The dangerous side-effects of taking anti-inflammatory medication and 6 ways you can heal from them

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The dangerous side-effects of taking anti-inflammatory medication and 6 ways you can heal from them

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On January 1st this year I suffered a bulging disc injury. This was not the start of the year I had on my vision board that’s for sure.

A bulging disc can also be referred to as slipped disc, mine is pressing against and irritating a nerve where it exits from the spine. This nerve pinch can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain into the legs.

I couldn’t dress myself, put shoes on or even move one metre in less than 5 mins without screaming out in pain.

I took a trip to my GP’s office on a Saturday and cried while I wanted for her to write me a prescription for pain relief and anti-inflammatory relief. 

I was prescribed three types of medication. Valium, (a muscle relaxant) Endone, (A morphine based pain reliever) and Diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug 0r NSAID).

All three of these medications together are a pretty heavy toxic load for anybody’s digestive system. 

Today I’m going to share some vital information on anti-inflammatory medication that can help you avoid serious intestinal distress or symptoms relating to intestinal distress. (Your gut health being in jeopardy).


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to manage the pain and inflammation (swelling and redness) associated with some types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and other musculoskeletal disorders.

NSAIDs are also used to treat non-inflammatory conditions such as migraine, period pain and postoperative pain, and to reduce fever. Aspirin, in low doses, is an NSAID with blood-thinning properties used to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in high-risk patients.

Have you ever taken any of these?

Some commonly used NSAIDs include aspirin (in brands like Disprin), ibuprofen (such as Nurofen), naproxen (such as Naprosyn), diclofenac (such as Voltaren) and celecoxib (such as Celebrex).

I know many people who take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories on a daily basis, you might know someone too.  NSAID’s are some of the most widely used drugs in the world today.

What damage do anti-inflammatory medications do?

While NSAID’s are effective in relieving pain, fever and inflammation, they can cause unwanted side effects.

They harm the beneficial bacteria within our digestive system leaving it weak and susceptible to a number of other ailments, most of which are never treated. Taking NSAID’s regularly also weaken the immune system, leaving our body more open to contracting other illnesses.

Gastrointestinal side effects such as indigestion, stomach upset (including nausea or feeling sick) or stomach pain are commonly caused by NSAIDs. Use of NSAIDs can also cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract (gut). This is mainly because these medicines also attack the cyclooxygenase-1 enzyme (COX-1) that protects the stomach lining from normal stomach (gastric) acid. (Some patients I speak to also take ant-acid tablets as well as anti-inflammatories, which greatly increases the risk of damage to the GI tract)

Other common side effects of NSAIDs include:

  • Raised liver enzymes (detected by a blood test)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Salt and fluid retention
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Less common side effects include:

  • Ulcers of the oesophagus (food pipe)
  • Rectal irritation (if suppositories are used)
  • Heart failure
  • Hyperkalaemia (high levels of potassium in the blood)
  • Reduced kidney function
  • Confusion
  • Bronchospasm (causes difficulty breathing)
  • Skin rash
  • Skin irritation, reddening, itching or rash (if skin products are used, such as a cream).

The largest problem with people taking anti-inflammatory medication without any regulation is that the distress that NSAID’s cause to the GI tract typically shows up as any of the symptoms above.

Then instead of trying to find and treat the cause of the symptoms, we tend to treat the symptoms themselves, so we never quite understand why we we’re foggy, anxious, fatigued, feeling bloated or experiencing wind. But we pop another pill for for those symptoms… or we simply ‘try to live with them’.

While there are many cases where the use of NSAID’S can cause intestinal distress, there are also times – such as mine – where they can be beneficial. 

Inflammation anywhere in the body can be painful and debilitating however it can be impossible to begin to heal without first reducing the pain and inflammation within our body.

There are ways to counteract the damage to the intestinal flora/bacteria that NSAID’s cause, and to help you heal as well as you can from any potential damage while also boosting your immunity to future damage.

Introducing or increasing the beneficial bacteria into your intestinal tract is imperative to balancing your health in this situation.

1. Add a good probiotic tablet into your daily regime (only choose ones that are kept in the fridge)

2. Add functional (medicinal) food such as lacto-fermented vegetables (such as lacto-fermented sauerkraut).

3. Add the exceptionally healing & sealing qualities of bone broth, another medicinal or functional food to your daily diet. (learn how and why to make here)

4. Drink a daily glass of Kombucha to increase the beneficial bacteria into your digestive tract. 

5. Add the spice turmeric to your daily cooking or turn it into a super-immunity drink (like Laird Hamilton does) 

6. Remove inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, alcohol, sugar, dairy and artificial sweeteners from your diet for a minimum of 38 days and see how you feel. 

Maintaining a diet which includes these functional, medicinal foods is a must of you want to maintain a balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system and heal as well as possible from taking anti-inflamamtory medications such as NSAID’s.

Also, ask yourself next time before you pop a pill… do you really need them or are you trying to numb something you could be healing in healthier way?

Prevention is better than treating symptoms, however if you really need to take NSAID’s in the future, you’ll have a much better knowledge of how to stay healthy and of what to consider when you are taking them.

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Part of the ‘balance’ for me while injured included bone broth, lacto-fermented vegetables and kombucha.

// Article you might like to read – 10 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Kombucha Today

// Article you might like to read – How To Make Bone Broth And Why You Should 

The dangerous side-effects of taking anti-inflammatory medication and 6 ways you can heal from them was last modified: September 15th, 2016 by Alice Nicholls

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