NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, include common household names like naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and indomethacin, drugs taken by tens of millions of people. They are called “non-steroidal” because they are not like drugs such as prednisone or hydrocortisone that are steroids, i.e., hormone that also have anti-inflammatory effects with serious side-effects such as spectacular weight gain, rises in blood sugar, and stomach ulcers. But NSAIDs, despite being so widely used to reduce inflammation, also have a host of common, sometimes serious, side-effects. I have personally seen many people in the hospital hemorrhaging from stomach ulcers caused by these drugs, as well as kidney failure. Newer NSAIDs, so-called COX-2 inhibitors Vioxx and Celebrex, have revealed that NSAIDs—all of them, not just COX-2 variety—all also increase risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack.
The negative press these drugs have received have led to reduced use of these agents, but I still see people using them for issues like migraine headaches and menstrual cramps. So it’s important that you know you may be playing with fire.
There are a number of lesser known side-effects of NSAIDs, also, that apply even if you use these agents on occasion. Beyond kidney damage, bleeding ulcers, and increased cardiovascular risk, among the lesser known effects are:
- Small bowel enteropathy—Although most of the focus of NSAID side-effects has been in the stomach and duodenum due to causing bleeding ulcers, ulcers and other disruptions of the small bowel are at least as common. As many as 8.4% of people taking NSAIDs, for instance, have intestinal ulcers of the small bowel leading detected by endoscopy that leads to bleeding, pain, protein loss, even perforation that is catastrophic. If the more thorough capsule endoscopy method is used (fun which a capsule with a camera is swallowed and maps out the entire intestinal tract, over half of people taking NSAID’s have intestinal ulcers. The stomach acid-blocking drugs, such as PPIs such as Prilosec and Protonix, while they provide protection from stomach and duodenal ulcers, do not protect from small bowel ulcers.
- Colitis—NSAIDs have been found to cause a variety of different forms of colitis such as collagenous colitis and pseudomembranous colitis. They also can worsen or re-ignite ulcerative colitis and diverticular disease.
- Increased intestinal permeability—that likely perpetuates or worsens inflammation, contrary to the intended use of these drugs. Stool levels of the protein, calprotectin, that reflect intestinal permeability and inflammation, are increased in the majority of people taking NSAIDs (as well as in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and colon cancer).
- Dysbiosis—Changes in bowel flora may be partly to blame for small bowel enteropathy with NSAID use. Therapeutic efforts for SIBO, interestingly, reduce potential for such small bowel damage.
- Anemia—Chronic bleeding from stomach, duodenal, and small intestinal ulcers leads to iron deficiency anemia.
You can appreciate how NSAIDs are a rather miserable class of drugs that we should all either avoid altogether or at least minimize exposure.
Of course, the Undoctored Wild, Naked, Unwashed program is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle because we:
- Remove the inflammatory effects of wheat and grains
- Restore vitamin D
- Restore omega-3 fatty acids
- Cultivate healthy bowel flora and reverse SIBO and SIFO
All of which add up to a potent inflammation-reducing effect. Rather than submit to the awful products and strategies that are dispensed in modern healthcare, let’s work to correct the factors that allow inflammation and pain emerge in the first place. That is the Undoctored philosophy. For a more in-depth conversation, join our Undoctored Inner Circle.