This week, I’m going to talk a lot about inflammation. Lately, it’s been a bit of a buzzword in the health realm. But it’s all for good reasons, as emerging research links chronic inflammation to all the major diseases of our time — including heart disease, cancer, Type II diabetes, and now Alzheimer’s disease. (I’ll tell you more about chronic brain inflammation and dementia in coming weeks.)
And getting a handle on inflammation helps reduce your risk of developing these diseases. In fact, an exciting new study (which I’ll tell you more about in a moment) found that one “pennies-a-day” anti-inflammatory drug may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Of course, inflammation can also cause acute and chronic pain. (Acute, short-term pain often stems from an injury or fall. By comparison, long-term, chronic pain often stems from arthritis, older injuries, or degeneration that never properly healed.)
To deal with acute pain caused by inflammation, I’ve typically recommended taking aspirin or ibuprofen over the years.
Aspirin and ibuprofen make the cut
Granted, all drugs have their problems. But I place aspirin and ibuprofen on a very short list of drugs (growing ever shorter by the day) that I’d ever recommend.
These two drugs belong to a category of pain relievers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some NSAIDs inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme responsible for pain and inflammation in the body.
Aspirin is a safe, effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug that’s been used extensively for well more than a century. In fact, aspirin has been around so long that it was “grandfathered” into regulatory approval before the FDA even existed.
Aspirin is actually derived from ancient Native American herbal remedies made with white willow tree bark and meadow sweet grass. And it has many uses beyond pain and fever relief, including cardiovascular benefits — probably due to its soothing effect on inflammation and preventing blood clots.
Of course, compared to aspirin, ibuprofen is relatively new to the market. It was launched in the U.K. in 1969 and made its way to the U.S. in 1974. And it represented a real therapeutic breakthrough in alleviating stubborn pain and inflammation at reasonable therapeutic doses (800 to 1600 mg). I remember, as a young physician, people begged me for prescriptions for it. And it’s no wonder.
Before ibuprofen hit the market, older people with arthritis or younger women with severe menstrual cramps were being advised to take up to 20 or more aspirin per day for pain. And unbeknownst to many doctors at the time, large doses of aspirin can actually increase the risk of complications, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and stroke. (To be clear, I’m not concerned about the complications of daily, low-dose aspirin. In fact, I believe the mainstream waves a red flag on aspirin every chance it gets because they want you to take more expensive — and far more dangerous — prescription pain relievers instead.)
Today, you can get ibuprofen over-the-counter (OTC) in 200 mg doses. But sometimes, that dose just isn’t enough to manage pain effectively. In those cases, you can get a prescription for 800 mg doses.
But even in smaller doses, ibuprofen — like aspirin — appears to work for many other chronic conditions, not just for pain relief. And, once again, these findings relate to ibuprofen’s ability to decrease chronic inflammation.
In fact, a small, new Canadian study found that a daily, non-prescription dose of ibuprofen may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The drug appears to target inflammation in the brain linked to precursors of dementia. I’ll keep tracking that promising lead as new studies emerge and keep you posted.
In the meantime, here’s a warning worth repeating…
Both aspirin and ibuprofen are far safer options for combating inflammation than Tylenol® (acetaminophen), which dominates the OTC pain-relief market.
Indeed, Tylenol® has many toxic side effects, including fatal liver failure. And it doesn’t even appear to work well for common ailments like lower back and shoulder pain.
So — as I’ve said many times — there’s no reason to take Tylenol® for anything. Ever. Period. (Also, be vigilant when choosing any OTC medication, as you can often find this poison hiding out in cold and flu formulas and in combination pain-relievers.)
Of course, aspirin and ibuprofen aren’t the only options available for reining in dangerous inflammation. In fact, in my online Arthritis Relief & Reversal Protocol, I offer a comprehensive guide and step-by-step instructions for easing inflammation and eliminating pain. To learn more or to enroll today, click here.
When it comes to inflammation, big pharma isn’t the only place you can turn. In fact, tomorrow I’ll continue my series about countering inflammation with effective, non-pharmaceutical methods. Stay tuned!
“Alzheimer’s disease can be spared by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2018; 62(3): 1219–1222.