Over the Counter & Prescription Pain Relievers
by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH
In July of 2015, the FDA announced it would be strengthening its warnings on non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), updating what is already printed on many NSAID labels about the drugs’ increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The updated labels will include warnings that serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID; that the risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID; and that the risk appears greater at higher doses.
Now this caught my attention for personal reasons as well as for clients. Hypertension is a severe condition; I had been trying to figure out what was causing my blood pressure to be on the rise. Additionally, I see clients who have never been able to get their BP under control, the doctors response has been everything from “we do not know what causes hypertension” to “you just need to calm down,” neither of which are helpful. Many clients may find themselves on two anti-hypertensive medications with marginal benefit followed by a basket full of side effects. The GI dangers are well publicized and reiterated by healthcare providers, but the onset hypertension information seems to be dismissed. I knew NSAID’s caused bleeding and gastric pain, but it was not until this week I read the studies on the acute onset of hypertension.
NSAIDs are typically used to relieve the pain or fever that results from a variety of conditions. Some of the brands that will have the updated warnings include Celebrex, Advil, Aleve, and Daypro. Others to be aware of are Meloxicam (Mobic), Napralen, and Naprosyn. Also, consider Excedrin pm, Asprin, and Medal.
The FDA’s, half-hearted admission of the dangers of NSAIDs is unlikely to alert Americans to the well-documented dangers of this class of drugs, as well as other common over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol). These medications for a growing number of individuals create kidney and liver damage. After prolonged use, the damage to your kidneys may be irreparable. Is the increased use of NSAID’s a contributor to our countries growing kidney disease numbers? I believe so, many will pop into the drug store and grab a bottle of pain reliever for headaches, menstrual cramps or as a sleep aid. Without ever knowing the potential danger, they are doing to their body until it is too late.
• One study conservatively estimated 107,000 people are hospitalized each year for NSAID-related gastrointestinal complications and “at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone.”
• Another study showed patients who take NSAIDs have a 90% greater likelihood of dying from all causes.
• Daily or long-term use of aspirin doubles the risk of internal bleeding and does not reduce heart attack risk for people with no history of heart problems.
• Acetaminophen—the active ingredient in Tylenol—was the leading cause of liver failure in Americans between 1998 and 2003, and there’s no reason to think that this has changed in the years since.
• Every year, 78,000 people go to the emergency room from acetaminophen overdose, whether accidental or intentional. The problem was so significant the FDA asked doctors to stop prescribing any medication that has more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dose.
The good news
Research and clinical evidence are growing in support for natural pain solutions that are non-addictive and cost-effective.
• Sulfur-containing MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) provides pain, and anti-inflammatory relief for osteoarthritis can be useful for hay fever and allergies.
• Turmeric, Ginger, boswellia, and bromelain exhibit effective anti-inflammatory properties.
• Cayenne cream reduces substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain.
• Cetyl myristoleateacts as a joint lubricant and an anti-inflammatory.
• The GLA in evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils help the arthritic pain.
• Samento (a form of cat’s claw, a herb), green tea extract, and zeaxanthin (and other carotenoids) help manage rheumatoid arthritis.
• Even if you already take fish or krill oil, higher-than-normal dosages are anti-inflammatory and may help you manage pain. Here is an area where high quality makes the difference, inexpensive unrefrigerated fish oils from discount stores or drug stores will provide little if any benefit. Your health is worth the money for good fish oil.
To your right to know and good health.