The downside(s) of NSAID use.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 million American adults have chronic pain or severe pain.
The conventional medical model teaches us to reach first for medication to relieve pain, with ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at the top of the list. It is after all a pretty realistic expectation.
Have Pain. Get rid of Pain. Done.
However, with research mounting to show NSAIDs have a notable list of dangers, it makes sense instead to look for the root causes of pain and not just cover up the end result of whatever imbalance is causing your pain.
Many people turn to NSAIDs for relief from pain and inflammation. Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs.
Aspirin is an NSAID, but it does not pose the same risks for stroke and heart attack.
Ibuprofen is metabolized by the liver, and can cause lesions, liver failure, or jaundice over time. The FDA has even warned against NSAIDs because they increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
NSAIDs promote leaky gut
Another reason to avoid NSAIDs is their tendency to promote leaky gut, as I’ve mentioned before in some of my other blogs.
In leaky gut, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and overly porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation and pain throughout the body — the same thing people use NSAIDs to relieve, creating a vicious cycle that can be very difficult to get off.
So, if the typical go-to medications for pain aren't an option any more, where do we turn?
Functional medicine offers solutions.
Address inflammation to root out pain
When pain is treated with NSAIDs, it typically comes back when the medication runs out. However, in functional medicine the goal is to identify and address the cause of the inflammation and pain instead of simply putting a temporary Band-Aid on it.
It’s understandable to want relief so you can feel and function better. The good news is many people find their chronic pain diminishes substantially or disappears completely when they adopt functional medicine strategies.
So let me be clear on this. I’m NOT saying that functional medicine will fix all your pain problems. BUT, what I am saying is that the entire body is connected. If you have some sort of chronic pain it often becomes a vicious cycle of pain = inflammation = pain = and on and on. By addressing where that additional or extra inflammation is coming from we can often relieve or at least significantly reduce the amount of chronic pain you are in. It eve applies to acute injuries as well. If you body is balanced and has little inflammation prior to an injury, when you do get injured you will heal much faster.
Following are a few ways functional medicine can relieve pain and inflammation:
Anti-inflammatory diet. Remove foods that trigger inflammation, such as gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades. This is typically done as an elimination and reintroduction protocol where you follow the diet strictly for a period of time and then customize it depending on your food sensitivities. This customization is generally done with Food allergy (IGE antibodies) and food sensitivity/intolerance (IGG antibodies) testing.
Note: not all tests are created equally. Don’t just pick the cheapest or quickest test. Otherwise your results may not mean too much. Check out the Cyrex Array 10 on our Functional Medicine testing page. I will also put some links in the description below. Check em out!
Avoid nightshades. Vegetables in the nightshade family can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis. But keep in mind this doesn’t mean everyone will benefit from this. It’s on a case by case basis. Results may vary. Yada, yada yada.
Turmeric and resveratrol (Pricey but worth it) Each is a powerful anti-inflammatory alone, but research shows that taking them together is much more effective, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage associated chronic inflammatory disorders. Side note, there is some controversy on the whole with black pepper or without. I say…It depends.
Improve your posture. Chronic pain can develop due to spinal misalignment. Rarely do patients with chronic pain have even pressure on both feet or eyes that move in synchrony. Many patients experience significant or total relief of chronic pain by addressing these imbalances. Go see your Chiropractor.
Nutrients that fight inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D, vitamins A, E, and K, and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.
White willow bark is an herb traditionally used for pain relief. The same active ingredient in Aspirin, but at much lower and safer doses.
Moderate to high intensity exercise can help reduce inflammation. It also improves insulin sensitivity, a bonus for diabetes prevention. Just make sure to choose exercises that do not exacerbate joint pain; there are lots of options.
Balance your blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar dysregulation issues that contribute to systemic inflammation and pain. In addition, imbalanced blood sugar is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. A good starting point on regulating blood sugar balance is a book by one of my instructors Dr. Mark Hyman. It is call “The blood sugar Solution” and will give you a tone of great information on why glucose regulation is so important and some things you can start dong to help yourself.
Support production of SCFA. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by your "good" gut bacteria are helpful in dampening inflammation. Eat abundant and varied fresh vegetables daily, eat probiotic-rich fermented foods, and take SCFA-supporting supplements such as butyrate (as in N-butyrate), Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
Support glutathione. The most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione aids in detoxification, helps maximize immune system function, and shields cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.
A healthy body makes enough glutathione, but faced with chronic stressors such as toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, smoking, and excess sugar, glutathione becomes depleted and your body and mind starts to suffer.
