If you take NSAIDs for aches and pains on a daily basis you need to be aware of the risks associated with these seemingly innocuous over the counter medications. The term NSAID is an acronym for a class of drugs known as “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs”. This anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing) drug class includes over the counter medications such as alieve, motrin, advil and aspirin. Because they suppress inflammation and reduce pain they are widely used for everyday complaints such as headaches, joint pain or fever. While NSAIDs do provide comfort to many people for those everyday complaints, these drugs can have serious effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys and heart. Taking NSAIDs on a daily basis for pain or inflammation can increase your risk for high blood pressure, ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The good news is that there are herbal alternatives that have been shown to be even more effective than the NSAIDs themselves and do not have any of the side effects! The three most powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic herbs are listed below (two of which may already be in your spice cabinet!).
Turmeric is a brilliant yellow spice common in Indian cuisine that you can find in any grocery store. Turmeric has been used as a medicine for centuries to treat wounds, infections, colds, and liver disease. The constituent curcumin is one of the reasons why it is so effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Curcurmin has potent anti-inflammatory effects, especially for acute inflammation. So potent in fact that it has been found to be equal or even more potent than cortisone in treating acute inflammation. One of the ways it blocks inflammation is through its ability to block a molecule called NF-KB which travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes that promote inflammation – essentially curcumin stops the inflammatory pathway before it even starts. To reduce overall inflammation and acute pain add turmeric into your diet and supplement routine!
The spice ginger has been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine to treat stomach upset, headaches, and infections. It can be easily found in the grocery store or in your spice cabinet and is a very powerful anti-inflammatory herb. It inhibits the pro-inflammatory pathways and promotes the anti-inflammatory pathways while providing your body with a high volume of anti-oxidants. It also inhibits platelet aggregation which promote good blood circulation and speeds up healing time. Ginger is easy to add into your daily regime, you can eat it, juice it, cook with it or take it in a capsule. Taking or eating ginger daily will also improve your digestion and overall wellbeing. It’s a no brainer!
Boswelia is an Ayurvedic herb that has a long history of use for connective tissue and joint support. It is just as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) for pain relief and does not have any of the nasty side effects! It reduces inflammation by modulating the production of pro-inflammatory enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). Excess 5-lipoxygenase is common in joint pain, allergies, respiratory conditions, and cardiovascular problems. Because of its ability to reduce this enzyme, it has been shown to be useful for relieving joint pain and reducing inflammation in many disease processes. Boswellia can be taken internally in capsule form or can be applied topically to an area in pain to relieve inflammation.