None of us enjoy pain. It makes life difficult by adding both physical and emotional stress. The typical response to pain is to open a bottle and pop a pill (or two), washing it down with whatever liquid is at hand.
If the goal was to stop the pain, this approach can succeed … for the time being. What about identifying the root cause of the pain? If the pain returns and you need to repeat the process daily or multiple times a day, you may actually be adding fuel to the fire.
Yes, you can freely purchase NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, in a variety of stores; yet that doesn’t make them completely benign. There’s no doubt that modern medications can be a blessing when they are needed to save a life or prevent permanent damage. However, many medications are used as more of a “lifestyle rescue” agent.
May I offer a different way of looking at pain? Pain is actually part of the body’s “wake-up call” system. When your body needs help, it lets you know via symptoms…often involving pain. Pain lets you know that your body needs you to change your choices or environment because it is suffering.
Because many NSAIDs are sold without prescription, we tend to have an inaccurate view of their safety. They block the enzymes that create prostaglandins, which mediate inflammation, dilate blood vessels and increase pain perception. The catch-22 is that they also play key roles in the body including driving acid production in the stomach, promoting blood clotting in response to injury, controlling filtration in the kidneys and fighting infections. Heavy trade-off for pain relief!
It is well established that NSAIDs have a corrosive effect on the protective mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines. We also know they can increase blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Taking NSAIDs once or twice a day for a couple weeks – much less a few months – can set the stage in most people for the development of downstream dysfunction. By eroding the protective lining of the intestines, they can set the stage for painful gastritis (painkillers causing more pain!). NSAIDs can cause intestinal permeability which leads to food sensitivities that cause systemic inflammation (arthritis anyone?). And by impairing the intestinal lining, NSAIDs cause us to be more vulnerable to imbalances or overgrowth of microbes in the intestines, possibly setting the stage for IBS or autoimmune disease.
Argh!! What are your options?
For a headache, I recommend drinking a full glass of water, then sitting down and breathing deeply for 5 minutes. Hydration and stress are common sources of headache pain, and these simple steps can help.
If you are reaching for painkillers regularly, there are excellent plant extract alternatives including Meriva curcumin, bromelain, and quercetin. Reach out to me and I would be glad to provide some guidance on recommended brands and their use.
Beyond changing your anti-inflammatory support, let’s talk about how I can help you move past short-term solutions and identify appropriate lifestyle changes to support better function. After all, health is wealth!