Monday, November 15, 2010

Ibuprofen Is Good Right?

Ibuprofen? Good? Not quite. Naturally there are "side effects" to pharmaceutical drugs such as Ibuprofen or NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug). Side effects are unintended consequences of an action where the good of the intention is typically offset by the bad of the side effect...sometimes there are good side effects but NSAIDs or Ibuprofen do not fall into this category.

Three populations typically use NSAIDs. The first is the patient in chronic pain typically from arthritis where they take say 800 mg.day. The second is a patient who got injured today. They will load up over the next few days trying to decrease that pain and reduce swelling. The third user is the athlete who often times is using them prophylactically to prevent soreness afterward running or whatever they participate in.

Inflammation occurs through a cascade of events in the body and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen inhibit a step in the cascading process preventing or reducing inflammation. The side effects of Ibuprofen us are rather nasty in my humble opinion. In this abstract the author ponders whether "The ever-emerging anti-inflammatories. Have there been any real advances?" and in the first statement says "Gastrointestinal (GI) (the stomach and intestines) Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) from the NSAIDs are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in arthritic patients taking these drugs." Not a good side I am certain we can all agree. Another known side effect are stomach ulcers for the "long term user." NSAIDs block a pathway that produces the protective mucous lining of the stomach causing ulcers (HOLES!) in long term users. Again, when the stomach goes south so goes the body. The need to protect the GI tract cannot be overstated. Damage to the GI tract will result in a compromised nutrient absorption. And this, of course, leads to stress onto the entire body.

Cardiovascular health can also be compromised from NSAID use. The author of this abstract cautions against the use of NSAIDS for patients with musculoskeletal (muscle and joint pain) pain for patients with known cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. This abstract gives warning against those with gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, liver disease, platelet issue, asthma, and children overdose to name some of them. The NSAID creates stress on the body and for those bodies already under stress it can be quite bad.

Finally, I found these two studies which were quite telling of Ibuprofen use in the athletic population. These studies were done on athletes who ran the Western State 100 Mile Endurance Run. The first study concluded that athletes who used Ibuprofen prophylactically did not experience a decrease in post race muscle soreness versus those who did not but did see "elevated indicators of endotoxemia and inflammation." Yikes! What is "endotoxemia?" It is bacteria present in the blood and the danger is stated in the following statement: "The presence of endotoxins in the blood, which, if derived from gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria, may cause hemorrhages, necrosis of the kidneys, and shock." Again, we can all agree this is not a good outcome I am certain. Here is the kicker though the user group saw an INCREASE in inflammation! The very thing they were trying to prevent was increased! Ibuprofen CAUSED inflammation in this population. Furthermore this study saw an increase in oxidative stress among the Ibuprofen users. Oxidative stress means an increase in free radicals...free radical stress causes all sorts of damage not the least premature aging. Hence the anti-oxidant craze.

So what to do when one is inflamed? Fortunately, there are great alternatives to this stomach destroying product. Proteolytic enzymes work great, actually promote healing and I can't find anything on Pubmed where they damage the stomach...or any side effects. This study shows the power output of a muscle to be higher post exercise by those treated with Bromelaine, a proteolytic enzyme, than those left untreated. Herbs such as Curcumin, Capsaicin (essentially cayenne pepper), and Tumeric also play powerful roles in anti inflammation and protection of the GI tract....not too mention cancer preventive!

Using supplements with an array of these properties will often deliver a very powerful anti-inflammatory effect with no side effects. Any healthy store that sells quality supplements...not Costco, Safeway, etc....will have supplements of this nature. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line. Thanks for reading!