By Suzy Cohen
Relieve Joint Pain Without Ibuprofen
Many people have aches and pains that require ibuprofen and no one would begrudge you for taking this pill for an acute migraine or severe pre-menstrual cramps. I’ve been asked if I believe in ibuprofen and I do, but only for occasional use. I’ve even recommended a 200mg tablet of ibuprofen be taken along with a cup of coffee (to enhance effect) but that’s only for a select type of headache pain, or for mild post-operative pain. Sounds crazy but combining caffeine with ibuprofen can provide pain relief better than the ibuprofen alone. A recent article discussing this was just published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (July 2015).
I don’t recommend chronic, daily intake of ibuprofen because a) it masks the pain and b) it can be harmful long term. It’s better to find the underlying cause of pain, and even if you can’t, I still recommend natural inflammation fighters over NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
According to Medline Plus, “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who take NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, or who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day while taking ibuprofen. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking ibuprofen and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool, or black and tarry stools.”
NSAIDs reduce inflammation by suppressing an enzyme in your body called cyclooxygenase-2 or COX-2 but they inadvertently block COX-1 enzyme which is needed for a healthy stomach lining. This is why NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen and others can cause gastritis, and even a bleeding ulcer. Here are two safer choices for you:
Boswella- It’s also known as frankincense and it’s a 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) inhibitor. This reduces leukotrienes which are involved in inflammation, asthma and allergies. Another compound in boswellia called “incensole acetate” blocks NF-Kappa B which would otherwise pour out tons of pain-causing cytokines! This compound acts like an anti-anxiety and antidepressant pill. Boswellia reduces interferon gamma (IFN-g), another pro-inflammatory cytokine. Honestly, boswellia is kind of awesome!
Ginger-We know this helps with nausea and vomiting, but it’s also a strong anti-inflammatory herb, capable of reducing pain-causing compounds such as TNFα, COX 2 (just like Celebrex) and 5-LOX. As an added benefit, compounds in ginger target and kill H. pylori, the bug most famous for stomach ulcers, but also involved in rheumatoid arthritis.
Hyaluronic acid- I am not referring to injectable Restylane or Juvederm for wrinkles! I’m referring to natural supplements of this, which can “lube” your joints. Arthritic joints are often extremely deficient in hyaluronic acid, and this makes the cartilage less squishy. Supplements may help.