A splitting headache, tense back pain, a high fever… just three of the experiences that the majority of us have come to know and experience at various points in our lives -some of us more regularly than others. Whether it be because of the busy nature to our lives or our desire to remove these pains as quickly as possible, many of us have become dependent upon pharmaceutical pain killers -primarily aspirin and ibuprofen -to rid ourselves of these experiences. We’ve become so dependent that in 1998 alone over 500,000 pounds of acetyl-salicylic acid (the main component used in aspirin) was produced in the United States alone, according to US EPA statistics -a number which has only grown annually since.
So many of us take both aspirin and ibuprofen because for the most part when it comes to a short-term analysis, they work! I remember 5+ years ago I had my wisdom teeth removed and there wasn’t any amount of fatigue that was going to make me capable of falling asleep while experiencing the throbbing pain the procedure had left me in. I tried to tough it out, but when I hit the 24-hour awake point I decided to give in, taking a pain-killing aspirin. The end result: I fell asleep within the hour.
If these drugs are effective for many people -including myself in a past experience -why would I bother putting together an article focused on the dangers associated with them? I’ve put this together because unfortunately research shows that the impact these drugs can have on the human body goes a lot more in-depth and long-term than the short-term potential relief.
Aspirin alone has been linked to numerous adverse side effects, including but not limited to: kidney failure, liver failure, ulcers, hearing loss and hemorrhagic stroke. A study conducted on the elderly in 2000 showed them to be even more at risk to being heavily affected, the study concluded that even when only taking an undersized 75mg/day dose significant changes were noted in their renal (kidney) functionality. The impact is not limited to the elderly however, as another study conducted in 2009 found 80% of individuals (previously qualified as perfectly healthy) experienced small intestinal toxicity, after just 14 days of low-dosage aspirin use.
Ibuprofen seems to outshine aspirin in its adverse effects being regularly linked to: anemia, DNA damage, hearing loss, hypertension, miscarriage and even influenza mortality (6 of the over 24 adverse health effects its been connected with.) An article published in Reuters, even went as far as saying:
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 report went on to note that research indicated that the risk of heart attack increased by as much as a one-third amongst heavy users of these drugs.
The conclusion to be made from this information: drugs -such as aspirin and ibuprofen -need to be taken a lot more seriously then there non-prescription nature makes them out to be. No matter your age or state of health, the taking of these pain killers can impact your well-being both now and in the future. I personally suggest avoiding them whenever possible, especially if you have gotten yourself to the point where you have become dependent upon their relief in even the most minor of ailments (however I do give my opinion as simply that, an opinion, I am no medical professional.)
Luckily there are several alternatives researched to be capable in both preventing and combatting pain, making the potential transition away from these drugs that much easier. These alternatives include but are not limited to:
- GINGER — A common ingredient in Asian, Indian, and Arabic healing therapies, ginger is one powerful root. It can be taken in its whole form individually or as part of a meal/ dish, as a tea or even in capsule form. Ginger has been recognized as being particularly capable at combating nausea and inflammation. A 2009 study even revealed 1000 mg of ginger a day as being very effective in relieving pain associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle.
- TURMERIC — Another common ingredient in many dishes turmeric is recognized as a great alternative to reducing inflammation as well as aiding with digestion.
- OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS — Found to be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing arthritis pain in a 2006 study. Can be taken in capsule form.
- DIETARY CHANGES — It’s interesting to note that the science behind aspirin (acetyl-salicylic acid) is based in the naturally occurring pain-killing compound salicylic acid found in plants. Rather than needing an artificially created source -with ample side effects -to provide us with this substance, a simple dietary change could make us more naturally resistant to pain. The inclusion of more organically-grown fruits and vegetables into your diet will naturally increase the amount of salicylic acid in your blood, making you more resistant.
Let this article be the starting point for your own further research into aspirin, ibuprofen and other regularly NSAID drugs, as well as the various alternatives that do exist. Make your own informed decisions and be sure to pass on any findings (such as this article) to friends and family.