Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen Risks & Natural Alternatives
Many people use ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to get relief from inflammation, fever and pain. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, which can be gotten as a prescription or over-the-counter. It is commonly used to get relief from pain for general aches, menstrual symptoms, headache, arthritis and other conditions of inflammation.
Ibuprofen Side Effects
Although most persons consider ibuprofen to be safe, we should think again. It is well known that ibuprofen is associated with an elevated risk of heart disease and problems with circulation, including heart attack and stroke. The drug can also invoke serious gastrointestinal problems to include holes in the intestinal tract and stomach resulting in bleeding. Degradation of the intestinal tract can cause leaky gut syndrome with can lead to a host of autoimmune diseases. The longer one takes this drug the greater the risks. The amount of time it takes for serious side effects to occur vary from one individual to the other depending on factors such as age, use of other medications and general health.
In the June 17, 2009 issue of the British Medical Journal, two letters to the editor warned of an elevated risk of death from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for symptoms of influenza. Included in this list of drugs are naproxen (Aleve), Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) and aspirin (Excedrin, Bayer, Bufferin). When death occurs from influenza it is the result of multi-organ failure (liver and kidney failure) and brain involvement (encephalopathy). The first letter by Rokuro Hama pointed out that NSAIDs are well understood to promote or aggravate failure of organs and there is ample evidence that restricting the use of these drugs is associated with reducing the number of deaths from influenza. Tsunetoshi Shimazu, in the second letter, offered a reminder that when the 1918 influenza pandemic occurred, 27 million people died worldwide. When flu victims were given homeopathic medicine (no aspirin), the death rate was only 1% or less. When patients were treated with aspirin in the Armed Forces or in hospitals the death rate was 5 to 30%.
Tylenol Side Effects
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safer than NSAIDs but not without its own side effects. Tylenol is toxic to the liver and this toxicity is even more pronounced with heavy use of alcohol. It is common to observe liver failure in persons who have attempted suicide by taking a large quantity of Tylenol. The maximum advised dose for Tylenol is eight capsules or tablets a day spread in smaller doses throughout the day. Doses as small as 12 to 30 tablets in the course of a single day have produced severe liver toxicity and damage (JAMA 272:1845, 1994). Persons who indulge in heavy use of Tylenol have an elevated risk of kidney failure. Persons who take more than 1 pill each day (366 pills or more in a year) will exhibit double the risk of experiencing kidney failure as opposed to those who take less than 104 pills in a year's time (N Engl J Med 331:1675, 1994). In addition, persons who consume over 1000 pills in the course of their life have double the risk of failing kidneys than those who take fewer than 1000 pills. It is estimated that 8 to 10 percent of incidents of kidney failure are due to heavy use of Tylenol.
Safe Natural Alternatives to Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
Numerous clinical studies have given us natural substances and herbs which can be taken as alternatives to ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain. As a rule, these have mild or no side effects. Here are some you may wish to look at.
Take one plain aspirin with 30 mg of niacin and 500 mg of vitamin C. Niacin must be the kind that makes you flush - niacinimide won't work. This is recommended by the Gerson Therapy for patients trying to recover from cancer and other diseases by natural means. The Triad has minimal toxic impact on the liver.
Spread castor oil on a painful area and let it soak in. You can treat deep pain such as in the abdomen, back or chest by making a plaster. Use three squaures (approximately 9" x 12") of cotten flannel and spread castor oil on each one then layer them like a sandwich. Apply them to the painful area and cover with plastic wrap. Further wrap the whole thing with an elastic bandage to hold it in place. Then apply a warm (not hot) water bottle to the area. Keep reheating the water in the bottle so it stays warm. Do no use a heating pad as the electromagnetic fields around the pad coils are unhealthy. You can save the plaster in a plastic bag in the freezer for future use.
This is the substance that makes peppers hot and it is frequently used as a topical treatment to relieve joint, muscle and nerve pain. It does this by impeding the functioning of substance P which is a chemical that aids in sending pain signals to the brain. One can purchase this as a topical gel or cream in various potencies typically ranging from 0.025% to 0.075%. It should be applied to the problem area 3 to 4 times each day. Initially there may be some burning and stinging but this normally decreases with use.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids have been shown in numerous clinical studies to be anti-inflammatory and they are a useful supplement for persons suffering with inflammatory bowel disease, painful joint conditions, arthritis and any other inflammatory problem. Omega-3s also lower the risk of heart disease which is particularly useful for persons with rheumatoid arthritis as this disease is accompanied by an elevated risk for heart disease. Recommended dose is 1000 mg each day of flaxseed oil which is every bit as effective as fish oil but without the fish contaminants such as mercury.
This herb, which comes from South America, is also known as uncaria tomentosa and una de gato. Cat’s claw has an anti-inflammatory substance which inhibits the body's ability to manufacture the hormone prostaglandin a substance that contributes to pain and inflammation. Recommended doses range from 250 to 1000 mg taken as capsules one to three times each day. Taking an excessive amount may cause diarrhea.
This natural anti-inflammatory remedy is derived from the boswellia serrata tree which is native to India. These trees contain an anti-inflammatory substance called boswellic acids. These substances increase the flow of blood to the joints and stop inflammatory white blood cells from entering the distressed tissue. Boswellia is also referred to as Indian frankincense and can be purchased as a topical cream or as a supplement to be taken orally. For treatment of inflammation and pain the suggested dose is 450 to 750 mg orally each day for a month.
This substance is found in the herb turmeric. It is a powerful painkiller which blocks proteins in the body that promote inflammation and it also impedes the neurotransmitter we know as substance P from sending messages of pain to the brain. Medical studies have revealed that curcumin is effective in relieving the chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis. One can take this three times each day for inflammation and pain and in a dosage ranging from 400 to 600 mg.
White Willow Bark
Aspirin is derived from this herb. White willow bark has a substance known as salicin which is changed to salicylic acid when digested in the stomach. White willow bark causes much less irritation to the stomach than aspirin (a synthetic drug) yet it is effective in relieving pain, fever and inflammation. The recommended dosage is 1 to 2 droppers of white willow bark tincture each day.
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