DATE: CATEGORY:Illness Prevention + Recovery

Cool Inflammation: Say No to NSAIDS

By Edward Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D, N.C.
Share Guide, Nov/Dec 2008

(Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)

Common prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Vioxx®, and Celebrex® may work for the short-term but are not as safe as you might think! NSAID-associated health issues are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year.

True Story

Molly was a five foot, four inch, 120-pound runner who looked great but was feeling worse day by day. Over the previous six months, she had developed pain in her hips that was aggravated by taking long runs with her dog in the mountains. At 48, she was showing signs of wear and tear that included migraine headaches, digestive complaints, sleep disturbances, and asthma.

Molly found that taking Advil before a run enabled her to keep moving for 45–60 minutes. Afterwards, if the pain in her hips, knees, ankles, back, and neck started to surface, she took other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs). She graduated from Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®) to the prescription drug her doctor advised (Celebrex®), noticing nausea and photo-sensitivity upon use. Molly was often sick to her stomach with bouts of diarrhea. Her lower back ached and her kidneys felt tight and sore. Her doctor ordered a CRP (C-Reactive Protein) lab test and found her score was 10, which was more than two times the reference range, indicating severe inflammation.

When Molly did her annual bone density test, there was substantial deterioration when compared to only one year before. She was told she had osteoporosis and needed to go off her NSAIDs immediately. A scan of her upper GI organs showed gastric bleeding and hyper-permeability (also called leaky gut syndrome), caused or exacerbated by daily NSAIDs use. So much for doctor’s orders!

Finally becoming pro-active and health conscious, Molly looked up NSAIDs in the Physicians Desk Reference. She learned that these drugs have analgesic, antipyretic, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects. They reduce pain, fever, and inflammation. The term “non-steroidal” is used to distinguish these drugs from steroids, which have a similar eicosanoiddepressing, anti-inflammatory action (among a broad range of other effects).

In 2001, NSAIDs accounted for 70,000,000 prescriptions and 30 billion over-the-counter doses sold in the U.S. (Green, 2001). NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in this country alone, representing 43% of drug-related emergency visits. Many of these events are avoidable. A review of physician visits and prescriptions given estimated that unnecessary prescriptions for NSAIDs were written in 42% of cases (Green, 2001).

Molly was most disturbed to find out that NSAIDs are never to be used in individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Celiac, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, due to their tendency to cause gastric bleeding and ulcerations in the gastric lining.

Molly eventually came to me seeking advice on natural ways to heal her gut, cleanse her liver, address her osteoporosis, and cool her inflammation. I introduced her to the Eating for Health system, based on appropriate amounts of local, seasonal, and organic whole foods, including high-nutrient “boosters.” She was amazed to find out that many of the foods she had been eating were pro-inflammatory, including red meat, processed cheese, coffee, pastries, refined sugar, and sugar substitutes. I gave Molly a list of anti-inflammatory foods, which eaten together would be more powerful than any single herb or dietary supplement. 

She decided to embark on a 21-day supervised Jump Start Cleansing Program built around foods, herbs, and dietary supplements to restore her proper pH mineral balance and repair and rebuild her thinning joints and bones. I suggested a morning and mid-afternoon Vital Scoop™ smoothie containing whey, flax, micro greens, fruit extracts, coconut water, with fresh berries, cherries, or pomegranate, which she loved. 

She increased her fresh vegetable intake to 6 servings a day, her fruits to 3 servings a day, and began eating wild, cold-water fish, brown rice, local, seasonal veggies, and a fresh-brewed tea of mint, rosemary, hops, and lemon verbena. 

Within three weeks a seeming miracle happened. Molly’s pain vanished! The vitamins, minerals, and phyto nutrients necessary to bring her body back into balance had quenched her pain and cooled her inflammation. Her CRP level normalized. Now, Molly is back in stride — swimming more and running less, to ease the stress and strain on her joints, tissues, nerves, and muscles.

Top Nutritional Supplements to Cool Inflammation 

NOTE: It’s best to work with a certified nutrition consultant to select the combination, dose and duration of supplementation.

Magnesium200mg. every 2 hours if in pain
Calcium200mg. every 2 hours if in pain
Zinc20mg. 3 times per day
Selenium200mcg. 3 times per day for immune support
Vitamin D2000 IU 2 times per day
Vitamin C3–6 grams per day (buffered with bioflavonoids)
EFAs (high-quality fish oil)up to 4 grams (4 Tbsp.) daily
Grape Seed Extract300–500mg. daily to heal damaged cells and cell membranes
Soluble fiber2 Tbsp. 2 times per day (flax seed or oat bran)
Vitamin B Complex Good for pain and fatigue, balances energy/mood associated with pain
Bromelain1500mg. before bed and upon rising
Melatonin1–5mg. before bedtime for night-time pain, to support sleep
DL-phenylalanine1000mg. 1-3 times per day, supports endorphins that lift pain/depression

Foods to Eat Daily to Cool Inflammation

Cold-water Fatty FishOmega-3 fatty acids
Flax, Hemp, Chia Seeds, Walnuts, and AlmondsProtein, good fats, minerals
Cruciferous Vegetables such as broccoli,
cabbage, and brussel sprouts
Body detoxification
Dark Leafy GreensB vitamins and magnesium
Colorful Fresh Fruits and VeggiesVitamin C and bioflavonoids
Turmeric, Ginger, Clove, and NutmegImproving circulation, easing pain and swelling
Rosemary, Basil, Hops, and BosweliaCooling, nerve tonics

Foods to Avoid that Contribute to Inflammation

Fatty red meatHigh saturated fat content
Commercial organ meats, and dairy productsContain fat-soluble antibiotics, pesticides, hormones
Charbroiled meats such as hamburgersHigh cooking temperatures create denatured proteins
Cold cuts, bacon, jerky, and processed cheeseContain nitrates, preservatives, additives, colorings
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oilDamages cell membranes
Refined and artificial sugarNeuro-toxic, acid forming
Artificial colors, flavorsStimulate immune reaction

Lifestyle Factors to Help with Inflammation

  • Keep a food/mood diary 
  • Do regular non-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, yoga, pilates. 
  • Take time out for relaxation, such as reading, baths, and gardening. 
  • Face and resolve stressors in your life. 
  • Calm your mind and send love and healing to inflamed body tissues. 

Dr. Edward Bauman has been a ground-breaking leader in the fields of whole foods nutrition and holistic health for over 30 years. He is the Director of Bauman Nutrition, a natural health clinic in Sonoma County that provides nutritional consultation to individuals, families and business groups. He is also founder of Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts. Read more about Dr. Ed Bauman.

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