Turmeric Curcumin vs NSAIDs: The Battle of Anti-Inflammatories
Why Turmeric Curcumin Is Safer Than Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
We've all done it – made a wrong move and felt the mistake the second we made it. A pulled muscle, a rolled ankle, an injured back. How do we respond? We may reach for an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. These can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen sodium, or others.
These popular drugs are fast and effective, but what if you deal with pain every day? Are they safe for long-term use? To understand the answer (which is “no,” by the way), let’s take a look at how these drugs work. Then we’ll chat about something better – turmeric curcumin.
What’s Wrong with NSAIDS?
Our bodies produce two types of enzymes called cyclooxygenase (or COX-1 and COX-2, for those of us who speak English). As a response to aging, genetics, a lousy diet, or elevated stress levels, our bodies overproduce these two enzymes.
Both cause inflammation, pain, and fever, but COX-1 also causes the release of beneficial prostaglandins. These prostaglandins protect our stomach lining and activate platelets to help our blood clot effectively, which makes COX-1 less of a bad guy.
For years, NSAIDS suppressed the inflammation, pain, and fever brought on by COX-1 and COX-2. Unfortunately, they also suppressed the good effects produced by COX-1, the platelet activation and stomach protection.
People who took these NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium) experienced potentially lethal ulcers and bleeding. This was especially true in older patients.
It wasn’t pretty.
A Short History of NSAIDs
In the 1990's, COX-2 inhibitors were developed. These medications, name-branded Celebrex, Vioxx, and Bextra, suppressed only the negative effects of COX-2 while leaving the positive effects of COX-1 untouched. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then other problems emerged. People who took Vioxx and Bextra were twice as likely to have heart attacks and strokes! These drugs were pulled off the market.
And what about Celebrex? It’s still in use today, but the safe dosage has been reduced to avoid the same cardiac side effects. But that’s not all, folks. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also known to cause liver problems, kidney problems (with fluid retention), weight gain, elevated blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and allergic reactions such as rashes, wheezing, and throat swelling. If a person has problems with one NSAID, doctors usually advise them to avoid all NSAIDS.
But ask any hospitalist or acute care specialist if they’ve ever seen an intensive care patient suffering from the potentially deadly side effects of NSAIDS. Unfortunately, this is not a rare event.
Why Is Turmeric Curcumin Better?
There is an effective treatment that’s been in use for thousands of years. It comes from the roots of a tropical plant in the ginger family and is grown in China, Indonesia, and India. The roots look like small sweet potatoes.
It’s used as a spice in many Indian recipes, is the main ingredient in mustard, and gives a natural yellow-orange color to many foods, including cheese and butter.
But its greatest value is what it does for inflammation and pain when used at therapeutic dosages.
As is so common with natural remedies, its benefits have only recently been studied and documented in Western medicine.
Take A Look At This Partial List Of Benefits:
Turmeric curcumin is a natural COX-2 inhibitor without the dangerous side effects.
Turmeric inhibits eicosanoids, molecules that trigger our inflammatory response.
Turmeric reduces our levels of C-reactive protein, a marker associated with arthritis and cardiovascular disease, both inflammatory conditions.
Curcumin decreases the formation of inflammatory plaques that form in early Alzheimer's disease. It also increases the formation of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which prevents cognitive decline through the aging process. John J. Ratey, M.D., a neuropsychologist at Harvard University, calls BDNF “Miracle-Gro for the brain” and “the master molecule.”
Turmeric helps relieve depression.
Curcumin depletes the nerve endings of Substance P, the neurotransmitter of pain receptors.
In combination with capsaicin, curcumin in poultice form is strong enough to treat arthritis and postherpetic neuralgia (shingles).
Taken with piperine (in black pepper), the absorption of turmeric is increased 1,000 times. The absorption is also greatly increased if taken with bromelain (from pineapples) or with phosphatidylcholine.
The polyphenol in turmeric helps prevent cancer, as do all foods containing bioflavonoids.
Turmeric decreases the absorption of certain fats from the intestinal tract, thereby lowering cholesterol.
Turmeric inhibits platelet aggregation and the formation of clots in the cardiac vessels.
The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric on the blood vessels decrease the risk of a stroke.
Do I Need To Be Careful With Turmeric Curcumin?
Turmeric should be avoided in pregnancy due to the possibility of uterine stimulation and bleeding.
It should be used watchfully in people who are on blood pressure medications, as it could cause a decrease in blood pressure.
It can also cause a decrease in blood sugars in diabetics who are on hypoglycemic medications. Blood glucose levels should be monitored carefully, especially at the beginning of therapy with this herb.
How Much Should I Use?
As part of your supplement regimen, start low and gradually increase your dosage to 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily. If you go with pure curcumin instead of the turmeric, an approximate equivalent would be 8,000 mg to 60,000 mg daily.
As you can see, turmeric curcumin has many benefits as anti-inflammatory aids. The adverse effects of the NSAIDS are not an issue at all with turmeric. In fact, the many effects of turmeric and curcumin are healthy and even add to our longevity and sense of well-being.
Kinda makes you want to try it, doesn’t it?
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