Posted by Stacy Facko on Sep 6th 2018
What’s your pain tolerance level like these days?
Can you soldier through a headache or pulled muscle without popping any pain pills?
It’s easy to adopt a “just walk it off” attitude when you’re dealing with an occasional ache or pain. But what if you have chronic pain? Willing yourself to work through it doesn’t compute when the pain is debilitating and puts a severe crimp in your daily life.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. It can be episodic, as with migraine headaches or severe menstrual cramps, or continuous like arthritis or an injury that never fully heals. Whatever the cause, if it’s bad enough that you’re on a steady stream of pain meds, heed the usage warnings – these medications can be deadly.
Big Pharma has flooded the market with prescription and OTC pain relief medications. If you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as part of your pain management plan, you could be a risk for stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack, and stroke.
How NSAIDs Work
In response to trauma, damaged tissues release prostaglandins, which are hormones that factor into the body’s normal inflammatory response as a part of the healing process. Essentially, it’s a normal reaction to stress. But problems arise when there’s excessive prostaglandin production.
More prostaglandin = more pain. And this contributes to chronic pain.
NSAIDs work by blocking Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes that take part in the inflammatory response. By blocking these enzymes, NSAIDs put the kibosh on the body’s prostaglandin production. This equates to less swelling and less pain.
Exercise caution if you’re taking any of these prescription or OTC NSAIDs.
The Dangers of NSAIDs
NSAIDs and GI Damage
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, regular use of NSAIDs is a major cause of gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers, second only to ulcers caused by the presence of the H. pylori bacterium in the stomach.
And ulcers and subsequent GI bleeding can sneak up on you with little warning. This problem was recognized back in 1999, when the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted NSAID-induced GI bleeding as a silent epidemic among regular users, especially arthritis patients.
The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that more than 100,000 Americans are hospitalized each year with GI bleeding linked to NSAID use, and between 15,000 – 20,000 are expected to die from this severe NSAID side effect.
Regular use of NSAIDs does damage further down the GI tract too. According to Gary Kaplan, Medical Director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, NSAIDs cause ulcers in the small intestine in the majority of users. This allows for the absorption of substances that would normally be filtered out and eliminated in the stool, a problem called leaky gut syndrome. These unwanted substances can trigger allergic reactions and make food sensitivities worse.
Kaplan also warns that you risk disrupting the microbiome in the gut with NSAID use. Like other medications, the toxic chemicals kill the good probiotic bacteria, throwing off the internal ecosystem that interacts with the entire nervous system.
NSAIDS and Heart Failure & Stroke
If death by internal bleeding doesn’t faze you, maybe you’ll take heart when your cardiovascular function is in jeopardy.
Even doctors who prescribe NSAIDs are aware of the drugs’ links to heart attacks and strokes. It was previously thought that only those already at high risk of vascular events would develop a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. But the truth was revealed as mortality rates climbed from NSAID-related cardiovascular episodes.
A prime example of this dangerous side effect gained publicity in 2004 when the pharmaceutical company Merck withdrew its NSAID Vioxx (rofecoxib) after a study revealed that the drug more than doubled a user’s risk of heart attack and death. Within five years of receiving FDA approval, more than 38,000 Vioxx-related deaths had been recorded among 25 million American users.
Amid the push to shut the drug down, a scandal was uncovered. Merck had fudged the findings on their drug safety reports and somehow convinced the FDA to allow the removal of label warnings of increased digestive problems. Merck even marketed Vioxx as being safer on the stomach than other NSAIDs.
In 2005, the FDA issued a black box warning mandate for all prescription and OTC NSAIDs. Labeling for these drugs must highlight the potential increase of cardiovascular events, as well as potentially life-threatening GI bleeding.
So what do you do if you’re a chronic pain sufferer and NSAIDs are the primary way you can get through the day? How can you escape the dangers of NSAIDs and other pain medications?
