Chronic inflammation has been shown to be the culprit for many of our modern diseases. It can easily be prevented through healthy diet, regular exercise and reduced stress levels. These approaches require time, energy and discipline. Therefore, many people choose the easy way and choose drugs without a prescription, such as ibuprofen, which stops the pain immediately. Although these medications may be a quick fix to relieve pain, they don’t deal with the root cause of the pain and inflammation. They just mask the symptoms and allow the body to swell more, rather than to provide long-term treatment and solution.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with numerous side effects – DNA damage, hypertension, anemia, miscarriage, increased risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest, flu and hearing loss, to name a few. In 2004, the US withdrew from the market the drug called Vioxx, which was a response to a study that linked the use of Vioxx in nearly 30,000 cases of heart attacks, strokes and sudden cardiac arrests. Without raising a fuss, Vioxx disappears from the shelves and the drug maker Merck and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remained silent about the death toll that was steadily increasing, while in the meantime other harmful painkillers took its place.
A more recent study published in the Lancet, a medical journal, shows that people who rely on NSAIDs medications increase their risk of heart attack, stroke or death from a cardiovascular disease by about a third. “Long-term use of high doses of painkillers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac are equally dangerous, in view of the risk of heart attack, as with the use of the drug Vioxx, which has been withdrawn, due to its potential hazards,” said the researchers.
People who suffer from chronic pain, such as arthritis patients, may consider adopting a low dosage, when the pain is unbearable. However, you need to make some lifestyle changes in order to combat the root cause and naturally decrease the levels of inflammation. For most people, all that is needed is a change in the diet and reducing stress and chemical exposure in the environment to dramatically improve their quality of life.
Here are some alternatives to ibuprofen:
Ginger capsules (250 mg – 4 times a day): A study from 2009 showed that ginger capsules are as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen for pain relief in women with primary dysmenorrhea, or pain associated with the menstrual cycle.
Basil (Tulsi): Another study found that basil, also known as Tulsi contains anti-inflammatory compounds with similar effects such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.
Turmeric extract: Extracts from turmeric are as effective as ibuprofen, for the treatment of osteoarthritis and cause fewer gastrointestinal problems.
Cherries and forest berries: Another study showed that anthocyanins extracted from raspberries and sweet cherries are as effective as ibuprofen and naproxen at suppressing inflammation-related enzyme.
Omega-3 fatty acids: a 2006 study found that omega-3 fatty acids (between 1200-2400 mg daily) are as effective as ibuprofen in reducing the pain of arthritis and have no side effects. And the list actually goes on. Other natural compounds which have been shown to be equally effective (some even better) as ibuprofen in reducing pain and inflammation include: topical use of arnica; combination of astaxanthin, ginkgo biloba and vitamin C; Chinese hat; St. John’s Wort; ginseng and olive oil.