NSAIDs - A Real Health Risk

NSAID - Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are used for analgesic (pain reducing) and anti-pyretic (fever reducing) properties. NSAIDs comprise a large class of drugs with many different options. In addition to aspirin, there are currently several types of both non-prescription (over-the-counter) NSAIDs and prescription brands of NSAIDs. The three types of NSAIDs most commonly used to treat many types of pain include:
- Ibuprofen (e.g. brand names Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Naproxen (e.g. brand names Aleve, Naprosyn)
- COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. brand name Celebrex)

People all over the world pop these over the counter pills to reduce pain and fever, however; without knowing their very real side effects.

Cartilage Damage
NSAIDs are also referred as safe drugs for people suffering from arthritis but innocent people popping these pill are unaware about the real health risks associated with them. Most people are unaware about the fact that NSAIDs enhance the destruction of cartilage and also inhibit formation of new cartilage. It is an irony that people taking these pills to reduce their signs and symptoms of arthritis are actually contributing to the progression of their sufferings.

Research done on animal tissues in laboratories has found that NSAIDs actually slowed the healing of injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones. NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, substances that are involved in pain and also in the creation of collagen. Less prostaglandin means less production of collagen. Thus, it actually inhibits the healing of tissues and bone injuries.

The Encyclopaedia of Medical Breakthroughs and Forbidden Treatments states: “In 1979, physicians in Norway made X-ray evaluations of the hips of 58 patients taking Indicin (indomethacin). Patients taking the NSAID experienced significantly more rapid destruction of the hip than the control group taking no NSAIDs. Studies with aspirin and other NSAIDs have repeated these results.”

Kidney Damage
According to Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are capable of inducing a variety of renal function abnormalities, particularly in high-risk patients with decreased renal blood perfusion who depend on prostaglandin synthesis to maintain normal renal function. Fluid retention is the most common NSAID-related renal complication, occurring to some degree in virtually all exposed individuals.

The ability to excrete a salt load (salt load being what we take in nutritionally on a daily basis) is dependent on prostaglandin integrity -- that is, the homeostatic pathway for prostaglandin production should be intact. And therein, a natriuretic environment emerges, and salt handling is correctly managed by the body.

“We see a range of changes in renal function and electrolytes owing to a drop in prostaglandin (PG) production as a consequence of the NSAID. In particular, PGI-2 and PGE-2 decrease in quantity in temporal fashion in relationship to the NSAID. PGI-2, in particular, is important to the stimulation and therein release of renin and thereafter aldosterone such that patients receiving a NSAID -- and it takes no more than just a couple of doses -- become hyper-reninemic and hypoaldosteronemic. In so doing, an important homeostatic pathway for control of potassium, that is aldosterone, is negated in its action” Dr. Domenic Sica, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Chairman, Section of Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Salt and water retention can be accompanied by specific changes in blood pressure, particularly in those people who have salt-sensitive forms of hypertension, such as the older individual, the diabetic, or the patient with borderline changes in renal function. The rises in blood pressure that occur as a consequence of the change in body weight owing to fluid retention can be dramatic, as much as 20 to 40 mm [Hg] systolic.

Heart Disease
According to investigative medical journalists at Medical Research Associates “The researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia have discovered that NSAID use is a significant contributor to congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF is failure of the heart muscle including its ability to maintain adequate blood circulation throughout the body or to pump out the venous blood as it returns to the heart.”

A team of Danish researchers followed the health of almost 100,000 people who had a first heart attack for five years. During this time, almost half of them were prescribed an NSAID at least once. After one year, those who used an NSAID were about 60% more likely to have died during each year of the study than those who didn’t use an NSAID.

Hearing Loss
According to another study by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), women who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen for two or more days per week had an increased risk of hearing loss. Women who took these drugs too often are at a very high risk for hearing loss. “Possible mechanisms might be that NSAIDs may reduce blood flow to the cochlea — the hearing organ — and impair its function,” said first study author Sharon G. Curhan of BWH’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Acetaminophen may deplete factors that protect the cochlea from damage.”

Gastrointestinal Mucosa
NSAIDS like aspirin, naproxen and many others commonly causes damage to gastro duodenal mucosa, which leads to stomach ulcers and erosions. Recent figures indicate that close to two-thirds of NSAID users suffer from small intestine enteropathy. Frequent usage of the NSAIDS and other medications continues to wreak havoc and cause further damage to the mucosal wall barrier.

There is enough research now available which reveals the serious health risk associated with regular intake of NSAIDS. Just because they are easily available and can be taken for any acute inflammation does not mean that you can take them whenever you want with no consequences.

