NL-031 - 5 Natural Alternatives to Ibuprofen – Backed by Clinical Research
How often do you find yourself popping synthetic painkillers like ibuprofen to manage your pain? It is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter NSAIDs that offers relief in headache, muscle aches, painful joints, menstrual cramps and toothache. It works by blocking the production of cyclooxygenases, a group of enzymes that produce prostaglandins and other chemicals that promote pain and inflammation. These chemicals are released by the body when there is any tissue damage, injury or illness. It’s the prostaglandins that cause abdominal cramps in menstrual cycles and joint pain in arthritis.
So, what is wrong with using ibuprofen for pain? Well, not all prostaglandins are bad. But ibuprofen doesn’t discriminate when it comes to reducing the amounts of prostaglandins in the body. What happens is that it blocks the production and activity of all types of cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2), even those that are protective in nature.
For example, the enzyme COX-1, also known as a “housekeeping” enzyme, produces beneficial prostaglandins that protect the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines. These chemicals also protect the lining of blood vessels and support healthy kidney function. That’s why using ibuprofen causes side effects such as stomach ulcers, heartburn and vomiting. Taking it for too long and in high doses can even increase your risk of heart disease, kidney damage and liver damage. Here are some natural alternatives to ibuprofen which can be effectively used to combat pain and inflammation but with fewer side effects.
Natural alternatives to ibuprofen
Ginger: Ginger contains compounds that ease pain and inflammation. It is useful when experiencing painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea), osteoarthritis of the knee, and migraine. A study found it to be as effective as ibuprofen in managing painful menstrual cycles.
Turmeric: Turmeric, with its curcumin content, has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen in improving symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Curcumin reduces pain and inflammation in the same way as ibuprofen, but with minimum to no side effects. Curcumin also supports healthy liver functions, controls blood sugar levels and improves upper respiratory health.
Thyme: Studies show thyme has anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to provide pain relief from menstrual cramps compared favourably to that of ibuprofen. It has been long known as a herb that reduces pain and spasms. The compounds present in thyme oil blocks the activity of cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme, known to cause inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids not only supports brain and heart health, it provides relief in joint pain. Omega 3 fatty acids fight inflammation and these supplements have been found to be effective in reducing joint pain and morning stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis, reducing the need for medication. Omega 3 supplements can also provide relief in lower back pain.
Cinnamon: The active chemicals in the spice cinnamon block the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and are responsible for its extraordinary anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. Research suggests that it can be as effective as ibuprofen to provide relief in dysmenorrhea. Cinnamon also helps in reducing painful symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis, managing blood sugar levels and regulating blood pressure naturally.