Modern medicine plays a vital role in today’s world – of that there is no doubt.

NSAID medicationMany people reach for the aspirin or ibuprofen when they feel a headache coming on or the usual aches and pains starting up.

The problem with these, and other Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), is their potential side-effects.

NSAIDs have the potential to increase the risk of several health issues occurring (especially if taken on a regular basis). These issues can range from an upset stomach right up to more serious issues such as  stroke, heart attack, gastric ulcers and female infertility.

Common NSAIDs include aceclofenac, acemetacin, aspirin, celecoxib, dexibuprofen, dexketoprofen, diclofenac, etodolac, etoricoxib, fenoprofen, flurbiprofen, ibuprofen, indometacin, ketoprofen, mefenamic acid, meloxicam, nabumetone, naproxen, sulindac, tenoxicam and tiaprofenic acid.

Why Are NSAIDs Potentially Dangerous?
NSAIDs work to reduce inflammation, pain and fever by blocking biochemical pathways in the body, which then temporarily relieves pain.

NSAIDs work on an ‘all or nothing’ type basis and this can be problematic, as some of these pathways are vital for efficient cell functioning within the body. There is some evidence that frequent use of NSAIDs can actually bring on ‘rebound headaches’ – regardless of their effectiveness in treating the original pain.

The Natural Alternative
Hops plant
Hop Alpha Acids are nature’s alternative to NSAIDs. They are extracted directly from the hop plant and work to selectively block inflammatory pathways, rather than blocking other pathways needed by cells. This means hop alpha acids do not have the side-effects commonly associated with NSAIDs.

In human trials, results have been very favourable. The end result of hop alpha acid use is very comparable to most NSAIDs in terms of pain management.  Common conditions they are effective on include headaches, period pains, backache and arthritis.

There is also evidence of a positive effect on bone health, which could help with osteoarthritis.

Managing Pain Naturally

My advice would be to consider using hop alpha acids as a safer alternative to NSAIDs but only when needed.

I believe the use of preventative methods for pain management should always be carried out before any reactionary solution. Try to include the following on a regular basis:

  • Good Omega-3 intake (oily fish, flaxseeds, etc.)
  • Magnesium to relax and relieve tension from muscles (leafy greens, nuts, seeds, etc.)
  • Antioxidants to reduce inflammation (fruit and vegetables)
  • Limiting inflammation from an excess of sugary and processed foods; alcohol and caffeine
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Exercising regularly

Nutritional supplements can be a useful alternative for those who struggle to get the relevant nutrients from the diet.

I’d recommend Nutrigold’s Nurocyte product which is a premium quality vegan and vegetarian formula of  hop alpha acids.

Remember – prevention is always better than cure!

If you would like some personalised advice about naturopathic nutritional solutions for pain management, or other symptoms and health concerns, please see my nutritional services page.