Capsaicin - Heart Disease Prevention & Much More

Cayenne pepper has been used for medicinal purposes from a long time. Although, it is hot and intolerable in small amount, cayenne is one of the important spices and a perfect blend of minerals, vitamins and certain phytonutrients. It has found a great place in ancient and modern medicine for preventing diseases and promoting good health.

The main ingredient found in Cayenne pepper is called capsaicin, which is responsible for producing the hot effect.  This ingredient is responsible for producing pain relief, anti-inflammatory and other medicinal effects. Some important health benefits of cayenne pepper are discussed here:

Heart Diseases
Research done by the scientists at the University of Tasmania in Australia found that when men and women were given a diet with or without cayenne pepper for four weeks that those in the cayenne pepper group had significantly lower LDL oxidation compared with those without cayenne pepper. This study was published in the August 2006 issue of the “British Journal of Nutrition.

In research reported in the August 2010 issue of “Cell Metabolism,” scientists at the Third Military Medical University in China found that dietary capsaicin activates TRPV1, which in turn stimulates the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.

Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada discovered that capsaicin was effective in inhibiting platelet aggregation, according to research published in the September 1991 issue of the “European Journal of Pharmacology.

Skin Problems
Capsaicin is responsible for reducing itching of the skin as it binds to pain receptors in the skin and prevents them from responding to the pain signals of the nervous system. Researchers at the Burn Institute in Beijing applied capsaicin cream to patients suffering from scars from burns. The patients reported good relief of itching.

Pain Relief
John M. McPartland, a physician in New Zealand, found that capsaicin cream give quick relief from the pain of abdominal wall scars in 20 patients he had treated. McPartland reported that the cream gave permanent pain relief as it was completely absorbed.

An aneurysm is a disorder of the blood vessels in which blood vessels widen in weakened areas and increase the risk of bursting. The capsaicin ingredient present in cayenne pepper helps to reduce one of the factors that can increase your risk of aneurysms, although capsaicin is not a proven preventative or curative medicine for this disorder.

Gastrointestinal Disorders
Cayenne is useful for the treatment of gastrointestinal problems. In a 2006 issue, Critical Reviews in Food, Science and Nutrition printed a review noting that capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps stimulate receptors in the stomach that inhibited excessive excretion of gastric acid. This evidence can be used for the treatment of gastric ulcers. A March 1995 issue of Esophageal, Gastric and Duodenal Disorders performed a study on humans finding that cayenne pepper can help relieve stomach irritation caused by overconsumption of aspirin. In a recent letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, three Italian doctors describe how they were able to reduce patients' reported dyspepsia symptoms by more than half - by prescribing red pepper powder.

Cough Remedy
In Ayurvedic system of medicine, cayenne pepper has been used as a popular cough remedy. Capsaicin helps to relieve pain and reduces inflammation of the throat. Cayenne pepper is also a good source of vitamin C that helps to prevent recurrent respiratory infections.


Regular eating of cayenne pepper in the diet helps in the treatment of osteoporosis. It is a condition of the bones in which bones become weak and prone to fractures. It generally occurs in women after menopause due to loss of calcium from the bones. Cayenne pepper is a good source of providing natural calcium and it prevents osteoporosis.

Lithium Reduces Suicide Risks in Depressive Disorders

An old and relatively inexpensive drug, lithium may reduce the risk of suicide risk among mood disorder patients including depressive disorders or bipolar disorders. Incidences of suicides are 30 times more in mood disorder patients than normal individuals. The review study was published in the journal British Medical Journal.

According to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Maimonides Medical Center, USA, the study provided concrete therapeutic evidences of Lithium against suicides in mood disorder patients. Dr. Andrew is an independent reviewer of the study, and not connected with the study in any way.

The review study was conducted by a team of UK researchers led by Dr. Andrea Cipriani, Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University. The team analyzed the results of 48 different clinical trials that involved about 6600 patients. The researchers observed about 60% reduction of suicide risk in lithium-treated patients. However, no such benefits were reported in the placebo group.

The researchers reported that lithium can reduce the self-hurting behaviours in mood disorder patients. The present study can demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium in lowering the risk of suicide in such patients. However, the study does not report the exact mechanism of action of lithium against suicide.

Lithium can cut the relapses of mood disorders. Some studies reported that lithium can decrease impulsivity and aggression which can reduce the risk of suicidal ideation, the researchers wrote in the publication.

Administration of lithium can cause several adverse events. However, the psychiatrists should weigh the risk Vs benefits, and the treatment should be individualized.

The present study can remind the potential benefits of lithium against mood disorders and suicide, said Dr. Robert Dicker, Associate Director, Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Division, Zucker Hillside Hospital, USA.

However, lithium is not often used as a choice of drug as it could be. Being a generic drug, it is not promoted by the pharmaceutical companies and lithium remains to be under-prescribed. However, the present study will change the treatment trends in psychiatry, Dr. Andrew noted.