The Darth (dark) side of NSAIDS - Buyer beware! | Integrative functional medicine blog

"Any fool can Know. The point is to understand" - Albert Einstein

The Darth (dark) side of NSAIDS - Buyer beware!

If you complain of mild to moderate pain a doctor will freely prescribe NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

You can even go and just buy them right over the counter at pretty much any store.

However, they are not benign as you think, especially if taken long term. I can’t tell you how many patients I see
(and kids of patients) that routinely take some sort of NSAID for pain on a daily basis. Many times even multiple times per day.

They think it’s Normal!

It’s almost like they think that their body has a deficiency in NSAIDs. Maybe so. Maybe there just isn’t enough NSAIDS in the foods or liquids they are eating and drinking. NOT!

NSAIDS are not a nutrient. If it wasn’t clear…..

I was being facetious. The first step in dealing with a person taking a steady supply or NSAIDS is to evaluate why do they need to take it.

NSAIDs are linked to numerous health complaints.

Common brands of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs. Aspirin is also an NSAID, but it doesn’t pose the same heart attack and stroke risks. So…Maybe it’s a slightly lesser of two evils. Or maybe its just evil differently, in it’s own special way ;-)

NSAIDs have been linked to many health disorders such as:

  • 40–60 percent increased risk of cardiovascular problems
  • 25 percent increased risk of hearing loss
  • 60 percent increased risk of heart failure
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bleeding, ulcers, and leaky gut.
  • Increased risk of asthma and eczema in children

NSAIDs increase heart attack and stroke risk

The link between NSAID use and heart attack is so well founded the FDA has issued a warning. The risk may begin within a few weeks of taking an NSAID and the longer you take NSAIDs, the higher your risk. So buyer beware!

Functional medicine and NSAIDs — leaky gut

In functional medicine, we look at another sabotaging factor of NSAIDs —the infamous, notorious, ever elusive and dreaded leaky gut. woooowoooowooo!

Leaky gut means the lining of the small intestine has become so damaged that it becomes overly porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream from the gut.

This triggers inflammation and pain throughout the body,
exactly the sort of thing people use NSAIDs to relieve

Not to mention that leaky gut is very tightly associated with autoimmune issues.
See my page on autoimmunity and I have some other blogs as well.

Functional medicine alternatives to NSAIDs

Nobody wants to be pain. It’s understandable to seek relief so you can feel and function better. However, many people are surprised to find their chronic pain diminishes substantially when they adopt functional medicine basics.

Following are a few ways functional medicine can relieve pain and eliminate the need for NSAIDs:

Numero uno: Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. This means removing foods that trigger inflammation, which for many people is gluten and dairy. Grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades are other common culprits. After following the diet strictly for a period of time you can customize it so it’s more liberal but does not trigger pain. There is also the option of doing a food allergy and/or food sensitivity test to really narrow your particular food tolerances or intolerances down. You can check out the link for a page containing some common tests I use.

Numero Dose: Take plenty of nutrients that combat inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D (some people have a genetic variance that prevents sufficient vitamin D uptake), other fat-soluble vitamin (A, E, and K), nutrients to boost the primary antioxidant glutathione, and omega 3 fatty acids.

Numero Tres: Look for natural remedies for inflammation and pain. There are many alternatives, such as liposomal turmeric and resveratrol.

Numero Quatro: Balance blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar that is too high, too low, or a combination of both. Balancing blood sugar is critical to reduce inflammation and pain.

Keep in mind that there may be a variety of different issues that may be holding you back, and if you need help give my office a call. But these are some great ways to help reduce your “need” for those NSAIDS you love so much.

Remember, they are NOT loving you back!

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be Happy!

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