I have been on a kick about the hidden dangers of NSAIDs for almost a year now. The research has been mounting over the past few years but the point was driven home for me primarily due to the influences of Charles Poliquin, Dr. Mark Schauss, and Dr. Sunil Pai. These gentlemen are strong advocates for homeopathic remedies, nutritional therapies, and the healing powers innate to the human body. I have had the advantage to hear each of them lecture on the dangers of NSAIDs and apply their influences to my own research.
I used to rely heavily on NSAIDs for everything ranging from hangover prevention to over training in the gym. I’ve witnessed athletes taking NSAIDS before completion. I’ve watched gym rats take them during and after intense workouts. I’ve seen incredible Motrin abuses while in the military (800mg ranger candy). We all have relied too heavily on a drug that many don’t fully understand for too long. The abusive use of NSAIDs in our pill-popping culture puts us at unnecessary risk.
Breaking down how NSAIDs work and where the risk presents itself is a little technical but is easily digestible. We’ll start with prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are responsible for several important cellular functions in the body. They support platelet blood-clotting, fever, and protect the lining of the stomach from acid damage. Two cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes are responsible for producing prostaglandins; COX-1 and COX-2. While both enzymes produce prostaglandins COX-1 is responsible for protecting the stomach lining. NSAID’s work by blocking both COX enzymes and consequently the prostaglandin levels throughout the body. While inflammation response is reduced (the reason you took the NSAID) so is the inherent stomach support, wich is why NSAIDs are responsible for gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, ulceration, and stomach / intestinal perforation. These affects can occur at anytime and without warning.
It gets better. NSAID’s may also increase blood pressure in individuals with hypertension, has been documented to double the rate of erectile dysfunction, has been suspected to increase the risk of stroke, can cause the acceleration of deterioration of articular cartilage (how many of you take NSAIDs for joint pain?), and decreased joint space width.
And let us not overlook the documented side effects of taking NSAIDs as directed: Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Constipation, Decreased Appetite, Rash, Dizziness, Headache, and Drowsiness. The most serious side effects of NSAID use result in kidney failure, ulcers, liver failure and prolonged bleeding after surgery or injury. Is it just me or is calling liver failure a “side effect” a little off?
How does all this risk play out? How many lives have been negatively impacted by the PRESCRIBED use of NSAIDs? “Conservative estimates published in The American Journal of Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, and the Journal of Rheumatology all have stated that the average hospitalizations for complications of NSAID use as properly prescribed is over 100,000 people per year and approximately 20,000 deaths”. From 1984 to 2009 approximately 300,000 people have died from GI complications credited to NSAIDs with nearly 1,700,000 people hospitalized. Keep in mind – this data is from clinical research. This does not include individuals impacted by straight overuse. Staggering.
Needless to say we have a problem. The next time you or a loved one goes for the over the counter pain relievers consider the risks. There are natural solutions to treating inflammation and pain. Curcumin, Turmeric, Boswellia, and Ginger have been used for centuries for the treatment of pain and inflammation. I use and recommend a company named Sanjevani from New Mexico that specializes in natural and homeopathic treatments. They have a superior product line of clinically tested remedies that are worthy of any medicine cabinet.
B rian J. Sweeney, CEO
Raise the Bar Strength & Conditioning
9046 Manassas, Virginia 20109
Office – (703) 659-0809
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