Herbal Alternatives to NSAIDS
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
It is said that inflammation is the root cause of all modern diseases. Anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals, called NSAIDS (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), are a quick and convenient way to reduce pain, swelling, and other symptoms of inflammation.
However, as we will outline below, there is a dark side to taking these drugs. The good news is that there are also natural solutions–let’s dive in!
Inflammation is a normal body process that actually serves a beneficial role–in certain scenarios. For example, if you get injured and the area gets warm and swollen, that is the body’s process of healing itself. ‘healthy’ inflammation. This is the normal process of your immune system healing your body. Inflammation arises to prevent infections from spreading and help with recovery. However, when the immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking healthy cells and tissues, we are met with a case of unhealthy inflammation.
Symptoms of Inflammation
- Bloating and digestive distress
- Skin issues: acne, rashes, dry patches, etc.
- Joint pain
Chronic Inflammation can lead to autoimmune disease, premature aging, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and even cancer.
Causes of Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a chronic modern problem. Some of the most common causes of chronic inflammation include:
- Chronic stress
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet: The Standard American Diet is high in refined carbs and sugars. Sugar, alcohol, grains, and processed foods are a sure ticket to inflammation.
Dangers of NSAIDS
NSAIDs block certain processes in the body, without discrimination. Since all areas of the body are subject to the suppressive effects of NSAIDS, there are often unintended side effects. Certain processes which are vital for maintaining the lining of the stomach, kidneys, gut, and liver are affected by taking these drugs, which with long-term use can lead to stomach ulcers, liver toxicity, and leaky gut syndrome.
Other side effects of NSAIDS include:
- Increased risk for cardiovascular issues
- Heart Failure
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Allergic reactions
- Increased blood pressure
Herbal Alternatives to NSAIDS
An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle is key for preventing the need for NSAIDs. Luckily there are some super herbs which can jump-start your way becoming inflammation-free.
Turmeric’s active component curcumin has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory agent in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Because of its ability to inhibit inflammation, curcumin has been studied as a treatment for colitis, chronic neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, and cancer. Turmeric can be used as a spice in your food, enjoyed as a tea, or you can even take pure curcumin as a supplement!
Other benefits of Turmeric include:
- Detoxification support
- Cardiovascular support
- Mood balancing
- Weight loss
- Better joint and muscle health
- Lowers inflammation
- Better skin
- Cognitive function boost
Ginger provides a major boost to your immune system and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for its healing properties. It’s ability to modulate the immune system makes ginger a powerful weapon against inflammation. Studies have shown that 2 grams of ginger daily can significantly reduce markers of inflammation. Ginger can be used in food, as a tea, or as a supplement.
This wonderful herb is a great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. You can use rosemary in your cooking, or use rosemary essential oil topically. I personally like to put a fresh sprig of rosemary in with my coffee grounds and brew my coffee with rosemary to get all the beneficial oils.
Frankincense has been used across Asia and Africa for centuries for its healing properties. Studies have shown positive results using Frankincense to lower inflammation in people with arthritis. Frankincense can be taken as a pill, but can also be used as a cream or resin and applied directly to the area of pain.
Now that you are aware of the potential adverse effects of NSAID use, I hope you feel empowered to use herbs as remedies. Remember: the best way to get relief from inflammation is to prevent it in the first place, which you can do via a healthy diet and lifestyle.