NSAIDs – To Take or not to Take?
by Wendy on 19th December 2019
What are They?
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are a common form of pain relief, and you can buy a selection over the counter, including Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Some of the stronger medications come only on prescription; you might recognise such names as Naproxen and Diclofenac.
How They Work
NSAIDs work by reducing the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause inflammation, fever, and pain. They also protect the stomach lining and intestines from the adverse effects of acid, help with blood-clotting, and promote normal function of the kidneys. NSAIDs are used to treat a wide range of conditions from headaches, painful menstruation, and toothache, to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What’s the Problem?
Just because NSAIDs are convenient and widely available, it doesn’t make them safe; studies have found that prolonged use is linked to an increase in heart attacks. Repeated consumption has also been found to increase the risk of eye damage and gastroduodenal conditions, including bleeding of the stomach, lesions, and ulcers. One such study found that a small percentage of patients taking NSAIDs for a period of two months or more, died from gastroduodenal complications. Whilst it was conceded that the individuals’ age and overall health may have affected the outcomes, experts advocate usage of only the minimum dosage for the shortest amount of time.
Is There a Natural Alternative?
Besides having regular chiropractic care, there are things you can do at home to help relieve your pain and inflammation:
- Take fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids. These are particularly effective at easing neck and lower back pain.
- Reduce sugar and grains from your diet to help with arthritis.
- Increase your vitamin D intake through sun exposure or cod liver oil supplements.
- Certain herbs can help reduce inflammation and pain. Consider using witch hazel, ginger, or St John’s Wort.
- Use an ice pack. Always wrap something around it to avoid ice burns and re-apply the ice pack to the affected area for 10 minutes or so, every hour.