A recent report from Reuters has shed some light on the darker side of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen.
According to the report, “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as ibuprofen or diclofenac is ‘equally hazardous’ in terms of heart attack risk as use of the drug Vioxx, which was withdrawn due to its potential dangers.”(1)
Focusing on a new report published in the journal The Lancet(2), the report said that while short-term use of these popular medications is not associated with significant risk, longer-term use could put you in serious trouble.
According to the FDA, high doses of NSAIDs like ibuprofen are cause for concern, too – while “symptoms of NSAID overdose are usually mild… 5% to 10% of patients experience convulsions… very rarely, coma, prolonged seizures, apnea, bradycardia, renal failure and death occur.”(3)
While overdose on NSAIDs may be rare, it’s understandable that many are looking for natural alternatives to these common medications. Here are some natural remedies whose safety and efficacy have been scientifically proven:
In a double-blind comparative clinical trial, ginger was proven to be just as effective in relieving the symptoms of dysmenorrhea – pain, bloating, and nausea associated with menstruation – in young women as ibuprofen and another over the counter NSAID(4).
2. Topical Arnica Cream
Often used as a topical analgesic, arnica cream is often used for the treatment of arthritis. In fact, one double-blind study comparing the effectiveness of arnica cream with ibuprofen for the management of joint pain related to osteoarthritis showed that not only was arnica cream just as effective, but fewer patients reported adverse effects with arnica cream than with ibuprofen(5).
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fatty fish like salmon, omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They’ve even been studied as a possible alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain and found to be effective and safe(6).
If you haven’t heard about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties by now you’re definitely missing out – but did you know it can also be used to manage pain? “The usual dosage of standardized turmeric powder [for pain] is 400-600 mg taken three times per day,” one paper states. The only downside is that extended use of turmeric in this fashion can cause stomach upset(7) in some individuals.
5. St. John’s Wort
While the efficacy of St. John’s Wort for pain management hasn’t been tested extensively in humans yet, it has been proven to be effective for treating pain in animal models as early as 2004. In fact, one study showed that in the mouse model, St. John’s Wort was even more potent a pain reliever than ibuprofen itself(8).
Getting To The Root Of The Problem
While these natural remedies can treat the symptoms of pain and inflammation, when you’re dealing with these issues it’s best to look at the problem holistically – that means not just dealing with individual symptoms, but looking for the root causes of the symptoms themselves and dealing with them at the source.
When it comes to chronic pain and inflammation, diet and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference – especially when that means cutting out foods that are making your inflammation worse, and getting regular exercise.