Painkillers - Friend of Foe?Sep 13, 2021
Painkillers - just because you can buy them at the supermarket, doesn’t mean they’re safe.
There are reasons why, in the UK anyway, you can only buy them in small quantities at a time.
Let’s talk about Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs for short). They include aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve and other familiar household names.
These may seem benign because you pick them up with a pint of milk but they are really not great taken long term, for several reasons.
The biggest problem when it comes to autoimmune disease is the effect they have on gut health which is the area we need to focus on healing to improve symptoms of AI disease.
Just 3 days of over-the-counter NSAIDs is enough to alter the microbiome away from beneficial bacteria towards pathogenic strains.
An imbalanced microbiome contributes to:
- insulin resistance
- Weight gain
- Inflammation and Leaky Gut
- Excessive hunger (which can lead to over-eating)
All of this in turn, leads to even more serious conditions.
We probably all now know that antibiotics do this to our beneficial gut bacteria, but not many people are aware that just a few days of easily-accessible pain relief can do such damage too.
We may also be familiar with the knowledge that aspirin can irritate the stomach lining, cause bleeding and ulcers. But the effects are wide ranging, causing adverse reactions in the intestines, heart, lungs and blood vessels too.
Its surprisingly common that digestive side effects such as cramps, flatulence and stomach irritation can occur from just one dose in many people.
Once in the bloodstream, if taken for more than 2 weeks, the risk of ulceration, gastric bleeding and perforation can occur without any warning symptoms, and the risk goes up if you are also taking anti-depressants or common herbal supplements such as Angelica or Evening Primrose Oil.
In his book “Mind over Meds” Doctor Andrew Weil states that “thousands of people die every year from NSAID-related gut bleeding”.
Not good, especially when we are trying to get our gut in tip top shape - it might be one reason why, despite eating an anti-inflammatory diet, you still aren’t getting well - your gut is in a constant game of tennis - one side trying to heal the gut lining and the other breaking it down.
Long term use of NSAISDs has been linked with the onset of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
And that’s just the gut related problems - they also affect the heart, kidneys, blood pressure etc.
So what to do?
There are many effective, side-effect-free ways to reduce pain. Don’t just stop taking prescription medication and always do that under your doctor’s supervision.
But begin adding in some natural painkillers as you wean off some of the over the counter versions.
Natural pain relief methods include:
- Breathing techniques
- Yoga and Pilates for both their ability to relieve physical pain and also reduce stress which will make pain worse
- Topical essential oils like wintergreen, copaiba, peppermint, lavender and a blend called deep blue rub is the best! Do drop me an email if you want to access these as I can get you a discount: [email protected]
- Certain essential oils that can be taken internally such as copaiba, frankincense and turmeric. Essential oils such as these are both anti-inflammatory and analgesic (meaning they relieve pain)
- Eating an Anti-inflammatory diet
- Turmeric as a herb - either in cooking or as a supplement
- Other foods which reduce inflammation and it’s associated pain include ginger and garlic
- Positive affirmations to interrupt negative thought loops around pain
With so much available we need only turn to more risky, synthetic drugs when these don’t help.
Have you been able to successfully come off pain killers? I have been able to help guide many of my clients towards a more holistic approach to pain management. Drop me a line and lets see if I might be able to help you as well.
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