👉 Tip#1: How over-the-counter meds mess with your health
Last week MaryAnn Jones and I gave a talk about how over-the-counter (OTC) medications can mess with your health in various ways. The idea was to shed light on how what are seemingly risk free medications (since they are available without prescription) may not necessarily be so benign.
Before we go further I’m just going to go on record saying that I am NOT anti-medication. As a matter of fact, I have curated (read: stockpiled) my own personal stash of various meds (legally obtained) I have deemed necessary in case of emergency.
Like the emergency Ambien I’ll need for when I need to fully ignore my family during a long flight overseas or on Wednesdays for example. Or the bottles of antibiotics I “may” require during the zombie apocalypse when I’ll be the only quasi-doctor available to perform an appendectomy with only a butter knife and moonshine to sterilize the incision. One must be prepared for such eventualities.
Anyway…back to my point…..OTC medications can mess with your health in a variety of ways.
First, they may have unintended long term health consequences.
- PPI’s or proton pump inhibitors like nexium, prilosec, and prevacid can increase your risk of osteoporosis, dementia, pneumonia, chronic kidney disease, gastric cancer and premature death, according to research out of the Washington University School of Medicine.
- NSAIDS (like motrin, advil and aleve) can cause intestinal inflammation, imbalances in your beneficial gut bacteria, gastric ulcers and kidney injury.
- Tylenol is a liver toxin and is a major cause of liver failure necessitating transplant surgery. How’s THAT for an unintended consequence? One minute you have a headache and the next you’re on a list for liver transplant.
Second, OTC medications are a band-aid approach to treating symptoms without addressing the underlying cause.
- Heartburn is mostly NEVER due to abnormally elevated stomach acid. So why treat it that way? Recall that stomach acid is meant to be in the stomach to digest your food and help prevent infections. Heartburn is largely related to acid in the wrong place (your esophagus) or mal-digested food or food intolerances or gut infections.
- Taking NSAIDS to treat chronic neck, back or joint pain ignores the underlying reason behind pain. Often times, it is due to inflammation in the body related to food allergies or intolerances, intestinal inflammation with undetected parasites, bacteria or yeast, or even stress hormone imbalance issues.
Third all OTC meds can have side effects and interact with other medications.
- SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft or Paxil can make you gain weight, tank your libido, give you insomnia and when taken with an antihistamine can knock you out for days.
- Oral contraceptives can give you a long list of side effects. Headaches, bloating, water retention, breast tenderness, nausea, vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness, irregular periods, moodiness and increased risk of precancerous lesions of the cervix. Birth control pills can interact with any medication processed through the liver (like anti-seizure meds, antibiotics, and antifungal medications to name a few.)
So, in closing, avoid staying on medications frequently or long term as there ARE longer term consequences associated with use. In addition, if you require long term medications and have not learned about WHAT may be causing your symptoms, consider a functional medicine evaluation to see what you can learn to become OTC med free.
And finally (thought that “in closing” meant you were done with the post, didn’t you?) be prepared for emergencies like the zombie apocalypse.
Free tip: Always wear clean underwear. You never know when you could wind up in the emergency room unconscious and god forbid wearing that saggy, forgot to do laundry this week, bottom of your underwear drawer pair of underwear that has completely lost its elasticity and shape. Though, in the zombie apocalypse, this won’t matter that much…so, there’s that.
👉 Tip #2: 5 Natural Alternatives for Pain Relief
In my previous tip, we discussed using OTC medications and possible safety and health concerns. We also reviewed that using these meds with consistency or with frequency (even a few times a month) could lead to unintended health issues. But when you need something for pain, you need something for pain.
Below I’m listing 5 natural pain relief alternatives to consider. This may help reduce the amount of medication you use or at least reduce your dependence on OTC pain meds that may have harmful side effects.
#1 Devil’s Claw
Has been shown to inhibit enzymes the cause inflammation & pain. Seems to work as well as some NSAIDs
Indications: effective for back pain, muscle pain, joint pain & headaches
- Back pain Taking devil’s claw by mouth seems to reduce low-back pain
- Osteoarthritis Taken with NSAIDs seems to decrease osteoarthritis-related pain
Dosage: up to 800 mg 3x/day
Cautions: May interact with other meds that use cytochrome p450 liver metabolism. May increase stomach acid
A yellow spice, commonly used in Indian food from the root of the turmeric plant. Curcumin is the primary active ingredient & has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Indications: Associated with managing joint pain, arthritis, neuropathic pain, headaches
- Hayfever 500 mg daily
- Depression, Headaches 500 mg of curcumin, taken twice daily
- High cholesterol 1.4 grams turmeric extract in two divided doses daily for 3 months
- Itching 1500 mg of turmeric in three divided doses daily
- Osteoarthritis, Nerve pain 500 mg of a non-commercial turmeric product 4xs daily for 4-6 weeks
#3 Willow bark
Willow bark from the bark of willow tree contains the active ingredient that makes up aspirin
Indications: back pain, joint pain, gout, muscle strain, headaches & dizziness
Dosage: 120-240 mg a day — acts like aspirin and may have same side effects
Enzyme derived from pineapple that Inhibits some of inflammatory mediators directly related to pain. It’s efficacy is similar to some prescribed pain medication.
Indication Helpful to relieve pain from traumatic injury or muscle spasms, muscle soreness, orthopedic pain, sinus issues, ulcerative colitis
- Pain after dental surgery Taken after wisdom teeth removal reduces pain & swelling. Taken along with a steroid medication can reduce pain & swelling better than taking the steroid alone
- Pain after surgery It might decrease pain & swelling after surgery
- Rheumatoid arthritis May reduce joint swelling
- Sinusitis Taken along with decongestants, antihistamines or antibiotics helps reduce nasal swelling
- Tendon injuries
- Ulcerative colitis It may help alleviate symptoms in people that do not get enough relief after standard therapy
Dosage: 200 mg 3x/day
Cautions: May slow clotting, avoid around surgery or with other anti-blood clotting meds
#5 Evening primrose oil
One of the most potent sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid with significant anti-inflammatory properties. Can be used topically to promote skin health & hair growth
Indications: Oral supplementation not only improves symptoms of neuropathic pain but may also aid in the repair & regeneration of damaged nerves
- Nerve damage caused by diabetes Taken daily for 6-12 months may improve symptoms & may be helpful for neuropathic pain
- Osteoporosis Taken with fish oil & calcium may decrease bone loss & increase bone density in elderly people with osteoporosis
- Breast pain
Dosage: 3-4 grams daily
Cautions: Concern that it might increase the chance of bruising & bleeding. Don’t use it if you have a bleeding disorder. Epilepsy or another seizure disorder: Concern that taking it might make seizures more likely in some people.
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Ready for the legal disclaimer? Information offered here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. As with any health recommendation, please contact your doctor to be sure any changes you wish to consider are safe for you!