What are Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and ketorolac are most commonly used as analgesics (pain relievers). They act as inhibitors of the cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) which is responsible for inducing inflammation. These over-the-counter medications are cheap, easy to obtain, and efficient in most cases of mild to moderate pain relief. However, NSAIDs have many side effects, most of which are related to long-term use.
Side Effects of NSAIDs
Gastrointestinal side effects are the most common and they appear because NSAIDs inhibit the synthesis of protective prostaglandins and cause micro injuries to the gastrointestinal mucosa. This can lead to stomach and intestinal ulcer. Studies have also shown that NSAIDs can increase the risk or worsen the symptoms of hypertension. Long-term use of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs is associated with kidney problems, which can lead to fluid retention and swelling due to diminished kidney function. Cardiovascular effects of NSAIDs are the most serious and these medications should be avoided in persons as much as possible in persons with coronary heart disease and increased risk of stroke. Asthmatic patients should also avoid these medications because they can worsen the symptoms of asthma. Allergy to some components of NSAIDs can cause variable symptoms, ranging from rashes to anaphylactic shock.
Natural Alternatives to NSAIDs
There are many natural remedies used since ancient times for pain relief which can sometimes replace these potentially harmful medications. Studies have shown that ginger root extract can help women with menstrual-related pain almost as effectively as ibuprofen. Baicalin is a component of Chinese skullcap and in combination with herbal catechins it expresses the same efficacy as ibuprofen against knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Ginkgo biloba extract is particularly helpful for pain relief in persons with leg pain due to advanced atherosclerosis in leg arteries. Anti-inflammatory activity of olive oil makes it a perfect pain reliever for persons with chronic pain. Other helpful alternatives to NSAIDs include: holy basil, ginseng, chili peppers, turmeric extract, and many others.
Here Are Some More Natural Alternatives To Ibuprofen:
- 1. White Willow Bark
- 2. Turmeric or Curcumin
- 3. Omega Fatty Acids
- 4. Frankincense
- 5. Capsaicin (Chili Pepper)
- 6. Essential Oils
Whelton A, Hamilton CW. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: effects on kidney function. J Clin Pharmacol. 1991 Jul;31(7):588-98.
Johnson AG.NSAIDs and increased blood pressure. What is the clinical significance? Drug Saf. 1997 Nov;17(5):277-89.
Sostres C, Gargallo CJ, Arroyo MT, Lanas A. Adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, aspirin and coxibs) on upper gastrointestinal tract. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Apr;24(2):121-32.
Nicolaï SPA, Kruidenier LM, Bendermacher BLW, Prins MH, Stokmans RA, Broos PPHL, Teijink JAW. Ginkgo biloba for intermittent claudication. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD006888.
Shirvani MA, Motahari-Tabari N, Alipour A. The effect of mefenamic acid and ginger on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2015 Jun;291(6):1277-81.
Kremer JM, Lawrence DA, Jubiz W, DiGiacomo R, Rynes R, Bartholomew LE, Sherman M. Dietary fish oil and olive oil supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical and immunologic effects. Arthritis Rheum. 1990 Jun;33(6):810-20.