While it’s strongly advised that you talk over any plans to change your medication routine with your doctor, there are better alternatives that don’t carry the same risks of GI bleeding, heart attack, stroke, and death. If your regular physician only follows the Western medicine model, seek out the help of a natural healthcare doctor (naturopath, herbalist, chiropractor, or acupuncturist) to help you adopt a natural pain management plan.
Consider keeping some of the following natural pain relievers handy for when you need them most.
Other Pain Relief Nutraceuticals
Manage Pain with the Right Diet
Don’t underestimate the power of what you eat to contribute to how your body reacts to pain. Consider an anti-inflammatory diet that consists of lean proteins and lots of fresh produce. Try to eliminate food allergens such as gluten, soy, and dairy to see if your symptoms decrease with these dietary changes. It’s also wise to cut out the fried and heavily processed foods.
If you can tolerate manual manipulation, consider massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, or acupuncture.
For a hands off approach, try infrared sauna treatments to reduce inflammation and stimulate blood circulation for tissue repair. This is also a great way to detox harsh chemicals and heavy metals that your body has absorbed through various means.
It’s a bad sign when the warnings on a drug label take up more real estate than the drug facts (benefits, ingredients, and suggested use). Sometimes there’s even supplementary reading material listing the possible side effects and drug interactions.
Ask yourself, “Is the possibility of life threatening side effects or death worth taking NSAIDs?”
Parasites are making the news lately, and we’re not talking about the adult friend or relative who’s been crashing on your couch, eating your food, and using up your bandwidth for an open ended period of time. This is the real deal. Actual creepy crawlers, even microscopic ones, finding their way into your body and setting up camp. Parasites are everywhere [...]
Run your tongue over your teeth. If it’s been a while since your last brushing, you might detect a slick film coating your pearly whites. Your dentist calls the film plaque, but the greater scientific community would call it a biofilm. You can have similar films in the digestive tract, ears, and inside vital organs. And it turns out that [...]
We’re all well aware of just how toxic the environment has become, and in turn, how toxic the human body has become. All you health conscious readers know about the chemical additives in foods, the BPA and other leachable toxins from plastics, the parabens and PEGs in personal care products, and the VOCs from paints, solvents and household cleaning supplies [...]
From time to time, we all experience pain. Whether it’s from the occasional pulled muscle, monthly menstrual cramps, or recovery from an injury, we just want to make it go away – and fast! Our culture has made it customary to seek relief by pill popping. And it’s easy to do with a plethora of over the counter pain medications [...]
A subgroup analysis of a study on 24,000 Europeans suggested increased risk of cardiovascular disease for those taking ONLY calcium supplements (1). Let's dive into how you can protect yourself from hardened arteries from calcium supplements. It is a well-established fact that when you take calcium you should also take magnesium. This is because magnesium helps your body keep the calcium you [...]
Ever experienced some unexplained lower back ache? Perhaps you slept in a weird position. But did the low back ache coincide with a fever and chills or even abdominal pain and vomiting? Maybe you’ve got a touch of the flu or food poisoning. But if you’re also experiencing trouble urinating, you’ve just hit the telltale combination of symptoms that point to [...]
This month we solute the heart. And all things heart-shaped on a particular day this month, if you’re into that sort of thing. But you really should be practicing heart-healthy habits every day, all year round. And what do we do every day? Eat. Usually multiple times a day. These days with the plethora of readily available foods at our fingertips, it’s [...]
Some regard age as nothing but a number. But the realists of the world are keeping track of the growing number of less than desirable side effects of aging. And this includes putting the brakes on certain compounds our bodies make – stuff we absolutely need. The internal machinery in all of us isn’t built to run full steam ahead [...]
When you think about the engine-like organ that keeps your body going, which organ comes to mind? You could consider the heart that constantly pumps life-giving blood throughout the body, transporting oxygen and vital nutrients. Or perhaps the brain, which is like the control tower at a busy airport, continuously sending and receiving messages to choreograph a multitude of functions. But did [...]