pain and swelling
• Reducing stiffness
• Improving circulation
Boswellia for cluster headaches: It’s known as Indian frankincense. In one study, people who often get cluster headaches had milder, less frequent headaches when they took boswellia. You can take it as a tablet, up to 900 milligrams per day. (source)
White willow bark is nature’s aspirin. It has salicin, which tames inflammation. It’s good for headaches and may ease low back pain. As a capsule, take 120-240 milligrams per day. Ex: capsules, powder, extract (source)
You may be taking an NSAID and not realize it especially if you’re taking a combination pill, like a multi-symptom cold-relief medication. Don’t take multiple medications with the same active ingredient allowing a build up in your body.
If an over-the-counter pain reliever isn’t actually working to improve your symptoms, stop taking it. And if you have symptoms of a heart issue while taking NSAIDs, like chest pain, difficulty breathing, or weakness in a part of the body, seek medical attention immediately.
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