I often have patients that I treat ask me about NSAIDs i.e. non steroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and whether they can continue to use them when they embark on one of my suggested protocols that encourage the ‘Good Gut Solution’ of using drugless therapy. Very often, they are so happy to have symptom and pain relief when by using NSAIDs, that they fail to investigate the dangers and side effects. They don’t know how the side effects will affect them in the long run. They don’t know the true nature of the drugs. In the long run, its more about temporary relief than it is about truly helping the body to get well.
NSAIDs definition according to Wikipedia
“Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, usually abbreviated to NSAIDs / en-sed —but also referred to as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents/analgesics (NSAIAs) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIMs)—are a class of drugs that provides analgesic and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects.”
“The term nonsteroidal distinguishes these drugs from steroids, which, among a broad range of other effects, have a similar eicosanoid-depressing, anti-inflammatory action. As analgesics, they are unusual in that they are non-narcotic and thus are used as a non-addictive alternative to narcotics”.
“The most prominent members of this group of drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, are all available over the counter in most countries. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is not considered an NSAID because it has little anti-inflammatory activity. It treats pain mainly by blocking COX-2 mostly in the central nervous system, but not much in the rest of the body.”
Wikipedia lists the following adverse effects:
“The widespread use of NSAIDs has meant that the adverse effects of these drugs have become increasingly prevalent. Use of NSAIDs increases risk of having a range of gastrointestinal (GI) problems. When they are used for pain management after surgery they cause increased risk of kidney problems.
“An estimated 10-20% of NSAID patients experience dyspepsia. In the 1990s high doses of prescription NSAIDs were associated with serious upper gastrointestinal adverse events, including bleeding. “
“NSAIDs, like all drugs, may interact with other medications. For example, concurrent use of NSAIDs and quinolones may increase the risk of quinolones’ adverse central nervous system effects, including seizure.”
Yes, the action of NSAIDs (non steroidal antiinflammatory drugs) is to check inflammation. They address the symptoms of swelling and pain that happens when the body is injured in some way and the immune system comes to help. It’s true that NSAIDs are not steroids, which reduce the inflammatory response by suppressing the immune system. NSAIDS are, in fact, non-steroidal drugs and indeed, have a different action. The way they work is by stopping a protein, or enzyme, that stimulates changes in the body, from doing what it’s supposed to do. The enzyme is called cyclooxygenase. It is also known as COX. There are two forms. The first, COX-l, helps the kidneys and also guards the stomach lining against digestive chemicals and acids. The second enzyme, COX-2, is one that makes hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. These cause inflammation, pain, and fever.
NSAIDs are able to reduce inflammation and pain by blocking the action of both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Unfortunately, in doing so, they also cause stomach upset and even ulcers in both the stomach and duodenum i.e.the first part of the small intestine. Sometimes this even results in bleeding.
So, to counteract these effects, another category of NSAIDs evolved. These are called the COX-2 inhibitors. They block the action of the COX-2 enzyme that has an significant affect on pain and inflammation. Because the COX-1 enzyme isn’t it’s target, this class of NSAIDs drugs don’t cause undesirable gastrointestinal symptoms as often as traditional NSAIDs do.
Although NSAIDs block prostaglandins and so reduce swelling, fever and pain, it’s not necessarily beneficial for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Prostaglandins are actually useful in the GI tract because they have a protective effect on the mucosal lining of the gut. They can also lessen the effects of cytokines, which are proteins released by the immune system, that produce inflammation. So, although NSAIDs may relieve pain they also cause damage to the mucosal lining in healthy people or may reactivate the symptoms of disease in Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD patients.
The common side effects of COX-2 inhibitors are:
- abdominal pain,
- gas or flatulence,
- headache and
These are not side effects that would be easy to manage for those suffering with inflammatory bowel disease of colitis and crohns IBD. Also people allergic to sulfonamides, like trimethoprim (Trimpex, Proloprim, Primsol) and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), aspirin or other NSAIDs may find that they have an allergic reactions to COX-2 inhibitors and ought not take them.
Generally speaking, NSAIDs, including COX-2 inhibitors, may increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke, and may increase risk factors for heart disease and related conditions, particularly with longer duration of use.
Yes, there are natural, effective antiinflammatory alternatives. I have found that many clients are able to control their symptoms of inflammation and pain by using drugless alternatives. There are several to choose from. The ones that I favor that give me the best results include: Whole Leaf Aloe Extract, Serrapeptase, Garden of Life’s FYI – Dosage may vary depending on the severity of the condition. I have some patients with IBD taking 9 x FYI per day with much relief.
Dr Pamela Nathan L.Ac DHM
Good Gut Solution
A natural Approach to Healing the Environment Within.