Is Your Pain Reliever Hurting You?

Risa Groux, CN
 | Published: 
December 4, 2018

Got a headache? Take an aspirin.

Feeling achy after that workout? Take two Advil.

You know the story.

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have been the go to over the counter pain reliever for centuries. The first aspirin was developed in 1874 originating from the bark of a willow tree’s active pain-fighting ingredient salicin. It eventually evolved into acetylsalicylic acid. Today, it is estimated that more than 30 million Americans take NSAIDs daily for pain and inflammation issues.

NSAIDs ease pain, lower fevers, and decrease inflammation. They are an effective short term remedy for pain arising from pain, particularly arthritis.

The most common NSAIDs are:
Aspirin: Bayer, Bufferin, and Excedrin. Known for its anticlotting properties.Ibuprofen: Motrin and Advil. Favored due to its rapid relief and does not stay in the body too long.Naproxen: Aleve. Longer acting than Ibuprofen.

There are common side effects associated with regular and long term use of NSAIDs such as cardiovascular issues, heartburn, stomach pain and ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, gas, bloating, thinning of the blood, headaches and dizziness, ringing in the ears, liver or kidney issues, miscarriage, and increased blood pressure. Some people can show signs of an allergy to them like rashes, wheezing, throat swelling.

Tylenol is an acetaminophen so it’s in a different class of pain relievers. There are lesser known products that use acetaminophen in their products as well. They are typically used for relief of headaches and cold symptoms but will not help reduce inflammation. They do not cause stomach issues the way NSAIDs do but taken in large amounts can cause liver damage. Taking 10 regular strength acetaminophen tablets per day is the upper limit of what is recommended as a safe dosage. However, there have been reports of people developing liver problems after taking small to moderate amounts of acetaminophen for a long period of time. Consuming alcohol with acetaminophen can cause liver damage. In addition, taken in high doses can cause elevated blood pressure.

There are natural remedies for pain and inflammation so I always recommend trying them first. They may not work as immediate as an NSAID or acetaminophen, will but if you are eating more for survival and less for sport, decreasing inflammation will take place naturally with the intent of avoiding the pain from inflammation in the first place. Some things you can do to help with pain and inflammation are:

  • Reduce or eliminate grains
  • Reduce or eliminate sugar
  • Reduce or eliminate gluten
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day
  • Take a good vitamin D (with vitamin K for absorption)
  • Take a good Omega 3 supplement such as cod liver oil
  • Reduce your stress
  • Take an Epson salt bath
  • Consume ginger and turmeric
  • Use boswellia

So, next time you get that headache…drink plenty of water.

When you had a hard work out…take an Epson salt bath for twenty minutes or more. The benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet are countless. Pain is a great motivator so if you are taking too many NSAID’s or acetaminophen’s then try changing your diet and watch the pain and inflammation ease.

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