Is Your Anti-inflammatory Medication Making You Sick?
Nothing is more frustrating and uncomfortable than being in a state of chronic pain! Maybe you’ve been injured or are suffering from a degenerative musculoskeletal condition, and have been told by your doctor that surgery is not an option. For most Americans, the Obvious course of treatment is an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Popular sellers include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Motrin IB, Nuprin), and Naproxen (Aleve). Maybe your pain is so unbearable that the doctor has prescribed a potent painkiller like Mobic (Meloxicam), Daypro (Oxaprozin), or Cataflam (Diclofenac). Regardless of where you’re getting your anti-inflammatory, chances are it’s a NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory), and 30 million American adults take them every day. In cases of trauma, acute pain can be managed quite successfully with these medications. For many though, the use of these drugs can become a vicious cycle because the risk of adverse side effects increase with prolonged use. If you’re experiencing chronic pain and you have no other options, then it’s likely you will be taking these drugs on a daily basis for an indefinite period of time, thus increasing the risk of long-term negative side effects. In our country, the use of these drugs account for 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths a year due to gastrointestinal damage. Moreover, results from the 2006 Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study reported that women who used a NSAID at least 22 days of the month were twice as likely to have had a heart attack or stroke or to have died of cardiovascular disease. Other observed side effects include renal and hepatic toxicity, hypertension, and interference with antiplatelet agents. So what are we to do? Is there an effective alternative? There may be, but you’ll need to inform your doctor if you decide to stop taking your anti-inflammatory medication because immediate withdrawal may increase blood platelet stickiness and encourage clot formation.
Nutrition scientists are currently investigating three novel botanical preparations for the management of chronic pain: White willow bark extract standardized for salicin, Meriva turmeric extract, and a preparation of the plant boswellia serrata called ApresFlex. These medicinal plants have been the subject of numerous clinical trials including the gold standard of research-the double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial. Results indicate that all three preparations reduce inflammatory markers while relieving pain and stiffness and improving mobility and flexibility. Fortunately for chronic pain patients, these botanicals have an excellent safety and toxicity profile.
For the long-term management of pain it might be prudent to talk with your doctor about the possibility of using a safe, natural plant based anti-inflammatory in place of the more harmful NSAID medications. It may surprise you to know that NSAID’s were intended for short-term use at the lowest therapeutic dose. This is a fact that is not often communicated in the media or at the doctor’s office.
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