The Body Ecology Diet (BED) Column
......with Donna Gates
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Monday, August 20th, 2012:
Is This Common Pain Reliever Attacking Your Gut?
NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are used to reduce pain that is associated with inflammation. This could be the inflammation and pain related to premenstrual cramping, or it could be used to reduce chronic inflammation, such as in the case of arthritis.
16,500 deaths each year are the result of NSAID use.
Worldwide, NSAIDs are the most common group of drugs used for pain relief. (1)
Examples of common NSAIDs available at most drugstores, pharmacies, and supermarkets include:
Besides pain relief uses, aspirin is often taken in small doses to thin the blood and manage the threat of a stroke or heart disease.
Unfortunately, NSAIDs have side effects. Many studies have found that NSAIDs directly contribute to inflammation in the gut.
In fact, it has been estimated that 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths each year are the result of NSAID use. According to one source, this represents 43% of drug-related emergency visits in the United States. (2)
The trouble with NSAIDs goes beyond even the emergency room. Because it has been determined that NSAIDs directly affect the lining of the gut wall, these all too common drugs may cause more problems than they promise to fix.
Research Recommends That Athletes Avoid the Use of NSAIDs
A study that was published this past month revealed that NSAIDs, specifically ibuprofen, can intensify gut permeability. (3)
Previous research has already shown that a long list of pro-inflammatory activities can directly affect the gastrointestinal tract and induce leaky gut. Some examples include:
- Corticosteroid use (4)
- Infection (5)
- Coffee (6)
- Smoking (7)
- Alcohol (8)
- Intense exercise (9)(10)
Intense exercise, especially the level of exercise that athletes engage in, can lead to tight and sore muscles. The study reported that athletes frequently take a mild pain reliever, like an NSAID, before a workout in order to enhance performance.
As it turns out, this makes a bad situation worse.
While exercise can injure the barrier of the small intestine, ibuprofen taken before exercise was found to aggravate an already compromised gut barrier system.
Because of its effects in the gut, the researchers of the study concluded that, “NSAID consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be discouraged.”
Sometimes, injury to the small intestine from NSAID use is without symptoms, or asymptomatic. (11)
This means that even though NSAIDs have been found to create lesions in the small intestine, there may be no obvious sign of the problem.
Thus the irony of aspirin and other NSAIDs is that while these drugs shut down the inflammatory pathways in the body, they also create enough tissue damage to cause inflammation in other parts of the body!
The Problem with a Leaky Gut
Sitting on top of the largest mass of lymph tissue in the body, the gastrointestinal tract is literally the hub of the immune system.
There is a saying in Chinese medicine that all disease begins in the gut. According to modern science, this is more often the case than not.
Once the walls of the intestinal tract become inflamed, they are permeable or leaky. When it comes to protecting the body from things like allergies and food sensitivities, this is a problem.
As if this was not bad enough, damage to the intestinal walls (a leaky gut) means:
- The body will have a harder time absorbing nutrients.
- The immune system will be on alert, releasing inflammatory messengers, which eventually sets the body up for exhaustion and fatigue.
- Other areas of the body become susceptible to chronic infection and inflammation.
When We Feel Pain, the Body Is Asking Us to Make a Change
A yeast infection can very easily migrate outside the gut to other areas of the body, causing things like joint pain, skin disorders, depression, and brain fog.
This is especially true when two factors are in place:
- When we eat a diet that feeds yeast and other opportunistic bugs, such a diet that is high in sugar, processed foods, and refined oils.
- When we have a leaky gut, which can be caused by NSAID use, alcohol or coffee consumption, smoking, and overtraining at the gym.
In order to thrive, our cells must be clean and well nourished. While this is a simple formula for radiant health, it can be difficult to achieve when we are eating the foods that are available on most supermarket shelves.
Remember, when the body is in pain, there is inflammation. If inflammation persists long enough, tissue begins to die. Inflammation is a sign that cells are either:
- Not receiving the nutrients that they need.
- Overwhelmed with toxicity.
Use the Principles of the Body Ecology Diet to Heal Intestinal Damage Caused by NSAIDs
The Body Ecology Diet was designed to heal intestinal damage. The most important thing you can focus on is healing the gut.
Eating fermented foods and drinking InnergyBiotic will replenish the beneficial bacteria essential to a healthy inner ecosystem. These sources of living probiotics and enzymes are much more powerful than an encapsulated product.