Some Glutathione supplements are not effective taken orally. Instead, boost glutathione levels through a liposomal cream, suppository, nebulizer, or IV drip. And make sure it the “S” glutathione and not the “L”.
One must also support glutathione recycling to balance the immune system, protect body tissue from damage caused by inflammation, and help repair damage.
To enhance glutathione recycling, remove stressors depleting glutathione levels such as lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, and excess alcohol intake.
The following nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling. Any I often recommend certain combinations or combined supplements to reduce your vitamin supplement load. Otherwise you may eventually suffer from “pill fatigue”.
These are just a few ways to use functional medicine to address the root causes of inflammation and pain so that you can stop taking NSAIDs.
As always, I recommend checking out my guide on how to order the best quality vitamins. Check out the link.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
It won't be back! Terminating depression and the need for anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and other mind and mood altering drugs has been our focus for the past few weeks. This is part 3 in series of blogs dealing with an alternative routes to dealing with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Read More…
The following article was in the Wall Street Journal.
Most sinus infections are caused by viruses rather than bacteria and shouldn’t be treated with antibiotics — a common practice that contributes to the development of drug-resistant “superbugs,” according to new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The guidelines, which also include new recommendations for treating bacterial infections, are the first issued by the society, which represents specialists in infectious disease. A panel that developed them included experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Physicians.
Nearly one in seven people are diagnosed with a sinus infection each year. These cases are the fifth most common reason doctors prescribe antibiotics. But as many as 98% of cases are caused by viruses, which aren’t affected by these drugs.
With no test to easily determine whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, many physicians prescribe antibiotics as a precaution. Deeds done with good intentions often do the most harm.
And, patients may ask doctors for antibiotics on the mistaken theory “that they can’t harm them and they might help,” says Thomas M. File, co-author of the guidelines and chair of the Infectious Disease Section at Northeast Ohio Medical University. But in addition to concern about drug-resistant bugs, he adds, antibiotics can have serious side effects such as diarrhea, rash and headache, and can add to the cost of health care.
Sinus infections, known as acute rhinosinusitis, are an inflammation of the nasal and sinus passages that can cause uncomfortable pressure on either side of the nose and last for weeks. Most develop during or after a cold or other upper respiratory infection, but allergens and environmental irritants may also trigger them.
If symptoms last for 10 days without improvement, or include fever of 102 degrees or higher, nasal discharge and facial pain lasting three to four days, the infection is likely bacterial and should be treated with antibiotics, the guidelines say.
Viral infections can also initially seem to improve and then get worse, with the addition of a fever, meaning a bacterial infection has likely developed.
In those cases the new guidelines call for shorter treatment time than older guidance from other groups, which called for 10 days to two weeks of antibiotic treatment for a bacterial infection. The IDSA suggests five to seven days is long enough to treat a bacterial infection without encouraging resistance in adults, though children should still get the longer course.
Because of increasing resistance to the antibiotic amoxicillin — the current standard of care — the ISDA recommends amoxicillin-clavulanate, a combination which helps to overcome resistance by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the antibiotic.
The guidelines also recommend against other commonly used antibiotics, including azithromycin, clarithromycin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, because of growing drug resistance.
Whether the sinus infection is bacterial or viral, the ISDA says use of decongestants and antihistamines may make symptoms worse. Nasal steroids can help ease symptoms as may nasal irrigation using a sterile solution — including sprays, drops or liquid, says Dr. File, who also recommends patients take acetaminophen for sinus pain and drink plenty of fluids.
So whats an aching patient to do with a sinus infection? Our recommendations in our office always include drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of rest. Take Immune system boosting supplements and vitamins. Get adjusted by a chiropractor (which helps the sinuses and nasal passageways drain) and do some sinus rinses. In 98% of all sinus infection cases this will take care of the problem and get you back to normal faster.
Here are some of my favorite supplements for boosting the immune system and fighting infections.
Daily Immune by Pure encapsulations
M/R/S Mushroom Formula
Garlic extract (allicin yield 12,000 mcg/g) 300mg
Echinacea-Goldenseal with Olive Leaf
Do yourself a favor, save some money and get it through Healthwave - sign up in the sidebar
I guarantee you will save money. It’s routinely 10-20% cheaper than amazon!
For those of you with chronic sinus infections or who seem to always be getting sick, consider this. Taking antibiotics has shown to reduce your own bodies immunity and ability to fight off sickness and infection. So the very drugs you were taking to try to make you better are actually making you worse.
HHHMMMMM........That sounds familiar!
In Good Health,
Dr. Craig Mortensen