Nowadays, NSAID drugs, such as Ibuprofen (Advil) or diclofenac (Voltaren), are widely (over-)used to treat pain and inflammation. Chronic inflammation has shown to be the culprit of many of our modern day diseases. It can easily be prevented through a healthy, whole food diet, regular exercise and reducing stress levels. But these approaches take time, energy, and discipline.
Therefore, many people choose the easy way out and opt for over-the counter drugs, such as ibuprofen, which stops the pain immediately.
While these drugs may be a quick-fix-solution to soothe pain, they don’t tackle the root cause of the pain and inflammation. They merely mask the symptoms and allow your body to get more inflamed, instead of providing a long term cure and solution.
And that’s not the only thing. NSAID drugs are associated with numerous side-effects. DNA damage, hypertension, anemia, miscarriage, increased risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death, influenza and hearing loss, to name a few.
Maybe you remember the Vioxx recall in 2004. This was a reaction to a study that linked Vioxx usage to nearly 30 000 cases of heart attacks, strokes, and sudden cardiac deaths.
Without much fuss being made, Vioxx disappeared from the shelfs and the drug’s manufacturer Merck, and the FDA, remained silent as the death toll steadily increased and other harmful painkillers took its place. (1)
Ibuprofen or Diclofenac are “Equally Hazardous“
A more recent study, published in Lancet medical journal, indicates that people who rely on NSAID drugs increase their risk of a heart attack, stroke or dying from a cardiovascular disease by as much as one third.
“Long-term high-dose use of painkillers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac is ‘equally hazardous’ in terms of heart attack risk as use of the drug Vioxx, which was withdrawn due to its potential dangers”, the researchers said. (2, 3)
There Is Another Way
People who suffer from chronic pain, such as arthritis patients, can safely consider taking low dosage when the pain is too much too handle. However, lifestyle changes should be taken in account as well to fight the root cause and naturally reduce inflammation levels.
For most people altering their diet, and reducing stress and environmental chemical exposures is all it takes to improve their quality of life dramatically.
Here are 5 Evidence-Based Alternatives to Ibuprofen
- Ginger capsules (250 mg, 4 times a day):
A 2009 study found that ginger capsules were as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen in relieving pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea or pain associated with their menstrual cycle (4)
- Holy Basil (Tulsi):
Another study found holy basil, also known as Tulsi, to contain anti-inflammatory compounds with similar effects as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. (5)
- Turmeric extracts:
Turmeric extracts are as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, and cause fewer gastrointestinal issues, too. (6)
- Cherries and Berries:
Another study found that anthrocyanins, extracted from raspberries and sweet cherries, were as effective as ibuprofen and naproxen at suppressing inflammation-associated enzyme. (7)
- Omega-3 fatty acids:
A 2006 human study found that omega-3 fatty acids (between 1200-2400 mg daily) were as effective as ibuprofen in reducing arthritis pain and without side effects. (8)
And the list actually goes on. Other natural compounds that have shown to be equally effective (some score even better) as ibuprofen in reducing pain and inflammation include: topical use of arnica; a combination of astaxanthin, Ginkgo biloba and vitamin C; Chinese skullcap; Panax Ginseng; St. John’s Wort; and olive oil.