Ibuprofen is one of the most widely used over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers in the world. However, many people are unaware that ibuprofen use has been linked to thousands of deaths every year.
Ibuprofen works by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes which are involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins that mediate inflammation, pain and fever. While effective at reducing these symptoms, ibuprofen can also inhibit COX enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys, leading to potential complications.
Studies have shown that ibuprofen can increase the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke. It has also been associated with acute kidney injury, especially when taken regularly at high doses.
Certain groups, including the elderly and those with pre-existing kidney disease, heart conditions or hypertension, are at greatest risk for these adverse events. Unfortunately, many people take ibuprofen without realizing these very real dangers. It’s estimated that thousands of adults and children die every year from complications related to ibuprofen intake.
Instead of routinely reaching for ibuprofen, people should consider safer, natural alternatives like turmeric, ginger, Devil’s claw and boswellia. These herbal supplements can reduce inflammation and pain without the worrisome side effects. Lifestyle adjustments like weight loss, stress reduction and exercise can also help mitigate the need for ibuprofen.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the research on ibuprofen risks and provide actionable tips people can follow to avoid ibuprofen overuse and abuse. With awareness and smart substitutions, we can work to prevent unnecessary harm from this common over-the-counter medication.
Believe it or not, the over-the-counter and prescription meds we buy from the pharmacy are causing at least 100,000 deaths on a yearly basis in the US only.
How To Mitigate The Negative Effects of Pharmaceutical Drugs & Antibiotics
Consumers are being manipulated by research supporting these medications and bring profit to the pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, this foul behavior is a major threat for the public health and safety.
Though promoted as methods to alleviate or treat a health problem, over-the-counter meds are worse than we think. Namely, a study conducted by the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen found that pharmaceutical companies were not revealing all information from the drug trial results.
According to Dr. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet, much of the scientific literature or half of it may be false.
This is definitely alarming news, especially when it comes to new graduates coming out of medical school today and are learning biased and false research about prescription meds.
The Issue with Ibuprofen & other Painkillers
According to a research done by a team of researchers from the Ohio State University, acetaminophen, a common pain reliever, was found to destroy positive emotions. During the study, the participants who were given acetaminophen reported reduction in feelings when they were shown pleasant or disturbing images when compared to the placebo group.
Moreover, the use of painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen was linked to higher risk of heart failure. And, in a review of more than 700 clinical trials, it was concluded that ibuprofen is a major contributor to thousands of deaths per year.
The lead researcher of the review emphasizes that long term use of these meds led to heart attacks and cardiac deaths between 1993 and 2003. These meds fall in the categories of NSAIDs and have been associated with possibly disastrous side effects, especially in elderly people. Sadly, in the US alone, 100,000 individuals who take NSAIDs are hospitalized on a yearly basis and around 15,000 die.
In addition to increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues by 40 to 60 percent, these meds have also been linked to miscarriage, hearing loss, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal issues. According to statistics, around 60 million Americans take NSAIDs and ibuprofen is the most common one.
What Are the Healthier Alternatives to NSAIDs?
Ginger – Contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Studies show ginger extract can reduce muscle pain and arthritis pain comparable to ibuprofen. Can be consumed as a tea, supplement or used topically.
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Topical arnica – Arnica montana is an herbal medicine made from the arnica plant. It’s applied topically as a cream, ointment or gel to treat bruises, sprains and muscle aches. Thought to reduce inflammation when absorbed through the skin.
Chinese skullcap – This medicinal herb contains baicalin which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Chinese skullcap is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat joint pain, headaches and arthritis.
Omega-3s – Fish oil and other omega-3 supplements can reduce inflammation in the body. Studies show promise for omega-3s in treating joint tenderness and pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
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St. John’s Wort – This herb has been used for centuries to treat wounds, nerve pain and arthritis. It has natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory abilities and is used today for back pain, osteoarthritis and other conditions.
Gingko Biloba – Gingko is thought to inhibit platelet activating factor, reducing inflammation. It may also act as an antioxidant. Some studies have found it effective in reducing pain from fibromyalgia and arthritis.
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Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can lower inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. Studies are mixed but Vitamin C may help reduce duration and severity of the common cold as well.
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Panax Ginseng – This type of ginseng has shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. It contains compounds like ginsenosides that inhibit inflammatory pathways.
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Holy Basil – Also called tulsi, holy basil has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Animal and lab studies show it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic (fever-reducing) abilities.
Olive Oil – The oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil demonstrates anti-inflammatory abilities and has been shown to have similar COX-inhibiting effects as ibuprofen. Be sure to get a good quality olive oil to ensure it’s medicinal qualities.
Ibuprofen may seem like an innocuous over-the-counter fix for aches and pains, but its widespread use masks major health risks, especially for vulnerable populations. Thousands of adults and children die annually from complications like gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney dysfunction, stroke and heart attack linked to ibuprofen intake. While effective at temporarily relieving pain and reducing fever, the dangers of ibuprofen simply outweigh its benefits for many people.
Luckily, there are many safer, natural alternatives that can provide similar anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects without the worrisome side effects. Herbs like turmeric, ginger, arnica and holy basil, supplements like fish oil and vitamin C, and lifestyle adjustments like exercise and stress reduction can all help mitigate pain and inflammation without damaging our bodies.
As consumers, we need to be aware of the potential harms of over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and have open discussions with our healthcare providers about safer options we can incorporate. With smart choices, we can work to prevent the thousands of deaths attributed to NSAIDs and ibuprofen each year. The next time you have minor aches and pains, reach for a natural alternative and avoid jeopardizing your health unnecessarily with ibuprofen.