By Ward W. Bond, PhD
Millions of people are taking drugs like Tylenol, Advil, Naprosyn and Aspirin everyday for relief of joint pain. These drugs called NSAIDS- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work by blocking the formation of inflammatory substances like prostaglandin E2, cyclooxygenase (COX2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) and other inflammatory cytokines that the body creates in response to tissue irritation and trauma.
When you take a look at these over-the-counter drugs, they should be used for temporary pain relief, many are living on this pills each and every day. Here are some of the very disturbing side effects of these medications when taken everyday.
- Gastro esophageal and Ulcerative bleeding and death
- Kidney damage and increased rate of end stage renal disease
- Liver toxicity and liver failure
- Slower bone repair in fractures- potential worsening of osteoporosis
- Increased rate of joint destruction and joint deterioration
NSAIDS interrupt the body’s complex method of repairing and rebuilding the cartilage that lines and lubricates the joints. When this cartilage erodes joint pain can become severe and joint wear and tear accelerates. Many may not realize the overuse of NSAIDS could be speeding up the need for a joint replacement.
Let’s get a little technical and I said a little. The cartilage contains special substance called proteoglycans. These are manufactured continuously to replace area of the cartilage that is worn away during daily activity. There are also a vital compound called hyaluronic acid in the joint fluid that act as a shock absorber in the joint. Hyaluronic acid is not just acting like a shock absorber, but it’s a natural pain reliever, cartilage regenerator which works to improve the overall mobility of the joints. It’s actually the glue that keeps all our cells together.
When the joint is working well then there is a balance between the rate of damage and the rate of repair. All joints wear down but the body’s ability to repair the joint is the critical factor in determining how the joint will fare in the long run. A poor diet will lead to poor joint health. Antioxidants are vital to keep free radicals from damaging the joints. Vitamin and minerals have their jobs too. A deficiency of folic acid and vitamin C can lead to the inability to repair damaged cartilage, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Back to the overuse of NSAIDS, too many people are resorting to using these drugs for management of their chronic joint pain. These drugs interfere with the production of proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, which are the body’s natural defense against joint destruction.
NSAIDS do relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis and degeneration, but NSAIDS actually cause the joint to degenerate and wear down faster by interfering with the production of the lubricating substances in the cartilage and synovial fluid.
There are many other remedies to reduce joint pain naturally. Let’s take a look at a few ways.
Foods to Eat:
Cherries – Pain relieving effects and shown to have natural COX-2 inhibiting action
Salmon – This healthy Omega 3 containing fish is a must for anyone with arthritis. Omega3’s from fish have potent anti-inflammatory action.
Turmeric – One of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatories for joint pain.
Pineapple – The bromelain enzyme contained within this fruit can be pain relieving as well. Many combine Pineapple and Turmeric root, mostly in a smoothie for a pain relieving tonic.
Foods to Avoid:
Refined Sugar – This is one of the world’s most toxic and poisonous foods. It destroys the very life within every cell and greatly increases inflammation. Refined sugar will lead to a loss of calcium and other minerals from the bones creating more pain.
Bad Fats – We know Omega 3 containing foods have pain relieving effects, bad fats from hydrogenated oils will do the complete opposite by creating pain and increasing the levels of Omega 6’s.
Commercialized Meats – What more pain? Eat red meat, chicken, processed luncheon meats and increase the inflammatory PGE2’s in the body. These also cause heart disease and cancer. Always focus on organic foods. In this category, limit the red meat and increase your Omega 3 containing foods.
Orange Juice – Don’t shoot the messenger. Orange juice is fresh-squeezed maybe ok, but store bought isn’t. It dries out the joints and can lead to more pain in those with arthritis.
Hyaluronic Acid – We are born with this miracle nutrient in our body. It’s the glue that holds all of our cells together. This is also the very nutrient our joints need to stop inflammation, improve mobility, regenerate cartilage and provide the much needed cushion between the joints.
Antioxidants – We must not overlook the importance of these nutrients for joint health. They aren’t pain relievers, but they can help reduce free radical damage and prevent the degeneration of our joints. Vitamin C, E, Astaxanthin, Curcumin are a few examples of antioxidants to help joint health.
Fish Oil – I’m a big believer in fish oil. High doses of Omega 3’s can be very beneficial to the joints. They will reduce inflammation! The dose should be 3,000-10,000mg per day depending on the need. Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis require the dose on the higher end of the spectrum.
Enzymes – Proteolytic enzymes, the protein digesting enzymes when taken on an empty stomach can be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. These must be taken on an empty stomach an hour before meals to be effective.
There are herbals which are known to be very helpful such as Andrographis panaculata, Cat’s Claw, Devil’s Claw to name a few.