There are a number of reasons to avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen often. You may be seeking alternatives because you experience pain but like to stay away from conventional medicines. Alternatively, you could be someone who just learned about the potential dangers that come with taking Aspirin and ibuprofen regularly and are ready for something different. Ibuprofen and Aspirin have been linked to anemia, DNA damage, heart disease, hearing loss, hypertension, miscarriage and even influenza mortality (these are just 7 of the over 24 adverse health effects its been connected with.)
“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as ibuprofen or diclofenac is ‘equally hazardous’ in terms of heart attack risk as use of the drug Vioxx, which was withdrawn due to its potential dangers.” – Reuters
Although there are a number of adverse health effects that go along with Ibuprofen, we continue to take it in vast amounts because we are often a society built off of quick fixes and short-term results. According to some previously recorded statistics, in 1998 alone over 500,000 pounds of acetyl-salicylic acid (the main component used in aspirin) was produced in the United States alone. That number is likely even greater now. Usage of such medicines can be linked back to cultural conditioning where we forget to value eating well, taking care of our mental and emotional states as well as our physical body. When this is out of balance so often, feeling pain in areas of the body can be a very common thing.
The Natural Approach
Many of us might be surprised to learn that most conventional medicines are inspired by natural sources. Pharmaceutical companies will run tests and studies on the efficacy of a natural substance for any given ailment. Once they learn whether the results are good, they will create a synthetic version of that same substance and patent it so that it can be sold. At times, the synthetic version may work faster, and depending on if you have a very low quality version of the natural substance, the synthetic one may even work better. But the health costs that come with using the synthetic versions are often not worth any small trade-off that may or may not exist. Since nature already provides us with what we need to deal with ailments we might have, why not try them as they would be best fitting in the body versus synthetic options.
1. White willow bark: This herb was the original aspirin. It contains a substance called salicin which converts to salicylic acid when in the stomach. Salicylic acid is the main component of Aspirin and when used synthetically it has irritating effects on the stomach. White willow bark is effective in relieving pain, inflammation and fever. A suggested dose is 1 to 2 dropperfuls of white willow bark tincture daily.
2. Capsaicin: This remedy is mainly used topically and is effective in relieving nerve, muscle and joint pain by interfering with a chemical in the body known as substance P which transmits pain signals to the brain. It is often found in gel or cream form and comes in a variety of potentcies. This remedy can be used three to four times daily. Since Capsaicin comes from chili peppers some first time users have reported a light stinging pain once initially applied. This does subside and often disappears with further use.
3. Boswellia: This is also known as “Indian frankincense” and is available as a supplement and a topical cream. It contains anti-inflammatory properties which come from the boswellic acids extracted from the tree. They help improve blood flow to joints and prevent inflammatory white blood cells from entering damaged tissue. The suggested dose for pain is 450 – 750 mg daily for 3 to 4 weeks. 
4. Cat’s claw: Also known as Uncaria tomentosa, or una de gato, cats claw grows in South America and is known for containing an anti-inflammatory agent that aids in blocking the production of the hormone prostaglandin which contributes to inflammation and pain within the body. The suggested doses for cats claw are 250 to 1,000 mg capsules one to three times daily. If one were to take too much in a single day, they may experience diarrhea.
5. Omega-3 fatty acids: The omega-3 fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties proven to be beneficial for people who suffer with arthritis, other inflammatory joint conditions and inflammatory bowel diseases. Along with their pain and anti inflammatory properties, they are also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Not only is this helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis, which carries an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, but it also helps to stop the number one killer in the world which is heart disease. A suggested dose of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil is 1,000 mg daily.
For vegans looking for dietary Omega 3, you can try hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, various berries, seaweed, leafy greens and more.
6. Curcumin: Also referred to as turmeric at times given curcumin is a component of the herb turmeric, and is known as a potent painkiller. Like Capsaicin, it helps to block pain signals running to the brain. Studies have shown that curcumin is effective in receiving pain, even chronic pain and is effective when it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis. One suggested dose is 400 to 600 mg of curcumin taken three times daily for pain and inflammation.
Curcumin has also been found to be as effective as Prozac in treating depression, but comes with no nasty side effects.
I feel it’s important to remember that sometimes when we are having the experience of physical pain there can be a number of reasons why it is there. In our society we feel pain and immediately want to get rid of it yet we don’t think to find out why we may have the pain. Pain can exist in the body for a number of reasons from simple physical ailments to emotional tensions. Next time you are feeling pain, remember to take a moment and relax. Get in touch with your body and feel out what is going on. The more we get in touch with our body’s own consciousness, the more we learn about it and what may be causing us these ailments. Pain is like mother natures way of saying something might need to transform, whether it be strictly physical or even something emotional. There is a lot we can learn from our experiences when we pay attention.
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