Natural alternatives for the treatment of pain and inflammation

Natural alternatives for the treatment of pain and inflammation

Some of the most recommended natural supplements by naturopathic physicians are essential fatty acids (EFAs), ginger, turmeric/curcumin, quercetin and vitamin E.

Some of the most recommended natural supplements by naturopathic physicians are essential fatty acids (EFAs), ginger, turmeric/curcumin, quercetin and vitamin E.

by Dr. Jeni Keilty — 

On September 30, 2004, Vioxx was removed from the market after a study revealed links to heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cardiovascular injuries. Vioxx, a COX-2 inhibitor nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has been used by millions of people worldwide to treat arthritis and other conditions. While COX-2 inhibitors Celebrex and Bextra remain on the market, the Food and Drug Administration is now investigating whether all these drugs should be pulled or whether they should continue to be sold.

These drugs work by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme that triggers pain and inflammation while sparing the function of the enzyme (COX-1) that helps maintain the normal stomach lining. In general, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen block both enzymes and cause gastrointestinal side effects such as stomach pain and ulcers. However, many people turned to using these older generation NSAIDs after Vioxx was withdrawn.

Now, to add to the confusion, naproxen — sold at prescription strength and as over-the-counter brands like Aleve — has come under attack. On December 21, 2004, the federal government halted an ongoing Alzheimer’s disease prevention trial because researchers documented more heart attacks and strokes among patients taking naproxen.

So if these drugs are not the answers to pain and inflammation, what are the alternatives? The most basic place to start, of course, is with diet. Eating a diet containing quality protein (lean meat, legumes), nutritious fats (olive oil, flax seeds, walnuts) and healthy carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables and fruits) while limiting or eliminating dairy and processed foods will create an anti-inflammatory environment in your body.

Some of the most recommended natural supplements by naturopathic physicians are essential fatty acids (EFAs), ginger, turmeric/curcumin, quercetin and vitamin E. Herbs such as boswellia and devil’s claw reduce inflammation. A new product containing a hops and rosemary extract has been clinically tested to be safe while effective at reducing pain for arthritis.

S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), glucosamine and chondroitin all support the health of cartilage in the joints for those with osteoarthritis. Proteolytic enzymes, such as bromelain and papain, taken on an empty stomach, are anti-inflammatory. Acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga and massage also have been shown to be effective in reducing pain and promoting healing.

Natural medicine offers many alternatives for the treatment of pain and inflammation. However, with all these choices, it is best to see a medical practitioner to create the most effective treatment for your individual needs. May you find your own natural path to restoring and maintaining optimal health.

 

Dr. Jeni Keilty is a naturopathic medical doctor dedicated to facilitating the healing journey of others by using the best from ancient and modern medicine. She practices at the Natural Path Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. (480) 603-9273 or www.naturalpathmedical.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 2, April/May 2005.

 

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