Cut sugar from your diet and use stevia as a zero calorie natural sweetener.
If you are taking aspirin as a blood-thinning agent, you may want to investigate:
- A high-quality fermented fish oil, like those available at Green Pastures. Fish oil naturally thins the blood.
- The fermented soybean called natto. Natto is rich in an enzyme known as nattokinase. Nattokinase has been found to protect the body against blood clots if you are at risk for stroke. (12)
If you are used to taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, we recommend that you explore other options for pain relief. Some examples of holistic pain relief are:
- Homeopathic remedies. The homeopathic remedy arnica is popular for pain relief; however, by working with a homeopathic practitioner, you will be able to determine the right remedy for your unique circumstance.
- Acupuncture. In Chinese medicine, pain is related to an uneven flow of energy in the body. While acupuncture is able to treat many conditions, it is most recognized for its ability to alleviate pain - so much so, that many insurance plans now cover acupuncture for pain disorders.
- Herbal medicine. Whether you chose Western or Chinese botanicals, both branches of herbology offer extremely effective formulas that can resolve pain without harming other systems in the body.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs, are over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen used to alleviate pain caused by inflammation. Aspirin may also be taken in small doses to thin the blood and reduce the risk of heart disease or a stroke.
Yet NSAIDs aren't without side effects; research has confirmed that the use of NSAIDs can directly cause gut inflammation. In short, NSAIDs may cause more trouble than they're worth.
Research has also confirmed that the use of ibuprofen can intensify gut permeability. In one study where athletes took an NSAID before a workout to improve performance, it was proven to aggravate an already weak gut barrier. Once the walls of the digestive tract are inflamed, they can become leaky and lead to poor nutrient absorption, exhaustion, and chronic infection.
To heal intestinal damage caused by regular NSAID use, you can rely on these helpful Body Ecology principles to get your health back on track:
- Focus on healing the gut with The Body Ecology Diet to nourish a damaged digestive tract.
- Eat fermented foods and drink a probiotic beverage like InnergyBiotic to boost your inner ecosystem with healthy bacteria.
- Eliminate sugar from your diet and use a zero calorie natural sweetener like stevia instead.
- Try a high-quality fermented fish oil or natto as an alternative to a blood-thinning agent like aspirin.
- Explore methods of holistic pain relief like homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, and herbal medicine instead of taking over-the-counter NSAIDs.
- R Hudec, et al. Consumption of three most widely used analgesics in six European countries. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. 2012; 37: 78–80.
- GA Green. Understanding NSAIDs: from aspirin to COX-2. Clinical cornerstone. 2001; 3 (5): 50–60.
- K van Wiick, et al. Aggravation of Exercise-Induced Intestinal Injury by Ibuprofen in Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]
- S Kiziltas, et al. Corticosteroid therapy augments gastroduodenal permeability to sucrose. Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Dec; 93 (12): 2420-2425.
- K Borch, et al. Asymptomatic Helicobacter pylori gastritis is associated with increased sucrose permeability. Dig Dis Sci. 1998 Apr; 43 (4): 749-753.
- E Cibickova, et al. The impairment of gastroduodenal mucosal barrier by coffee. Acta Medica (Hradec Kralove). 2004; 47 (4): 273-275.
- M Gotteland, et al. Effect of acute cigarette smoking, alone or with alcohol, on gastric barrier function in healthy volunteers. Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Oct; 34 (10): 702-706.
- A Farhadi, et al. Effects of aspirin on gastroduodenal permeability in alcoholics and controls. Alcohol. 2010 Aug; 44 (5): 447-456. Epub 2010 Jul 3.
- GP Lambert, et al. Fluid Restriction during Running Increases GI Permeability. Int J Sports Med 2007b.
- RD Smetanka, et al. Intestinal permeability in runners in the 1996 Chicago marathon. Int J Sport Nutr. 1999 Dec; 9 (4): 426-433.
- I Tacheci, et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug induced injury to the small intestine. Acta Medica (Hradec Kralove). 2010; 53 (1): 3-11.
- E Pais, et al. Effects of nattokinase, a pro-fibrinolytic enzyme, on red blood cell aggregation and whole blood viscosity. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2006; 35 (1-2): 139-142.
Learn more from The Body Ecology Diet book: