Alternatives To Aspirin

Alternatives To Aspirin

It's familiar, available in pretty much every store, inexpensive and versatile. It is one item many people stock in their cabinets for pain relief of all sorts. Aspirin belongs to the class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As a painkiller and fever reducer, aspirin competes with many medications, such as acetaminophen (or Tylenol) and newer NSAIDS, including ibuprofen.

However, recent and not so recent studies have shown the dangerous side effects of using aspirin both short and long term.

1. Hearing Loss

In the March 2010 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers reported that regular aspirin use – at least twice weekly – upped the risk of suffering hearing loss by 12 percent in men. Those younger than 50 had a 33 percent increased risk of hearing loss. Use of other NSAIDs or acetaminophen also increased the risk of hearing loss. What about women? A December 2016 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, using data from more than 54,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study, did not find a significant association between hearing loss and long-term use of regular-dose aspirin in women. Reasons for this discrepancy are unknown.

2. Stomach and Brain Bleeding and Leaky Gut

In a 2005 study, a significant increase in gut permeability or "leakiness" were found in cyclists who took ibuprofen both before and after their workouts. Exercise alone is a known stressor and causes inflammation, however with the use of NSAIDs, this issue is exponentiated. 

People taking aspirin or another NSAID are at higher risk of gastric bleeding and stomach ulcers – particularly with long-term use of the drug. What people may not realize is that other drugs contain aspirin as well. In a web post on aspirin containing antacids, the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers: "There is risk of serious bleeding when using over-the-counter antacid products that contain aspirin to treat heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion or upset stomach." Most at risk are people 60 and older, those with a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems, or those who take a blood-thinner (such as warfarin), steroids or other NSAID-containing medicines.

Aspirin is a blood thinner: It makes the blood's platelets less sticky, so to speak. Because of this mechanism, the drug makes blood less likely to clot. This is especially risky if bleeding occurs in the brain, which can be fatal. A large Danish study, published online Feb. 28, 2017, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at data for 10,000 adults who had been diagnosed with brain bleeds. Use of antiplatelet drugs – including aspirin – contributed to higher risk in this group.

3. Asthma Reactions

For about 10 percent of people with asthma, and even more if you include those with asthma and nasal polyps, taking aspirin or NSAIDs can cause reactions or asthma exacerbations. A chronic condition, known as aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, or AERD, leads to loss of the sense of smell and an inability to enjoy eating, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Once the condition is diagnosed with a test called an aspirin challenge, AERD can be treated. 

These side effects are alone good enough reasons to find healthy alternatives to work just as well as NSAIDs, without the severe side effects.

Aspirin Alternatives

1. Ginger has natural anti-blood clotting abilities, and could be considered an alternative to a daily baby aspirin. Plus, Eating ginger regularly can actually help you to prevent heart attack and stroke. Ginger health benefits include its anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties. Gingerol, the most therapeutic component in ginger, acts on receptors that are located on your sensory nerve endings.

Because of its ability to reduce pain and inflammation, ginger is often used as a natural therapy for degenerative conditions like arthritis and rheumatism, and cardiovascular disorders like hypertension and atherosclerosis.

2. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that 1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day effectively relieved pain in patients with arthritis. In fact, five studies showed that there was no significant difference between the efficacy of turmeric and pain medicine.

Research shows that turmeric benefits go beyond those of anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants, and pain killers. Plus, turmeric has relatively no known side effects unless it’s taken in extremely excessive amounts. Studies also indicate that curcumin — the most beneficial compound in turmeric — possesses anti-thrombotic activities and daily consumption of turmeric may help you to maintain anticoagulant status. 

3. Bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapples is often used to treat inflammation in conditions like arthritis. Research shows that it can be used to relieve post-operative pain and swelling, joint pain and inflammation of the sinuses.

Research published in Biomedical Reports indicates that two major bromelain health benefits are its anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects. It effectively increases blood circulation and boosts the immune system.

4. Did you know that a magnesium deficiency can lead to health issues like hypertension and cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, muscle cramps, depressed immune system and migraine headaches?

Taking magnesium supplements can support your blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension. According to the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, conditions of the heart such as coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke and cardiac arrhythmias can be prevented or treated with magnesium intake.

Try incorporating these foods and supplements into your diet, for they will not only bring about overall preventive health benefits, but can help alleviate pain and headaches as well.

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